There’s no doubt that you want what’s best for your child, especially when it comes to safety. So, in this world full of options, how are you to know if you’re making the best choice?
You likely already knew that there are different types of car seats, intended for differing age ranges. Did you know that the size of your child is also a critical factor? Below, we review the different types of car seats and approximate age ranges for the use of each. We’ll also share some additional resources, so that you can ensure you’re making the best choice.
Types of Car Seats
Rear-facing car seats are the only seats that your newborn should be fastened in and, depending upon the size of your child during this timeframe, it may be the safest option up to age 3.
No, the above age range isn’t a typo, but did it surprise you? Parents Central recommends keeping your child in this seat type for as long as possible, up to the maximum weight and height limit that is allowed by the manufacturer of your specific car seat.
The reason that these seats face the rear of the vehicle is so that in the event of an accident, the seat will cradle your baby. This cradling movement lessens the stress of the impact on your baby’s spinal cord and neck, which are highly fragile at this stage of development.
Forward-facing seats are intended for children between the ages of 1 and 7, depending on the size of your specific child. These seats are designed to limit the forward movement of your child in the event of a crash. This limitation is due to the seat’s harness and tether.
Booster seats are designed for children between the ages of 4 and 12, depending upon your child’s size during this age range. Boosters are intended to position your child so that the seat belt installed in your vehicle fits suitably over the sturdier body parts of your child.
The lap belt should be snug against your child’s upper thighs and not the belly. The shoulder belt must be snug across the chest and shoulder. Remember, the seat belt should never lie across your child’s face or neck.
It’s important to note that there are booster seats with a high back and those which do not. Boosters with a high back are intended to support your child’s head and neck if your car does not have head rests. Backless boosters are intended for cars that do have head rests.
A regular seat belt, fastened appropriately, may be all that your child needs from age 8+, dependent upon your child’s size.
Additionally, all children under the age of 12 should be seated in the back of the vehicle at all times.
How do I calculate which option is best for my child’s age and size?
Parents Central offers a tool that can help you determine the best type of car seat for your child, based upon age, weight, and height. The great news is that this particular “calculator” offers suggestions that are based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s recommendations for best practices. They also compare makes and models for you. The tool can be found here.
Now, you’re aware of the different types of car seats and you’ve spent hours researching the best car seat for your child. You’ve checked safety ratings and feel confident about your choice. Next comes another critical component – properly installing the seat.
Luckily, Parents Central has you covered again! You can view several car installation videos by car seat type here. You should also be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guide for installation.
Baskerville Law: Albuquerque Car Accident Lawyer
Rob Baskerville is Albuquerque’s go-to injury lawyer. We hope that you and your family stay accident and injury-free. If a collision does happen, we’re here for you. Give us a call at 505-247-2774 to speak with Rob free of charge.
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