The Car Seat Craze
“In 2009, 179,000 children were injured in auto accidents and more than 1,000 died. In fact, car crash injuries are the leading cause of death among children in the United States ... [Seventy-five] percent of car accidents happen on local roads or undivided highways, and half of the accidents involving children happen on streets where the speed limit is 44 mph or less.” (1)
“Correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.” (2) It is the law in all 50 states that children must be properly restrained in a car seat until the age of 7. (1)
As your baby grows from infant to toddler to kindergartener to primary schooler, his car seat and car safety requirements change.
Infant Seats, Convertible Seats and Booster Seats
Though infant seats aren’t mandatory, many moms find them convenient during the first six months or so. They simply click and unclick from the car and can usually attach to a stroller or shopping cart, making running errands much simpler since you don’t have to wake a sleeping baby.
Infant or baby seats should always be rear-facing when in the car. “When your baby reaches the weight or height limits of the seat, it’s time to move him to a rear-facing convertible car seat.” (1)
Convertible car seats are suitable for both rear-facing and front-facing. Most are designed to hold a child until he weighs 40 pounds rear-facing and 70 pounds forward-facing. (1)
When your child is 4 years of age and weighs at least 40 pounds, he will likely be ready to move to a booster seat. If your car is already designed with head support on the rear seat, then a backless booster seat is fine.
Children are usually ready for sitting just with a shoulder and lap belt between the ages of 8 and 12. Their knees should bend at the edge of the seat when their backs and bottoms are against the back of the seat, the lap belt should fit across the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt across the shoulder and chest. (5)