The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued recommendations for children riding in vehicles. The NHTSA recommends parents select a car seat based on your child’s age and size. Its important to choose a seat that fits in your vehicle and that you use the car seat every time you drive with your child. Although this may seem obvious, it is important to read the vehicle owner’s manual on how to install the car seat using the latch system or belt system. It is also recommended that a child uses the car seat for as long as possible until the child outgrows the seat. Keeping your child in the back seat through the age of 12 has also proven to be the best practice. The following recommendations are based on age:
Birth-12 Months: Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are several different types of rear-facing car seats designed for various child sizes. It is important to consider your child’s height and weight before purchasing a car seat.
1-3 Years: As recommended, it is best to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible. Once your child has reached the hight or weight limit then a new forward-facing car seat should be considered.
4-7 Years: Keeping your child in a forward-facing seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by the manufacturer. Once your child reached the limits it is now time to consider purchasing a booster seat.
8-12 Years: It is recommended that you keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. In order to properly fit your child to a seat belt, the lap belt must lie firmly across the upper thighs and not the stomach. The shoulder belt should fit across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. And always remember, your child should continue riding in the back seat since it’s safer there.