Buckle Up, Buttercup: Car Seat Safety
- If you plan on driving any where with your baby, know your car seats!
- Know the right way to buckle them up with each car seat you may have as they grow.
- Do your research before buying a new or used car seat so you have peace at mind while driving!
The state of Georgia says that children under 8 years old must be in a child appropriate car seat & buckled in the back seat of the vehicle, but medical professionals recommend additional guidelines to keep your children safe as they grow! Here are the 5 phases of car seat safety:
1. Strapping in Your Pregnant Belly
Always wear your seat-belt! The seat-belt strap should be across your chest and the bottom strap of the seat-belt should be below your belly, not over or above it.
2. Start with Rear Facing Car Seats
Babies and toddlers should be in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Most convertible car seats will have weight & height limits that allow your children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.
Rear-facing car seats should be used from the start for your baby’s first car ride. You can start with a ‘bucket’ style car seat or a ‘convertible’ style car seat that is designed to accommodate a newborn. Either way, it’s important that the car seat be in the backseat, facing the back of the car. This provides the very best protection for your baby if an accident were to occur or you have to stop quickly while driving.
How to buckle your babies in:
- Check the angle of the car seat to make sure that it is in there properly. Newborns need a more reclined position since they don’t have a lot of neck control right away.
- The harness straps go over the baby’s shoulders and the chest clip should be nice and high at their armpit level.
- Lock everything in place. If using a bucket style seat, make sure it is clipped in all the way.
When do they outgrow the seat?
The specific car seat will have a maximum weight & height listed. Once your baby has outgrown one of those, they need to move to a larger seat. If they are still under 2 years old, keep them in a convertible seat facing the back of the car.
3. Then Move to Forward Facing Car Seats
When your little one has outgrown their rear facing convertible seat and is at least 2 years old, then they can move up to the next level. This car seat still needs to have a 5-point harness like what they have been using since they were born. It should clip across the chest and at the seat between their legs. While they can start forward facing at age 2, the longer they can face back the better their spines will be protected, even if their legs are scrunched up.
How to buckle your kids in:
- The harness straps behind the child are at or above their shoulders.
- The chest clip is in line with their armpits.
- The child’s ears are below the top of the shell.
- The car seat’s top tether should be attached to the vehicle’s tether anchor
4. Moving On Up to the Booster
When your kids have outgrown their car seat with a harness and are at least 5 years old, they are ready for a booster! The booster will lift them so that the seat-belt straps are across your child’s chest and lap, not their neck or belly.
5. Big Kid Time
When your kids have outgrown the booster seat and are at least 10 years old, they can move to just a seat-belt in the back seat! Check that they can put their feet flat on the floor while sitting back all the way in the seat. The shoulder belt should be able to fit over their shoulder without going across their neck or face. All children younger than 13 years old should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for the best protection. Once they are 13 or older, you may consider allowing them to sit in the front passenger seat.
Thinking of Purchasing a Car Seat?
There are so many car seats on the market today! You can get reviews on many car seats by visiting this website here. It can be tempting to purchase a used seat to save money. Make sure that if you do, you know the history of the car seat, the expiration date (on car seat), complaints, and other important information that you can find here. When you do decide to install your car seat, you can look up the closest place with certified technicians to make sure it is safe and sound!