Car Seat Requirements

car seat requirements

Car Seat Requirements

While having a single set of car seat requirements for parents would make everyone’s lives a lot easier, there are too many variables that dictate the specific requirements for the child and for the child car seat itself.

Since children are often smaller or larger than the “average” size for their age, putting them in a car seat that simply is designed for a that age group can leave your child in a more dangerous situation than simply buckling them in an adult safety belt! For this reason it is absolutely crucial to take into account your child’s height, weight, and age when determining the appropriate car seat for their needs.

Below we have a set of highly recommended guidelines parents follow when looking for the right car seat. Additionally, parents should always check out the child car seat laws for their state to make sure that they are completely complaint with the Highway Safety Association.

Car Seat Recommendations

Birth – 1 Year

At this fragile age it is absolutely crucial for parents to keep their children in a rear facing infant car seat that is specifically tailored to their weight and length. If a child is premature, make sure that they are within the guidelines of the car seat. Often times parents will find that premature babies are slightly too small and the straps feel a bit loose. In these instances, using certified car seat inserts from a reliable manufacturer can help add just enough padding to ensure that the child is secure and safe in the rear facing car seat carrier.

1 – 3 Years

While parents can often turn their children to forward facing positions, it is highly recommended to keep them in a rear facing position as long as possible. The rear facing position allows for extra head and neck support that can prevent a small infant from serious injuries in the event of a vehicle collision.

If, however, a child is too large to be in the rear facing position, then putting them in a forward facing car seat is the appropriate position for this stage. The harness on the forward facing car seat should be a five point harness. Double check with the manufacturer to ensure that the 1-3 year old child is within the required weight and height limit for that car seat.

4 – 7 Years

These ages a child will grow swiftly and can easily outgrow the limits for the forward facing car seat within their fourth or fifth year. Buying a forward facing car seat with a high weight and height limit will ensure that your child has extra security and protection during their crucial stages of development in their early years. Once the 4-7 year old has reached the limits of their forward facing car seat, however, you can now graduate them to a booster seat.

There are two types of booster seats: high back booster seats and backless booster seats. High back booster seats provide exceptional comfort and the ability to add some increased head and neck protection to the child. These high back booster seats should be the next step for your child.

8 – 12 Years

Keep your child in the high back booster seat for as long as possible. If the child reaches the weight or height limit for the high back booster seat, but is still not fully able to be sat in a seat with the regular seatbelt resting safely against their shoulder (as opposed to near/on their neck), then the child can be placed in a backless booster seat.

A backless booster seat simply offers a few inches of padding to boost the child up and give them the extra height needed to ensure that the safety belt does not lay against the child’s neck. These backless booster seats are the final step in booster seats and when your child outgrows them  then no further seating aids will be required.

Image source and recommendation information courtesy of: www.safecar.gov

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