According to a report in The Journal of Pediatrics, up to 95 percent of families incorrectly install their newborns’ car seats. To ensure yours is correctly installed, find a local child passenger safety (CPS) technician via the online form through the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Program (start with www.safekids.org). These technicians can verify your car seat is correctly installed as well as teach you how to install and use the car seat correctly.
Things to consider BEFORE your car seat check-up
- Be prepared! Schedule an appointment a couple of months prior to your due date.
- Plan to practice installation of the car seat with the technician’s guidance. If a child is with you, bring another adult to supervise your child while you watch and learn.
- Use the car seat instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual to install the car seat before your car seat check-up; bring both instructions and manual to your car seat check-up.
Things to consider DURING your car seat check-up
- Check your technician’s certification.
- Allow enough time for your appointment – you don’t want to be rushed! You want to leave feeling comfortable and confident.
- The technician should ensure the car seat is appropriate for your child’s age and size, has not been damaged, and not expired.
- The technician should watch you install the car seat correctly, as well as review when to move up to the next size and style of car seat.
- All children under 13 years old should ride in the back seat.
- Children 0-2 years old should use rear-facing car seats.
- Forward-facing car seats should be placed in the back seats of vehicles and used until a child is 4 years old or greater than 40 pounds.
- Booster seats can be used for kids between 4 - 8 years old and less than 4 feet 9 inches tall.
- Kids older than 8 years old and at least 4 feet 9 inches in height can use adult seat belts in the back seat
Guidelines change on occasion so be sure to check www.safekids.org for updates. Also, your kids will continue to model your car safety behavior so buckle up and stay safe!