The holiday season is upon us and there is sure to be lots of family road trips over the river and through the woods to grandma's house! If you have little ones that will be riding in your "sleigh" this winter, you will want to make sure they are traveling safely snug in their car seats. Were you aware that in the past, drivers were not always required to have a child seat in their vehicles? In fact, many of you probably never had to sit in one while growing up. It’s not surprising that many of us grew up without sitting in one, especially when considering the fact that seat belts for adults were not even standard equipment in vehicles until the 1960s.
In America, all States had the child seat law by 1985; requiring parents of young children to have their child in a child seat. The seatbelt and child seat laws were created and are still enforced today, to keep all drivers and their passengers, of all ages, safe while inside an operating vehicle.
Now, in 2020, the child seat law has been a part of our driving lives for 35 years, yet, many new parents are unsure of how to choose the right car seat for their child. It can be somewhat overwhelming due to the fact that there are so many different seats on the market, which makes choosing the right one even more difficult.
Here are several age-related guidelines to use when looking to purchase a child seat for your child.
- Infants - Infant seats and rear-facing convertible child seats - Your infant should sit in a rear-facing child seat up to 35 pounds, which will take many kids to the age-2 child seat guidelines. With that said, it is important to always check the back of the child seat for the specific weight and height limits of your car seat model.
- Toddlers - Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses - Your child should begin sitting in a forward-facing child safety seat at the age of 2 years old or older - that is if he/she hasn’t outgrown the infant rear-facing child safety seat first. Your child should remain in this type of child seat up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of your child's safety seat.
- 4-8 Years Old - Booster seats - When your child's weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for the child's safety seat, transition them to using a belt-positioning booster seat until the lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly. This typically occurs when your child reaches 4 feet 9 inches in height and is around the ages of 8 to12 years old.
- 12 Years Old and Older - Seat belts - As your child becomes older, they should remain sitting in the back seat of your vehicle and use the lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
Regardless of the age of your child or car seat, they are in, it is important for parents to know that from newborn to 3 years old, sitting in the center rear seat is 43% safer than sitting on the sides in the back of your vehicle. Check the laws in the particular state you live in and stay safe out there!