Your life is busy and if you’re like most parents, you spend a lot of time with your child in the car. Whether you’re taking your child to daycare or just running errands and having fun, it’s important to take the right precautions to keep your little one safe. Practicing car safety for kids is as easy as following some basic guidelines around choosing the right car seat and installing it correctly. Read on for our helpful tips on how to #ParentSmarter before you hit the road.
- Choose the best carseat for your child
When choosing a car seat, keep in mind that there simply isn’t a one-size-fits all model that works for everyone. To choose the right car seat, compare car seat safety ratings and models (visit the NHTSA for the most up to date info), and select a model that is suitable for your child’s size. An infant on the smaller side, for example, may need a special insert for added support around the neck and head, while a larger child may need a little extra room in a rear-facing seat before they are old enough to go forward facing. Comparing weight and height guidelines for the different options out there and reading the safety guidelines included with each model will help you make the right choice for your child.
- Get installation help from the pros
When a car seat fails to protect a child in an accident, it’s most often due to improper installation. No matter how much you spend on a car seat, it won’t matter if you don’t take the time to install it according to the manufacturer instructions. Read the instruction booklet carefully and for extra assurance, have a car seat technician in your area take a look at the installation to ensure it’s done correctly. Many communities have certified child passenger safety technicians (CPST) and car seat safety classes that are provided free of charge to parents. Check out your local police department, department of health or library to learn more about these valuable resources, or visit the National Child Passenger Safety Certification website to find a technician in your area.
- Follow the safety guidelines
One of the biggest car seat safety mistakes that parents make is to move a child to a forward-facing position or booster seat before their bodies are structurally ready to support the full impact of a car accident. It may be tempting to move your long-legged baby to a front-forward car seat before they are 2, but the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend finding a seat early on that will accomodate that extra height in the rear facing position until the child has reached the right age for a forward-facing seat. And don’t even think about switching to a booster seat until your child has outgrown the height and weight requirements for their forward-facing car seat! For most kids, this will be when they reach between 40-65 pounds and are at least 35” tall.
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