Car Seat Styles and a Guide to Installing Them Safely
For parents, the safety of their children is of paramount importance at all times. From sports to toys, food to illnesses, we keep a close eye and shepherd them through their younger years. One of the most crucial places for child safety is in the car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 325 children were saved by car seats in 2017. If you and your family are in a car accident, being properly secured in the right car seat is your child’s best chance of avoiding personal injury.
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This guide will introduce you to three different car seat styles and will explain how to install them. However, while this is meant to give you an overview, you should always be familiar with the owner’s manual for your car as well as the car seat as the best installation can vary.
Infant Car Seats
Infant car seats have a harness and are designed to move with your child, cradling them to reduce the risk of injury to their fragile frame. Infant car seats generally come in two pieces: the base and the bucket. The bucket, or actual seat part, is portable and unlatches from the base. Often parents have more than one base for easy pick-up and drop-off duty sharing.
Infant car seats are rear-facing only and should never be installed facing the front. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep a child rear-facing as long as possible. It is the best way to keep them safe in the event of a crash. Children should be rear-facing at least until their first birthday.
It is important to install the base securely in the vehicle. When possible, use the anchor hooks and attach them to the anchors between the seats of your vehicle. Cinch the seat snuggly to the car using your knee to simulate the weight of the bucket and child. If your car does not have anchors, follow the manufacturer and car recommendations to install the seat using the seat belt. Be sure that every time you place the portable bucket into the base, that it latches completely.
Forward-Facing Car Seats
Forward-facing seats use a harness and tethers to limit your child’s movement during a crash. They come in convertible, combination and all-in-one styles.
Each of these can be used rear-facing until your child is big enough to move to a forward-facing position. It is recommended that children remain rear-facing for as long as possible, up to the age of three.
To install these seats you can use either the anchors or the seat belt strap. If using anchors, use a top tether until your child reaches the recommended weight to do without it. If you choose the seat belt strap method, guide the seat belt through the channel indicated on the seat and latch it securely. Make sure the seat belt isn’t twisted during installation and ensure that it is completely extended and in the locked position.
Children should stay in the forward-facing seat with harness and tether until they reach the maximum weight and height for the seat. Often, they can transition between ages four and seven.
Booster seats are designed to redirect and position the car’s seat belt so that it fits properly over the child. Various models of boosters exist, including the previously mentioned convertible car seat which may transition from a forward-facing to a booster. Additionally, there are boosters that are simply the bottom seat part and boosters that also have a high back. Boosters can be used until the age of 12.
Once your child outgrows the forward-facing seat, it is ok to move them to a booster seat. However, they should still ride in the back seat. This is the safest place since deployed airbags can cause additional harm to children.
Installation of these seats is simple. Make sure that the seat sits properly on the car’s seat cushion and use the seat belt to secure the child in. When using a high back booster, guide the belt through the shoulder channel and then across the lap through the armrests. The seat belt should fit across your child’s shoulder and not their neck. The lap belt should tighten snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.
Use NHTSA’s helpful car seat finder to feel confident you’re choosing the correct seat for your kid. If you are not confident or comfortable installing your child’s car seat, you can find a Certified Carseat Technician in your area. Usually, your local fire department will have someone on hand to help you. Many communities host periodic “Check The Seat” events where they will provide information for parents and inspect to make sure they are installed properly.
Protect your kids by keeping them secure any time they’re in the vehicle.
If you, or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, contact The Personal Injury Department at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP. A personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.