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KidTOPICS: CAR SEAT POSITIONING TIPS

Proper use of car seats for infants and children significantly reduce injuries and deaths. All 50 states have their own specific laws requiring use of car seats based on age and/or weight of the child. Know the law in your own state AND any other states you may be traveling through. Regardless of your state's law, it is generally safer to keep children in car seats until they are at least 50 lbs.

Until new federal regulations regarding infant and child car seats go into effect soon after the millenium, car seat positioning will be challenging for parents. Soon after the millenium, we will have universal attachment points from both automobile makers and car seat manufacturers so it will be a much simpler "click and go" affair. But until then, here are some important tips:

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

There are a few basic car seat types: 1 - infant REAR-facing, usually good up to 20-30 lbs. 2 - infant and child CONVERTIBLE car seat (can be used REAR-facing for under 20 lbs. and under 12 months AND FRONT-facing, usually up to 30-40 lbs.). 3 - a FRONT-facing child seat, usually for 20-40 lbs. 4 - booster seat that is FRONT-facing, usually for use from 30 lbs. to 60-80 lbs.). There is also an "infant car bed" for very tiny premature infants that should be used if your pediatrician recommends it after leaving the hospital. READ YOUR CAR SEAT INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY TO SEE WHICH TYPE YOU ARE USING AND MAKE SURE YOU USE THE PROPER TYPE FOR THE AGE AND SIZE OF YOUR CHILD.

HOW OLD, HOW BIG, and WHICH WAY ?

Babies under 20 lbs. or 12 months should be in an infant, REAR-facing car seat.
Babies who are under 20 lbs. should be REAR-facing, regardless of their age.
Babies who are under 12 months of age should be REAR-facing, regardless of their weight.
Babies can face FORWARD in a convertible or FRONT-facing car seat only if they are both 20 lbs. and 12 months old.

THE "HI" CLIP TO MAKE IT SNUG

Always use the "H" or "I" clip that comes with the car seat if you have a retractable shoulder harness belt. This essentially turns the belt into a lap belt only.

Car seats should be SNUG. Parents need to put some muscle into pulling the seat belt strap tight so that the car seat does not wobble or shift when the you attempt to move the seat by pulling and leaning on it. The car seat should feel as though it is a part of the car !

EXTRAS !

Make sure baby is "SNAPPED" in before the car moves.
Keep babies and children in the BACK SEAT if possible - it is always the safest place to be if you are in an accident.
If you have an airbag in the front passenger seat, you MUST keep your REAR-facing infant in the back seat. DO NOT place an infant car seat in the front seat with an airbag under any circumstance.
DO NOT allow any child under 12 YEARS of age to sit in the front seat if there is an airbag on the passenger side.
Slide the seat of the car back to its furthest position away from the dashboard for the safety of ALL passengers riding in the front seat.
Set the example for your children EARLY by always wearing your seat belt. Remember, children are like sponges - they absorb up everything around them !

 

  


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