The new car seat regulations were released on August 30, 2018, and lucky for you Dear Reader, I’m going to tell you about them.
The bottom line is that it’s safest for children to stay in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. A rear-facing car seat cradles a child’s head, neck, and spine which are all protected by the car seat, and in the event of a car accident, the car seat will absorb most of the impact. A lot of rear-facing car seats allow children to ride this way until they are 40 pounds. The American Academy of Pediatrics website recommends that you keep your child riding rear-facing until they reach the highest height or weight regulation for their car seat. Prior regulations said that parents and caregivers should keep the child in a rear-facing seat until age two, but this year’s regulation has concluded from several studies that height and weight is much more important than age in determining how long a child should ride this way.
After a child exceeds the height or weight limit for a rear-facing seat, a forward facing car seat is next. Similarly, the AAP website recommends that you keep your child in this seat until they reach the height or weight limit. Next, the child should use a booster seat until they are big enough that the seat belt fits securely on their lap and shoulder. Once the seat belt fits them securely, they are safe to not use a booster anymore and sit on the seat itself. And finally, children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat for maximum safety. All of the recommendations are based on the weight and overall size of a child and consider how an accident might affect their safety.
Even after reviewing your child’s car seat regulations and looking at the height and weight restrictions on the seat, you still might have some questions. Maybe your child is almost 13 years old but hasn’t officially outgrown the recommendations for a booster seat. Do they still need to use it? Maybe your child is very young but already exceeds the height and weight recommendations for their rear-facing seat. Is that particular seat the best fit for them? Don’t worry! we have free car seat checks through our Car Seat Program.
Even if you feel fairly confident about your child’s car seat, it’s always nice to talk to a real person to confirm your child’s safety.