Car Seats 101
So much information...start at the beginning!
Why do we need seat belts and car seats and how do they save lives?
Did you know motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death for children and teens? Vehicles, driving habits and safety features have changed A LOT over time. Not only do car seats protect children from deadly crash forces, they also protect them from the the built-in safety features designed to protect adults, such as airbags. Over 75% of car seats are installed or used incorrectly. If the one thing specifically designed to protect children in vehicles isn't installed or used right, that child is at significant risk of injury or death in a crash. And they do. It happens EVERY DAY.
Start here to learn the three significant impacts that occur in a crash, how it impacts the human body and how car seats and vehicle safety features are designed to protect occupants.
Newborn - 40/50lbs w/height limit
Notice how the range for rear-facing is by weight and height, not age? There's a reason for that. A pretty significant reason.
You'll learn all about that in a minute.
Before you begin, please set aside all biases, knowledge, and current understanding of car seats. Car seats and car seat safety is surprisingly complicated and have changed significantly over recent years. You may find what you know is actualy correct or flat out wrong. That's okay. There is an incredible amount of mis-information and bad advice that circles the parent-spheres. Keep your mind open and enjoy learning with us.
If you haven't gone through Crash Dynamics, please do. You'll have a better undertanding of how signifiant the safety is for rear-facing.
Click here to find out more on why rear-facing is the safest travel position, how to stay rear-facing for as long as possible and what types of seats are designed for rear-facing.
Children 40/50lbs to 65-80lbs w/ height limits
Seeing a trend? Again, the range for forward facing seats is by weight and height, not age!
If your child is ready for the forward facing position, they'll be in this position from now on. There are so many options for forward facing seats wildly varying limits. Using what you learned in crash dynamics we will show you what to look for when choosing the right forward facing seat for you child and vehicle.
Click here to start with When to Switch to forward facing, addition of the Tether strap in installation, weight limits for using the LATCH lower anchors and much more!
Older children 60-120lbs up to 63in
Booster seats are the official switch from your child being restrained by a 5-point harness to being restrained by the seat belt.
You don't need a Booster seat as soon as you think. There are age, weight and height MINIMUMS a child must meet in order to use a booster seat. ALL three criteria MUST be met before a booster seat can be used. Switching to the seatbelt too early can increase injury and death significantly; just like switching from rear-facing to forward-facing too early. If your child hasn't reached the height & weight limits of their 5-point harness yet, keep them in it until they do. It's much safer, especially for smaller or shorter children.
Please do not put YOUR personal preferences before your child's safety. This happens far too often with catastrophic consequences. Moving to a booster seat is a big change. We cannot stress enough the importanace of following weight and height to the maximum limits. Those high limits are there for a reason. Most harnesses go to 65-80lbs.
Click here to learn what Booster seats do, why high-back boosters are safer than no-back boosters, how to prevent it from being a projectile and lots more!
Children at least 9yrs old and 57" tall
Age plays a factor when it comes to seatbelts, but only a minor one. State laws require children to be in some type of car seat through age 8 (until their 9th birthday) or at least 57" tall. As you've learned in the previous sections, it's not about age. For seatbealts, height and proper BELT POSITION are REALLY what determine if a child is ready to use a seat belt without a booster. Incorrect belt placement can cause severe internal damage if not positioned correctly.
Oh, and now that a child can use the seat belt without a booster they can ride in the front seat, right? Not so fast. The seatbelt may fit but that front passenger airbag can still cause significant harm.
Click here to learn when a child is legally able to use a seat belt and when it truly is the right time to make the switch. They're only going to get bigger so this section also covers vehicle safety for adolescents, teens and adults.
Multiple Car Seats
There's only so much room. How do you make it work?
Figuring our how to fit all the kids in one car while making sure they are in the right seat and facing the right direction without sacrificing safety can be hard. Especially with smaller children and smaller cars. Sometimes you have to get creative.
Each family is unique, so there is no straight forward answer that covers everyone. Working with a Child Passenger Safety Technician is best in these situations. We do understand that one may not be available, so we do our best in the section to provide the most clear guidance possible.
Click here to explore what to keep in mind when deciding seat placement, what to watch out for and which seats are best for multiple seats in one car.
This section builds on the the information learned from previous sections, so please make sure you have a good understanding of each seat type before jumping into multiples.