Start here to begin your car seat education journey.
To the < left are quick links to age specific and car seat specific topics to explore. Be sure to read all the way through each page. There is a lot of information so take your time. If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are several types of car seats and a mind-boggling number of brands, models and styles to choose from! Same for vehicles! So which is the right car seat for you?
Well, that all depends... on MANY variables. Not all car seats fit in all vehicles!
Our job is to help you make the RIGHT choice!
Most infants will outgrow a standard infant car seat by about 8-12 months - they grow super fast! So what then? There are many car seat options available that will grow with your child. BUT, the car seat must fit the vehicle appropriately and be installed correctly based on the car seat manufacturer guidelines AND vehicle manufacturer guideline AND the child's height & weight.
Stressed yet? Hang in there, we got you!
This is where SO MUCH confusion comes from which leads to OVER 75% of car seats being installed and used incorrectly. Think of all the car seats you see in a day! And what if you have two or more car seats? That makes things even more confusing and difficult!
This is where we come in! Our job is to help choose the right car seat for the right vehicle at the right time and help you PLAN AHEAD.
As Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians and Instructors, we are trained to make sure your child is in the the right car seat, right position and installed correctly. And, most importantly, YOU are trained to use and install and re-install the car seat yourself. There will be a time a seat needs to come out or be moved and you will need the skills to put it back in correctly. We're not simply doing it for you; we TRAIN YOU to be the pro for your family!
Oh, and ask for credentials! Not just anyone can help install car seats.
ONLY Child Passenger Safety Technicians certified by SafeKids Worldwide can provide car seat related services and assistance. Ask to see your technician's card!
On to the Laws!
As of January 2017, many states, including California,
have changed their car seat laws.
The biggest change is the increased age requirement for children in rear-facing car seats. The most laws have increased the required minimum age from 12 months to 24 months (2yrs). This means that ALL children 24 months (2yrs) and younger MUST ride in a rear-facing car seat.** This is great and you will learn why in another below and in further deatil in another section.
**This DOES NOT mean to switch children forward-facing at 2 years old!!!
Most car seats go to 40-50 pounds rear-facing. Age IS NOT the determinig factor for switching; HEIGHT and WEIGHT is!
Also, feet touching the back seat is NOT a determinig factor.
That is a common and misleading old wives tale/myth!
Please visit the When to Switch page for rules and guidelines about
switching to forward-facing.
The most laws still maintain that ALL children 8 years and younger AND at least 4' 9" tall (57in) use a size-appropriate car seat or booster based on height and weight.
Again, Age is not the determining factor; height AND weight is.
Child 13 and under should remain in the back seat; ideally until at least 14-15 years old. Adolescent's bodies are still not physically developed enough to withstand the impact of an airbag blasting them in the face at 200mph without major injury.
So what's the big deal? I survived as a child.
A lot, actually. Vehicles are made very differently than they used to be. So long are the days of solid-steel barrels-on-wheels. We also drive a lot faster. And there are more vehicles on the road than ever before. The likelihood of being involved in an accident is far greater than it used to be, especially if you live in a big city.
Vehicles these days are engineered to disperse crash forces throughout the vehicle away from passengers. If you get rear-ended, your front bumper might fly off. This is because of transfer of force of the impact. That's how cars are designed now. Children's car seats are designed the same way and work in conjunction with this engineered transfer of crash forces.
On top of that, vehicles have far more airbags than they used to! Ther are now side curtain airbags, between the seats airbags, and even airbags in seat belts! The "Surround Sound" and "Side Impact Protection" you see on car seats isn't just protecting from an actual side impact; it's also protecting the child from the airbags!
This is also why it is so critical to keep older children (14 and younger) in the back seat. It might not be "cool" to sit in the back seat, but adolescents' bodies still aren't developed enough to withstand an airbag to the face and chest at 200 miles per hour! Even adults get injured by airbags. Imagine that same force on a still-developing child.
What's so wrong with switching my child to forward-facing at 2yrs old? The law says I can. Why should I wait longer?
At 2 years old, toddler's heads are still disproprotionately large for their neck muscles. Picture a bobble-head. Children under 6, and most importantly under 3, are walking, talking tiny human bobble-heads. Got the visual in your head? Now, if a 2 year-old is forward-facing in an impact, their head is going to lurch forward with a sudden force proportionate to the speed of the impact. The harness and chest clip will keep the rest of their body firmly against the seat. Since there is nothing restraining the head, it goes flying forward (just like an adult = whiplash). The vertebrae in children under 3 is also not fused yet. And since their neck muscles aren't developed nor strong enough yet, those muscles are stretched (along with the unfused vertebrae) and their tiny baby brain is sent hurtling to the front of the skull (and then to the back again). This is where the risk of damage to the brain stem as well as internal brain injury is extremely high. If stretched too far, the skull will detach from the brain stem causing internal decapitation (unfused vertebrae + weak neck muscles). This almost certainly leads to paralysis and death is highly likely. Injuries to the brain are very serious and can cause swelling which can lead to coma, paralysis, permanent brain damage and even death. It doesn't stop there! Secondary forces from the impact again send the child's head whipping whichever direction the force sends it as the head is the only thing not restrained in the car seat. Depending on how hard/fast the impact was, the child's head can be whipped back and forth, side to side several times.
Now, take that same impact with the child in rear-facing mode. That sudden initial force is going to cause the child's whole body (not just the head) to slide backward and upward in the car seat right into the harness straps. Since all rear-facing car seats are slightly angled, the shell of the car seat acts as a cradle for the head, neck and spine, keeping everything all together. As the secondary forces from the impact travel through the vehicle, the entire car seat turns sideways maintaining the cradling of the child's whole body. If installed correctly, the seatbelt or LATCH belts will prevent further travelling of the car seat and bring it back to it's original position with the child safe inside. At no point does the child's head travel away from their neck while in rear-facing mode.
That's the difference. And it's a pretty big difference. Almost life and death difference.
Tiny Humans provides hands-on instruction for correct use, placement, and installation of car seats by Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. We also teach CPR, First Aid and other child safety classes.
Tiny Humans LLC
Clarksville, TN 37042