California Child Retraint Law:
Birth to 16 Years
Newborns and Infants 24 months (2yrs) and under are REQUIRED to ride in a REAR-FACING car seat at all times.
Until age 8 AND 4' 9", ALL children MUST be in some type of car seat or booster in the BACK SEAT.
It is heavily recommended that all children under 13 ride in the back seat only. Adolescent's bodies are still not quite developed enough to withstand the impact of an airbag in the front seat. Airbags are designed for adults, not children.
**Parents considering switching to forward facing:
Has your child reach the height or weight limit of the car seat in rear-facing mode (usually 40-50lbs)?
If not, PLEASE do not make the switch just yet! It might seem fun or convenient to switch them, but they are physiologically not developed enough to safely withstand a car crash without the protection rear-facing provides.
Their heads are still too large for their neck muscles and switching them too early puts them at serious risk for head, neck and spine injuries.
Visit the When to Switch page for more details on the rules and guidelines for switching.
Cars are made differently these days and we drive faster than before with more vehicles on the road. Plus, vehicles are full of air bags everywhere. Car seats not only protect your child from the forces of an impact, they also protect from the safety devices in the car, such as airbags, that are designs for adults. Going by the car seat height and weight limits instead of personal wants ensures the MAXIMUM protection possible for your child.
While we're talking about rear-facing, we would like some help dispelling a common Old Wive's Tale/Myth that keeps circulating the parentsphere:
A child's feet touching the back of the seat in a rear-facing mode
DOES NOT mean it's time to turn them around!
They may look scrunched but they're perfectly fine (and safest!).
Kids are really flexible. They can fold their legs criss-cross-applesauce or rest them on the seat.
Please HELP STOP the spread of this BAD information.
OVER age 8 MAY use the lap and shoulder belt IF they are big enough to PROPERLY use it.
There are two parts to this:
- How the bottom part of the belt fits across the hip bones
- How the shoulder belt lays across the collar bone.
The LAP part of the belt should sit across the top of the thighs/lower hips.
NOT across the soft part of the belly. In an accident, a seatbelt laying across the soft part of the belly will likely cause serious internal injuries. It is important the seatbelt stays across the sturdy hip bones.
The SHOULDER belt should sit comfortably about the middle of the collar bone without rubbing on the neck. If the shoulder belt is riding on the neck, try adjusting the seatbelt's height in the vehicle (if possible). If not adjustable or still doesn't fit correctly, the child may not be quite big enough for a lap and shoulder belt. Continue use of a size-appropriate booster seat. Fluffy seat belt covers to prevent rubbing is a no-no. If the seat belt is rubbing, a booster is still needed until the child is taller and the shoulder belt fits correctly.
The safest place for all children is in the back seat.
Protect your child – it is the law!
In California, for each child under 16 who is not properly secured, parents (if in the car) or drivers can be fined more than $475 per child and get a point on their driving records.
Dangers In and Around Cars & Kaitlyn's Law
It is against California law to leave a child under the age of 7 ALONE in the car without the supervision of a person at least 12 years old.
Look Before You Lock!!!
Be sure you haven’t left a child in the back seat.
Heatstroke as a result of a child being left in a vehicle is a terrible tragedy that is preventable.
Leaving a child alone in a vehicle is punishable by law!
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