From The Doctor

Published on November 4th, 2016 | by Justin Hovey

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Car-Seats for the Rest of Us

     It seems simple, but many people are confused by the number and the changing recommendations for car-seats.  Unfortunately, I know there are many who are not using the correct car-seat or using their car-seats improperly.  I am going to try to make this article straight and to the point.  There are numerous sources to reference, but very few are easy to follow.


Infants and Toddlers:  The type of seat needed is rear-facing-only or rear-facing convertible. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer.

This information, updated in 2011, is surprising, as many people forward-faced after one year of age prior to this info.  The scientific reason has to do with the changes in the closer of parts of the cervical spine.  Additionally, a child’s immature cervical spine is holding a larger proportion of body weight compared to an adult’s mature spine.

Toddlers and Preschoolers:  The type of seat needed is convertible or forward-facing with harness.  Children who have outgrown the rear-facing height and weight limit of their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer.

Belt positioning in the five-point harness must be followed closely according to the height of the child.  This will change routinely.  The manufacturer will provide instructions on adjustment based on shoulder height of the child in the seat.

School-aged children:  All children whose height or weight exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning-booster seat until the vehicle belt fits properly, typically until they have reached 4’9” in height and are 8 through 12 years of age.  All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.

Older children:  When children are old and large enough for the vehicle seat belt to fit them correctly, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts. Once the child reaches 13 years, they may ride in the front.

 

     For more info, consult your pediatrician or family physician. You may also utilize the internet through websites such as the AAP (aap.org) or Car Seats for the Littles (csftl.org).

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