Car safety and booster seats save lives every day. But despite their incredible efficiency, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for children between 1 and 13. That’s why it’s imperative that parents know exactly what car seat to use for every new stage of their lives and how to install the device properly.
In Washington state, the law states that infants and toddlers must stay in rear-facing safety seats until at least 2 years old. The law also states that children can move to simply using seat belts when they are old enough and large enough, typically when they reach 4’9″ tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age. But if you want to make sure your child is safe at all ages, read more about what federal regulators and safety advocates recommend below.
From the moment of their birth until they are at least 2-years-old, parents should place their children in rear-facing safety seats. In that position, the seat absorbs the impact from a crash better, protecting the child’s neck and spine. That’s because car seats reduce fatal injury by 71 percent among infants under 1 year of age.
Toddlers can only be moved to a forward-facing seat once they hit the maximum height or weight limit of their seats.
At this stage, parents can place their children in forward-facing seats with a harness. Parents must remember to always use the tether to secure the car seat instead of just a seat belt. This is a critical step, safety advocates suggest, as the tether keeps the car seat from moving forward in an accident, protecting the child from neck and head injuries.
When securing the child, make sure the chest clip does not move down, resting on the belly.
Once the child is too tall and too heavy to go on a forward-facing car seat, then it’s time to transition to the booster seat.
The device lifts the child, helping his or her body to align with the vehicle’s seat belt. Booster seats are essential in ensuring children are safe in a crash.
Once the child is 13, then they should be secured with the car’s seat belt.
For more tips on how to make sure your child is safe on the go, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.