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Car Seat Safety

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

With all of the news about car seats and recalls, I have gotten a lot of questions from parents. As you know, infants and toddlers under one year of age AND under 20 pounds need to be in a rear facing car seat in the back seat of the car. After the age of one (and 20 pounds) you may turn appropriate car seat around to forward face your child, still in the backseat.

The next step is a good forward facing car seat with a five point harness that your child may stay in until they reach 40 – 80 pounds, depending on which car seat you buy, and manufacturers recommendations.

Many parents ask me about a booster seat, and the longer your child can safely stay in a car seat the better. When choosing a booster seat, make sure you have one that has both lap and shoulder harness and that they are also safety tested. Your child should really stay in a car seat/booster until age eight and over 4′-9″ tall and can sit with their back against the seat and have knees bend comfortably over the seat.

Never put your child in the front passenger seat if you have an airbag, until over the age of 11, and in my opinion the back seat is still safer. It also keeps siblings from fighting about the front seat privilege and “I call shotgun” which often leads to slammed fingers as they race to the front seat. The best time to put them in the front passenger seat is when they are a young teen and makes for better conversation, which you know they love. Keep your kids safe and buckled up.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat tomorrow!

More Information:Car Safety Seats: A Guide for Families 2008 (American Academy of Pediatrics)

More Information: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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