What To Do With Your Old Car Seat
When your child gets too big for her car seat, you can give the seat to someone you know. Make sure the seat has all the original parts, labels, and instructions. If the seat was in a crash or is missing parts, throw it away!
When you throw away an expired or unsafe car seat, take it apart and put the pieces in separate dark trash bags to prevent someone else from using it.
Remember, car seats expire. You can find the expiration date on your car seat. Look for the date on a label or imprinted on the plastic.
What Type Of Car Seat Should I Use
Rear-facing car seat:
- All infants must use a rear-facing car seat. A rear-facing seat provides the best protection for your childs head, neck, and spine in a sudden stop or crash. Once your baby outgrows the infant seat, use a larger, rear-facing seat. As long as your child still fits within the manufacturers weight and height limits, they are safest using a rear-facing seat until 2, 3, or even 4 years old.
Forward-facing car seat:
- Once your child has outgrown the larger rear-facing car seat and is at least2 years old they can move to a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness. Keep your child in a 5-point harness until they weigh at least 18 kg and can sit straight and tall without moving out of position or unbuckling. This may be at 4, 5, or even 6 years old. If your child outgrows the seat before they can sit correctly, you may need a 5-point harness that will hold a taller, heavier child.
- When your child is at least 18 kg and at least 4 years old, and has outgrown their forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness, they may be ready to move to a belt-positioning booster seat. To safely use a booster seat, your child must be able to sit correctly. Keep your child in a booster seat until they safely fit the adult seat belt. For most children, this will be between 9 and 12 years old.
If your child cannot sit like this for the whole trip without slouching, continue to use a booster seat.
So Whats A Minimum Age For Using A Booster
So whats the earliest you should even *consider* switching from forward-facing to a booster? Personally, Id suggest waiting until 5 at a minimum. Why? Because right now, right this day, there are seats that can keep children rear-facing until then. Growth charts show that a 50th percentile girl will reach 50 lbs at age 7 and 44 at 5 years, 5 months. A 50th percentile boy will reach 50 lbs and 44 at exactly the same ages. In other words, the average child wont outgrow the best convertibles on the market until s/he is around 5 and a half years old!
But what if you dont have the budget for a 50 pound rear-facing seat? Well, the growth charts above show that a 50th percentile child will reach 40 pounds at around age 5. This means that a 40 pound convertible like the Graco Size4Me 65 thats tall enough to allow virtually all children to outgrow it by weight instead of by height will be able to keep the average child rear-facing until 5!
Placing children in a booster when theyre still capable of fitting in a rear-facing seat is unnecessarily risky, somewhat like riding in our metaphorical seat belt free car when youve got a perfectly normal seat belted car at your disposal. The odds are that you wont crash, but the odds will be dramatically against you if you do. The same goes for young children placed in boosters when theyd fit in rear-facing seats.
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The Switch From Harnessed To Backless Booster Seat Anti
If your child is in a convertible car seat or a harnessed booster seat, you may be wondering when to use a backless booster seat.A car seat is the most important child safety choice you will make for your child.. Most children transition from their convertible car seat to a booster seat at about four or five years old, or whenever they have outgrown their convertible car seat.
Letting Your Child Use A Regular Seat Belt Too Soon
Why its unsafe: Seat belts are designed for an adult and can cause seriously injuries if they dont fit properly.
What AAA recommends: Use a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits properly with the lap portion of the belt fitting low across the childs hips and the shoulder belt across their sternum and collar bone. Proper belt fit may not be possible in some cases until age 12 or 13.
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Checking The Fit In Your Vehicle
Read the booster seat manual and the section of your vehicle user manual that describe how to install child seats and booster seats.
Always install the booster seat in the back seat of your vehicle. This places your child away from your vehicles front air bags.
If your booster seat has a backrest make sure the booster seat fits against the vehicle seat back with little to no gaps:
- if it doesnt, you can raise or remove the vehicle head restraint to clear the top of the booster seat
- if this doesnt help, choose another booster seat
If your booster seat does not have a backrest, make sure that the vehicle seat or headrest is high enough to reach at least the top of your childs ears. This important support will help protect your childs head and neck in a crash.
- If the vehicle seat back and head rest are not high enough, raise the head rest
- If this doesnt help, choose another booster seat, such as a high back booster seat
There may be a child car seat clinic in your community that can help you determine if you have correctly installed your booster seat.
What To Look For
When you buy a child car seat for use in Canada, look for the National Safety Mark label attached to the seat. This label indicates that the seat complies with Canadian regulations and standards and is legal for use in Canada.
Every child car seat and booster seat sold in Canada has an expiry or useful life date on it and should not be used past that date.
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Time For A Change: Car Seat Booster Seat Seat Belt
Moving to A Booster Seat. Many parents arent sure when to switch their child to a booster seat. Sometimes parents get pressure to use a booster seat from friends, relatives or the child. We understand that pressure and concern, but it is safer to move from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat only after your child reaches the weight or height limit of the seat you are using.
Wearing Bulky Coats/sweaters While Buckled Into A Car Seat
Consequence: Unapproved padding, including coats and sweaters, placed behind or under the harness can compress in a crash, creating slack in the harness system.
Recommendation: Place blankets or jackets over the child after the harness is snug and secure.
Dont rush! To protect your child, keep them rear-facing for as long as possible, at least until age 2. The old 1 year and 20 pounds milestone is no longer the recommended standard.
Unfortunately, it takes time for state laws to catch up with best practice safety recommendations. All major safety organizations along with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend this new guideline.
Children in the second year of life are five times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a rear-facing car seat. Turning a child under age 2 to a forward-facing position can result in head, neck or spinal cord injuries in the event of a crash. Babies under age 2 simply arent yet strong enough to withstand strong crash forces without the extra protection that a rear-facing car seat provides.
When your child outgrows their infant-only bucket seat, its time to use a convertible car seat a seat that can be used in a rear-facing position, and when theyre older, in a forward-facing position.
When your child reaches the height or weight limit of the convertible seat, its time to switch to the forward-facing position.
Dont Skip a Step
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Turning Your Child Forward Facing Too Soon
Consequence: Children in the second year of life are 5 times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if they ride in a rear-facing car seat. Turning a child forward facing before age two can result in head, neck or spinal cord injury due to their underdeveloped bodies.
Recommendation: A child should remain in a rear-facing seat as long as possible until they reach the upper weight or height limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer. Once your child outgrows a rear-facing infant seat, switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat with higher height and weight limits.
Infant And Convertible Car Seats: What’s The Difference
Parents have the option of choosing between an infant and a convertible car seat when traveling with their baby. Both are safe options if your baby meets the car seat’s height and weight recommendations. You also have to make sure you know how to securely install the seat. It’s important to choose the seat that works best for your baby and your needs. Here are the key differences between infant and convertible car seats.
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To Secure Your Child In A 5
- For your rear-facing child, make sure the harness straps are in the slot level with or just below your childs shoulders.
- For your forward-facing child, make sure the harness straps are in the slot level with or just above your childs shoulders.
- Tighten the harness straps. You should not be able to pinch the harness at the shoulder. The harness should be flat with no twists.
- Place the chest clip at armpit level.
- Bulky clothing or snowsuits should not be worn in the car seat. They can interfere with proper harness tightening and placement.
Not Buckling In Empty Booster Seats
Why its unsafe: Booster seats that are not in use can go flying in a sudden stop or crash and cause injury if they are not buckled in the vehicle.
What AAA recommends: Buckle up booster seats even when children are not riding in the car to keep yourself and other passengers safe.
Once your child outgrows a forward-facing child safety seat, they are not quite grown enough to properly fit in a safety belt, and should use a belt-positioning booster seat until they are at least 49 and between 8 and 12 years old.
Children at this stage are not yet ready for adult safety belts, which are designed for 165-pound male adults. A belt which does not fit properly can ride up on your childs stomach and cause internal organ damage or neck/head injuries.
Booster seats are pre-crash positioners that help raise your child up to position the lap portion of the safety belt across your childs hips/upper thighs and the shoulder belt low across your childs chest and collarbone allowing for proper protection. In fact, studies show that using a booster seat can reduce risk of injury in a crash by 45 percent over a seat belt alone.
Dont rush! Each time you graduate your child to the next seat, theres a reduction in the level of protection for your child, so keep your child in each stage for as long as possible.
Also, remember that the safest place for all children under age 13 is in in the back seat.
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Is Your Child Ready For A Booster Seat
It happens in the blink of an eye. One minute youre bringing home a tiny baby in an infant car seat, and the next youre wondering whether your big kid is ready to move out of a five-point harness to a belt-positioning booster seat. Children outgrow their car seats at different rates, but contrary to popular belief, the right time to make the switch has little to do with age. So how do you know when your child is ready for a booster seat? Here are some guidelines for making the switch safely at the right time for your little one.
Installing A Car Seat Using Both Latch And A Seat Belt
Consequence: Installing a car seat with more than one system may put unnecessary stress on the car seat and affect its performance in the event of a crash.
Recommendation: In this case, two is not better than one. Install the car seat in approved seating positions with LATCH OR the seat belt. Do not use more than one system unless the car seat manufacturer and vehicle manufacturer permit it.
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How Do I Know If My Kid Is Ready For A Booster Seat
Behavioural maturity is critical because kids in booster seats have to be able to sit tall with the vehicles seat belt snug against them and touching the strongest parts of their body , regardless of distractions. Say they drop a toy or their sister kicks themhow will they react? If they decide to slither out of their belt, their risk of injury goes way up, says Shapka. Kids also need to be big enough to stay in position when they fall asleep, she adds, because if theyre flopping forward, theyre more likely to be seriously hurt in an accident.
When To Switch Your Child’s Car Seat Mom Loves Best
Convertible Seat Restrictions. When it comes to convertible car seats, the weight and height restrictions will vary greatly. While many convertible car seats will accommodate up to 65 pounds, some will go even further as theyre considered all-in-one seats .. I went poking around various websites and found some all-in-one seats that could be used all the way up until your child reaches
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How To Know If Its Time To Move Your Child To A Booster Seat
You may have seen stories in the news lately about the use of booster seats for children who weigh less than 40 pounds. Many caregivers struggle with the decision of when to move a child from a car seat to a booster seat and often place their children in booster seats before the child has outgrown the car seat.
But the reality is a car seat with a properly used and tightened 5-point harness is the absolute best protection for a child in a vehicle. That means the safest way for a child to ride is to use their car seat with a harness until it has been fully outgrown by height or weight. In many cases, a child can stay in a car seat with a harness until they weigh 65 pounds. The key is to follow the label on your car seat.
So, parents, take your time. Advance your child from rear-facing, to forward-facing, to a booster seat, then to a seat belt only when your child is too heavy or tall to meet the requirements of your current car seat. These four different but very important steps can take more than 10 years to complete but its worth the wait for every child. And remember, forward-facing car seats all go to a minimum of 40 pounds so dont consider moving your child to a booster seat until they are at least 40 pounds or more. An extra tall child who is skinny and weighs less than 40 pounds may need a different car seat with a taller back and a harnessthere are many to choose from.
Its Really Up To You And The Maturity Of Your Child
On one hand, Swedish kids start forward-facing when theyre 4 or 5, and they have the best records of child auto fatalities on the planet. However, you know your child best, and its all right to keep forward-facing until the seat is outgrown. Most forward-facing seats allow you to do so until at least 65 pounds, and thats the equivalent of a 9-year-old 50th percentile child .
However, ignoring seat fit questions and focusing on age for the moment, will a 7, 8, or 9-year-old be able to be taught to sit maturely in a booster seat with a seat belt? Yes! Is the same going to be true for a 2, 3, or 4-year-old?
I doubt it. To be honest, I doubt itll be true for most children in the US under 5, which is where I think the average child will be ready to transition into a booster seat. So in general, Id recommend waiting until at least 5 for many kids, with 4 as the absolute minimum.
The NHTSA recommendation is to forward-face until 8 if possible. But to draw the line at a real-world absolute minimum point, Id draw it at age 5, for both physiological, developmental, and practical reasons. Physiologically, their bodies simply arent ready before 5. Developmentally, they arent nearly mature enough before 5. Practically, there are seats that can keep them rear-facing until 5 or even beyond.
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Buckling Up Your Child
A booster seat helps children sit comfortably by raising them so they can sit up against the seat back with their knees bent over the edge of the booster or vehicle seat.
If your child can sit up straight with his or her back against the seat back and his or her knees bent over the edge of the booster, move on to check the fit of the seat belt.
- If your child cannot do this, choose another booster seat
A booster seat that fits needs to guide and keep the lap and shoulder belt in place across your childs hips, chest and shoulders.
The seat belt guides help you adjust the belt for better fit, and help keep the belt in place. Follow the instructions in the booster seats manual and the seats labels for threading the belt through the guides.
The lap belt must fit snuggly on the hips. This will help the seat belt bring your child to a stop during a sudden stop or crash and protect your child from injuries.
- If the lap belt does not sit flat on the hips, choose another booster seat
The shoulder belt should sit in the middle of your childs shoulder. This is most comfortable, and makes it less likely for children to wiggle out of a belt or put it behind them. It also makes the belt less likely to slip off the shoulder during a crash.
- If the shoulder belt does not cross the middle of the shoulder try to adjust the shoulder belt guide
- If this does not help, choose another booster seat