We’ve all been there. Parents post a cute picture of their cute baby on Instagram in her car seat and the Chest Clip Brigade starts in with murmurs of, “Gently, mama, her chest clip needs to be 3mm higher on her chest or your baby will die in an accident. Don’t you love your baby?”
Our Facebook page and our Facebook group are home to many, many questions from caregivers. One of the most common questions is how to choose the right car seat. In many cases, the child in question is well over 2 years old and rides forward facing but is not yet ready for a booster. Sometimes a great deal on a convertible car seat seems too good to be true and our users don’t want to pass up what seems like a great deal. The catch is that the convertible or multimode car seat on sale might not be the best value for a child who is already forward facing. That very common scenario begs the question: what type of car seat — convertible, multimode, or combination is best for this kiddo?
Using the top tether in conjunction with installing a forward facing car seat is one of the easiest things a parent can do to help protect their children. It’s the law in Canada to use a tether for all forward facing seats, and has been since 1989; in Australia all seats have been tethered since the 1970s. And yet in the United States, where it’s been highly encouraged since 2000, tether use is often less than 50%, and in some types of vehicles it’s as low as 17.2% (Jermakian, 2011).
By now, it is hopefully common knowledge that children should face the rear of the vehicle for at least 2 years, but eventually kids do need to forward face.
Parents want to keep their kids safe, and as CPSTs it’s our job to help them do just that. Parents often ask us to point them to the safest seat on the market. There’s no simple answer to that question: the safest seat is the one that fits your child, fits your car, and that you use correctly every time. Age, height, and weight all matter when choosing a seat that fits your little. Research shows that children under age 2, no matter their size, should be in rear facing seats, and older children need boosters until they pass the 5 step test.
Both of these warnings are so ubiquitous that maybe you haven’t stopped to read them (or, maybe, your kids are so loud and busy that you haven’t had the chance). These federally mandated warnings say the same thing: the vehicle’s back seat is the safest place for children under age 13 to ride. Sometimes, this warning reads “12 and under”, but the recommendation remains the same: kids should ride in the back seat if at all possible before they turn 13.
When it comes to child passenger safety, the evolution of caregiver knowledge and state laws has been a slow process. However, more and more caregivers are learning that children need to ride in booster seats longer than they may have originally thought.
Whether you’re a brand new parent or have a minivan full of Littles, it can never hurt to review the basics of car seat safety. Take a few moments to check all of these in regards to your child’s car seat – it might just save their life.
Anyone who has been doing this kid thing for a while knows how much the world of car seats has changed even in the last decade, let alone the last twenty years. I’m the admin currently with the oldest “Little” so I’ve been at this for a while now. AJ is 11.5 years old now and I’ve been a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) for almost nine years now; so I like to think I have a lot of real world experience when it comes to the changes that have been made over the years.
Driver safety and safety features in vehicles are evolving as fast as technology allows. Many of the things we learned during drivers’ education are now absolutely wrong, thanks to advances in occupant protection. There have also been advances to occupant protection that have nothing to do with what I learned in driver’s education but are