As a former professional nanny, part of my job was to drive the children I cared for to various places. For two years I drove the kids all over to school, after school activities, friends’ houses, field trips, errands, etc. When I started my job, both children were in booster seats with backs. As the kids got older their dad wanted to take the backs off, but their mom said they weren’t big enough yet. We finally went online and found the manufacturer’s recommendation for the booster seat and also the current guidelines for child passenger safety. It turned out one of them was big enough for the back of the seat to come off while the other wasn’t.
It turns out that based on the child’s development (bones, spine, muscle, etc.) and the standard configuration of a vehicle’s seatbelt configuration (designed for adult ergonomics, not kids), the safest car seat configuration varies significantly from one stage to another. Anyone who has children or transports children should know the guidelines for transporting them. There are so many different configurations and types of infant seats, toddler seats and booster seats that it can be confusing to know which one is right for which stage of development (which way should the seat face and how old and/or big a child must be before they can change direction or transfer from car seat, to booster seat, to no booster seat).
Child Car Seat Guidelines
A good resource to help find the answers to these questions and more is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Their website features a very helpful Child Safety page (http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS). They list current the child car seat guidelines, give information for parents and caregivers and let you register your car seat to notify you in case of recalls. You can also find a Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator, a free service to help you know if you’ve installed your seat correctly.
The NHTSA released new child car seat guidelines on March 21, 2011. The new guidelines advise parents to keep children in rear-facing, forward-facing and booster seats for “as long as possible” before moving them to the next type of seat.
Here are the recommendations for all ages:
- Select a car seat based on your child’s age, height and weight.
- Keep your child in the car seat for as long as possible, as long as your child fits the seat’s height and weight requirements.
- All children under 13 should ride in the back seat.
Child passenger safety has dramatically evolved over the past decade. However, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death of children 3 to 14 years old. As a caregiver I took my responsibility to heart. These children were their parent’s most valued treasure, and it was my responsibility to ensure that they were always safe in my care. Knowing how to keep them safe is easy! Take the time and know before you go for the children’s sake.
And before you buy your next new or used vehicle, ask your car dealer to install Pulse™. In addition to a child safety seat, it is one of the most effect and cost efficient ways to help protect your family.