Do you struggle, like millions of new parents across the country, to install your infant or child’s car seat into your vehicle? Do you understand the rules regarding front and rear-facing seats along with the age, height, and weight requirements needed to eventually move to a booster seat? I know it would have been great to have a cheat sheet to keep all the information straight when we were raising our family. 

As a local insurance company that works hard to know our clients personally, we understand the importance of protecting your family at home, at work, and in our cars. Car seat safety is one very important component of this protection. 

What Are The Main Types of Car Seats?

In case you are new to this game, car seats come in all three main types. The main categories include: rear facing, front facing, and booster seats. Each kind is determined by age, height, and weight of the infant/child. 

  • Rear Facing or rear facing convertible car seats are meant for newborns through age 2. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. 
  • Forward facing car seats are meant for toddlers over the age of two and school aged children. These seats most often have a five point harness that protects the child in the case of an accident. That harness should be tightened to the point of allowing two fingers underneath and the clip should be centered on the child’s sternum (breastbone).
  • Booster seats are meant for children that have exceeded the weight and height requirements for the forward facing seats yet still need a “boost” to fit the seatbelt correctly at the shoulder. Most children typically reach 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 to 12 years of age during this phase of car seat usage. 

Car Seat Installation 

Most neighborhood fire and/or police departments offer free car seat installation to help new parents rest assured that their little one’s seat is anchored or tethered properly in the back seat of the family car. 

If your local first responders are not conducting any car seat workshops near you, we suggest finding a carseat passenger safety technician (CPST) who can help you follow the guidelines for your particular car seat. To find a CPST check out this link.

Tips & Tricks

Veteran parents know that there are some simple things you can do to make driving with your child safer. Here are a few tips and tricks to make your car experience as safe as possible. 

  • When using a five-point harness, make sure it passes the pinch test. If you can grab hold of the harness fabric between your pointer finger and thumb when your child is belted into the seat, the harness is too loose. The harness should lay flat against your child’s chest with no give. (Source: Parent Your Way
  • Make sure the harness is in the right place and the straps aren’t twisted. The straps should be even with or just above your child’s shoulders when forward-facing and at or below your baby’s shoulders when rear-facing. The chest clip should hit around the armpit region to ensure the best fit for the harness.
  • Be wary of toys in the car as hard toys can be thrown and hurt the child or driver. Find soft toys that can keep your little one busy and happy during the ride. 
  • The middle of the back seat is the safest location in your car for a child but many of those positions do not provide for the Latch system or a tight fit for car seats. The next best position is one of the side seats in the rear cabin. These areas often have Latching capabilities unless it is a much older car. 

Need more information? Check out Safe Kids online for some truly exceptional safety advice from the experts.