According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a leading cause of death among children under the age of 13 is car crashes. A car seat could potentially save your child’s life, but only if you choose the right one.
The right child seat depends on many different factors relating to your child and to the vehicle you drive. It is important to choose the right car seat and then install it correctly to ensure adequate protection.
There are many items that you can buy too large and allow your child to grow into, but safety equipment, including a car seat, is only effective if it fits well. As your child grows, you will need to keep buying car seats until he or she is large enough to receive proper protection from a seat belt alone.
The level of protection that your child needs from a car seat depends on his or her age. The NHTSA recommends that an infant use a car seat that faces toward the rear of the vehicle, and that the child continues riding backward in a car seat as long as it is feasible.
From approximately age 3 to 7, your child should ride in a front-forward car seat with a tether and a harness. After that, your child can graduate to a booster seat until large enough to fit the seat belt. The general recommendation is that your child continues using a booster seat until approximately age 12.
Before purchasing a car seat for your child, be sure that it will fit the car you drive. Not all car seats fit in every vehicle. Manufacturer information should help you find the right match. Once you have found a car seat that fits your child and is compatible with your vehicle, be sure to follow the installation instructions to make sure that it is secure.