Bumps n’ Bruises Pediatric Urgent Care encourages all parents to talk about their child’s car seat and requirements as they grow with their pediatrician. The American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation in April of 2011, advising parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height AND weight for their seat. The AAP also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age. Children no longer require the booster seat when a seat belt fits correctly—the adult lap belt lies snugly across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt is snug across the shoulder and chest – which is not usually until the child is 4 feet 9 inches.
Since 2000, an average of approximately 1,900 children ages 14 and under have died in a motor vehicle-related incident each year. Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of injury-related death to children ages 1 to 14 and the second leading cause of injury-related death for children under 1 year of age from data in 2008. Bumps n’ Bruises finds these statistics staggering.
When installed and used correctly, child safety seats and safety belts are proven to prevent injuries and save lives. Child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by up to 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. Children 2 to 5 years of age using safety belts prematurely are four times more likely to suffer a serious head injury in a crash than those restrained in child safety seats or booster seats. The use of booster seats reduces the risk of nonfatal injury by 45 percent compared to seat belts only for children 4 to 8 years old.
A video posted on YouTube several years ago by a Swedish company, actually shows a side by side comparison of forward vs backward facing car seats and the obvious head and neck protection the backward facing convertible car seat provides your young child. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKIeExpDLDA
Which carseat do you use? This is understandably a daunting task. Bumps N’ Bruises wants to make sure you are making your infant, child or teen as safe as possible, so lets try to clarify. Infant car seats are rear-facing, having a three- or a five-point harness. The most common type of harness is a five-point, with two straps that secure the shoulders and two more that secure the hips. The straps all connect to a buckle between the legs. These seats are usually portable with a carrying handle, making them easily removed and used as infant carriers. They are generally used up to 22 to 35 pounds but always check the owners manual for your car seats specific weight limits. Infants that outgrown their infant-only car seat will need a larger seat that can be used rear-racing, such as a convertible car seat. A convertible child safety seat can be used in both positions of rear-facing and forward-facing. Convertible child car seats must be used in the rear-facing position, in the backseat of your car, until your child is 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight AND height limit allowed by the manufacturer of the convertible safety seat. In either the infant car seat or the rear-facing convertible car seat, don’t be concerned if your infant or toddlers legs bend at the knees or touch the back seat of the car when rear-facing; this will not harm their feet or knees, and is still the safest position!
Once the age, weight and height are met, you can then turn your child forward facing but they should remain in the five-point harness forward-facing safety seat as long as possible, up to the upper height or weight limit (40 – 80 pounds) of the harnesses for that manufacturer’s seat and usually over 4 years of age. At this point, now your child can start using the actual seat belt in your car but needs to be a in a booster seat until over 4 feet 9 inches and 8 to 12 years of age. When using a booster seat, make sure the lap belt lies low and snug across your child’s upper thighs, below the hip bones and not across their tummy. The shoulder belt should cross the center of your child’s chest and shoulder and not cut across their neck.
Check online for area fitting stations to make sure each car seat or booster seat you are using is installed correctly. You can check out http://www.seatcheck.org for locations close to your home.
Bumps N’ Bruises wants to make sure your child is in the safest seat and safest position in that seat as they grow and change. Your pediatrician is a great resource to get your questions answered. Also, look at your state department of public safety for specific laws and regulations in your area.
Bumps N’ Bruises Pediatric Urgent Care lastly wants to remind you to always mail back in your car seat or booster seat registration card. This will provide you notification of any safety recalls or problems with your seat.