"But mommy, I don't like my car seat." If your child says that often, you might be wondering if he or she is old enough to forgo the car seat. But before you give in to a child's whims, you need to check the safety guidelines and laws. How long should a child use a car seat? Being a mom and former nanny, I study car seat guidelines often and keep up with new information.
When Does a Child Start Using a Car Seat?
From the moment a child is born, any time the infant is in a vehicle, a car seat is required. In fact, newborn babies cannot go home from the hospital unless it is proven that they have properly installed car seats to ride home in. Some hospitals will even give new mothers a free car seat to ensure this happens. A car seat safety class may be required to obtain the car seat. As soon as your infant starts riding in any vehicle, that's when it's time for a car seat. Never allow an infant to ride in a vehicle without the proper car seat for his or her age and stage.
The Importance of Following Updated Car Seat Guidelines
Car seat guidelines are often modified to keep up with new discoveries and safety measures. These guidelines are developed based on many different factors, such as laws and health and safety studies. Not following these guidelines can put your child in danger . Data from the National Center for Health Statistics states that vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for kids aged 3 to 14. Proper car seat usage can help prevent some of these deaths by up to 71% for infants and up to 54% for toddlers.
How Long Should A Child Use a Car Seat?
At what age or stage should a child stop using a car seat? This actually depends on the child. The 2010 AAP guidelines for car seat safety recommend that a child stay in a booster seat until they reach the height of 4' 9". This usually occurs somewhere between the ages of 8-12 years. The purpose of a booster seat is so that the adult restraint (seat belt) fits over the child properly. If the lap and shoulder belt do not properly fit your child, that means a booster seat should be used. The lap belt should be situated snugly across the thighs and the shoulder belt should be secured across the chest and shoulder. If the shoulder belt is at the neck or throat, your child still needs a booster seat.
*This is not meant to be a complete guide to car seat safety. Always stay updated on all of the proper car seat safety guidelines to keep your infants and children safe in a motor vehicle.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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