Motor vehicle crashes is the number one cause of death for children. 90% of child safety seats are installed incorrectly. Not only do we want to make sure your child is safe in the vehicle but it is the law to have your car safety seat installed properly. As safety advocates, we recommend you follow best practice when choosing what seat you use for your child.
What is the best child restraint for my child?
- The one that fits your child.
- The one that fits your vehicle.
- The one that you will use correctly every time.
Laws & Best Practice
- All children under 8 years old: Children under 8 years old must be properly restrained in a child restraint system.
- Birth to age one: Infants must ride in a rear-facing car seat until they are 1 year old AND weigh at least 20 lbs in the rear seat of the vehicle.
- Best Practice: Use a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Many convertible car seats can be used facing the rear until 35 pounds.
- Children between the ages of 1 and 4: Children who are older than age 1 and weigh more than 20 lbs. must be properly restrained in a car seat.
- Best Practice: Restrain your 1 to 4 year old in a rear or forward facing seat with a 5 point harness system until they are at least 40 lbs or to upper weight limit of seat. Keep child rear-facing as long as seat allows. Use the upper-tether straps where applicable (refer to your car seat and vehicle’s owner’s manual for more information.)
- Children between the ages of 4 and 8: Children 4-8 must continue to ride in a child restraint. This can be a five point harness child safety seat for younger children or a booster that uses the vehicle's lap and shoulder belt as kids get older and bigger.
- Best Practice: Children should be in a booster in the back seat until they are 57" tall and at least 8 years old. Use the "5-Step Test" to determine if your child can move to a seat belt only. Children under 13 should sit in the back seat only.
- Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
- Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
- Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
- Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
- Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
- Children between the ages of 8 and 16: Children between the ages of 8 and 16 must use a seatbelt or child restraint.
- Best Practice: Follow the guidelines above to know when your child can safely stop using the booster. Keep your child in the back seat as long as possible, at least until age 13 and 100 pounds. If your teenager is in the front seat, put the seat as far back as possible in case the airbag deploys in an accident.
Car Seat Appointments at Swedish Medical Center
To find a different car seat inspection station near you, please go to www.codot.gov/safety/seatbelts-carseats/carseats.