Protecting our children from danger is a parent's number one priority - thus, many of us worry about how to safely transport our children in a vehicle. Choosing the correct car safety seats and making sure that they are installed correctly can greatly reduce the likelihood of a child being injured in an auto accident.
The first step is to decide what type of care safety seat is appropriate for your child and there are several factors which determine what type of seat is most suited to your child's needs including the age of the child, the weight of the child, and the type of vehicle that the child will be riding in.
The four main types of restraints are:
Infant Seats. Infants are best protected when they ride in rear-facing infant-only car safety seats. Infants should remain in an infant-only seat until they reach the highest height and weight recommended by the manufacturer - which is usually at least one year of age and from about 20-35 lbs.
Convertible Seats. Many car seats can be used as rear-facing seats up to 35-40 lbs. and then converted to front-facing seats up to 65 lbs. Studies have shown that infants and toddlers should be kept in rear-facing seats as long as possible and should not be converted to a front-facing seat until the child reaches the maximum height and weight recommended by the manufacturer for the rear-facing seat. Children should then remain in the front-facing seat with a full-harness until they weigh about 65 lbs (See Manufacturer's Recommendations).
Booster Seats. Once a child outgrows the front-facing safety seat, they should then be moved into a booster seat until they are at least 4'9" and between the ages of 8-12.
Seat Belts. Once a child is tall enough to be adequately protected without the use of a booster seat, they can ride with just the use of a lap and shoulder belt. However, a child should not sit in the front seat of the vehicle until at least age 13.
Installation Tips (Rear-Facing):
- Harness slots should be at or below baby's shoulders
- Harness clip should be positioned at mid-chest level
- Harness should be snug and the safety seat should fit tightly against the seat
- A rear-facing safety seat should never be placed in the front seat of a vehicle
- Seat angle should not allow baby's head to flop forward
Although this may seem a bit overwhelming, there are many organizations dedicated to ensuring that parents install property safety seats and know how to use them properly. Colorado Child Passenger's "CPS Team Colorado" is an organization whose mission is to ensure that "every child in Colorado is properly secured in an approved and appropriate restraint system while riding in a motor vehicle." CPS Team Colorado offers “Fitting Stations” across the state for parents who would like to have their safety seat checked for correct installation. CPS Team Colorado's website: www.apps.Coloradodot.info/carseats.