If you’re a regular dude like the rest of us in DaysoftheDad then I’m sure that checking the regulations for your child’s car seat didn’t cross your mind growing up.
Trust me when I say that it’s okay and that it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a bad parent or are currently one. Heck I didn’t think about the actual regulations until the doctor brought the subject up a month before the baby arrived.
The fact is that the car can be one of the most dangerous places for your child and it is the parents’ sworn duty in life to protect their child. At least that’s what I believe!
Now I don’t say this to fill you with fear so that you never let your child in a vehicular device again. I say it to remind my fellow dads that although safety isn’t always fun, and can really do a number on you in the patience department, it does make a big difference. Plus there are some nasty tickets you can get for not following the laws in your state.
(On a side note this would also be a great chance to show off and get some brownie points with your significant other if you know what I mean 😉)
Now before anything else I want to beat into the head of any parent reading this,
READ THE LABELS ON YOUR CHILDREN’S CAR SEATS!!!
This a simple thing to do that could save their life and is an absolute must for just about anything you get for your child. I mean these labels give you information such as how the car seat needs to sit in the vehicle, the height and weight limitations for holding your kid, the car seats expiration (That’s right car seats expire fellas! They do this partially due to material deterioration over time.) and more.
This DaysoftheDad blog post will give you all the important information you need involving car seats, booster seats or car safety for the kids. Plus I will have a PDF directly from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) showing all these car seat guidelines in a printable format.
Car seats are broken down into three main categories: rear-facing, forward-facing or booster seat. These can be further broken down into different types such as convertible, combination or all-in-one seats. The AAP also recommend waiting until the maximum limits are met before switching your child to the next milestone.
Wondering “what type of car seat should my child use?” or “how do I install a car seat now that I have one?” visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats to use the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) car seat finder and/or installation help.
REAR-FACING CAR SEATS
From the moment that baby can leave the hospital it will be in a state regulated rear-facing car seat.
If you need help finding out if your car seat is up to specs for your baby you can visit an inspection station that most communities will have so that their child passenger safety technician can look at the seat as well as answer any questions you might have about he seat or future car seats. You can locate these at www.seatcheck.org, or if there isn’t a station available near you check for a technician on the National Child Passenger Safety website http://cert.safekids.org.
Now while the AAP suggests your child rides in this type of car seat until 2 years old and the NHTSA suggests until 3 years old they both agree that any parent should follow the instructions found on their child’s car seat to know the max weight and height.
FORWARD-FACING CAR SEATS
Once your little bundle of joy has made it past the specifications set by the rear facing car seat it’s time to upgrade to the next package. This means you need to check and see if your car seat is just a rear-facing (you’ll need a new car seat sorry 😭), a convertible car seat (turns into a front-facing car seat as well which is awesome 😎) or if it is the legendary all-in-one car seat then that sucker transforms from a rear-facing to a front-facing to a booster seat! 🤯
Oh and if you need any help finding the specifications of different car seats then visit https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Product-Listing.aspx to see a listing of every car seat available in the US market.
Remember car seats mainly go by height and weight of the child so make sure to check that on the seat but the NHTSA show an age range of 1 to 7 years of age for this stage.
The final step before your prince or princess rides with just the seat belt is for them to ride in a booster seat.
The NHTSA and AAP both show that a child should stay in a booster seat until they reach the height of 4 feet 9 inches and are older than 8 years of age. If you want some great pointers on when they are ready to leave the booster seat then ask these questions from the AAP:
- Is the kid tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with his or her knees bent at the edge of the vehicle seat without slouching and stay in this position comfortably throughout the trip?
- Does the shoulder belt lie across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not against the neck or face?
- Is the lap belt low and snug across the upper thighs, not the abdomen (stomach)?
It is also recommend to keep children in the back seat of the car until they are older than 13 years of age to protect them from the air bags. Impact from front seat air bags can be fatal for a young children.
Whether you’re about to have a kid for the the first time or you’re a current parent just wanting to know a little more to protect your precious gift, I hope this has helped you a ton.
Below is the PDF from AAP as promised and I ask that if this has helped you please help DaysoftheDad by sharing and liking this article so that we can help out parents everywhere anytime it’s needed.
Parenting can be an exhausting amount of responsibility so please take a breath from time to time you deserve it!