Parents generally want to do anything in their power to keep their children safe. One of the ways to do that is by always properly buckling your children into a car or booster seat. However, despite a parent’s best intentions, a child in a car seat may not always be secure, even after a loved one buckles him or her in.
Every state in this country has standards for car and booster seats, including the type that parents should use based on a given child’s age. Texas bases its standards on the recommendations of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association. If you’ve ever had questions about keeping your children safe in the event of a car accident, these guidelines may help.
When to use a rear-facing car seat
Children younger than 12 months old should use a rear-facing car seat specifically designed to be rear-facing or one that parents can convert to front facing when appropriate. Depending on the car seat you use, your child may continue to sit in a rear-facing seat up to age 3, which experts say is the safest option. However, manufacturers will have different recommendations for specific car seats, and parents should strictly follow the guidelines provided based on a child’s weight or height.
When to use a front-facing car seat
Most children will be ready for a front-facing car seat with a harness by the age of four. This will depend on the height and weight recommendations set by the manufacturer of the specific car seat you are using. By age seven, your child may have grown enough to transition to a booster seat.
When to use a booster seat
Make sure to use a booster seat in the backseat. Most children will use them from age eight to 12, but you need to follow the height and weight guidelines set by the manufacturer. Booster seats are generally designed for use in conjunction with a car’s own seat belts. Make sure that the lap belt fits across your child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across your child’s shoulder and chest.
When to use a seat belt only
Once your child’s height and weight have progressed to a certain point, it will be time to use a seat belt alone. This could happen anywhere from age eight to age 12. The lap belt needs to fit across your child’s upper thighs and the shoulder belt needs to fit across your child’s shoulder. If the belts are on your child’s stomach or neck, they will not properly protect them in the event of a crash. It is still safest for your child to ride in the backseat.
The bottom line is to follow car seat manufacturer recommendations to keep your child as safe as possible. Hopefully, a crash won’t ever happen, but you or your child could still get hurt in a car accident. If a negligent driver does cause your child harm, you deserve to hold that party responsible.