Today’s standards for child passenger safety far exceed the imaginations of parents of a generation ago and they are continuing to become more stringent. While standards are improving, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children 4 years and older, according to the Academy of Pediatrics.
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat (CSS) as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their CSS’s manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will permit children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.
All children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their CSS should use a forward-facing CSS with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their CSS’s manufacturer.
All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their CSS should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 ft 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.
All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
Always refer to the car seat manufacturer’s instruction manual for specific information about height and weight limits, child fit, proper installation and vehicle compatibility. These specifics can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and can and do change based on car seat models.
When determining if a car seat fits the child, you’re going to want to be familiar with the specifications of the car seat you’re considering. Each car seat has its own height and weight limits and each manufacturer will outline when and how the seat can be used within those limits. To ensure proper protection, you’re going to want to be familiar with the car seat specifications and confirm that your child falls within them. You’ll also want to carefully read the owner’s manual to ensure that you are following the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. Since children grow quickly, you’ll want to keep an eye on the child’s height and weight to be sure he’s always within the seat specifications.
When considering if the car seat fits your vehicle, it’s important to remember that every car seat won’t fit in every vehicle perfectly. Each vehicle manufacturer will have a section of the owner’s manual dedicated to installing child safety restraints. To install a car seat properly, you’ll need to know the approved seating positions, if there are lower anchors and top tethers available and how the vehicle seat belts lock. When installing a car seat you’ll want to be sure it’s attached to the vehicle snugly, which means there is less than one inch of movement front to back or side to side on the belt path. You’ll also want to be sure that the car seat is installed in the vehicle at the proper angle.
For many nannies and families, the child’s car seat is often moved from vehicle to vehicle, depending on who is transporting the child. It’s essential that everyone who is transporting the child is confident in how to properly install the car seat in their vehicle and how to properly secure the child in the seat.
It’s important to note that just because a child may fit in a type of seat, it doesn’t mean that type of seat is the safest choice. For example, just because a three year old child may fit in a booster seat, it doesn’t mean that it is the safest choice for him. Children should remain in each stage, rear facing, forward facing or booster seating until they reach the highest weight or height limit allowed by the car seat manufacturer.
When it comes to choosing car seats, the best car seat is the one that fits the child and your vehicle best and the one that will be used correctly every time. Certified Passenger Safety Technicians can check seat installations and teach you how to properly install a car seat in your vehicle.
Nannies who transport children should ensure that they are properly covered by insurance for transporting children for work. Nannies should check with their insurance agency regarding their policy coverage and ask if additional coverage or a special insurance rider is needed. If the nanny will be using a vehicle provided by the family, she should ensure that she is covered as an authorized driver on the family’s insurance policy. Nannies and families should also discuss who is responsible for vehicle maintenance, insurance deductibles and policy premium payments as it relates to the vehicle used to transport the children. It is important to note that NAN volunteers must always complete a NAN Transportation Liability Release Form prior to transporting children in a vehicle.
When it comes to flying, children under 40 pounds should be buckled into a car seat so that they are not thrown or crushed during turbulent flights. The CARES Safety Harness is currently the only FAA approved in flight alternative for kids 22-44 lbs.
One last thing. Be sure to follow the vehicle and car seat manufacturer’s instructions at all times and check your state and local laws regarding transporting children. Doing so will ensure the child in your care rides safe every time.