Properly installing and securing your child into a car seat is important to protect your child in an accident. There are always new articles and suggestions about how to keep your child safe with the proper car seat, what positioning to place your child in, and how long children should stay in car seats. It may all seem overwhelming but doing your research and prioritizing the importance of proper car seat safety can protect your child in case of an accident.
Here are 5 of our car seat safety tips and tricks.
- Know the Stages
There are 4 stages of car seats throughout childhood. The requirements are not one-size-fits-all, but different depending on the needs of each unique child. It can be difficult to determine when it is safest for your child to change stages. Below is a chart that outlines the requirements a child needs to meet before moving to the next stage to maximize safety.
Type of Car Seat Age, Weight, Height Rear Facing Car Seat Under 1 year Old
Less Than 10kg (22lbs)
Forward Facing Car Seat Over 1 Year Old
Between 10kg (22lbs) & 18kg (40lbs)
Booster Seat Under 9 Years Old
Over 18kg (40lbs)
Under 145cm (4’9″)
Adult Seat Belt Over 9 Years Old
Over 36kg (80lbs)
Over 145cm (4’9″)
- Do Your Research
Every car seat comes with a manual outlining how to properly install the seat, and how to properly fasten your child into the seat correctly. Likewise, your vehicles manual has information about installing car seats, and where it is best to latch the seat. Knowing the ins and outs of both your car seat, and your vehicle can make it more likely that you will fasten your child in correctly. Car seats are there for the safety and well-being of your child. Learn to properly use the car seat before getting on the road.
- Backward is Best
Studies have shown that rear-facing is 5 times safer for children than front-facing. For almost a decade, it has been recommended that parents keep their children rear-facing for as long as possible – or at least 2 years. When rear-facing, the car seat absorbs most of crash forces that may occur instead of the vulnerable head, neck, and spine that young children possess. Until your child is too big to fit in a rear-facing car seat, backward is best.
- The Pinch and Inch Test
When installing a car seat into your vehicle, your seat needs to pass the “inch” test to ensure it has been installed correctly. You want the seat secure enough that when moved, the car seat will only budge less than one inch in all directions. Similarly, when fastening your child into a car seat, you need to perform the “pinch” test. After placing the harness straps over your child, tighten it, and try to pinch the two straps together. If they touch, the harness is too loose and must be tightened. These two quick and easy tests should be done every time after fastening your child into the car. A quick shake of the car seat, and pinch of the harness can easily tell you that your seat is installed and working properly, and your child is securely, and safely fastened.
- Big Kids Need Car Seats Too
Your older children will want to ditch the car seat and ride up front with you, but that is extremely dangerous unless they reach the proper weight and/or height. Recommended height is 4”9, which may only be reached at age 10-12. Before fully ditching the car seat take the 5-step seatbelt fit test. By doing this you must ensure that:
- The shoulder belt crosses between the neck and the shoulder;
- The lower back is against the vehicles seat;
- The lap belts stay on the upper thighs across the hip bones;
- The knees bend at the end of the seat;
- The child can comfortably stay in this position for the whole ride.
Only when your child meets the requirements AND passes all 5 portions of the test should you consider letting him or her ride without a car seat.
Cantini Law group has over 35 years’ experience representing Atlantic Canadians who have suffered injuries following a motor vehicle accident. For more articles and safety tips, go to https://cantiniinjurylaw.ca/blog/ or subscribe to our newsletter.