As we approach the holiday season many of us may find ourselves driving a lot. The roads during the holidays can get rainy, congested and hectic! It is important to make sure that all children are safe inside of a car. Car seat safety is crucial to avoid injuries and prevent death. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids 3-16 years of age. It is recommended that all children ride in the backseat of a car until 13 years of age.

When choosing a car seat for your child it is important that it fits your child (height and weight), fits in your car and you are able to use it correctly for every ride.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these guidelines for car seat safety:

Age-groupType of SeatGeneral Guidelines
Infants and toddlers
0-2 years
  • Rear-facing-only
  • Rear-facing-convertible
All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Most convertible seats have limits that will allow children to ride rear facing for 2 years or more.
Toddlers and preschoolers
2-4+ years
  • Forward-facing convertible
  • Forward-facing with harness
Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Many seats can accommodate children up to 65 pounds or more.

Buckle up for Life recommends for Infant or rear-facing car seats make sure you:

  • Place baby with their hips and back against the back of the seat
  • Position the shoulder straps so they are at or below shoulder level
  • Use the Pinch Test, tighten the shoulder straps so they are snug with no slack. You shouldn’t be able to pinch excess harness webbing together.
  • Place the harness clip so it is in the middle of your child’s chest, at armpit level.
  • Leave thick layers of clothing under the harness
  • Place any extra padding or cushions behind your child
  • Place blankets beneath or wrap blankets around your baby – You may place a blanket over your baby once the harnesses are fastened.

When babies have thick jackets, extra padding or blankets around them it gives a false sense that the harness is on tight, but there is actually an increase in the space between the child’s back and the car seat, putting them in more danger. Be sure to always buckle your children in before driving your car. Also remember to safely remove your child from his or her car seat and take the child with you every time you exit the vehicle.

Helpful Resources

Free car set safety classes for low income families in San Diego

Check out this website for videos on car seat safety!