As a parent or caregiver, your number one job is to keep your children safe in all circumstances, especially while riding in a vehicle. Unfortunately, even the best, most responsible drivers cannot always protect from others on the road. There are more children harmed and killed in car crashes every day than any other type of accident. The risk of a crash exists every time you pull out of your driveway, that’s why using child safety seats and using them correctly is crucial to keeping your child protected as much as possible.
With today’s technology, branding, and baby market, there are endless lists of diverse car seats that offer this, that and other features. It can be overwhelming and confusing! There is no one kind or brand that is the “best” or the “safest”, and quality is not determined by a high price tag! The most secure car seat is one that fits your child’s weight, height and exact age. Before choosing a child safety seat for your child, check the age and weight limits, because these limits are different for every car seat available.
Once you have decided on which car seat to buy, make sure to install it correctly. Read the instruction manual carefully and test and adjust the harness straps and buckles while your child is buckled in to familiarize yourself. Keep the manual in the car for future reference. Also, make sure you fill out the registration card that comes with the seat so the manufacturer can notify you for any possible recalls.
If you decide to borrow or buy a used child safety seat, please do your homework on that seat! Make sure no parts are missing, there are no recalls on it and it’s no more than six years old. Check for the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standard sticker which certifies that it has met or exceeded safety standards.
Here are the guidelines posted on HealthyChildren.org by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
A great resource offered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are the Child Car Seat Inspection Stations that offer FREE in-person guidance, given by certified technicians, on the correct installation and proper use of car seats. Just go to www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm to find the inspection station nearest you.
Although there may be variables or discrepancies in guidelines (from one manufacturer to another, for example); recommendations are general in nature. Your own child’s height/weight, or any special needs and circumstance could impact your decision on the right seat. Please consult as many resources as possible while making choices.
For parents of older kids, you may hear your pre-teen complaining and the need to feel like a big kid but all children below 13 years old are safest in the back seat of the car. Head on collision car crashes are the most common type of car accident.
Parents must be good role models and always wear seat belts. Your children follow your every move and habit. Being responsible and consistent with car safety will encourage your little one to do the same and form a lifelong habit of buckling up. It’s also good parenting, reduces fussing and most of all, can save your baby’s life.
Lastly, but certainly not least, never leave your child alone in or around cars. An unattended child in a hot vehicle can lead to heat stroke and strangulation from retracting seat belts. Drive safely – Click it, Don’t Risk it!
All information contained in this blog and on our web site(s) should be independently verified by you by a medical professional of your own choosing and you should always conduct your own research and due diligence before making any decision related to the subject matter of this blog or our web site.
Dr. Pearl Cenon
A pediatrician in private practice in New Jersey for over 15 years, Dr. Cenon (we like to call her Dr. Pearl) also has two children of her own. Dr. Pearl’s husband, Kevin McDonough is also a pediatrician and they work together. She writes basic posts about topics that interest many parents, from skin care and nutrition to seasonal issues, such as allergies and colds. Her kind, approachable tone in each blog post will have you looking forward to the next one.