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for grandparents & those who love them

Are Your Grandkids Safe in Their Car Seat?

By Joyce Davis, President of Keeping Babies Safe


As the number of grandparents serving as primary caregivers for grandchildren under 18 have risen from 2.4 million in 2000 to 2.7 million in 2011, according to a U.S. Census survey.  Since grandparents’ care for babies and children are on the rise, we know grandparents have questions about car seat safety – we have some facts we would like to share to make you better informed.  Keeping your child safe when riding in a car is one of the most important jobs for a parent.  Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe but there are so many products on the market it can get confusing for parents.

Chicco car seatWhen buying an infant car seat, there are some important differences in safety. No one seat is the best or safest.  The best seat is the one that fits your child’s size, is correctly installed, fits well in your vehicle, is new, hasn’t been recalled or one that is not missing any parts, and is used properly. The type of seat your child needs really depends on many factors, including your child’s size and what type of vehicle you have.  There are a variety of manufactures and car seat styles including Rear-facing only seats, Convertible Seats, 3-in-1 seats, Combination Seats, Belt-positioning booster seats and Built-in (integrated) seats.  Make sure the product meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 as of the date of the publication. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for important safety information about proper fitting and use.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a hotline 888 327 4236 or safercar.gov.  They also have Car Seat Ease of Use Ratings to educate parents/caregivers about car seat features here www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Ease-of-Use.  Check here for more information on seat types www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Product-Listing.aspx

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants should ride rear-facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital.  All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat’s manufacturer.  The best practices in the choice of a child restraint system to optimize safety in passenger vehicles for children from birth through adolescence:

  • Use a rear-facing car safety seats for most infants up to 2 years of age;
  • Use a forward-facing car safety seats for most children through age 4;
  • Use belt-positioning booster seats for most children through 8 years of age;
  • Use lap-and-shoulder seat belts for all who have outgrown booster seats.
  • All children under 13 years to ride in the rear seats of vehicles. It is important to note that every transition is associated with some decrease in protection; therefore, parents should be encouraged to delay these transitions for as long as possible.

Some big dangers about second-hand car seats is missing or broken parts, or if they may have been recalled for safety reasons.  Parents should remain vigilant and go to www.keepingbabiessafe.org or www.recalls.gov and see if a particular car seat/brand has been recalled.  If so, don’t use it – throw it out.  Newer is generally better and safer.



Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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