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Child passenger safety week

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Kelly BehnkeAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3 out of 4 children are not as secure as they should be in a vehicle because of incorrect car seat use. Therefore, it’s important to know the different types of car seats on the market. Generally speaking, there are three main types of car seats for children under age 12: an infant seat, a convertible car seat, and a booster seat.

  • An infant car seat is mostly suitable for infants from birth to around 30 pounds. Typically these are the carrier-type seats that come with a detachable base that stays latched in the backseat of the car. Infant seats should always be installed rear-facing.
  • Convertible car seats—seats that allow your child to ride rear-facing and later forward-facing—typically fit infants and toddlers from 5 to 50 pounds, depending on the type of seat.
  • Booster seats are suitable for young children (usually age 4 and up) once they reach 50 pounds or have outgrown their forward-facing car seat. These seats are designed for children mature enough to sit still and in the proper position for the entire ride.
  • Seat belts should only be used when a child is tall enough for the seat belt to fit them properly (typically 4’9” tall) and they have outgrown their booster seat. A properly fitting seat belt should lie snugly across the upper thighs—not the stomach, and the shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest—not the neck.

Remember, children age 12 and under should never ride in the front seat of a vehicle—the safest place for a child is in the back seat. When using a car seat, always consult the car seat manufacturer’s manual for specific height and weight guidelines, and use their specifications to help you find the best seat for your child. When purchasing a car seat, keep in mind that not every car seat can be installed properly in every vehicle, so make sure to try before you buy.

Want more?  

6 car seat tips to help keep kids safe.

A Visual guide to car seats from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Find a child car seat inspection station near you.