Not so long ago, child safety in moving vehicles was an afterthought. Few cars had rear seat belts or anchor points, and it was not unusual for an infant to be placed on the back seat in a carry cot. In recent decades the design of car seats has improved and led to fewer childhood injuries and fatalities.
More simple than it seems
It is not too difficult to choose a suitable seat. First, select the correct basic design (there are only three), check that it has the National Safety Mark, and look for a make that is convenient for you. Finally, fit it and use it according to the maker’s instructions.
The three types are generally appropriate for three different age groups, but the size of the child matters more than the age, and each manufacturer will provide details of the size range that is provided for. Rear-facing seats are for all infants until they are about two years old. Ideally, children should continue rear-facing until they can no longer fit. Forward-facing seats are for children from about two to at least four, and provide the same fixture points and fixing methods as the rear-facing seats. The shoulder straps should now be just above the shoulders, but otherwise the child is restrained in the same way. Finally, booster seats are for children from over four to at least eight. This uses the car’s fitted seat belt, but the design of the seat arranges it so that it is positioned safely across the body.
A fit for your car
Cars vary in their friendliness to child seats, but all modern cars are fitted with the universal anchorage system or its equivalent SWITCH in the USA. This makes the fitting of seats easier than using seat belts, but be aware of the weight limits described in your handbook. Both forms of attachment are equally safe if done correctly.
LaDonna Maxwell Dennis, Editor, MomBlogSociety.com, [email protected]