Most new parents already know the basics about transporting their babies by car: use a car seat, and face it towards the back. However, car seat safety guidance is becoming more sophisticated as crash tests are starting to account for changing factors as your baby grows.
In today’s post, we examine two important new recommendations with respect to car seat safety:
Which type of car seat should I use?
Using a portable infant carrier is the safest option for newborns. However, it’s critical to understand when is the appropriate time to transition your baby from a carrier into a convertible car seat. Pay close attention to the height restrictions of the infant carrier, and move your baby into a convertible carrier when the distance from the top of your baby’s head is less than one inch from the top of the carrier shell. All babies—regardless of height—should be in convertible car seats by the time they’re one year old.
Consumer Reports conducted crash tests with both types of car seats—each containing 22-pound dummies representing one-year-old babies. It found that the longer shell of the convertible carrier better protected the dummies’ heads from crashing into the front seat back. Only 4 percent of dummies in convertible carriers sustained head injury, compared to 53 percent in infant carriers.
When can my child start facing forward?
Conventional safety guidance has dictated that convertible car seats be rotated to a forward-facing position when the child reaches two years of age. However, further research has found that it’s safest for children to remain in the rear-facing position for as long as is feasible—according to the seat’s height and weight restrictions for that orientation. Because the height and weight of young children can vary greatly, some children may not be ready for this transition until they reach four years of age.
Head and spinal injuries are a primary cause of injury and death in car accidents involving small children. Taking these simple steps can play a vital role in keeping your child safe on the road.