Did you know that 9 out of 10 car seats are used incorrectly? Whether you are expecting your first baby or have a car full of kids, selecting and properly using a child safety seat can be a challenge.
The type of seat your child needs depends on multiple factors, including your child’s age, height, weight, and developmental needs. You may also need to take into consideration the type of vehicle you will be transporting your child in, and the safety needs of other passengers.
With so many factors to consider, we strongly recommend making an appointment to meet with one of our Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs) to ensure the safety of your most precious cargo.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants ride rear facing from the moment they leave the hospital. Younger children should also ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.
When an infant outgrows their rear-facing-only car seat, a convertible car seat, one that can be used rear and forward facing, is needed. Most convertible car seats have limits that will allow children to ride rear facing for two years or more and often have weight limits between 35 and 50 pounds.
If you are unsure if your car seat is appropriate for your child’s needs, you can get help from a CPST to ensure that your child's seat is properly installed.
If your child is over two years old and has outgrown the height or weight limit of their rear-facing convertible seat, they should move to a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness.
Children should stay in a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness until they've outgrown the manufacturer’s height or weight requirements and are mature enough to sit correctly in a booster seat.
If your child outgrows the limits of their forward-facing car seat before age five, we recommend using a seat with a harness approved for higher height and weight limits.
Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat by height or weight and are mature enough to sit properly the entire ride. A booster seat adjusts the vehicle seatbelt to fit the child’s smaller body to ensure the child is properly restrained and protected in the vehicle.
Children should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, passing the Five-Step Test (see below). Most children will not fit the adult seatbelt properly without a booster until age 10-12.
There are two common types of booster seats:
Seatbelts are designed for adults. Children should use a belt-positioning booster seat until they fit the adult seat belt properly.
A child that rides without a booster seat, with an adult seat belt that does not fit properly, can incur severe injury.
Children should stay in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits correctly. They should also ride in the back seat until at least age 13, regardless of their height or weight.
A child is large enough to use a seat belt alone when they pass the Five Step Test.
Child passenger safety is often an overlooked, affordable health care need, costing families hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Our car seat program helps decrease certain costs to our community by providing various sized car seats to those who qualify.
If you have questions or find yourself in need of resources, please contact St. Luke's Children's Car Seat Program at (208) 381-3033 or email us.
A St. Luke's certified child passenger safety technician will evaluate your car seat for proper installation, use, and recall status, and answer questions about your child’s safety in the car.