When placing a child safety seat in a car, you should perform a thorough inspection to make sure it is the correct size for their height and weight, and that it is installed correctly. The leading cause of death and injury for children under the age of eight is a motor vehicle accident. Children can be ejected from motor vehicles if they are not buckled in properly, or injured in a number of other ways if the seat is the improper size, or if it is facing the wrong direction. Most motor vehicle accidents occur within five to ten miles of the home. How can you ensure your child’s safety while in a car? By knowing what things are the most important to inspect. If you are unsure of the unit’s placement, you can visit your local fire department or police station for assistance. They are certified to perform a free child safety seat inspection for you.

Each car seat is different and has different instructions for installation. There are three types of units available that are based on the height and weight of the individual.

Rear-Facing

If your little one is twelve months or younger, they should always be buckled into a rear-facing unit. This is the most secure position for your infant as it protects their head, neck, and spine during a collision. Rear-facing units are sold as infant-only, convertible, or all-in-one units. Experts agree that infant-only seats are the best and most secure option for your baby. They recommend keeping children in a rear-facing, infant-only unit for as long as possible.

Forward-Facing

These units are intended for children that have outgrown their rear-facing unit. They feature a five-point harness system and a top tether to ensure your little one’s forward movement is limited if involved in an accident. The units can be convertible, or all-in-one, and some transition to a booster in the future. Experts recommend that youngsters are not rushed into using the lap and shoulder belt and use a harness and top tether for as long as possible to ensure their safety.

Booster

If your little one has outgrown the harness in a forward-facing unit, then moving up to a booster is the next step. Boosters help raise your child to a position where the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt will fit correctly. They will come with a seatbelt height adjuster, so the belt is positioned across a youth’s torso correctly. These units come in a high-back model which helps young ones with posture and are recommended if your vehicle’s backseat has a low back. They also are available in backless models which are recommended when the seat has adequate support for a child’s head and neck. Make sure the safety restraint fits properly across the child’s body, or the child could be injured from a collision.

When placing your little one in a child safety seat, perform an inspection every time to ensure it is tethered properly – either by using the vehicle’s LATCH system, or with the lap and shoulder belt. Do not rush them into a larger or more mature unit because of their age. Children develop at different rates, and some units might be too big or not offer the right support for your kid’s height and weight. Safety is a serious issue. Do not let your child become another statistic.