Recently the recommendations for car safety seats and the locations where children should be seated in the car have changed. The proper use of car seats and car riding safety is to keep our children safe as they ride around in our cars.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has put together a comprehensive list of car safety seats and safety seat manufactures. If you are looking for a new car safety seat, please take the time to look at this list.

New guidelines include all children through the age of 2 should be in a rear facing car seat. There are three different types of rear-facing car safety seats - infant only seat, convertible seat and a 3-in-1 seat. Once your child has passed the height and weight specifications according to the manufacturer, your child should move into either a convertible seat or a 3-in-1 seat backwards facing until they have reached the age of 2.

Once your child is 2 or has out grown the rear-facing weight or height limits, they should be moved to a forward-facing car safety seat. They should continue to ride in a seat with a harness as long as possible, at least until 4 years or they have grown to the limits of the height and weight for the harness seat. There are 5 types of forward-facing car safety restraints including; convertible seat, forward-facing only, combination seat with harness, built-in seats, and travel vests. Each of these seats have their benefits and their short comings, it is best to find what will be successful and safe for your child, family and lifestyle.

School age children under the height of 4 feet 9 inches and are between the ages of 8 and 12 should be seated in a Belt-Positioning Booster seat. The reason for the booster seat is to keep these children at the right height for the car seatbelts. The seatbelts have been designed for adult heights and weights, therefore the booster seats will raise your child up, so that they fit better into the seatbelt.

As your child continues to grow and they reach the height of 4 foot 9 inches they no longer need to be in any other car restraint other than the seatbelt. All adults and children should always wear both the lap and the shoulder seatbelt for optimal protection. All children under the age of 13 should always be seated in the back of a car for their protection from air-bags and for other safety reasons.

The AAP has a great list of important reminders about safety in and around cars. I have included in this blog as a quick reminder of how important it is to be the first teachers for our children. Cars are great machines, they get us from point to point, help us in many ways throughout our day, but always remember they can be dangerous machines too and often kids see them as big toys.

Important reminders
1. Be a good role model. Make sure you always wear your seat belt. This will help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
2. Never leave your child alone in or around cars. Any of the following can happen when a child is left alone in or around a vehicle:
o He can die of heat stroke because temperatures can reach deadly levels in minutes.
o He can be strangled by power windows, retracting seat belts, sunroofs, or accessories.
o He can knock a manual vehicle into gear, setting it in motion.
o He can be backed over when the vehicle backs up.
o He can become trapped in the trunk of the vehicle.
3. Always read and follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you do not have the manufacturer's instructions for your car safety seat, write or call the company's customer service department. They will ask you for the model number, name of seat, and date of manufacture. The manufacturer's address and phone number are on the label on the seat. Also be sure to follow the instructions in your vehicle owner's manual about using car safety seats. Some manufacturers' instructions may be available on their Web sites.

References: American Academy of Pediatrics and Healthy Children