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How can I make sure my child's car seat is safe?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines on how to keep your child safest in your car. Various states have different laws about child size and necessary restraint, so I like to rely on the AAP guidelines for maximum safety. If you're ever in doubt about whether your car seat is installed correctly, contact your local fire station -- most of them have someone who is trained in car seat installation -- all you have to do is make an appointment and drive over and they'll check it out!

Another rule is to ALWAYS use the car seat exactly according to manufacturer's instructions, always place in the back seat (middle seat is safest), and only use the proper seat for your child's age, height, and weight.

For infants and toddlers: keep in a rear-facing car seat until they are 2 years old or until they reach the highest weight and height allowed by the car seat manufacturer (usually around 40-50 pounds, but check your label). Then they should be in a forward-facing car seat for as long as allowed by the seat manufacturer.

Once they have outgrown that, they must be placed in a booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits them appropriately (usually around 4 foot 9 inches and between 8-12 years). THe AAP recomends that children younger than 13 still remain in the back seat, since airbags can cause injury and even death in smaller adolescents and children.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.