Infant and child car
seats save lives. The laws in each state are different. Most states require
them for all children under age 4 and those weighing less than
40 lb (18 kg). But some states
require car seats to be used for children up to age 6 or
60 lb (27 kg).
child who is not in a car seat can be seriously injured or killed during a
crash or an abrupt stop, even at low speeds. A parent's arms are not strong
enough to hold and protect a baby during a car accident. Many unrestrained
children die because they are torn from an adult's arms during an
Set a good example for your children by always wearing
your own seat belt. And always insist that they buckle up.
Buy a car seat
appropriate for your child's current age, weight, or height. For safety, it is very important to have a car seat that fits your child and faces the right direction.1
Don't buy a used car seat. If a car seat has been recalled
or has been in an accident or misused, it may not fully protect your
The safest position for your baby
or child is in the back, middle seat of the car.
For maximum safety, follow the manufacturer's
recommendations for car seat use, which should include weight guidelines,
installation procedures, and how to position and secure your child. Cars
manufactured since September 2002 are equipped with a standardized car safety
seat attachment system. This feature allows parents to secure the car seat onto
a permanently installed hook.
Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians can help you install your car seat and
position your child safely. To find help in your area, go to
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm or www.seatcheck.org. You can also
call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at
Do not let your child get out of his or her seat
while the car is moving. If your child needs attention, stop the car, take the
child out of the seat, take care of his or her needs, and put him or her back
into the seat before the car starts moving again. If your child is fussy again
soon after, stop and check your child again.
Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). Policy statement: Child passenger safety. Pediatrics, 127(4): 788–793. Also available online: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/788.full.
January 22, 2013
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
& John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
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