This past week my husband installed our son’s car seat. We are using the same infant car seat we did for daughter three years ago, which is the Chicco Key Fit 30. You can find this car seat at most retailers for under $200 https://www.chiccoshop.com/gear/car-seats/infant/keyfit-30-infant-car-seat-and-base—legend/08061472180070.html. Once our daughter was too big for this car seat, we bought a convertible car seat, the Britax Advocate Click Tight, which runs for about $350 at most retailers https://us.britax.com/car-seats/advocate-clicktight/ It is important to note that each car seat brand and style has different height and weight measurements for safety. For example, the Chicco safely holds a baby from 4-30 pounds and up to 30 inches. It also comes with an infant insert for babies specifically 4-11 pounds. The Britax can be rearward facing 5-40 pounds and up to 49 inches and can be safely forward facing for children 20-65 pounds and 0-49 inches.
For your child’s utmost safety, it is imperative that you install the car seat properly or have it professionally installed for you. You can get your child’s car seat checked for proper installation at any police station, highway patrol location, or other privately owned location that have trained personnel to inspect that your car seat is installed properly. You can go to this link and check your local car seat inspection stations by state http://www.safercar.gov/cpsApp/cps/index.htm There is even a car seat check app available for $1.99 https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/car-seat-check/id584790382?mt=8
Now let’s talk about rear facing as long as you can for the safety of your child. I had done a lot of research on this topic when my daughter was roughly a year old because I only wanted the highest safety measures for her and also wanted to make sure I was following the law. I found over and over again that rear facing was the safest for a child during impact/a car accident. As a first time mom, I tried to do everything by the book and also according to my own judgment based on everything I had learned through extensive research. And to be honest, I was shocked at how many of my mom friends, who had babies the same age, switched their child’s car seat to forward facing even before their child turned 1 years old and many of them sometime between 1-2 years old, but closer to 15-18 months old. Certainly before it became a law in my state (which technically doesn’t take effect until 2017) I was determined to keep my child rear facing until she was at least 2 years old. We ended up keeping her rear facing until she was 2 ½ and we probably could have done it longer because she was content and didn’t seem to mind at all. It was all she knew so she wasn’t even the slightest bit curious about turning around. I can imagine, however, this changes when you have multiple siblings. I didn’t cast judgment on my friends and certainly didn’t lecture them, but when I found articles on car seat safety, specifically safety regarding rear facing, I posted it on social media where they could all be exposed to the information. Plus, they would see my car seat when we would meet for a play date and besides being a good role model, it often times sparked conversation about the topic without me having to force it or bring it up myself.
Each state is a little different on this requirement, so you can check your state for more information based on where you live. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing until at least 2 years old. From the research I have done, “48 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico require booster seats or other appropriate devices for children who have outgrown their child safety seats but are still too small to use an adult seat belt safely. The only states lacking booster seat laws are Florida and South Dakota. Four states (California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma) require children younger than two are in a rear-facing child seat. Five states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York) have seat belt requirements for school buses. Texas requires them on buses purchased after September 2010.” http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/childsafety_laws.html
For example, in California, according to the California Highway Patrol and California Law, effective January 1, 2017, children under 2 years of age shall ride in a rear-facing car seat unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches tall. The child shall be secured in a manner that complies with the height and weight limits specified by the manufacturer of the car seat. In addition, all children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when a child has reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age.
Typically a first offense fine for not complying with a state’s child passenger safety law varies from $10 to $500 and some states also use driver’s license points as an additional penalty for noncompliance. But besides the law, let’s talk for a minute about a child’s safety.
The Car Seat Lady has helpful information on her website on the safety of rear facing compared to forward facing. You can find the link here http://thecarseatlady.com/5-times-safer/ Some studies have shown that children (1-2 year olds) that are rear facing are 5 times safer in side impact crashes than children in this age group that are forward facing. Besides other statistics and facts based on research and safety tests, she also dispels some myths of rear facing car seats.
Parenting also has a fantastic article written about rear facing safety http://www.parenting.com/article/rear-facing-car-seat-guidelines Another website found benefits of rear facing that you can read here http://www.carseat.se/rearfacing/safety-benefits/ and another here http://csftl.org/why-rear-facing-the-science-junkies-guide/
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also discusses the topic of child passenger safety from August 2016 on their website http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/child_passenger_safety/cps-factsheet.html
On a safety side note, make sure you install a car seat in the back seat of your car. And did you also know that car seats have an expiration date? Check the side or the back of your car seat to find the expiration. And one helpful tip that helped our family in regards to our infant car seat was buying two car seat bases instead of two car seats, when we would switch between cars. It was more cost effective to do this and also easier for transferring the car seat between cars.
There are so many brands of car seats available and many places you can compare and contrast each one for price, safety, weight, convenience, etc. This is your child’s safety we are talking about, so please do your research and pick the best one that fits your budget and lifestyle. Happy traveling!