Car seat safety

Car seat safety

  • All children must be in a five-point harness that consists of two shoulder straps, a lap belt and a crotch strap. A padded tray shield or T-shield is not recommended for newborns and small babies.
  • Place the rear-facing car seat in the back seat. Riding in a rear-facing car seat is the safest position for your baby.
  • Keep your baby rear-facing in the back seat until he is 2 years old.
  • Use car seats that are less than 6 years old.
  • Never use a car seat after it has been in an accident.
  • Never put your baby's car seat in the front seat,especially if your car has an air bag.
  • Make sure all straps and buckles are securely and properly adjusted. The harness straps should be snug and should lie flat against your baby's shoulders.
  • After your baby is buckled, position the chest clip between the nipples and collarbone as part of securing your baby into the car seat.
  • If the seat has any metal parts that may touch your baby,cover them in hot weather so they don't burn your baby.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car.

How to keep your child in the car seat

Do not let your child get out of his car seat while in a moving vehicle. To avoid boredom on a long trip, take along games, activities, books and story tapes. Have snacks and water handy, and make lots of stops along the way. Praise your child for sitting so well in the car seat.

Don't let your child give in to pressure. If he is with a friend or relative who does not use seat belts, stress how important seat belts are to your child.

And remember, all adults and all children riding in a car, truck, van, mini-van or SUV should be buckled at all times. Buckling up is a habit you want to pass on to your children.

Older child reminders

  • Booster seats with the vehicle's shoulder belt are required for children until they reach 4 feet 9 inches tall and 8 years old.
  • If the shoulder strap runs across the child's neck,a booster seat is needed, up to 12 years old.
  • Never let any child put the shoulder strap under his arms.
  • Never let any child younger than age 13 sit in front of an air bag.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022