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Here are some basic guidelines for parents to think about when they’re choosing a car seat for their child or looking to move their child up to the next level.

Proper Restraints for Infants ages 0-12months: Recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations (March 2011) urge parents to keep children rear facing up to at least the second birthday. The old rule of *12 months and 20 pounds* many parents cite when turning their child forward-facing in the car is actually the minimum size and age requirement for that change. Statistically, rear-facing infants and toddlers reduced the risk of death by 71%. An article published in Injury Prevention in December 2007, lead author Basem Y. Henary to find that forward-facing children under the age of 2 were 75% more likely to be injured because of how the rear-facing seat cradles the head, neck and back.

Children ages 1-4yrs –Many harnesses today serve kids to 50-100lbs. Adjust the chest clip to the armpit level. The car seat should not move more than one inch side to side or front to back. Be sure the buckled harness is tight so you cannot pinch extra webbing at the shoulder. The most common form of misuse for all child restraints included loose safety belt attachment to the child restraint and loose harness straps securing the child to the child restraint system. A 5 point harness secured a child in five places: both shoulders, both hips and the crotch. Leave your child in a harness until they can sit properly in a seat belt and booster – around age 5.

Children 5-9 yrs – The 2011 Recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest as best practice: all children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt positioning booster seat until the vehicle lap-and-shoulder belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches and are between 8 and 12 years of age. Children seated in a booster seat in the rear of the car are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash as compared to those using a seat belt alone.

When your child has been in an accident – These answers are not legal or medical advice and should not be relied upon or used as a basis for taking any particular course of action.

Call the police and inform them that your child was in the car and you would like emergency medical services to come to the scene and evaluate your child. Prompt evaluation in an emergency room to follow is recommended, even if they appear to be fine. After taking them to the emergency room, make an appointment with your preferred pediatrician. If your child is complaining of neck or back pain you should schedule an evaluation with a chiropractor. They are trained to evaluate and treat children for back injuries.

Be sure to replace car seats promptly after an auto accident. Even if your children weren’t present and the car seats were unused, you need to get them replaced. Your insurance should cover this expense. There are plenty of mechanical things that can go wrong with your child’s car seat after being in an accident. Better to be safe than sorry.

According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, nearly a third of children ride in the wrong restraints for their age and size. Recent date from the Crash Injury Research & Engineering Network indicate that inappropriately restrained children are nearly three and a half times more likely to be seriously injured than their appropriately restrained counterparts.

After an accident, you won’t regret it. Be an advocate for your child. Put them in the correct car seat for their age and size.

NOTE information on this site is for reference purposes only.  You are strongly advised to seek legal counsel, use common sense, see a medical doctor, see a chiropractor, counsel a personal injury attorney, and other professionals.  This site is merely designed as a resource not as gospel!
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