All parents know how important it is to buckle young children into their car seats. A car seat serves as their protection from any possible accidents that may occur while they are on the road. Children at different age levels are required to use specific types of car seats. Securely buckle children ages 12 years old and below in their car seats or seat belts. Children aged five years generally need to switch to a forward-facing baby car seat. If you doubt when to switch to a forward-facing car seat for your little one, this article is for you.
When to use forward-facing car seats?
Once your child has outgrown their rear-facing car seats by age five, you can use a forward-facing car seat. Buckle your children as young as five into car seats with a forward-facing harness and top tether.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released its most recent recommendations that switching to a forward-facing car seat should not be based on age alone. Instead, the basis of the switch should be whether the child has reached its rear-facing car seat’s height and weight limit.
You must check your child’s car seat manual to determine its weight and height restrictions or limitations. When buying and using a car seat for your child, check the car seat laws first. The car seat law may vary depending on your state.
4 Types of Forward-Facing Car Seats
There are four common forward-facing car safety restraints that you can consider when choosing the best one for your child.
These are cost-effective car seats for you can easily convert your child’s rear-facing car seat into a forward-facing car seat. You can consider this a two-in-one car seat.
Combination Seats with Harness
It is a forward-facing seat with a harness that can accommodate children weighing 40-65 pounds. You can also use it without a harness as a booster for children weighing 100-120 pounds.
Specific vehicles have built-in forward-facing car seats. It can be very convenient, so you don’t have to buy one for your child. However, always be mindful and read the vehicle’s manual for the height and weight restrictions of the built-in car seat.
A travel vest is an option for children weighing 22-168 pounds. Travel vests are useful when your vehicle has lap-only seat belts installed.
Travel vests can also be used to buckle children with special needs and for children who have exceeded the weight restrictions for car seats. Your vehicle needs to have a top tether to use a travel vest.
Where to position the forward-facing car seat?
It is best to place your child’s car seat in the middle of the back seat, especially for kids younger than 13 years old. However, many may find this spot difficult to securely fasten their car seats due to the lack of lower anchors.
So, the most practical and safest place to install your car seat is in a position where you can secure it properly to a lower anchor system or seat belt. It is best that you read the car seat manual before installing it.
You may also seek professional advice from a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) to determine the ideal spot for your child’s car seat.
Tips for Installing a Forward-Facing Car Seat
Here are some tips that can help you when you are installing your child’s forward-facing car seat:
- Check that the car seat is new and not expired or recalled.
- Consistently lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) system or seat belt to secure the car seat.
- Always attach your forward-facing car seat’s top tether for more stability and security.
- Install the car seat at its correct angle. Most car seats have markers for this.
- Seek help and recommendations from a CPST.
- Register your child’s car seat to receive regular updates from the car seat manufacturer.
- Keep your child from wearing bulky winter coats, which create a big gap between your child’s body and the harness. Instead, buckle your child onto the car seat first, then drape them with a coat to keep them warm.
The safety of children should always be your top priority. The height and the weight-appropriate car seat are significant whenever you take your kids with you on a car ride, whether a short trip to the grocery or an extended vacation trip.
The celebration of National Child Passenger Safety Week is every September 17-25. Always remember that you must regularly check your children’s car seats to see if they are correctly installed and still appropriate for their age, height, and weight.