Car Seat Safety

I’m Dr.  Jesse Alba, I’m a Board Certified Pediatrician,and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. I work with Alpine Pediatrics in Orem, Utah.

A question I’m commonly asked is car seats. Every state has a law regarding car seats,and those laws can change state to state. My recommendation for a newborn is to be in a rear-facing car seat. That’s gonna be from birth all the way up until age two. Taking your child home, most parents are gonna get the infant-style carrier car seat.

You can make sure that the fit is appropriate on your child by working with the nursing staff at the hospital.  And they can also ensure that it’s locked appropriately into the car before you go home. It’s important  that the fit is just right. I recommend that the straps be below the shoulder rather than above. If they’re at the shoulder, you’re probably okay. But the recommendation is within about an inch below the shoulder, coming over naturally.

The chest piece needs to go right over the middle of the sternum, or the breastbone, right here,that’ll ensure a safe fit. And then obviously the legs are gonna close to the middle locking point. Once the car seat is in place,you’re safe to move and carry around your child. I don’t recommend allowing children to sleep in their car seats.

A lot of times a child will fall asleep in the infant style and mom will snap it and carry ’em around for three hours with your baby sleeping in there. Recommend moving your baby and keeping them flat on their back. That’ll help prevent SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. Moving from an infant-style to a convertible car seat happens usually around nine to 15 months of age. The most important thing is to check the car seat recommendations and make sure that your child’s height and weight meet the requirements.

And then we continue rear-facing in an upright convertible-style car seat until two years of age. After age two, you’re safe to move to a booster style seat. I typically will recommend at age two,getting one with a back,that will reposition the shoulder strap. Again, the most important thing is that that shoulder strap is coming across your child’s chest.

Your shoulder and upper chest rather than up too high on the neck or too low on the belly. Moving out of a booster seat is a common problem. Most parents move ’em out too soon. Most states require keeping them in a booster until age eight.  But our recommendation is they stay in a booster seat until they’re four foot nine,or 57 inches.  That happens anywhere from age eight to sometimes age 12.

There are some ways that you can ensure a fit without the booster seat. But that’s gonna be important to make sure you’re doing it properly. I do recommend keeping kids in the backseat until age 13. Then after age 13, they’re big enough and safe enough that they can travel in the front seat,passenger side of the vehicle. For more information, you can always go to healthy children.org, a website for parents provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics.