When a child is in the car, safety is a priority. As they grow, according to the United States Department of Transportation, the car seats designed to protect them also change.
For children aged 13 and under, car accidents are a leading cause of death. For adequate protection, children need the right car seat.
Rear-facing car seats are best for babies. The car seat has a harness and can cradle and move with a child during a collision. This reduces the stress on a baby’s neck and spine. Infant seats typically only fit babies from newborn to one year old. If you have a convertible seat, however, it may have a higher height and weight limit that allows babies to remain in the rear-facing seat longer.
Forward-facing car seats are the safest for toddlers. These seats have harnesses and tethers to keep a child stable and to limit his or her forward movement during a collision. While children aged one to three typically use forward-facing seats, pay special attention to the height and weight limit. If your child does not reach the height or weight limit, keep him or her in the seat if possible. Not all children can graduate to child seats at four years old.
Children between four and seven years of age may be ready for the booster seat. A booster seat is a forward-facing seat that positions the seat belt so that it can fit across your child properly. Boosters increase a child’s height and may have a high back with neck and head support or may be backless.