Child Car Passenger Safety for Parents and Grandparents

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The last child safety post I did was about the perils of hot cars and how you can easily break a car window to reach a child in danger: Hot Cars Can Kill Kids

Today’s post deals with the safety practices of kiddos as passengers.

In 2011, The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) updated their recommendation for kiddos in car seats.  You can view the PDF HERE.

Because I wasn’t a Grandmama back then, I had no idea of the sweeping changes that had happened since Boy was an itty-bitty.  Since becoming aware of the changes, I have heard “that’s not how we did it” or “what the kids don’t know won’t hurt them” murmurings among my age group, to which I have one thing to say: SNAP OUT OF IT!

Recommendations change based new information.  While our babies were in front-facing car seats, the new findings show that what follows is better for those itty-bitty bodies should they be involved in an accident.

2013 Child Passenger Safety National Best Practice Recommendations

Phase 1

Rear-Facing Seats

Infants: Birth – 35+ pounds, 2+ years old. Rear-facing infant or rear-facing convertible safety seat as long as possible, up to the rear-facing height or weight limit of the seat. Properly install according to instructions in owner’s manual, rear-facing in the back seat.

Phase 2

Forward-facing Seats

When children outgrow the rear-facing safety seat (2+ years), they should ride in a forward-facing safety seat as long as possible, up to the upper height or weight limit (40 – 80+ pounds) of the harnesses. Usually 4+ years old. Properly installed forward-facing in the back seat. NEVER turn forward-facing before child meets all: AGE/HEIGHT/WEIGHT requirements set by safety seat manufacturer for forward-facing.

Phase 3

Booster Seats

After age 4 and 40+ pounds, children can ride in a booster seat with the adult lap and shoulder belt until the adult safety belt will fit them properly (usually when the child is 4’9″ tall, 10 – 12 years old).
MUST have a lap/shoulder belt to use a booster seat.

Phase 4

Adult Safety Belt

Once children outgrow their booster seat (usually at 4’9″, 10 – 12 years) they can use the adult lap/shoulder safety belt if it fits them properly.
Lap portion low over the hips/tops of thighs and shoulder belt crosses the center of the shoulder and center of the chest.
Children are better protected the longer they can stay in each phase. Keep children in each seat up to the maximum age/weight/height limits before moving to the next phase. ALL children younger than age 13 years should ride properly restrained in the back seat.

 (image source: TXDPS)

No one really likes change, and some may say that if it was good enough for our kids then it’s good enough for theirs, but facts be facts, Jack.

A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under the age of two are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing.

We did the very best by our children when they were young, and now new parents are doing the same by following these guidelines.

Need more info?  You can go to (Car Seat for the Littles ~hat tip: Girl) for up-to-date info for your littles.

Let’s keep those we love safe, no matter how we used to do it, so we can have more of this:

Keeping our kids safe.


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  1. He’s adorable! Stumbling!

  2. Yes all parents and grandparents need to be aware of the child restraints in their own state and country, when my girls where little things were different in fact it was only last year that the laws changed again here in my part of the world.

    • The science behind the reasoning for rear-facing kiddos is solid, even in areas where the laws are lax. It’s one of the reasons I wrote the post. Keeping our kiddos safe makes everyone happy.

  3. Amen! Tragic enough to be a parent whose child is injured due to car seat negligence, let alone a trusted grandparent. How difficult to live for the rest of your life with those consequences.
    I remember being handed my now-thirty two-year-old daughter by the discharge nurse while I sat in the front passenger seat. We drove her home like that!
    My last baby slept on her side, the first one on her tummy. Now, “back is best!”
    Sometimes I’m confused by the whirlwind of change but I always want to know the safest way to do what’s expected of me!
    Thanks for keeping us aware!
    And that grandson of yours? Cute as a button!

    • Joyce, THANK YOU! This is such important life-saving info that I can’t imagine anyone pooh-poohing it, but some do. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I purposely ignored the facts and Sweet E was hurt (he is a cutie…um, I mean, thank you!).

  4. These are such great tips! My daughter is expecting twins and was asking me these questions just the other day. I’m glad I saw this and sent it to her to read. Science and advances change things everyday and people need to think of it this way. Something that seemed yesterday isn’t always necessarily true today!

    • Exactly! That’s also a reason to keep abreast of the changes instead of the laws. Some times the law lags where the research excels. Thanks for passing this along to your daughter. what a great mom she has in you!

  5. Thanks for sharing this Patti. We left our 6 year old kiddo with a babysitter recently and he put kiddo in the back seat in a grownup seat belt and drove to Home Depot. Illegal in Texas as well as completely unsafe! The more people know the best practices, the better.

    • Omgosh. Scary. When I wrote the post (and was researching), I assumed most folks knew the stats. Um, no. There is still so much misinformation that is taken as truth that I was shocked. Even more so, how some think as long as they follow the laws their kiddos are as safe as possible (and who wouldn’t think that?!). The actual recommendations exceed the law. That’s an important take-away.

  6. Thank you for sharing!


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