American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Buckling Children Up for Safety

Child in car seatDid you know that approximately 72% of children are not correctly secured in their car seats? How about that 148,000 car passengers under the age of 12 are injured each year?

“When using car seats, the first rule of advice people need to follow is whether the child is in the correct seat for his age and whether he is facing the right direction,” explains Stanley Grogg, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician practicing Tulsa, Okla. The middle of the back seat is the safest place in the car, so that's a good place to install your child's car seat.

Know Your Car Seats

  • Rear-facing car seat: Intended for babies from birth until age two.

  • Forward-facing seat: Intended for children between the ages of 2 and at least age 5, or when they reach the upper weight and height guideline for their seat.

  • Booster seats: Intended for children who have outgrown the forward-facing seat but are not large enough to use the seat belts. Usually children can use the seat belts when they are between 8 and 12 years of age, between 40 and 60 pounds, and at least 4 feet 9 inches. 

Safety Tips

In addition, Dr. Grogg says that it is important to keep the following safety rules in mind:
  • Always place children in car seats until they are large enough for the seat belts.

  • When using a rear-facing car seat, do not place it in the car’s front seat, especially if it has a passenger side airbag. The safest place for children is in the back seat.

  • For a baby without much head control, use a head support intended for car seats or a rolled up blanket to place around the head so it does not jostle from side to side.

  • Allow children to only play with soft toys when they are in their car seats.

  • Always use the correct car seat for the child’s age, height and weight. Do not use pillows or towels so the child will fit better into the seat.

  • If the baby is sick or needs constant attention, have an adult sit in the back seat rather than having the driver turn around to attend to the child.

  • Avoid using car seats that are more than 10 years old or purchased at yard sales.

  • Never leave a child in a car seat unattended.

  • Serve as a role model and buckle up.

“When dealing with car safety seats, there are two main points to remember,” stresses Dr. Grogg. “Children must be buckled snugly into the seat and the seat must be secured tightly into the car.”

 

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