According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death in children between 1 and 13 years old.

Jamie Reyes is a Child Passenger Safety Technician at Baby’s & Kid’s 1st Furniture in Houston. He trains parents how to use car and booster seats properly.

“The way we explain this to parents,” Reyes said, “is there are three collisions that take place during a car crash: there is the vehicle striking another vehicle, your body striking the seatbelts and then your internal organs striking the inside of your body. So the infant car seats are designed to absorb more energy and prevent it from being transferred to that final collision of the internal organs.”

Child safety seats can be the difference can between life and death, but the NHTSA says 59 percent of adults aren’t using them properly.

Rear facing starts at birth and ends at 3 or 4 years old. Guidelines recommend keeping a child rear facing for as long as their seat allows.

Pull the harness over the arms first. Clip the bottom buckle first, followed by the top. Tighten the straps around the hips first getting as much slack out as possible.

“If you can lift and pinch on the straps (over the chest) than they are too loose, and you have to tighten them,” Reyes explained. 

Car seats can be installed using a seatbelt or the harness clips. The angle of the recline is also crucial. Be sure to use the bubble level on the seat or seat base to get the safest angle. This should be done when the car is parked on a flat surface.

Once the seat is in, grab it at the base and try to move it. If it moves more than an inch at the base, it needs to be in tighter.

When a child reached it weight or height limit to sit backwards, it’s time to face them forward until they outgrow those seat requirements. 

“Every single car seat on the U.S. market has a weight and height limit your child has to stay beneath both of those limits," Reyes said. "It’s not whenever they reach both, it’s whenever they reach first is when they outgrow the product.”

Then it’s onto a booster until they’re at least 8 years old or are 4-foot-9. The recommendations for child passenger safety come from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Baby Car Seat Guidelines Us

It’s a lot to remember, but a small price to pay to make sure your little ones are safe when you hit the road. Still unsure you’re doing the right thing? There are plenty of places experts will check your car seats for free. You can find them here.

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