GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) - Whether you have a one year old or a seven year old, it can be confusing to know what type of car seat or booster seat your child should be riding in. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids have put together a set of guidelines that are easy for parents to reference and will ensure your child is protected when you're driving.
STAGE 1 - Birth through 2 years
Children younger than two years old are best protected riding in a rear-facing car seat. Most convertible seats accommodate rear-facing up to 35 pounds. The seat should be placed in the back seat at a 45 degree recline. Make sure that the harness straps are below shoulder level and secured tightly with no slack.
STAGE 2 - 2 to 4 years old
Most car seat harnesses can be used until a child reaches 40 pounds, but some seat harnesses have higher limits. Check the label on the seat to be sure. At this point the child can be in a forward-facing seat in the back seat of the vehicle.
STAGE 3 - Minimum of 40 pounds and up to 4'9"
Booster seats help protect children by lifting them so the lap and shoulder seat belt connects with their strong bones. Children should remain in the booster seat until the seat belt fits correctly without it. Kids can be in a high-back booster or a no-back booster with the harness straps removed. Use the shoulder belt adjuster if the belt touches the child's neck. It should cross the collar bone and not touch the neck or be off the shoulder.
STAGE 4 - Minimum of 4'9"
Your child is ready for a lap and should seat belt if you can answer "yes" to each of the following questions:
1. Is your child 4'9"?
2. Does the lap belt sit low across the upper thighs?
3. Does the shoulder belt lie across the collarbone?
4. When the child's bottom is scooted all the way back against the seat, do his or her knees bend at the edge of the seat?
5. Can the child stay seated that way for the entire trip?
Please remember that children younger than 13 years old should always ride in the back seat of the car.
Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids offers free car seat inspections by nationally certified technicians. Visit www.helendevoschildrens.org/safekids or call 616-391-SAFE for dates, times and locations.
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