Is Your Child’s Car Seat the Right Fit?

Here are some tips to keep kids properly restrained in vehicles.

By Jacqueline Khalaf, RN
Injury Prevention and Community Outreach Coordinator
Trauma Department, The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician

Child Passenger Safety Week is acknowledged in September. Here are some tips to keep kids properly restrained in vehicles.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety: All children younger than eight years old, unless taller than 4’ 9”, are required to be in the appropriate child safety seat system whenever they ride in a passenger vehicle. The safety seat system MUST be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Children under the age of 13 should not ride in the front seat of a car.

Booster seats:

  • If children are 8 years old, but are not 4’ 9”, they should continue to use an appropriate safety seat, such as a booster seat, until they can safely wear an adult seat belt.
  • Seat belts should not restrain across the neck. If this happens, your child most likely still needs a booster seat.  If the seat belt slips off the shoulder, the height of the seat or seat belt may need to be adjusted.
  • Don’t allow kids to place the shoulder strap under their arm or behind their back. This will cause internal organ or head injury during a crash.

Harnessed seats:

  • The chest clip in harness seats should be at armpit level, not on the abdomen, to avoid internal injury.

Rear-facing seats:

  • Kids are safest riding rear-facing for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing until AT LEAST two years of age.
  • A rear-facing car seat SHOULD NOT be used in a front seat with an airbag. In a crash, the airbag can force the car seat against the passenger seat, harming the infant.

When choosing a car seat, consider:

  • Your child’s age
  • Your child’s height and weight
  • Your child’s developmental level

Be sure to read your vehicle owner’s manual and the car seat instruction manual.