Between family outings, sports practices, play dates, and school, we spend a lot of time with our families traveling in the car. Be sure you are keeping your little one safe while riding in the car by checking out these five safe car seat tips:

  • Children should always ride in the back seat: The back seat is the safest place in the event of an accident. Because of the possible injuries the front passenger air bag may cause to a child, generally children under the age of 12 should always ride in the back seat.
  • Infants should ride in a rear-facing car seat: Children who are younger than 1 year, or smaller than 20 pounds should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. Additionally, you should read the car seat’s manual for proper instructions and weight suggestions.
  • Car seats should be regularly checked: The safety belt should firmly hold the seat in place. Make sure all harnesses and belts are securely fastened and are in the correct designated slots on the car seat.
  • Make sure children are always safely secured by seat belts: Seat belt straps should always be placed over the child’s shoulder. Belts should also be tight enough against the body that only one finger can be inserted between.
  • Remove winter coats and other bulky clothing: While we all want to keep our children warm while traveling in the car, a bulky coat under a child seat harness can result in the harness being too loose to be effective in a cash. If you are worried about your child becoming cold, there are two things you can do to keep your child safe and warm. After securing your child in his or her child seat, turn the coat around and put it on backward with their arms through the arm holes. You may also keep a blanket in the car to easily grab and lay over your child.

Many states have specific laws regarding the use of car seats or boosters and whether a child may sit in the front seat. It is important to learn your state’s laws and check the laws of states you travel within. Because every child grows and develops differently, your child may need a car seat or to sit in the back beyond your state’s rules.

As a general rule, a child should ride in a car seat until he or she is tall enough to sit properly in the car without the car seat. Children should be able to sit in the seat without slouching, so that their shoulders are rested against the back of the seat. They should be able to sit with their knees bent with feet on the floor. Seat belts should be properly worn across the shoulder and should be tight across the lap. And remember, always put safety first!

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