Editor's note: Read more car seat safety tips in the second part of this article.
It makes me crazy to see children riding unsafely in a car. And I've seen it too many times in the past few weeks--even in some cars that are traveling away from my own kids' school.
And my older son hates that I still have him in a booster seat. But you know what? He's not tall enough yet to graduate out of it. And neither are many of his friends--who are riding around without booster seats.
So, I've been thinking: It's probably worthwhile reviewing the basics of car safety for children.
A car seat or infant safety seat (also known as a child safety seat, a child restraint system, or a restraint car seat) is specifically designed to hold an infant or small child securely in place inside a car and protect them from harm. The safety seat is often attached to the automobile's seat by means of the car's own seat belts. The safety seat has some sort of built-in locking mechanism that folds over and across the baby and holds the child securely in place.
A booster seat, on the other hand, is a simpler contraption, often just a plastic box, that an older child sits on so that he or she can sit up higher in a car. Often the booster seat is not secured to the car's seat; the car's seat belt instead goes across the child's lap and holds the child securely. Some car seats can convert to booster seats once the child meets the manufacturer’s size and weight specifications. No child, however, should be in a booster seat before the age of 4 years.
This also applies to those who have exceeded the manufacturer's height/weight limits for a child safety seat and harness:
Stay tuned: In part 2 of this blog, I will discuss purchasing and installing car seats, as well as some other safety tips.