Friday, April 30, 2010

Child Safety Seats

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child and going to register for my baby shower -- I read so many different things about child safety seats and child restraint systems for the car! We were fortunate and we essentially received THREE different car seats / child safety seats that carried us through all of the years that our child needed a safety seat. We had the infant carrier with the base that stays in the car, the convertible child safety seat, and then the booster seat. However, just having the right types of safety seats is not enough -- you also need to keep track of how long your child should be in each seat, and when it's time to move on to the next level! Over the past 9 years, between our first and second daughters, I have found myself looking up child safety seat info on numerous occasions -- not just to see when I could move my girls into the next car seats, but also when we have traveled out of state. Different states have different requirements -- if you are traveling to another state, it is a good idea to look on that state's DMV website to make sure you are following their requirements. The information below is the current child safety restraint information for New York State -- please make sure to check your own state's Department of Motor Vehicle information for your area's safety restraint requirements.

Safety Restraints

Are child safety seats and child restraint systems required in New York State?

New York State law requires all children under the age of four to ride in safety seats. Before November 24, 2009, the law requires that all children ride in child restraint systems until their 7th birthday. As of November 24, 2009, this requirement applies to all children until their 8th birthday. Safety seats and child restraint systems must be certified according to Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the seat or system, and make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly. The web site of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee has a list of permanent child safety seat fitting stations in NYS.

How do I select the correct child safety seat or child restraint system?

To select the correct protection for your child, carefully read the recommendations of child safety seat or child restraint system manufacturers.  The recommendations tell you what age weight and height a child can be to use the seat or system.  The recommendations are normally printed on the outside of the package. 

An appropriate child safety restraint system:

- Is required for all children until their 8th birthday as of November 24, 2009,. (Prior to November 24, 2009, the requirement applies to children until their 7th birthday), and

- Must meet the size and weight requirements for the child based on the Federal requirements and the recommendations of the manufacturer, and

- Can be a child safety seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat attached with the vehicle seat belt system, but not the vehicle seat belt alone, and

- Should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle.

These examples can help you to select the correct child safety seat: 

- Infant seats are normally for infants that weigh approximately 22 pounds or less, are 25 inches or less in length. Always place the seat in the back seat of the vehicle and make sure the child safety seat faces rear of the vehicle. Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag.

- Convertible child safety seats are normally for infants or toddlers that weigh approximately 40 pounds or less. For infants, face these seats toward the rear of the vehicle. Follow manufacturer instructions to adjust the seat as the child grows. For the best possible protection, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that a child continue to face the rear for as long as possible up to the weight and height limits specified by the seat manufacturer. For toddlers, you can change a convertible seat to face the front of the vehicle.

- Booster seats are for children who have outgrown convertible or toddler seats. Booster seats are for children who are four to eight years old, weigh 40 to 80 pounds, and are less than four feet, nine inches in height.  You can use a booster seat until an adult seat belt correctly fits the child without use of the booster seat. Always use both the shoulder and lap belts with a booster seat. Never use only the lap belt with a booster seat. · Built-in child seats are available with some vehicle models.

- Built-in child seats fold away from the standard car seats. Do not use these seats for infants.

Always read the instructions and the information provided in the vehicle owner manual about the use of child safety seats or child restraint systems. Make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly at all times.  Never use an infant seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag. Make sure that other passengers use their seat belts. Read more tips on the correct use of safety seats and child restraint systems.

I thought this was a great picture for this post -- I actually have 3 different-aged children, in 3 different safety seat / restraint situations -- in one picture! What are the odds! ;) This is my eldest daughter sitting in the car with a seat belt, our friend in the middle who is sitting in a booster seat with a seat belt and my youngest daughter in a convertible car seat.

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