Is your child’s car seat installed correctly in your car? Don’t be so sure! Here’s why you need to know the height and weight max on your child’s car seat, and four things it affects! Plus a free printable sheet to keep track of your car seat’s limits!
Last week was Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week, and I’m a big fan.
Ever since J was a baby, I’ve been very passionate about car seat safety. It’s such a simple thing, but often overlooked. While most people won’t get into a car accident in their lives, the seriousness of getting into an accident with a child in the car can not be understated, especially if their car seat is not properly installed.
Most people think they know what they’re doing when they put in their child’s car seat, but a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 59% of car seats are not installed correctly. Scary!
I highly recommend going to a car seat check at least once, just to make sure you know how your car seat should be installed in your specific car. You can find them wherever you are (the Minnesota Department of Public Safety lists car seat checks on their website, so your state may, too), and they really take only a few minutes. It’s absolutely worth it to go and make sure you know what you’re doing!
In the meantime, or if you’ve already done that and your car seat is put into the car correctly, there’s one big thing you may not have realized that can determine if your child’s car seat is installed correctly, not just in your car, but for your child–your child’s height and weight!
Why You Need to Know the Height and Weight Max on Your Child’s Car Seat
Knowing the height and weight of your child is incredibly important when you’re figuring out what direction your child needs to be facing in their car seat, and what car seat they need to be in. Car seats have height and weight restrictions for both rear-facing and forward-facing. Infant seats are always rear facing, and when your child is either a certain height or a certain weight, they have to move to a convertible car seat. Convertible car seats can be rear-facing or forward-facing, and it depends on your child’s height and weight which way they need to go. Again, once your child reaches a certain height or weight, they have to move to a harness booster or highback booster seat, which is always forward facing but depending on your child’s height and weight, they either get strapped into the car via the LATCH system or the lap belt. Their height and weight also determines if they still need the 5-point harness or if they can use the lap belt.
See? Knowing the height and weight of your child and how it relates to their car seat is INCREDIBLY important.
So go right now and find out the height and weight of your child. I’ll be right here waiting when you get back.
Done? Okay. Now here’s what you need to check, using their height and weight:
Make sure you’re using the correct car seat for your child.
They’ll either need an infant seat, a convertible car seat, a highback booster seat, or a regular backless booster seat.
Make sure you know if it should be rear-facing or forward-facing.
Obviously all infant car seats need to be rear-facing, and all boosters need to be forward-facing, but convertible car seats can be buckled in either rear-facing or forward-facing, depending on the height and weight of your child. It used to be that the AAP recommended leaving your child rear-facing until two, but now they recommend leaving your child rear-facing as long as you can! I know this might be hard, but children are much safer in rear-facing seats!
Make sure your child is buckled in correctly.
Some car seats only have an option for a harness, in which case you’re good. But some car seats, like the highback boosters, can buckle the child in with a harness or the lap belt, depending on your child’s height and weight.
Make sure the car seat is buckled in correctly.
Depending on your child’s height and weight, their car seat also may need to be buckled in differently. Our Graco Nautilus 65 (a harness booster seat that transitions to a highback booster and then a backless booster) uses the LATCH system up until 45 lbs, and then it has to be installed with the lap belt and top tether. And then once your child uses the lap belt and not the harness, it doesn’t get buckled in at all.
Bonus tip: make sure you know where your child’s head needs to be in relation to back of the car seat! Our booster car seat manual states that your child’s ears need to be below the top of the car seat headrest or the child is too large for the seat.
Car seat safety really isn’t that complicated, as long as you know what you’re doing and pay attention. We all want what’s best for our children, and making sure their car seats are not only installed correctly, but that they’re using the right ones and buckled in correctly, are such easy ways to protect them from harm.
And to make it even EASIER, I’ve put together three little printables to help you keep track of the height and weight limits for your child’s car seat! I have one for infant car seats, one for convertible car seats, and one for booster seats! Print them out and take a few minutes to look up the height and weight restrictions on your child’s car seat!
And remember, if you’re not sure, just take your car and car seat to a quick car seat check! It’s always better to be safe than sorry!