Child Passenger Safety: Car Seats and Booster Seats

Child Passenger Safety: Car Seats and Booster Seats
Child Passenger Safety: Car Seats and Booster Seats
Ohio law requires that a child ride in a car seat (and then a booster seat when he has
outgrown the car seat) until he is 8 years old, unless the child is 4 feet 9 inches tall. The
exceptions are children who are 4 feet 9 inches or taller before they are 8 years old.
Where Your Child Should Ride
Never place a rear-facing infant or child in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger
side airbag. This could result in serious injury or death to your child if the air bag inflates.
The only time a child can ride in the front seat is when the vehicle does not have a back seat.
The air bag must be turned OFF, and the seat must be pushed back as far as it can go. All
children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat. That is the safest place.
Rear-facing and Forward-facing Seats
AAP’s latest guideline, is that all children should ride rear-facing until they are at least 2
years old or until they reach the weight or height limit of their rear-facing seat. Our hospital
supports this recommendation. Many children will outgrow an infant car seat when they are
between 20-22 pounds but can remain rear-facing if you move them to a convertible car seat
after they outgrow their infant carrier. Many convertible car seats can be used rear-facing for
children up to 35 pounds. The rear-facing position offers the best protection for your child.
It is important to keep your child rear-facing for as long as the seat allows. Always refer to
the car seat owner’s manual for height and weight specifications.
How to Place Your Child in the Car Seat
Select the correct car seat for your child’s age, weight and
height. It is also important that you choose a car seat that
fits your vehicle. Always read and follow the instructions
that came with the car seat. Also read and follow the
instructions in the owner’s manual of the vehicle.
 Place your child in the car seat. The child’s back and
bottom should be flat against the back of the car seat.
 When using a car seat rear-facing, harness straps should
be at or below your child’s shoulders (Picture 1).
Picture 1 Rear-facing seat
Continued on page 2
HH-IV-14 11/85, Revised 2/11
Copyright 1985-2011, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Child Passenger Safety: Car Seats and Booster Seats Page 2 of 4
How to Place Your Child in the Car Seat, continued
 When using a car seat forward-facing, harness straps should be at or above your
child’s shoulders.
 The harness straps should fit snugly against your child’s body. No more than one
adult finger should fit in between the child’s collarbone and the harness straps.
 The harness clip should be at your child’s armpit/chest level. The harness clip keeps the
harness straps close and snug on the child’s shoulders. The harness clip is a plastic piece
that fastens together on the harness straps.
 If needed, support your child’s head with folded towels or rolled-up receiving blankets
on either side of the head. Never place anything behind the child’s back or under the
child’s bottom.
How to Install the Car Seat
Read the owner’s manual for your vehicle. Follow the instructions for adjusting the seat
positions and the seat belts.

A rear-facing car seat needs to be semi-reclined usually
at a 30-45-degree angle so the child’s head does not
flop forward. Refer to car seat owner’s manual for
specific instructions regarding correct angle. Many car
seats have angle adjusters that can be adjusted to
change the angle of the car seat. Most forward-facing
car seats should be kept in the upright position.
Double check your car seat manual for the angle for
your car seat.
 Secure the child restraint in the back seat by routing
the safety belt through the car seat according to the
instructions that came with the car seat. If your
Picture 2 Forward-facing seat
vehicle was made after September, 2002 the LATCH
attachment may be used instead of the seat belt. This
method of installation is not SAFER, just available in most vehicles.
 Get a tight fit. The car seat should not move more than one inch forward or from sideto-side from where it’s attached to the vehicle. If your vehicle was made after October
of 1999 look for tether anchors and attach your car seat’s tether strap if the seat is
forward-facing.
Child Passenger Safety: Car Seats and Booster Seats Page 3 of 4
Using a Booster seat Correctly
 A booster seat positions the child so that the seat belt
fits correctly: low over the hips and thighs, and snug
over the shoulders.
 When your child sits on a booster, if his ears are above the
vehicle seat and there is no headrest, he must use a high back
booster (Picture 3).
 ALWAYS use the vehicle’s lap AND shoulder belt when using
a booster seat with high back
Picture 3 Booster seat
Reusing a Child Safety Seat After a Minor Crash
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that child
safety seats be replaced following a moderate or severe crash. However, recent studies
have shown that child safety seats do not always need to be replaced after a minor crash.
Minor crashes are those that meet all of these criteria:
 The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site.

The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged.

There were no injuries to anyone in the vehicle.

The air bags (if present) did not deploy.

AND there is no visible damage to the safety seat.
You may also contact the maker of your car seat for further advice.
When Your Child May Use a Seat Belt
 A child should ride in a booster seat until he is 8 years old unless he is 4’9” or taller.
Seat belts are for children who are tall enough to sit with their knees bent at the edge
of the seat without slouching.
 A child should be able to sit all the way back against the vehicle seat. If he can’t do this,
he needs a booster seat.
 Lap and shoulder belts should fit low over the hips and upper thighs and snugly over the
shoulders. Your child should be able to ride like this for the whole trip.
 Never allow children to put the shoulder belts under their arms or behind their backs.
Child Passenger Safety: Car Seats and Booster Seats Page 4 of 4
Used Car Seats
Used child safety seats should not be reused unless you are certain they have never been in
a moderate or severe crash (see Reusing a Child Safety Seat After A Minor Crash,
above), they have all the pieces including the instructions, and they have been checked for
recalls. However, a used car seat is better than no seat at all. Seats should not be used for
more than 6 years. Check the back of your car seat for the SPECIFIC expiration date.
If you would like more information, please feel free to contact one of Nationwide Children’s
Hospital’s child passenger safety specialists at (614) 722-6524 or call the Auto Safety Hotline
at 1-800-424-9393.
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