Expecting parents are bombarded with a plethora of decisions to make: breastmilk or formula? Co-sleeping or crib? Disposable or cloth diapers? In the flurry of large and small choices, it’s important to remember that purchasing a good–and age and weight appropriate–safety seat for your child is one of the first things you want to accomplish before your due date arrives.
Safety seats are vital in preventing serious injury in newborns, infants, toddlers, and young children. A child’s needs will change, however, as he or she develops. Parents Central proposes the following guidelines, all of which vary depending on the height and weight of your child:
- Rear-facing seat: Rear-facing car seats are appropriate for newborns through 1-3 years of age.
- Forward-facing seat: Forward-facing seats are best for children ages 1-7.
- Booster: Booster seats are used in conjunction with the seat belt and are good for children ages 4-12.
- Seatbelt: Again, depending on your child’s weight and height, you can transition him or her to a seat belt as early as age 8.
Many car-seats have adjustable features, allowing for a child’s growth. Car seats have been proven to reduce child fatalities by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers (ages 1-3), so researching the best car seat in your budget is a valuable use of your time. Making sure your car seat is correctly installed is also critical. Finally, if you’re looking to save money on a car seat, use the government’s checklist to ensure your purchase will keep your child safe.
While car seat recalls do not happen very often, like other recalls, it is important to take care of a recall notification as soon as possible. The government tracks recalls here. If your child is injured in an accident and you feel the car seat manufacturer might be at fault, let the personal injury lawyers at Kryder Law help you determine if litigation is right for you.
Rear Facing Car Seat Law Updates
Rear-facing car seats are the safest way to transport children under the age of 2. Laws regarding car seats are changing to reflect new research regarding child safety in cars. Some of these updated laws address the requirements for having a rear-facing car seat. Any child under the age of one must be in a rear-facing car seat regardless of size or weight. Children under 20 lbs must also be in a rear-facing car seat.
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Benefits of Rear-Facing Car Seats
Rear-facing car seats are the safest option for young children because they offer more protection than car seats or forward-facing child seats. Car seats are not designed for small children or people of unusually small height. Because of this, seat belts and other safety features will not work properly for a child in a car accident. Rear-facing child seats offer better support and protection from other potentially dangerous safety features.
What’s a Convertible Car Seat?
A convertible car seat is a child seat designed to be both forward and rear-facing. Young children start in a rear-facing configuration until they reach a specific height and weight requirement. This requirement is defined by applicable laws as well as the manufacturer’s specifications. Once the limit is reached, the car seat can be turned around, and changed into a forward-facing car seat. This setup works the same way as a regular car seat, but still offers more support and protection from adult safety features.
Car seats for infants can be convertible in a different way. Many new models are designed with a separate car seat and base so that the upper section can be removed and attached to strollers or other mobile devices while the base remains of the car. These convertible infant car seats will only work for very small children and will need to be replaced with a toddler convertible car seat or another option when the child is too old or too large for the seat.
Illinois State Laws Regarding Child Seat Usage
In Illinois, the laws regarding child seats are relatively simple. In Illinois, any child under 40 lbs or under 8 years old must be in a rear-facing car seat unless he or she has a medical exemption. Once the child is over 40 lbs, he or she must use a booster seat until they are 8 years old. Similar restrictions apply if your child is less than 40 in tall. These restrictions continue until the child grows out of a booster seat. Then, he or she must wear a seatbelt when in the car until the age of 16.
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How to Properly Install a Car Seat
Installing a car seat has become much simpler over the last several decades. In the last 10 years, all new vehicles are manufactured with special metal clips embedded in the seats that make connecting your car seat much easier. Newer car seat models use these hooks to connect to the car, which provides a much safer and more secure connection. Older model cars and car seats use either tie-down straps or the car seat belts to connect. Tie-down straps often go over the top of the car seat and connect at the bottom, while other car seats feed the seat belt through the base of the car seat.
New car seats are designed to use multiple connection methods so that they will work in any car. The car seat cannot be in the front seat because of the airbags. Also, the seat where the child seat will be installed must be close to level. This is so that you will have enough room to adjust the child seat so that it will sit at the proper angle.