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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Car Seat Updates: When Can Your Child Go Without a Car Seat?

The short answer is maybe junior high if you have a child on the smaller side!  I've recently talked with some mamas who were confused about the car seat guidelines.  Turn to face forward after one year old?  When to booster?  Obviously, we all want our kids to be safe.  To add to the confusion, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has less strict guidelines than the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Personally, if we have to do all this car seat madness, I don't want to leave anything to chance, so I'm going with the docs on this one.
AAP has a great website (healthychildren.org) that serves as a wonderful reference tool.  Their car seat safety page has this helpful chart to distinguish  the different requirements.

Types of car seats at a glance

 Age Group
Type of Seat
General Guidelines 
Rear-facing only seats and rear-facing convertibleseats
All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat'smanufacturer.
Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harness
Any child 2 years or older who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car seat, should use a Forward-Facing Car Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed their car seat’s manufacturer. This also applies to any child younger than 2 years who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit of their seat.
Booster seats
All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
Seat belts
When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for optimal protection.
All children younger than 13 years should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

He looks comfy, doesn't he?

Beverly Hamilton, ADB President