Five-point harness, booster, high-backed booster … parents are likely familiar with these and other car seat related terms. Knowing the terms is one thing. Knowing how to choose the right one is another, and often far more difficult, task.
There are dozens of options within each category, and manufacturers are always releasing a newer, better model. What’s a parent to do? Thankfully the latest model is generally not as important as using the right type of seat the right way for your child. Automakers design the car to protect a typical adult body. This means the seat and belt are not made for the small bodies of our children. Car seats serve to keep their little bodies safe in the event of a crash.
What is the right car seat?
There are different styles to help keep infants, toddlers, and preschoolers safe. As the child grows, so does the seat. Infants are generally in seats with multiple points of protection, one near the sternum and the other near the lap. These seats may also have inserts near the head to reduce movement and provide further safety.
Although helpful for an infant, a school-age child needs less. Older children may need a booster, so their lap is correctly positioned for the car’s seatbelt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a helpful guide to better ensure parents choose the right fit for their child, whether infant, school-aged, or somewhere in between.
How do I install the seat?
It is not always easy to install these seats. Not only do parents need to make sure the correctly latch the car seat into place but the anchors are rarely easy to get to and are often at difficult angles. Consumer Reports provides some helpful videos and additional tips to better ensure parents install the seat correctly. Parents can also stop at designated sites to have the installation double-checked.
What if I am in a car accident?
Even when parents do everything to keep their children safe, injuries can happen. Although car seats increase safety, serious accidents can still result in injury. When that injury is the result of another driver’s negligent or reckless actions, parents can take legal action to hold that driver financially accountable for the injuries. An attorney can review the case and discuss your options.