What Even are the Current Car Seat & Booster Rules? Metro Health has Answers, and a New Car Seat Safety Class

car seat safety baby and dad

Car Seat Safety is a Must, no Matter how Distracting Life Is Right Now

As a parent, there’s so much to think about before jumping into a car with your young child to run an errand or travel to an appointment. You’ve got the diaper bag, the snacks, the toys, coats and shoes, and of course the car seat. 

Although, to be honest, many of us aren’t traveling much of anywhere right now. Our groceries are being delivered, kids may or may not be going to school, and doctors’ visits can be done virtually.

Less driving makes it really easy to forget to check whether your child has outgrown their car seat or whether new safety guidelines have come out. But all it takes is one careless driver to put you and your child in danger.

As a parent, there’s so much to think about before jumping into a car with your young child to run an errand or travel to an appointment. You’ve got the diaper bag, the snacks, the toys, coats and shoes, and of course the car seat. 

According to Federal Highway Administration data, the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic brought an unprecedented decline in driving in the U.S., with vehicle miles traveled down 41% from February to April. By July, vehicle miles were still down 13% from February.

Quick: Does Your Child’s Car Seat Still Fit?

But  Metro Health – University of Michigan Health pediatrician Katrina Cole-Riley, MD has not forgotten about car seats. 

“I ask parents about car seats at every well-child visit,” says Dr. Cole-Riley. “I ask whether the child is always in a car seat no matter whose car the child is in.”

She’s on a mission to keep kids safe in West MIchigan. Not only are parents driving less, but when you get out of your routine, you can forget key parts of it. Is grandma finally picking up the kids for a day of fun? Don’t forget to send her with a carseat! Has your kid outgrown their size 2T clothes? Don’t forget to also see if they’ve outgrown their car seat strap adjustments. 

Dr. Cole-Riley admits that the guidelines for car seats are constantly changing and that causes a lot of confusion for parents. 

“As a pediatrician, I must always be aware of the updates so I can relay the information to parents in a clear and concise manner. The latest update was in 2019.”

The child safety organization Safe Kids says that road injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths and injuries to children in the U.S. Proper use and installation of car seats reduces the risk of injury by 71-82%. Correct installation and proper use of booster seats reduces the risk by 45%.

Metro Health Partnering with Secure Quest to Offer Car Seat Safety Classes

“Because we know how extremely important it is for parents to have—and correctly install—car seats and booster seats, Metro Health is partnering with car seat safety organization Secure Quest to offer car seat safety classes beginning in January 2021,” Dr. Cole-Riley shares. 

Classes are about two hours in length and will be offered to expectant parents/caregivers.

The classes will be offered both in-person and virtually. Parents and caregivers will learn how to select the best car seat for their child and be walked through the proper installation process.

While these car seat safety classes are new, Metro Health has always prioritized car seat safety. “We require new mothers in our Childbirth Center to bring in a car seat before the child is discharged from the nursery,” Dr. Cole-Riley explains. Additionally, premature infants are given a car seat test before they leave the hospital.

Car Seat Safety Guidelines as of December 2020

So, what are the current guidelines when it comes to car seat safety? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines the rules as follows:

  • Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible or until they reach the highest weight or height limit for their seat. Convertible car seats usually permit children to ride rear facing for two years, or more. Rear-facing car seats should always be placed in the backseat.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers who have outgrown the weight or height limit for the rear-facing seat should use a forward-facing car seat up to the highest weight and height limit for their seat.
  • School-aged children whose weight and height limits exceed the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should transition to a belt-positioning booster until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height.

The AAP goes on to emphasize:

So, what are the current guidelines when it comes to car seat safety? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines the rules as follows:

  • Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible or until they reach the highest weight or height limit for their seat. Convertible car seats usually permit children to ride rear facing for two years, or more. Rear-facing car seats should always be placed in the backseat.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers who have outgrown the weight or height limit for the rear-facing seat should use a forward-facing car seat up to the highest weight and height limit for their seat.
  • School-aged children whose weight and height limits exceed the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should transition to a belt-positioning booster until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height.

The AAP goes on to emphasize:

  • It is very important to know the height and weight limits of your child’s car seat.
  • Children 13 and under should always ride in the backseat.
  • It is important to buckle up for every ride.
  • Parents and caregivers should set a good example and use their seat belts.

Still Unsure About Your Car Seat Set Up? There’s Local Help for Us

“It’s important for parents and caregivers to know if they have questions, they can always turn to their child’s pediatrician or their family practice provider for more information,” says Dr. Cole-Riley. “It’s important to note that using a car seat is not optional. It is the law in every state.”

There are other options for parents and caregivers to receive car seat assistance. Safe Kids allows you to search for certified car seat technicians in your area. Locations include police departments and Sheriff’s offices, hospitals, fire departments, and other child advocacy organizations.

If you’d like more information about car seat safety, Dr. Cole-Riley suggests taking a look at these websites:

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