Pediatric Center of Round Rock

With new child seat safety recommendations set to change in 2014, what’s the right way to “buckle up”? Since car seat safety regulations have recently changed, it may help to review exactly what the regulations are and how they will impact your family.

Higher cost doesn’t necessarily equate to the safest car seat.

What makes your car seat the safest is making sure your child meets the proper weight and height requirements for your specific car seat and ensuring it’s properly installed.  A good resource for the latter is Safe Riders Traffic Safety Program, sponsored by the Texas Department of State Health Services.  Through their program you can find a site near you that offers free car seat inspections which recur frequently.  In fact, only 20-30% of car seats are actually installed correctly, which means that the majority could really benefit from these local services.

Rear-facing car seats are age-specific

Did you also know that the American Academy of Pediatrics supports that children should be in a safety seat until 4’9’’ or 80 lbs, which typically occurs around age 8-12 years old?  Texas law requires  it. It’s also recommended that children remain rear-facing in car seats until age 2.  This rule can be bent only if the child outgrows his or her car seat will weight and height requirements before age 2.

Check car seat weights

In 2014, new requirements on recommendations for use of the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system are emerging, with requirements to use the seat belt to secure your safety seat if the combined weight of your child and the car seat are >65 lbs, instead of using the cut off of 65 lbs of your child’s weight alone.  With these new recommendations, car seat manufacturers will have to start placing the weight of car seats on their labels to help you determine if use of the LATCH system is safest for your child.

Not just for milk: Check the car seat expiration date.

The average life span of a car seat is typically 5-6 years, but some may have a shorter or longer duration. Information regarding the life span for your specific car seat can be found on-line.  Due to the nature of expiring car seats, it is recommended that you do not use car safety seats bought at a garage sale because you cannot verify the historical use of the seat.  Moreover, just as manufacturers cannot guarantee the safety of their car seats once past their expiration date. They also cannot assure parents that the seat is still safe if the car seat has been involved in a car accident, as some of the car seat parts may come loose and not function properly.

With so many regulations and recommendations, it’s good to have resources available to refresh yourself.  We welcome any questions you may have regarding this topic. We also recommend visiting the website supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.healthychildren.org, for information regarding car seat safety and many other pediatric topics.

About the Author

Dr. Crystal Salinas

Dr. Crystal Salinas is a Board Certified Pediatrician for the Pediatric Center of Round Rock. Her career interests include nutrition and obesity awareness, asthma, and newborn care. She also continues to serve as a continuity preceptor for residents at Dell Children’s Medical Center and enjoys medical missions.