Car seat safety is a hot topic these days—and one that can also be complicated and confusing. That’s why one mom shared a photo of her 7-year-old that’s now going viral on Facebook, reminding parents that even older children belong in carseats.
“No parent wants their child to experience ridicule BUT the statistics speak for themselves regarding children & approved car seats…especially when they fall asleep in their seats,” Lou writes in the caption of her photo, which shows her 7-year-old son sleeping in his carseat during a long road trip.
While she admits that her son has been teased for being in a “baby seat,” Lou says that safety should be a parent’s number one priority. “Take all the factors into consideration when making these choices,” she writes. “Don’t just follow the trend, follow the safest option to protect your family.”
The factors that Lou mentions are weight and height, both of which the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says are important. In its updated recommendations published in 2018, the AAP removed its previous age requirement and instead advised that children should stay in rear-facing car seats until they’re at least 40 pounds and in front-facing car seats until they’re at least 65 pounds.
The AAP also recommends that children stay in a belt-positioning booster seat until they’re at least 4 feet 9 inches, which is typically between the ages of 8 and 12 years old. They note, however, that parents should check the manual of their car seat for the specific weight and height requirements for that model to use as a guideline for when to transition their children.
There’s a lot to know about when—and how—to use a car seat safely. Here are the fast facts:
- Use rear-facing car seats for as long as possible (until your child reaches the weight limit which is often at least 40 pounds).
- Use front-facing car seats until your child is at least 65 pounds.
- To check your child’s shoulder harness, use the pinch test—if there’s any slack when you pinch the harness between your fingers, it needs to be tightened.
- Kids should stay in a booster until they’re at least 4 feet 9 inches or until the lap and shoulder belt fit properly.
- All children under the age of 13 should always sit in the backseat of the car.