Car Seat Information for Families

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different seats on the market, many parents find this overwhelming.

If you are expectant parents, give yourself enough time to learn how to properly install the car seat in your car before your baby is born to ensure a safe ride home from the hospital. The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child’s age and size and the type of vehicle you have. Our certified car seat technicians will inspect your infant car seat before you are discharged from the hospital.

Other opportunities to get your infant car seat inspected by our certified car seat technicians are at our car seat safety check-up events that is held annually in Hull, Hawarden, and Sioux Center. They will walk parents through a safety checklist of the child’s age, size, condition of the seat, and help determine proper car seat installation.

Our technicians are also available to help with your infant car seat upon request. Please call Marcia Van Voorst at (712) 722-8369 to set up a time.

Read more information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about choosing the most appropriate car seat for your child.

Car Seat Use

Buckle everyone – children age 12 and under in the back of the vehicle.

Infants

  • Age/Weight
    • Keep rear-facing from birth to 2 years old/at least 20 pounds.
  • Seat Type/Seat Position
    • Infant-only seat/rear-facing or convertible seat rear-facing.
    • Seats should be secured to the vehicle by the seat belt or by the LATCH system.
    • Use rear-facing convertible longer as they are available for children up to 30-35 pounds.
  • Usage Tips
    • Never use in a front seat where an airbag is present.
    • Tightly install the car seat in the back seat, facing the rear. The seat should not move more than an inch at the seat belt.
    • Recline (lean back) according to the seat’s instructions; look for recline indicator on the seat.
    • Straps should be at or just below shoulder level (lower set of slots for most convertible child safety seats).
    • Straps should be snug and you shouldn’t be able to pinch any extra strap at the shoulder.
    • The harness clip should be at armpit level.
    • Do not add blankets behind the child or under the straps.
    • Carry the handle in the correct position, according to the seat’s instructions.

Infants/Toddlers

  • Age/Weight
    • Less than 2 years old/5-40 pounds.
  • Seat Type/Seat Position
    • Convertible seat/rear-facing (select one with higher weight limits, 30-35 pounds, rear-facing).
    • Seats should be secured to the vehicle by the seat belt or by the LATCH system.
  • Usage Tips
    • Never use in a front seat where an airbag is present.
    • Recline (lean back) according to the seat’s instructions; look for recline indicator on the seat.
    • Straps should be at or just below the shoulder level.
    • Straps should be snug and you shouldn’t be able to pinch any extra strap at the shoulder.
    • The harness clip should be at armpit level.
    • Keep your child rear-facing until they reach the upper weight limits of the seat or until the baby’s head is 1 inch from the top of the seat.

Toddlers/Preschoolers

  • Age/Weight
    • 2 to 4 years old/at least 20 pounds to approximately 40 pounds.
  • Seat Type/Seat Position
    • Convertible seat/ forward-facing or forward-facing only seat or high-back booster with harness straps.
    • Seats should be secured to the vehicle by the seat belt or by the LATCH system.
  • Usage Tips
    • Tightly install the car seat in the back seat, facing FORWARD. The seat should not move more than 1 inch at the seat belt.
    • Straps should be at or just below shoulder level (usually the top set of slots for convertible child safety seats).
    • Straps should be snug and you shouldn’t be able to pinch any extra strap at the shoulder.
    • The harness clip should be at armpit level.

Young Children

  • Age/Weight
    • 4 to at least 8 to 10 years old, unless the child is 4’9” (57”) tall.
  • Seat Type/Seat Position
    • Belt-positioning booster (no back or high back).
    • NEVER use with lap-only belts; belt-positioning boosters are always used with lap AND shoulder belts.
  • Usage Tips
  • Use booster with adult lap and shoulder belt in a rear seat.
  • The shoulder belt should rest snugly across the chest, rest on the shoulder, and should NEVER be placed under the arm or behind the back. The lap belt should rest low, across the lap/upper thigh area – NOT across the stomach

Older Children

  • Seat Type/Seat Position
    • Seat belt.

5 Step Test for Usage

  1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
  2. Do the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat
  3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
  4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
  5. Can the child stay seated like this the whole trip?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat.

General Reminders

  • Always check your car seat’s instruction manual for installation, usage, and weight guidelines.
  • To install your seat, use your vehicle’s seat belt or LATCH system.
  • Be sure to install tightly – the car seat should move no more than 1 inch from side to side and front to back along the seat belt path.