Services at Cardon Children's Medical Center  

Child Car Seat Safety

Car Seat Safety  

Frequently Asked Questions


Question: What is the safest seat that I can buy for my child?

Answer: The safest child safety seat is one that will fit your child, that is comfortable, that fits in your car, and the seat that you will use correctly every time the child is in it.

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Question: How long should my baby ride backwards?

Answer: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should ride rear facing in their car seat until 2 years of age or the upper weight limit of the seat (30 to 35 pounds). All convertible seats and some infant seats will go to at least 30 pounds; many convertibles go higher. When rear facing the car seat absorbs the crash forces -- once you turn them around the child absorbs the crash. The child cannot be turned around before 1 year and 20 pounds.

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Question: My child safety seat came with a "tether" strap. Do I need to use it?

Answer: Most forward facing safety seats that have internal harnesses and are manufactured after September 1, 1999 will have the tether. The tether strap gives your child added head protection in a car crash. Injury Prevention advocates all forward facing children to use a seat that is tethered. 

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Question: My car does not have the tether anchorages; can I still use the tether?

Answer: No. Check with the manufacturer of your vehicle. Many manufacturers now offer one anchorage (tether anchor) at no charge. Have them installed in your vehicle. Remember the tether is for forward facing safety seats in most cases.

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Question: Is LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether for Children) safer than using the seatbelts for installation? 

Answer: Not necessarily.  A car seat PROPERLY installed with a seatbelt should be as safe as one properly installed with LATCH.  Use the system that works best for you and your car seat. There are many vehicles that do not allow you to install your car seat in the back middle seat using LATCH( read owner’s manual to vehicle). However, the seatbelt can be used in this seating position to install the child restraint.

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Question: What is a booster seat?

Answer: The booster seat is a new concept for parents. When a parent goes to the restaurant and asks for the "booster" it is to "boost" the child so they can sit at an adult table. This is the same concept for the car. Since the seatbelt design in a car is for adults, the booster seat "boosts" the child up so they fit the seatbelt correctly. 

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Question: Why should I use a booster?

Answer: Medically, there is more known now about what happens in car crashes with children. The seatbelt does not fit the child, so often, the shoulder belt goes behind a child's back. This can place the child at risk for head injury. If the lap belt rides up on the stomach, it can place the child at risk for internal and spinal injuries.

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Question: When will I know if my child fits the seat belt?

Answer: Take the Five Step test. If there is a "no" answer to any of these questions, the child needs a booster seat.

  1. Is the child sitting tall with the entire back touching the seat?
  2. Do the knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat?
  3. Is the belt across the shoulder between the arm and neck?
  4. Is the lap belt touching the tops of the legs?
  5. Can the child sit like this for the entire ride? 

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Question: When can children ride in the front seat?

Answer: Not until they are 13. Kids 12 and under need to be in the back seat, regardless of height or weight. Any child who is out of position at the time of the crash can put their head too close to the airbag and can cause death or serious injuries.

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Questions on car seat safety? E-mail us!

Cardon Children's Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202
(480) 412-KIDS (5437)
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