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Making Sure Your Child Car Seat Fits Safely

Whether you're welcoming your first child into the world or have a growing toddler, you need a safe car seat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that car seats can reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent in babies under age 1, and by 54 percent in toddlers under age 4. In addition to safe driving practices, follow the tips below to help you choose and install the best car seat for your child.

Choose the Correct Size

When choosing the right-sized car seat, consider your child's age, height and weight. Babies from birth to their first birthdays should be in rear-facing seats. They can sit in one that's designed for infants only or in a convertible seat that grows with them. The shoulder strap must be at or slightly below the shoulder, and the harness must be taut. If the harness doesn't fit right or isn't tight enough, adjust it, buy a different car seat, or read the instruction manual for assistance.

Children age 1 to 3 should also face to the rear for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that children under age 2 are five times safer in the car if they’re rear-facing, but try to keep your kids rear-facing for as long as possible. When your children have outgrown their rear-facing seat's height and weight limits, you can move them into a forward-facing seat with a safety harness and tether.

Between ages 4 and 7, kids can sit in a forward-facing car seat until they outgrow it. They can then move into a booster seat that's designed to work with the vehicle's existing seatbelt in the back seat.

Kids from age 8 to 12 should remain in the back seat and in a booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits them properly.

Install the Car Seat Properly

Up to 80 percent of all car seats are installed improperly by parents and caregivers, so take time to install your child's seat correctly.

To install a rear-facing or forward-facing infant seat or child's car seat using the vehicle's seatbelt or LATCH, thread the seatbelt through the base or secure the clips to the base. An infant's seat base should semi recline. All bases should not move more than an inch in any direction.

Booster seats do not need to be buckled into the vehicle. Once your child sits on it, use the seat belt to secure him/her. The belt should lie snug on his/her upper thighs and not across his/her stomach, and the shoulder belt should be snug across the chest and shoulders rather than on the child's neck or face.

If you're still confused about how to choose or install a car seat, contact your local state police and schedule a safety seat check. Make sure to contact your full-coverage insurance experts at Newins A Abana Auto Insurance, too. In addition to proper car seat sizing and installation, purchase required insurance for your vehicle. We're here to help you find the right auto insurance and provide peace of mind when traveling with your kids.