by: Michael Kabel
Child safety seats are a crucial part of protecting your child during their early years, and a vital means of ensuring their well-being in the event of an accident. But many parents are uncertain about the basics of proper child safety mechanics and operation - when to use, and how long the child should ride within the seat.
According to the non-profit advisory group SeatCheck.org, children should ride in a car safety seat, facing the back, until they weigh 20 pounds or reach one year of age. The seat should always go in the backseat of the automobile, and never facing backwards before a passenger air bag. Once children reach the weight or age limit for rear-facing seats, they should continue riding in the safety seat, facing forward, until reaching the seat's height or weight limit. While the child rides with the rear-facing seat, parents may also want to install a convex baby safety mirror on the car's backseat, so they're able to safely monitor the child while they drive.
Children should ride in booster seats until reaching eight years of age. A booster seat is a relatively new child safety innovation that allows children to become more snugly set into the passenger or backseat of a car. By raising the child's height to a more adult level, the seat affords more protection from seating belts than would be possible riding without. Most car safety belts are designed to accommodate people 4 feet 9 inches, so your child can discard the booster seat if reaching that height before their eighth birthday. The seat belt design may vary according to make and year of the car, however, especially among import models, so make sure the seat belt is secure around your child before driving.
Once reaching the minimum height requirement for conventional seat belts, children should always ride in the back seat, wearing their seat belts, until reaching 13 years of age. Children of all ages should ride in the back seat with their seat belts properly fastened before the car is set in motion.