Our actions have a direct effect on our health. Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, getting plenty of physical activity, visiting your primary care physician, and making other healthy decisions will have a positive impact on your health and quality of life. On the other side of things, scarfing pizza and pastries and lifting nothing but a television remote will inevitably lead to health problems. But there are other decisions that we make on a daily basis that also factor into our well-being.
Everyone knows the importance of wearing a seat belt. That’s why legislation was passed in 1968 to require that all vehicles (except buses) in the United States be equipped with seat belts. As an adult, you make a decision that can ultimately impact your safety and your health any time that you hop into a vehicle. Children, especially infants, don’t have as much control in the matter, however. Car seat safety is an important issue that directly affects the health and well-being of your child — and you’re the one who makes the decisions.
Traffic accidents are the biggest preventable cause of death among children worldwide. Choosing the right car seat and using that car seat correctly can significantly reduce your child’s risk of death or injury if you’re involved in a collision.
So the most important decision is simply to use a car seat. Arkansas requires a car seat for children up to six years or sixty pounds, and that’s the safest choice for your child.
There are three basic types of car seat: rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats.
Rear-facing car seats are the best option for babies up to three years of age. A young child’s neck is fragile, and rear-facing car seats can prevent spinal injuries in the event of a collision. Many car seats are rear-facing and transition to a forward facing seat.
Once a child outgrows a rear-facing car seat, they should be put in a forward-facing car seat. This type of seat is designed for children who are not yet big enough to use the seat belts in vehicles. Forward-facing car seats are equipped with a harness that keeps your child secure. We recommend keeping your child in a 5-point harness as long as possible even if technically they are old enough for a booster with the seatbelt.
Booster seats are for children who are too large for forward-facing car seats, but still not quite big enough to use just a vehicle’s seat belt. A booster seat positions children so that the seat belt makes contact with the stronger parts of his or her body.
Car seats might have an age recommendation, or maybe a size and weight recommendation. Since children can vary greatly in size, using the age recommendation isn’t always the safest approach. The size and weight of your child is often a more meaningful number than the age recommendation. Here are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommendations for car seats.
Choosing the right car seat for your child isn’t the only thing that matters, though. You also have to make sure that the car seat is properly installed. A car seat that is installed incorrectly will not be able to protect your child in the way that it was designed to do.
Your child’s health is your top priority. You watch what they eat, you make sure that they get outside and stay active, and you bring them in for regular checkups, so you should also make sure that they stay safe while riding along in the backseat.