Car Seat Safety

Car seats can seem daunting… there are tons of options to choose from and many parents just hope they are putting the seat and their child in properly. And even though we all may not know how to properly use and install a car seat, it is important that we research or reach out to a trained professional for help if we are unsure. Car seats are so important and are so necessary to keep everyone safe in the car. In most cases, using the seat properly can save your child from injury or even death.

  • Did you know that the number one cause of death for children (ages 1-13) in the United States is vehicle crashes? *
  • Did you know that having your child restrained in a car seat reduces the risk of injury during a crash by 71% to 82%? **
  • Did you know that 3 out of 4 car seats are not being properly used? ***
  • Did you know that drivers who buckle up are more likely to have passengers that are buckled as well? ****

Choosing a seat for your child:

When choosing a seat for your child, you need to think about these 4 things:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Development Levels

In Illinois your child has to be 8 years old, 4’9” and between 90 and 110 pounds to be out of their car seat. It is important that your child outgrows the car seat in weight or height according to the car seat manufacturer before moving up to the next level or turning the rear facing seat around. Many parents do this too early, it is best to outgrow your current seat before using a new one.

Installing your car seat:

Check your car manufacturer guide to find out where the safest place in the car seat is for your car. It also lets you know where you can use the anchor system in the car and if you should use the car seat’s tether. Where you put the car seat in the car also depends on who else is in the car. The car seat manufacturer also sets the guidelines for what else should be used with the car seat. Many parents add things like toys or mirrors to their child’s seat. If the car seat manufacturer doesn’t have them listed as an approved add on, they are considered unregulated products and can affect the safety of your car seat. This includes heavy coats during the winter. The thick coats cause you to loosen the child’s harness which prevents it from fitting properly when the thick coats compress during a car accident. For more info about what to do in the winter, check out this post by The Car Seat Lady:

Where can you go to get help properly using your car seat?

There are resources in our area to help you make sure you have picked the right seat for your child and to make sure that the car seat is in properly.

The CUPHD makes appointments for free inspections every other Thursday from 9am-4pm. Call 217-353-4932 to schedule your appointment.

I also schedule appointments anytime and come to your home to show you how to use your car seat properly. Find out more about this here: Free Range Babies or send me an email at

You can also go here to find out if you are using the correct car seat based on your child’s age, weight and height:

Here are my 3 kids and why they are in the seat they are in!


Abigail is 4’6” and 70 pounds. Her booster seat can be used until she gets to 100 pounds and 4’9”. Abby is still in a booster seat, even though she has met the age & developmental requirements to sit with just the seat belt. She has not met the height and weight requirements in Illinois to sit in a seat without a booster, so in a booster she sits! The booster seat is meant to keep the lap belt in its proper position to keep the abdomen safe in a car accident.



Luke is 3’ 9” and 45 pounds. His high back booster seat can be used until he gets to 100 pounds and 4’9”. Luke is in a high back booster seat because without the high back the shoulder belt doesn’t fit across his shoulders properly ensuring that in the event of an accident the belt is properly placed to give him upper body protection. Once he is tall enough for the shoulder belt to properly lie on his chest, we can remove the back.


Brady is 3’and 29 pounds. Brady is in a Forward Facing Car Seat. His forward facing car seat can be used until he gets to 40 pounds and 3’6”. These seats are a little harder to put in and get “just right.” They need to be installed properly according to the car seat manufacturer and the harnesses on the seat have to fit properly against your child. In a forward facing seat, the belts shouldn’t have enough slack to pinch. The retainer clip should be at armpit level and a routed through the correct slots with no twists in the belts. Once Brady out grows this we can move him to a high back booster, but he’s such a little guy that it will probably be a while before he moves seats!

* (NHTSA, 2012)

** (AAA, 2012)

*** (NHTSA, 2006)

**** (National Occupant Protection Use Survey Controlled Intersection Survey, 2011)



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