September is National Car Seat Safety Month. Knowing the specific details depends on the brand of a car seat and what their crash-test rated height and weight specifications are, but Kids Place Therapy Services wanted to provide you with a basic overview about proper car seat use.
By law, in the state of Illinois, a child should always be positioned rear-facing until the age of two unless the child has exceeded 40 pounds in weight or 40 inches in height. As your child’s legs are getting longer, they may appear to be cramped in rear-facing, but rest assured their joints, and ligaments are looser than ours and can tolerate those positions better than we can. Research has shown that more injuries occur to the hips and legs when a child is forward-facing as their legs can get pinned between the seats.
After a child outgrows the maximum height or weight of your rear-facing car seat, they may then be ready to transition to a forward-facing car seat with a tether and harness system. Then you will again look for that maximum height or weight restrictions to transition to a booster seat before your child outgrows and progresses to the car’s seat belt system. The seat belt should cross over the upper thighs, not the stomach, and should cross the chest without hitting the neck or face. It is also important to keep in mind that children under the age of 12 years old should be riding in the back seat of the car especially if they have not yet outgrown the height and weight restrictions of a booster seat.
For further questions on the proper installation of your child’s car seat, it is recommended that you contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician. You can use the following link to locate a technician https://cert.safekids.org/. They even have options in their search feature to locate a local technician with knowledge in proper car seat safety with children with special needs or instruction in other languages.
Age, weight, and height requirements for child car seats in Illinois. Seidman, Margulis & Fairman, LLP. (2020, November 16). https://www.seidmanlaw.net/restraint-laws-in-illinois/.
Car seats and booster seats. NHTSA. (n.d.). https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats#installation-help-inspection.
Corley, H. (n.d.). Is it safe for baby’s legs to touch the seat when riding rear-facing? Verywell