CHKD Parenting: Holiday travel and car seats


by 13News Now

Posted on November 21, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 21 at 1:40 PM

NORFOLK-The holidays mean friends and loved ones are hitting the road to spend time with family.  

If you're traveling with children, Virginia law requires youngsters under age 8 to be in a properly-installed car or booster seat.

Here with some tips on selecting the appropriate car seat for your child:

Tip 1: All infants should always ride rear facing in an infant car seat or a convertible car seat placed rear facing.  Very small infants will fit better in infant-only car seats with low harness strap slots.
• Rear-facing car seats provide better crash protection in front and side impact crashes. It is recommended to keep your children rear facing until the upper weight limit of the particular seat is reached.
• For toddlers over one year and 20-40 pounds the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommend that children remain rear facing in a convertible car seat until they are two years old or reach the rear-facing weight limit of the car seat.
• Once over two, children should ride forward facing in a car seat with a harness until they reach the weight or height limit of the harness.

Tip 2: Booster seats are used as a transition to vehicle safety belts for children who have outgrown their car seats, but who are not big enough to use the vehicle seat belts alone.
• Several car seats are now available that provide a secure harness system for children up to 80 pounds. This may be a good option for children who may not be ready to sit independently in a standard booster seat using a vehicle lap and shoulder belt.
• Children over 40 pounds should otherwise use a belt positioning booster seat until they are at least 8 years old, are at least 4 feet, 9 inches tall, and can properly use the lap-shoulder belt in a vehicle.
• Your child is big enough to use the vehicle’s seat belts when: The lap portion of the belt fits low across the hips, resting on the thighs; the shoulder portion fits comfortably across the chest and shoulder; the child is able to sit all the way back in the seat; and the child’s knees bend at the end of the seat cushion.

Tip 3: Children with any special health care needs may require additional positioning considerations or seats designed to accommodate their conditions and remain properly secured during transportation.
• Children who cannot sit up on their own may need to remain rear facing or stay in higher weight harness for longer periods of time.
• Children with attention or behavioral issues may be unable to transition safely to booster seats at a typical time.
• CHKD’s child passenger safety program provides skilled therapy evaluations to help determine specific needs to determine the best restraint for any child.

There are assistance programs for low-income Virginians who can't afford to purchase a child safety seat. Parents can call their local health department or CHKD at 668-8655.

For help making sure the seat is right, you can get help at one of the fitting stations found throughout Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina. Click here for the CHKD site with has a list of stations.