Front Seat Fun v. Back Seat Boredom {Guest Post}

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By Valerie Cox

As parents, one of our greatest responsibilities is
to protect our children, and ensuring your children’s safety can be any action
from holding their hands when crossing the street to knowing their whereabouts
on a playground.  At the top of a parent
safety checklist should be to know and abide by proper car safety guidelines,
and while your children might whine about their seating arrangements, their
safety is far more important than their liking.

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In the past decade, numerous studies have
confirmed the importance of car seats and the value of protection they bring to
your child, and in the car seat industry, four typesof car seats are available. 
Rear-facing car seats feature a harness and will cradle the child to
protect the neck and spinal region, and forward-facing car seats have a harness
and tether to decrease the child’s forward motion.  A booster seat lifts the child up from the
seat so the seatbelt fits properly over the child’s body, and a seatbelt
restrains the child by holding them back in proper position.

One ofthe largest misconceptions about car safety is when to make the switch from
rear-facing to forward-facing to booster to backseat seatbelts to front seat
seatbelts.  According to the American
Academy of Pediatrics, children should stay rear-facing for as long as possible
or at least until 2 years of age. 
Children should remain in booster seats until the seatbelt lies across their
upper thighs and fits snug across their shoulders.  Car seats have specific height and weight
requirements listed on the back or sides and should be consulted for precise
information.  A general rule is
rear-facing until age 2, forward-facing until age 5, and a booster seat until a
seatbelt fits correctly, but each child is unique because of height and weight
differences.

Each state has specific laws and fines regarding
transporting children safely in a vehicle, and you should stay current with
your state’s restrictions and also those of any state you will be driving
in.  To make certain your child is in the
proper car seat, BabyCenter
has an interactive tool based on your state and child’s weight and height to
make certain your child is in the proper car seat.

Children cannot wait to move from the back seat to
the front, but this decision should not be made lightly.  They need to be both tall and heavy enough for
the seatbelt to be effective during an accident, and the dangers of moving to
the front seat too early include being thrown through the windshield and not
sitting in the proper position for an airbag to work correctly.  Because airbags inflate so rapidly, the
impact alone can turn a 30 mph crash into what feels like a 200 mph crash.  Children should be at least 4’9” and weight at
least 80 pounds to switch from the back seat to the front seat, but just
because your child meets the height and weight requirements does not mean you
should allow the change.  Most studies
agree that 12 to 13 is the proper age to switch your child.  Similar to keeping your child rear-facing for
as long as possible, having your child remain in the back seat for as long as
possible is the smartest decision.

Under certain circumstances, your child is safer
in the front seat despite not meeting the height and weight requirements.  For example, if your back seat seatbelts are
broken or if the car seat will not properly install in the back seat, then the
front seat with a working seatbelt is better than the back seat with no
seatbelt at all.  As the parent, you
should use your best judgment, but as a general practice, the back seat is the
safest place for your child.

For children, it can be hard to understand the importance
of remaining in a car seat and sitting in the back seat, but as parents, it is
our job to teach them the significance of proper car safety.  We need to make sure they understand the
importance of abiding by proper car safety practices no matter who is
driving.  Keeping up with safety
requirements might seem tiresome, but when you think of your precious children’s
faces, their smiles make it all worthwhile.

Valerie enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and
playing with her puppy, Emma.  Some of
her favorites include Taylor Swift, Sprite, and Grey’s Anatomy, and she believes in making every moment count.

valplowman

Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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