Child Safety Seat Age
For a child restraint to be sold or used within any of the 56 UNECE member states it must be approved by the standards of UNECE Regulation 44/04, Directive 77/541/EEC or any other subsequent adaptation thereto. In order to be granted ECE R44 approval the child restraint must comply with several design, construction and production conformity standards. If approval is granted the seat can display an orange label with the unique approval license number, the type of approval, the mass group approved for and the details of the manufacturer.
Your child’s safety could be in jeopardy if your car seat is not installed correctly. Before you install your car seat, make sure you’re familiar with vehicle and car seat parts used in the installation process and these important installation safety tips.
Generally, countries that regulate passenger safety have child safety laws that require a child to be restrained appropriately depending on their age and weight. These regulations and standards are often minimums, and with each graduation to the next kind of safety seat, there is a step down in the amount of protection a child has in a collision. Some countries, such as Australia and the United States, forbid rear-facing child seats in a front seat that has an airbag. A rear-facing infant restraint put in the front seat of a vehicle places an infant's head close to the airbag, which can cause severe head injuries or death if the airbag deploys. Some modern cars include a switch to disable the front passenger airbag for child-supporting seat use.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says to “make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your infant’s head does not flop forward. Many seats have angle indicators or adjusters that can help prevent this. If your seat does not have an angle adjuster, tilt the car safety seat back by putting a rolled towel or other firm padding (such as a pool noodle) under the base near the point where the back and bottom of the vehicle seat meet.” Safety seats come with an instruction booklet with additional information on the appropriate angle for the seat.
There are many car seat choices on the market. Use the information below to help you choose the type of car seat that best meets your child’s needs or print out NHTSA’s car seat recommendations for children (PDF, 370 KB).
Convertible safety seats can be installed as either rear-facing or forward-facing. There is a large selection available to choose from and weight limits, height limits, and extra features vary from seat to seat and by manufacturer. Seats with a 5-point harness are considered safer than those with an overhead shield
Convertibles aren't considered the best choice for a newborn because the bottom harness slots are often above the shoulders of most newborns. A seat with low bottom harness slots can be used if it is desired to use a convertible from birth.
Booster seats are recommended for children until they are big enough to properly use a seat belt. Seat belts are engineered for adults, and are thus too big for small children. In the United States, for children under the age of 4 and/or under 40 pounds (18 kg), a seat with a 5-point harness is suggested instead of a booster seat.