NH DHHS - New Federal Child Car Seat Recommendations

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Celebrates National Public Health Week

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is highlighting the revised guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for selecting and using a car seat. One of the biggest changes is the recommendation for parents is to keep their child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, but at least until age two or when he or she reaches the maximum height or weight for the seat. Rear-facing seats do an excellent job of supporting the head, neck, and spine of very young children because it distributes the force of a crash over the entire body.

“After a child outgrows a rear-facing seat they should be transitioned to a forward-facing seat with a harness, again until they reach the maximum weight or height for the particular seat,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of the Division of Public Health Services. “It’s also very important for parents to read the car seat manufacturer’s instructions and to install car seats correctly in their vehicle using the seat belt or LATCH system.”

A booster seat comes next, which positions the seat belt so that it fits properly over the strongest parts of the child’s body. Most children will need a booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age, which is another change in the guidelines. Also very child 12 and younger should ride in the back seat, every time.

“Many parents are unknowingly switching their children over to just wearing a seatbelt too soon,” said Dr. Montero. “In order to wear a seatbelt properly, the lap portion of the belt must lay snuggly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should be positioned across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Too many children are being moved to a seatbelt before it fits them correctly.”

These recommendations are one of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week; for more information go to www.nphw.org .

For more information, about child car seat safety, go to the American Academy of Pediatrics website at www.healthychildren.org and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov . The New Hampshire Child Passenger Safety (NH CPS) Program provides technical assistance regarding child passenger safety to professionals and the public. Contact them toll-free at 1-877-783-0432. NH CPS can also guide you to a trained technician in your area of the State who can help you to install a seat properly.