Child Car Seat Do’s and Don’ts 

Joy Hollowell

Infant versus convertible, forward versus rear facing, seat belt versus harness.These are just some of the questions parents may have when it comes to car seats.Joy Hollowell talked with a safety expert about the right and wrong way to buckle your child in.===”A child needs to be in a safety restraint until they are at least 40 pounds, and they need to be in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old or 80 pounds or 4 feet, 9 inches tall,” says Rachel Beckwith.That’s the law in Maine, according to Beckwith, a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. But she says, how those rules are interpreted can leave some children at more risk for injury from a car crash.For instance, when it comes to forward versus rear facing, Maine law says to follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.”The minimum to rear face is they need to be at least one year old and 20 pounds,” says Beckwith. “However, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that children be rear facing until they reach the limits of their seat.”That is, how much they weigh, and how much head room they have above the seat- it has to be at least an inch. Feet touching the seat is not a safety issue, according to Beckwith.When it comes to booster seats, Beckwith says it’s easy to understand why parents may make the wrong choice.”A lot of boosters start at 30 pounds, that’s changing by the way, so parents think that if they have a two year old that is 30 pounds they are appropriate to sit in a booster seat. And that’s not the case.”Beckwith says a six or seven year old is really the best age, when they can sit still so the seat belt doesn’t slip off their shoulder.”A lot of times I see loose harnesses,” says Beckwith. “You need to make sure that the harness is sung, so that you shouldn’t be able to pinch any fabric on their shoulders. The retainer clip needs to be at their armpit level.”Now all of this probably doesn’t sound too comfortable, and Beckwith says that is a comment she often gets from parents. Here’s her response.”If your child begged and cried and whined and complained about wanting to play in the street, what would you say? You would say no. This is the same thing, because motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of children.”========On Saturday, September 18th there will be a free car seat safety check up in Bangor.It will go from 2 until 6 p.m. at Burlington Coat Factory and is sponsored by the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.For more information, you can log onto