Infants and Young Children
Everyone in a vehicle needs protection! This includes infants and all other children. Neither the distance traveled nor the age and size of the traveler changes the need, for everyone, to use safety restraints. In fact, the law in every state in the United States and in every Canadian province says children up to some age must be restrained while in a vehicle.
Children can be seriously injured or strangled if a shoulder belt is wrapped around their neck and the safety belt continues to tighten. Never leave children unattended in a vehicle and never allow children to play with the safety belts.
Airbags plus lap-shoulder belts offer protection for adults and older children, but not for young children and infants. Neither the vehicle's safety belt system nor its airbag system is designed for them. Every time infants and young children ride in vehicles, they should have the protection provided by appropriate child restraints.
Children who are not restrained properly can strike other people, or can be thrown out of the vehicle.
Never do this.
Never hold an infant or a child while riding in a vehicle. Due to crash forces, an infant or a child will become so heavy it is not possible to hold it during a crash.
For example, in a crash at only 40 km/h (25 mph), a 5.5 kg (12 lb) infant will suddenly become a 110 kg (240 lb) force on a person's arms. An infant should be secured in an appropriate restraint.
Never do this.
Children who are up against, or very close to, any airbag when it inflates can be seriously injured or killed. Never put a rear-facing child restraint in the right front seat. Secure a rear-facing child restraint in a rear seat. It is also better to secure a forward-facing child restraint in a rear seat. If you must secure a forward-facing child restraint in the right front seat, always move the front passenger seat as far back as it will go.
Q: What are the different types of add-on child restraints?
A: Add-on child restraints, which are purchased by the vehicle owner, are available in four basic types. Selection of a particular restraint should take into consideration not only the child's weight, height, and age but also whether or not the restraint will be compatible with the motor vehicle in which it will be used.
For most basic types of child restraints, there are many different models available. When purchasing a child restraint, be sure it is designed to be used in a motor vehicle. If it is, the restraint will have a label saying that it meets federal motor vehicle safety standards.
The restraint manufacturer's instructions that come with the restraint state the weight and height limitations for a particular child restraint. In addition, there are many kinds of restraints available for children with special needs.
To reduce the risk of neck and head injury during a crash, infants need complete support. This is because an infant's neck is not fully developed and its head weighs so much compared with the rest of its body. In a crash, an infant in a rear-facing child restraint settles into the restraint, so the crash forces can be distributed across the strongest part of an infant's body, the back and shoulders. Infants should always be secured in rear-facing child restraints.
A young child's hip bones are still so small that the vehicle's regular safety belt may not remain low on the hip bones, as it should.
Instead, it may settle up around the child's abdomen. In a crash, the belt would apply force on a body area that is unprotected by any bony structure. This alone could cause serious or fatal injuries. To reduce the risk of serious or fatal injuries during a crash, young children should always be secured in appropriate child restraints.