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Car Seat Safety

Did you know that four out of five car seats are used incorrectly? Whether you're expecting your first baby or have a car-full of kids, correctly choosing and installing a child safety seat can be a challenge, especially with the variety of seats, vehicle belt systems, and vehicles on the market. 

To keep your child as safe as possible, follow these tips and sign up for a car seat check-up with a certified technician at St. Luke’s. (See below for upcoming events.)

Best Practices for Car Seat Safety

  • Never put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat with an activated air bag.
  • Children 12 years old and younger should always ride in the back seat.
  • Never use a car seat that has been in even a moderate crash.
  • Always follow the instructions for your vehicle's seat belt or LATCH system, as well as from the car seat manufacturer to be sure your child is buckled in safely.
  • Every car seat has an expiration date. You should only keep your car seat for six years after the manufacture date.
  • Mail in the car seat registration card or register your seat on the manufacturer's website. If you don't, you won’t be notified if the child safety seat is recalled or has other safety problems. Click here to check for a recall. 
  • Learn more about car seat safety at the American Academy of Pediatrics website.

Newborn to About Age 2 Years: Rear-facing Car Seats

  • Keep children in a rear-facing position as long as possible to better protect their head, neck, and back.
  • Infant Seats: Face the back of the car and may include a base.
  • Convertible Seats: Face the back of the car. When the child reaches a specified weight and height, you can turn the seat around to face the front.
Check to make sure:

  • Your child meets the weight and height limits.
  • The harness straps are at or below your child's shoulders, and are snug.
  • The retainer clip or chest clip on the harness is at armpit level.
  • The car seat is buckled tight and does not move from side to side more than one inch. The car seat leans back at a 30-45 degree angle. Every rear-facing car seat has an angle indicator.


Toddlers Age 2 Years and Older: Forward-facing Car Seats

  • Keep children in a rear-facing position as long as possible—they’re safest that way.
  • Convertible seats: These become forward-facing after the child reaches the highest weight and height allowed in the rear-facing position.
  • Combination seats: These always face the front of the car. The harness straps keep your child safe until a certain weight and height. Then, the straps are removed and the seat becomes a booster seat (use with a lap/shoulder seat belt).

Check to make sure:

  • Your child meets the weight and height limits.
  • The harness straps are at or above your child's shoulders, and are snug.
  • The retainer clip or chest clip on the harness is at armpit level.
  • The car seat is buckled in tight and does not move from side to side more than one inch.
  • The car seat sits upright.


Young Kids Under Age 8 Years Old and Approximately 40 Pounds: Booster Seats

  • Keep children in a harness as long as possible—they’re safest this way.
  • High-back booster seats: These include a head rest and shoulder strap guides on the sides.
  • No-back booster seats: These do not include a head rest. Your vehicle must have a head rest that can adjust to the level of your child's head if this type is used.

Check to make sure:

  • Your child meets the weight and height limits.
  • You always use a lap/shoulder seat belt with a booster seat.
  • The lap part of the lap/shoulder belt lies flat on the child's hips, not the stomach.
  • The shoulder strap crosses the shoulder and chest, not the neck.


Kids Over Age 8 Years Old or Taller Than 4 Feet, 9 inches: Lap/shoulder Seat Belts

  • Seat belts are designed for adults, so keep children in a booster until they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.
  • Lap/shoulder belts: These cross over the shoulder, chest, and hips.
  • Lap belts: These only cross over the hips and do not support the upper body of a child or adult.

Check to make sure:

  • A lap/shoulder belt is always used.
  • The lap belt crosses at the hips and not the stomach.
  • The shoulder strap does not rub the neck.
  • Your child sits back in the seat with knees bent over the edge of the seat.
  • Your child's feet touch the floor.
  • Your child's head is supported by a head rest.

Safety in a Snap! 

Presented by St. Luke's Children's Hospital and Kohl's Cares®

The Safety in a Snap! program focuses on motor vehicle, bike, and water safety, reminding parents and kids to snap your life jackets, bike helmets, and car seat clips or seat belts to help prevent the top three causes of death and injury to children: bike and motor vehicle accidents, and drowning. Safety in a Snap! is funded by a grant from Kohl's department stores and the Kohl's Cares® cause merchandise program. Through this initiative, Kohl's donates a percentage of sales to benefit children's health and education programs nationwide, including hospital partnerships like ours. Kohl's helps us promote safety by providing free helmets and car seats for local families. 

Car Seat Safety Checks

Let St. Luke’s help take the stress out of correctly installing a safety seat for your treasured cargo. We offer monthly car seat check-up events, and also provide child passenger safety seats for families who may not be able to afford them. At these events, a St. Luke's certified child passenger safety technician will evaluate your car seat for proper installation, use, and recall status, and answer any questions you may have regarding your child’s safety in the car.

Idaho Law

Idaho's Child Passenger Safety Law requires that all children six years of age or younger be properly restrained in an appropriate child safety restraint. Idaho Code 49-672 is a primary law, with a fine of $79. Click here to see the law in its entirety. 



Find a car seat check event near you