Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why Should my baby ride rear-facing?
A: The risk of severe injury to your baby is greatly reduced by using a rear-facing car seat. Rear-facing helps support your child's entire body and protects her better from an injury, especially to the spine.
Q: What types of car seats can be used rear-facing?
A: There are two types of rear-facing car seats: infant only seats and convertible seats. The smaller infant seats are only used rear-facing for babies who weigh up to 22 pounds (a few go to 35 pounds). Many models come with a carrying handle and a detachable base into which the car seat locks.
Convertible seats are generally designed to be used rear-facing for infants who weight 5 to 30-40 pounds (some go higher) and forward-facing for toddlers who weigh up to 40 pounds (some go higher).
Q: What if someone rear-ends my car, won't my baby be safer forward-facing?
A: Studies show that using a rear-facing car safety seat lowers the risk of injury from crashes of all directions.
Q: How can I be sure my baby is buckled up correctly?
A: Always read and follow the directions that come with your car safety seat and your vehicle owner's manual. You can find a location where a child passenger safety technician can help you with your seats by visiting or www.seatcheck.org. We do have 2 technicians on site at the Health Department.
Q: When driving, I can't see my child and I want to turn her around so I can see her. Can I use a mirror so I can see her and keep her rear-facing longer?
A: There are no federal safety standards for many products like mirrors. If the mirror were to fly loose in a crash, there is a chance of it hurting you or your child. If possible, have another adult or older child sit next to your baby to observe her. Remember that babies usually sleep without direct observation at home.
Q: My baby has long legs and his feet touch the back of the vehicle seat when sitting rear-facing in his car seat. Is this safe?
A: Yes. Babies are very flexible and it is okay for his legs to bend when he is rear-facing in the car seat. He is much safer from serious injury in the rear-facing position with his legs bent then if he were riding forward-facing.
Q: What should I do when my child gets out of her car seat, booster, or seat belt?
A: Pull your car off the road where it is safe and re-fasten her car seat or seat belt. If possible, it may help to have someone sit next to her in the back seat. Keep your child busy with other activities like counting cars, singing songs, or listening to music. Make sure the car seat fits your child correctly. Harness straps that are loose or through the wrong set of slots make it easier to get out of the seat.
Q: When can my child ride in the front seat?
A: The back seat is the safest place for all children 12 years and under, even if your car does not have an airbag.
Q: Is there anything i can do to make sure my child stays buckled up?
A: Yes, set an example. Be a good role model and always buckle up. If you always use your safety belt, your child is more likely to follow your example.
Q: Why is it important to use a top tether?
A: A top tether works by keeping your child's car seat back so his or her head won't move as far forward in a crash. This can reduce the risk of head and neck injuries.