By Kristin Varela on April 26, 2012
If you've had kids at any point when "Barney" has been on the air, you know as well as anyone what a catastrophic cluster...mess it is trying to figure out which type of car seat to put your baby/toddler/kid/preteen in and when.
Rear-facing until age 1 or age 3? Forward-facing until age 3 or later? Booster seats until age 8 or later? Front passenger seat when they graduate college? Help! Just when we seem to have the whole thing figured out, new research comes in that leads to changes in the guidelines.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration — the government agency tasked with regulating child-safety seats — is trying to help parents out with its newly launched site www.SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat. As part of a larger site focused on car safety in general, the focus of The Right Seat is to walk parents through the child-safety-seat guidelines according to the most up-to-date regulations.
The website does this via a simple overview based on a child's age, helping a parent decide when to switch the child from a rear-facing to a forward-facing car seat. The assistance doesn't end there, the website then advises on when to move the child to a booster seat and later when to transition out of a booster seat into using just a seat belt in the backseat.
Additional information about each type of car seat is available via an expanded menu. TheRightSeat even details how to install each of the child-safety in a car, and it includes helpful instructional videos, too.
There's also a child-seat inspection station locator where you can find a certified car-seat technician in your neighborhood to make sure you've installed the car seat correctly.
This site goes beyond just car seats, too. There's an On the Move section that looks at children's safety on school buses or when walking or biking to school. The At the Wheel section helps parents adjust to having a teen driver, and In and Around Cars gives parents the information they need to avoid such potential tragedies as back overs, heatstroke, power window strangulations, seat belt entanglement, trunk entrapment and vehicle rollaways.
The only question about the website is how well it will be updated when the rules change and how it explains those changes to parents.
Having a thorough yet simple one-stop shop for parents to help guide them through two decades of life with your kids in cars should prove to be a fantastic tool that can easily be shared with other caregivers like baby sitters or grandparents.
Senior Family Editor Kristin Varela blends work and family life by driving her three tween-teen girls every which way in test cars. Email Kristin