Parenting comes with an extensive list of questions: How can I get my baby to sleep? Which pediatrician should we choose? Where should my child go to school?
We don’t have all the answers for you, but we can help with one very important question: Which car safety seat is best for my child?
Arkansas Child Safety Seat Laws
The state of Arkansas agrees that your child’s safety is important. That’s why the Arkansas Code includes laws to protect children and infants as they ride in vehicles. The Child Passenger Protection Act lists three requirements:
- If a child is less than 6 years old and weighs less than 60 pounds, they must be restrained in a safety seat.
- If a child is at least 6 years old OR weighs at least 60 pounds, they can use the car’s safety belt without the additional safety seat.
- Any driver who transports a child under the age of 15 must provide the child with a safety belt that meets federal safety standards.
Of course, these Arkansas car seat laws are only a starting point. There are countless car seats available. How can you choose the best one for your child?
Child Safety Seat Recommendations
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers safety seat guidelines to better protect your child at each stage of life.
- Infants and Toddlers: Infants should ride in rear-facing seats, beginning with the drive home from the hospital. They should continue to ride rear-facing until they reach the weight or height limit allowed by the seat. For most seats, this allows children to remain rear-facing until at least age 2.
- 4 to 7 years: Use a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness, which should always be secured when the car is in motion. These seats typically accommodate children up to 60-65 pounds.
- 8 to 12 years: Although no longer required by Arkansas law to ride in a safety seat, children in this age range should still use a booster seat. Use the booster with the car’s lap and shoulder seat belts until the child can comfortably use the safety belts alone.
- 13 years and older: Use the lap and shoulder belts alone when they fit properly. The shoulder belt should lay flat on the shoulder, and the lap belt should stay low across the hips or thighs.
When can my child ride in the front seat?
Children may begin to ride in the front seat at the age of 13 if their height and weight allow them to properly fit the car’s seat belts. Children who are younger than 13 years old should always ride in the back seat, and car seats should never be used in a front seat.
Which car seat is best?
Should you buy a specific brand or model of car seat? There are hundreds of different child safety seat models sold in the US alone. No single brand or style is better than the others. Instead, ask yourself the following questions to find the best seat for your family…
- First, does it fit my car?
- Next, does it fit my child?
- Finally, can I use this correctly each time my child rides in it?
If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, it’s the right seat for you.
Do car seats have an expiration date?
You should never use a child safety seat that’s more than 6 years old or has been involved in a car crash. Learn more about determining when to replace your child’s seat in our recent post: Arkansas Guidelines for Child Safety Seats.