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Precious Cargo Aboard – How to Find the Right Car Seat

January 29, 2014


Secure your child: Use the pinch test: if you try to pinch the child’s safety harness between your two fingers and you can, it’s not snug enough.

Stephanie Tombrello

passenger safety technician


33 Percent Safer

Your child is 33% safer when you properly use a car safety seat. California requires safety seats for kids  under age 8 and under 4-feet-9.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a 5-point harness car seat, or a booster seat that uses the vehicles seat belt across them.

Weight of my child + Weight of the car seat

The combined weight of child + car seat must be less than 65 lbs to use the lower anchor and tethers for children (LATCH) for the car seat and upper tether. After 65 lbs, parents must use the vehicle seat belts and upper tether for safety.


How to Find the Right Car Seat?

Find a car seat that fits your child.  As children grow, how they sit in your car will change. Make sure the car seat you purchase is designed to fit your child’s current size and age. Not all car seats fit in all vehicles. Test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits properly. Take the time to test the car seat in your car.

Instructions regarding ideal placement and securing of a safety seat should be included when you purchase it. If you own an older or second hand seat you will need to look up the best way to fasten it properly to your car.

More than one child?

If you have more than one child, always place the most protected child in the least protected spot.

For example, if you have three children, the children in the rear facing car seats should go on the sides and the child in the booster seat facing forward should ride in the center.

Your children will be delighted to know that booster seats now support up to 125 pounds, you can even make them take it to college!

Ask an Expert

There are many nationally certified child passenger safety technicians throughout California. Check with your local CHP office or local health department to find a technician or “fitting station” near you. You can also log on to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website to find a fitting station.

Certified child passenger safety technician instructor Stephanie Tombrello, with SafetyBeltSafe in Los Angeles, has been involved in child passenger safety since 1970. She and several other early pioneers in the field successfully petitioned the federal government to require crash testing for child restraints. Tombrello also wrote a petition which lead to the federal requirement that all cars made after 1989 have shoulder belts in back seats.