LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Staying up to date with your child’s doctor visits and check-ups are top priority when it comes to their health, but making sure they are safe en-route is just as important.

In 2019 over 600 children ages 12 and younger died in car crashes, 38% of them were not buckled into their seatbelts. Child restraint laws require children riding in vehicles to use approved restraint devices such as car seats, booster seats, or seat belts appropriate for their age, height and weight.

Dr. Lauren Bailey, pediatrician with Women’s and Children’s says putting your child in a safety seat is important no matter the length of the trip. With several restraint methods, it’s beneficial to know exactly which one best fits your child. “Any kid under the age of 4 cannot be in a booster seat. They have to be in a 5 part harness. The more belts they have the more secure they are going to be,” says Dr. Bailey.

When it comes to properly positioning your child, Dr. Bailey says:

  • If possible, place you child in the middle
  • Rear facing- under the age of two or as long as possible
  • Make sure base of car seat is secured

Dr. Bailey says the parent often make two mistakes, positioning the straps incorrectly and adding extra padding to the car seat or booster seat. “You really want to do something that has been approved for that specific car seat,” says Dr. Bailey.

Dr. Bailey strongly encourages parents to not allow toddlers to strap themselves and for older children who are able to strap themselves, she advises double checking.