Road injuries are among the leading causes of child fatality in the US. Fortunately, you can keep your child safe by using a proper car seat and following your state laws.
As parents, it seems there are a million things we should know to keep our children safe. The hard part is that laws and regulations are ever-changing, especially in car seat safety.
Because of this, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about CT car seat laws so that you can drive with peace of mind.
Connecticut Child Safety Laws
CT Infant Car Seat Laws
Connecticut car seat laws state that infants should be in a rear-facing seat using a five-point harness restraint.
Infants and babies are at greater risk of severe injuries during a crash or collision. Babies have large heads compared to their bodies and are still developing their spines and neck muscles.
If your infant were to sit in a forward-facing car seat, it would cause what resembles a whiplash in adults, except for infants and babies, it’s much more serious. During the collision, the neck and head are violently thrown forward, causing their spinal cord to stretch, resulting in serious injuries, like paralysis and even death.
However, in a rear-facing car seat, your baby’s upper body—the head, neck, and spine—remains cradled by the car seat, where the shell of the chair takes most of the impact.
You should keep your baby in their infant car seat until they reach the seat’s maximum height or weight limit. It may take up to one year, if not more, but you shouldn’t turn them forward-facing just yet.
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Once your baby is out of their infant car seat, you should still keep them rear-facing. CT car seat laws stress that babies should remain in a rear-facing seat with a five-point harness till they reach at least two years of age or 30 pounds.
However, it’s important to note that this is the minimum recommendation; you should try to keep your toddler rear-facing until they reach the seat’s maximum height or weight limit.
Toddlers who are two years or younger and riding in a rear-facing car seat are less likely to be severely hurt in a collision than kids the same age in a front-facing car seat. Toddlers are still developing their spine, so this is one milestone you don’t want to rush.
Forward-Facing Car Seat
According to Connecticut car seat laws, you can place your child in a forward-facing car seat once they weigh at least 30 pounds. It is usually for kids between the ages of two and four.
In a front-facing car seat, your child should always wear a five-point harness. Keep them in that seat until they’re at least five years of age and weigh 40 pounds.
If your little one is smaller for their age, or they haven’t reached the weight or height limit of their rear-facing car seat, you can continue using it for as long as possible.
CT Convertible Car Seat Laws
Convertible car seats are suitable for children of various ages and sizes. You begin by having it rear-faced, usually from when your little one graduates from their infant car seat at age one.
Once your child is old and big enough according to the seat, you can flip it so that it faces the front. You can use a convertible car seat until the preschool years, depending on its weight and height limits.
However, because convertible car seats are heavier than infant car seats, you need to use either a LATCH—lower anchors and tethers for children—system or seat belts to keep it secure.
Follow the same CT car seat laws as above; your infant and toddler should be in a rear-facing car seat until weighing at least 30 pounds or exceeding the recommended limit.
CT Booster Car Seat Laws
Similar to its name, a booster seat places your child higher in your car’s seat to ensure that the general lap and shoulder seat belt fits their body correctly.
You have two types of booster seats: backless and high-back. Backless boosters consist only of a seat, designed to give your little one the needed height for the seat belt. However, high-back boosters have a bottom and back with a guide to where you can thread the safety belt through.
According to booster seat laws CT, your child can use a booster once they’re at least five years old and have exceeded the weight limit of the front-facing car seat. They should remain in the booster seat until they’re eight years old or weigh more than 60 pounds.
Car Seat Safety Features
We’ve listed a few important safety features that a car seat should ideally have. These include:
- Five-point harness: All car seats, except for boosters, should have a five-point harness, where there are two straps around the waist, two over the shoulders, and one between the legs that connect in the middle. Such harnesses hold your baby in place while distributing the force over several areas of the body, minimizing injuries.
- High rear-facing weight limit: As you want your little one to sit rear-facing for as long as possible, it’s best to buy a seat with a high rear-facing weight limit.
- Easy harness adjustments: The five-point harness should be easy to adjust to get the right fit; otherwise, it won’t be helpful. If possible, choose a no-rethread harness as it doesn’t require you to reroute it to make adjustments.
- Side impact protection: In case of a side-impact crash, look for a car seat that advertises side impact protection. Although there aren’t any regulations yet, it’s still a safety feature to look for.
- Say no to hand-me-downs: There are two significant reasons you shouldn’t use a secondhand car seat. For starters, old car seats might not pass the current regulations, and secondly, if it has been in a moderate to a severe car accident, it’s not safe to use again.
Best Placement of Car Seat
You should always place your car seat in the back, preferably in the middle spot away from the airbags. If you can’t fit the seat in the middle safely or securely, you can place it behind either one of the front seats.
If you drive a pickup truck with no back seats, only use the car to transport your little one if you can disengage the airbag with a key. Otherwise, your baby could suffer severe injuries from the airbag.
Getting Your Car Seat Installed
When living in Connecticut, you can get your car seat installed by a Child Passenger Safety Technician by attending a Car Seat Clinic or another local fitting station. There are currently 75 fitting stations in Connecticut.
You’ll find certified technicians at fitting stations who have undergone a 32-hour certification course on car seat education and installation. The fitting station technicians will check your car seat to ensure it isn’t expired and is compatible with your child’s age.
They’ll then fit the harness to your little one and install the car seat while answering any of your questions.
It’s crucial to follow the CT car seat laws to ensure that you and your little one are safe while on the road. Infants and babies under age two should always be in a rear-facing car seat, and only place your child forward-facing once they reach the maximum limit of your car seat.