As any parent can attest, kids come in all sizes. Some are small for their age, and others are, yes, overweight. No matter what size they are, they deserve to be protected from harm, and parents expect that from products designed for safety. That includes child car seats.
A recent study explored whether car seats adequately protect children of all sizes, even those who are overweight or obese. The study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, included 1,000 children ages 1 to 8 who had been in properly installed car seats appropriate for their height and weight when they were involved in a car accident. The researchers found that there was no increased risk of injury for large or overweight children. This suggests that the range of sizes for infant, booster and child safety seats available on the market is currently adequate.
The researchers stress, however, that the car seat must be installed properly. Babies and toddlers should sit in a rear-facing seat for their first two years unless they've already reached the height and weight of a seat for an older child.
Just as you wouldn't strap your infant into a seat belt in the front seat, it's important not to have the wrong car seat or position for a child of any age. One of the best ways to determine the appropriate seating is to discuss your child's size with a pediatrician. As one of the researchers pointed out, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to car seats. Your younger son may outgrow his seat and the rear-facing position at an earlier age than your older daughter did.
Children are especially vulnerable in car accidents; they're the No. 1 cause of child death and injury. And while finding the best car seat fit for your child isn't a guarantee he or she won't be hurt, it can greatly reduce the likelihood.
Source: Torque News, "Car Seats Safe for Overweight Kids Too," Nov. 28, 2011