Car Seats and Obese Children: Suggestions for Parents
Parents of obese and overweight children often worry about how they can safely transport their children in car seats. Appropriate restraint use for tall and/or heavy children can be a challenge. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages car seat manufacturers to continue developing seats that fit children to higher weights and heights and supports regulatory changes necessary to achieve this goal.
For parents who must decide how to safely transport a large child today, the AAP offers the following reminders and suggestions:
- All children, of any age or size, must be properly restrained when riding in a motor vehicle. This means that:
- Children 12 years and younger should ride in the back seat.
- Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats as long as possible.
- Toddlers and young children should ride in forward-facing car seats with harnesses as long as possible.
- School age children should ride in booster seats until the adult seat belt fits properly.
For more information on how to decide when your child is ready to move to the next type of car seat or into the adult seat belt, see our car seat guide.
- Never use a car seat if your child weighs more than the seat's weight limit or is taller than the height limit. Check the labels on the seat or manufacturer's instructions if you are unsure what the limits are.
- The "best" car seat is the one that fits your child, that fits your vehicle, and that you will use correctly for every trip. If you need help finding a car seat that fits your larger child, a Child Passenger Safety Technician may be able to help. You can find a Technician near you by visiting www.seatcheck.org or calling the toll-free 1-866-SEATCHECK (1-866-732-8243).
- Car safety seat manufacturers increasingly are making car seats that fit larger children. Click here for a list of available car seats. These include:
- Convertible seats with rear-facing weight limits up to 40 to 45 pounds
- Forward-facing seats with harnesses (convertible seats, combination seats, or forward-facing only seats) with an upper weight limit of 50 to 80 pounds
- Booster seats with a maximum weight limit of 100 to 120 pounds
- For toddlers or young children whose behavior will not yet allow safe use of a booster seat but who are too large for a forward-facing seat with a harness, you can consider using a travel vest. A list of travel vests is available in our car seat guide. Most travel vests have upper weight limits of 60 to 168 pounds.
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- American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2010)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.