Check your car seats

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be in a child safety seat or belt-positioning booster until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. Most children reach that height between ages 8 and 12, the AAP said. It's also the law: All 50 states and the District of Columbia require the use of child restraints, although age and height requirements vary by state.

Get help from a pro. Have your seat installed by a certified child passenger safety technician or have one inspect the seat once you've installed it. Visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website at to find a certified technician or a car-seat check event in your area. This service is free and often performed at police or fire stations.

Face the back. Keep your children in rear-facing seats until they are at least 2 years old. Longer is even better.

The middle is best. If possible, put the car seat in the center of your back seat to minimize impact from a side collision.

Strap position matters. Make sure the clip on a five-point harness goes across the child's chest, not stomach. If your child is in a belt-positioning booster seat, the shoulder belt should cross the shoulder and breastbone instead of the neck, and the lap belt the hipbones, not the stomach. All harnesses and straps should be snug against your child.

Find the perfect fit. Check the seat's instruction manual for height and weight guidelines to make sure your child is the right size for the seat.

Car seats expire. Don't use a seat that is more than six years old, or one that you do not know the history of. Always replace a car seat if you have been in a collision, and don't use a hand-me-down car seat that has been involved in a crash.

Washington Post