Overview of Infant Safety

Because infants cannot care for themselves, adults must be vigilant about protecting them from harm. Sometimes even the simplest object can present a threat. Infants can fall from furniture, get hurt on a broken toy, or suffocate on a stray plastic bag. Fortunately, there are many steps that adults can take to ensure a healthy and safe environment for a baby.

Infant Car Safety

When traveling, babies should be secured in a child safety seat (car seat) that is designed specifically for infants. It is important to be sure that the seat is a safety seat, rather than an infant seat. Infant seats allow babies to sit up, but they are not designed to provide protection. Follow manufacturer's instructions for installation carefully.

Infant seats should always be placed in the back seat of a car and should face the rear until babies are 2 years of age and have reached the upper weight limit for your particular seat. Parents and caregivers should practice installing and removing the car seat and should make sure that the child safety seat is set up correctly. Tugging on the car seat will not move it if the seat is installed properly.

Safety seats should meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 and be labeled accordingly. The seat's date of manufacture, expiration date, and model number should always be clearly marked. All parts should be present and working. Do not use child safety seats that are over 10 years old or that have been involved in a car accident, no matter how suitable they look. Do not use seats that are worn or cracked.

Other important aspects of infant car safety include the condition of the driver and the car. Drivers should be awake, responsible, and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They should observe traffic safety rules and avoid speeding and erratic driving. The car should not have any safety defects. Any mechanical problem that may compromise safety should be fixed as soon as possible.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2015