Car Safety Tips for 4 Year Olds: Selecting Car Seats and More

Have you ever been surprised how fast your baby is growing? Doesn’t it feel like it was just yesterday when he/she was crawling around, and now, he/she can run towards you? And before you know it, your baby is no longer a baby, and is now ready to sit on his/her own in the car.


At the age of four, this is where you’ll notice that your child is starting to be more confident and independent. This can be exciting because it opens doors to more milestones. But at the same time, this also means that you have to be more vigilant in guiding and monitoring your little one.


They are more keen to try new experiences, which can also be unsafe if they are left unsupervised. This is especially true if you are traveling with your child in the car. But worry no more because below are five tips that can ensure the safety of your 4-year-old child.


Know Which Type of Car Seat to Use 

While it is true that your child can sit on his/her own in the car, you still need to get him/her a car seat. The seatbelts of our vehicles are meant for the safety of adults. Therefore, you need to get a car seat that will act as a restraint for the comfort and safety of your little one. However, not all car seats are made equal, and there are specific types for every age group.


The safest car seat for 4 year old is a high-quality rear-facing car seat. What we meant by quality is that it should be new and has no damages. At the same time, the car seat’s overall build should be sturdy and designed to give the proper fit to four-year-olds.

Four-year-olds can use rear-facing seats until they reach the maximum weight and height limits set by the manufacturer. Among the different types of car seats, the rear-facing seat is the safest compared to their forward-facing counterpart and booster seats. This is because the shell-like configuration helps in absorbing the impact and distributing it on your child’s body. As a result, this will lessen the effect and damage to the vulnerable areas of the body.


So what is the proper fitting of the seat? For starters, you can check the tightness of the 5-point harness straps. It should fit snugly that there is no slacking when you pinch the straps vertically at the collar bone. At the same time, the shoulder straps should be at or below your child’s shoulders, while the chest clip is on the sternum.

Be Aware of Where to Install the Car Seat 

Now that you know the appropriate type of car seat to use, the next step is to know how to properly install it in your car to make sure that it is safe. And later on, we will also give you an idea of what is the ideal posture of a 4-year-old sitting in a car seat.

Like with any type of car seat, the best and safest place to install it is in the back row. This is because the airbags at the front can be dangerous to little kids once they activate and hit the back of the seat. You should check the car seat manual or consult a professional installer in your area as well to make sure that you have installed the model tightly in your vehicle.


Car seats should be tightly installed with the lower anchors or seat belt. You shouldn’t be able to move the seat side to side or front to back, and the straps should be at their rightful belt paths. Another factor is the angle of the car seat itself. There are instructions for each model and even indicators to make sure that you have installed the rear-facing model in the correct angle to prevent your child from flopping forward.


Check if Your Child is Sitting Correctly

Besides the car seat itself, proper posture while riding in the car is also a significant factor in your child’s safety. Children around the age of four are curious and tend to get bored easily. This leads them to constantly trying to take the harness off or slouching downward or sideward to reach something or someone.


To prevent slouching that is unsafe in case an impact happens, you can restrict your child’s movements more by adding a rolled blanket on both of his/her sides. You can also use a tightly rolled cloth in the space between your child and the crotch strap so that he/she can’t slump down. You might even find certain car seat models that come with inserts. However, never use other inserts that’s not specific for that seat and don’t add any padding behind or under your little one.


Always Travel with Car Seats

If you have multiple kids in the vehicle, all of them should have their own car seat that’s appropriate for their age. Regardless of where you’re going, you should bring car seats on every rideshare (e.g., Uber and Lyft) and taxi ride. If you have two vehicles, it might be more convenient for you to keep separate seats for each car so that you don’t have to constantly install and reinstall the seat. This minimizes error and effort, especially when you often travel and use the cars interchangeably.


Be Ahead of Time

Car safety is not just limited to car seat usage. Car etiquette both for the driver and passenger is also a must. You know the basics, such as never going over the speed limit. However, there will be days where we forget or overlook those things. Nevertheless, diligence to avoid accidents is something that you should remind yourself every time you enter your vehicle.

When driving, always be aware of your surroundings and yourself. You might be careful yourself, but you don’t have control over the environment and other vehicles around you. You can read defensive driving techniques and always expect the unexpected.

Distraction is also another dangerous habit when traveling via car. The driver might feel the urge to reply to a text or answer a call. And if you have kids at the back, they might demand your attention or distract you with what they’re doing at the back. You should always keep your eyes on the road and practice teaching your children good manners every time they are riding with you. Always make sure that you are showing your appreciation to them when they are behaving nicely. You can also have someone supervise them at the back or give them other sources of entertainment.


Before traveling, check the inside of your car if there are loose items that can fly out in case of a crash. And you should also skip bulky clothing because they can affect the tightness of the seat’s restraint. Lastly, don’t forget buckling up and locking down regardless if the vehicle is moving or even if your driving distance is short.