Practicing Car Seat Safety + New Mexico Car Seat Laws

This post is sponsored by Lovelace Health System. At ABQ Mom, we work with businesses and organizations that bring value to our readers.

One of the most exciting, yet stressful, things about being a new mom is creating a registry. Some items are fun and easy like pajamas, pacifiers, room decor, and toys. Other items are more stressful. I lost a lot of sleep over crib mattresses. And then there’s that one item that feels nearly impossible to pick: yes, car seat, I am talking about you.

There are so many car seats on the market. It’s hard to even know where to start. When picking a car seat for a baby under one year of age, it is important that the seat be rear-facing and have a 5-point harness. The harness has straps that go over both shoulders and both hips and then buckles between the legs. This harness and chest clip provides the best possible protection for children.

What kind of car seat does your child need?

The car seat you use depends on the weight and age of your child. New Mexico law requires following all manufacturer instructions, including height, weight, and age restrictions.

Children under one year of age must ride in a rear-facing child safety seat in the back seat. If there is not a back seat, the child may ride in the front seat IF AND ONLY IF the airbag has been deactivated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends never putting a rear-facing child safety seat in front of a passenger airbag.

  • Children ages 1-4 must ride in a safety seat.
  • Children under 40 pounds must ride in a safety seat, regardless of age.
  • Children ages 5-6 must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat.
  • Children under 60 pounds must ride in a safety seat or booster seat, regardless of age.
  • Children between the ages of 7 and 12 must be properly restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them properly. This means the lap belt should stay snug below the hip bones, touching the upper thighs and the shoulder belt should stay against the chest and shoulder. Your child’s knees should also bend naturally over the vehicle seat edge to help keep the belt in position.
  • Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 must ride in a seat belt.

In New Mexico, if a vehicle is stopped for other reasons and the driver or any passengers are not wearing their seat belts or children are not properly restrained, the officer can issue seat belt or child restraint violations.

Once you find a car seat that suits your family and your budget, the next step is installation. The first time my husband and I installed a car seat was a nightmare. It took us HOURS to figure it out. (I have to admit, he did better than I did, and he is now the designated car seat installer.)

Car seat installation does not have to be hard or scary!

Did you know that there are car seat inspection events across the state? There are also car seat fitting stations to help you make sure your seat is properly installed. These do require appointments but are open during regular operational hours and are more convenient.

Car seats are expensive! What if I can’t afford a car seat?

Used car seats are NOT recommended. However, gives the following guidelines for used car seats. They can be considered IF AND ONLY IF:

  • You know the full history of the car seat and it has never been in a crash.
  • You can look up the manufacturing information on the label and know for certain that there are no recalls.
  • You can confirm the expiration date. This can be found either on the seat or on the manufacturer’s website.
  • There are no missing parts and the harness connects easily.

The New Mexico Child Safety Seat Distribution Program helps provide car seats and education to low-income New Mexican families at a very low cost.

There are an estimated 40 distribution sites in the state. Each site has different eligibility qualifications for families hoping to be issued a seat. Most locations will ask families to provide proof of eligibility for Medicaid, WIC, or New Mexi-Kids.

Fees vary by distribution site, but the cost for most eligible families is $35. To find the nearest distribution site to you, call their office directly at 800-231-6145 or 505-856-6143.

Crashes are violent events and a leading cause of injury and death for all age groups.

If you follow proper car seat safety regulations, you can protect your child. You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of your children. Check out a free car seat safety event, find a fitting station, know the Child Passenger Safety Laws, or contact Lovelace’s Labor of Love to ask questions and find more information.

Stay safe on the road, friends!

Thank you to Lovelace Health System for bringing us this important information on car seat safety.

Expecting a baby is an exciting and life-changing journey. Lovelace would like to make your pregnancy experience as memorable and as stress-free as possible by helping you navigate your health care. No matter your insurance or birthing plan, you can join their Labor of Love program for access to free pregnancy perks and assistance finding a doctor or insurance.


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