Each time you venture out in your vehicle with your child, it’s important to keep proper use of their car seat on your mind as one of the most important jobs you have is keeping them safe while along for the ride. With holiday travel rapidly approaching, we know you may have a few questions regardless of whether you are a new parent or simply looking for more educational information.

Proper choice and use of a car seat can help avoid your family being part of the yearly statistic including thousands of young children being injured or killed in car crashes. The type of car seat which will best suit your needs will depend on your child’s age and size as well as the type of vehicle you have.

Types of Car Seats at a Glance:

This chart is a quick guide on where to start your search. It's important to continue your research to learn about each seat you use:

types of carseats

*Chart Source:

Installing Your Car Seat: Seat Belts & LATCH

Car seats offer the option to be installed with either the vehicle's seat belt or LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system. 

What is LATCH?latch diagram

LATCH is an attachment system for car seats where lower anchors (for use instead of seat belts) are located in the back seat, where the seat and cushions meet. While the seat belt and LATCH systems are both equally safe, some find the LATCH system easier to use. Nearly all passenger vehicles and all car seats made on or after September 1, 2002, are equipped to use LATCH.

Installing Car Seat using your vehicle's seat belt:

Always make sure the seat belt locks to ensure you have a proper tight fit. Refer to the vehicle owner's manual for details about how your seat belt locks.

Where in the car should you install?: The safest place to ride for all children younger than 13 years is the back & middle seat. If it’s difficult to get the seat properly installed in the middle back seat, always remember that a child passenger safety technician (CPST) can help you decide which place is best to install your child's car seat in your vehicle.

Rear- Facing Car Seats for Infants & Toddlers:

The AAP recommends that all infants ride rear facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital and until they are at least 2 years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.

Types of Rear-Facing Seats: 

There are three types of rear-facing seats available: rear-facing–only, convertible, and 3-in-1. Once a child reaches the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their rear-facing–only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible or 3-in-1 seat. All rear facing seats should be used only for travel within the vehicle.

Rear-facing–only seats

  • Used for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds, depending on the model.
  • Small and have carrying handles.
  • Usually come with a base that can be left in the car. The seat clicks into and out of the base so you don't have to install it each time you use it. It can be helpful to buy more than one base for additional vehicles. 

Convertible seats

  • Can be used as rear facing and, later, converted for forward-facing use.
  • Typically bulkier than infant seats and do not come with carrying handles or separate bases.
  • Many have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them ideal for bigger babies and toddlers.
  • Have a 5-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, at the hips, and between the legs. 

3-in-1 seats

  • Can be used rear facing, forward facing, or as a belt-positioning booster.
  • Are often larger in size, so it is important to check that they fit in your preferred vehicle(s) while rear facing.
  • Do not typically come with a carrying handle or separate base
  • May have higher limits in rear-facing weight (up to 40–50 pounds) and height than rear-facing–only seats, which make them ideal for bigger babies and toddlers.


What if my baby's feet touch the back of the vehicle seat?

This is a very common question and concern of parents. However, don’t worry! Children are comfortable in the rear-facing seat as they are able to easily bend their legs, and injuries are extremely rare in this position.

slouching in car seat

What if my baby slouches down or to the side while in their seat?

The diagram to the left should be helpful for how to solve slouching problems. Remember to never place padding under or behind your infant or use any sort of car seat insert unless it was made by the manufacturer for use with that specific seat.  

Remove bulky clothing before strapping your baby in:

When your child is wearing bulky clothing (such as winter coats or snowsuits), it can allow too much compression and loosen their safety straps in the case of a crash. It is best to dress your baby in thinner layers and tuck a blanket over and around your baby after they are buckled in.



If your child is about to outgrow their rear facing car seat, please take a look at our suggested links for more informational reading below:Car Seat Ages and Stages

For information on Forward Facing Car Seats for Toddlers visit:

For information on Booster Seats for School – Aged – Children visit:

For helpful hints while shopping for car seats visit:

Family meetings - they aren’t just for the Brady Bunch! Having regular family meetings can benefit every family. They’re a great time to coordinate schedules, praise each other, share information, or just connect as a family after a long week. If the idea of adding one more meeting to your to-do list has you running for the hills, don’t worry- family meeting can be quick and fun! To make your family meetings most effective and enjoyable for all family members, consider the following 8 tips:

  1. Aim for the meeting to last 10-15 minutes. Younger children may lose interest after that. If your children are older and have a longer attention span, you can extend it a bit if needed.

  2. Set a reasonable time so that everyone in your household can attend. If you set a regular time, such as after dinner on Thursdays your family can plan around it. We wouldn’t want anyone to get left out of any important decision making!

  3. Make it something to look forward to! There will sometimes be serious discussion but it should not be every meeting. If you only have family meetings when there are serious discussions to be had, your children may begin to dread the meetings. Topics could include something as simple as deciding on a family activity for the weekend, or discussing what movie to rent. Maybe have a special dessert at each family meeting, or have it on your family game night.

  4. Nip problem behaviors in the bud. Before you start having meetings teach your children how to bring up topics and talk without offending others.

  5. Write it down. It may be a fun task for an older child to be the "secretary." A younger child may enjoy the responsibility of putting the “meeting minutes” in a binder that they’ve decorated. Or you may choose to rotate the responsibilities to each family member. Whatever you choose, don’t force anyone to record the meeting- we want it to be an enjoyable time!

  6. Give everyone a chance to speak. You may choose to use a talking stick if you think interrupting will be an issue.

  7. Give positive consequences or rewards. Praise for listening to others, not interrupting, participating in the meeting, and any other positive behavior you see, even if it’s small!

  8. Consider having a regular format, but stay flexible. Agenda topics might include: scheduling upcoming events, brainstorming ideas, giving kudos, and wrapping up the previous week. Allow for open discussion about what is and is not working. For example, if your child is struggling with their morning routine you could help him brainstorm ways to make it work for him.

    Using these 8 tips, your family will be well on your way to becoming family meeting pros! You will find that this time together helps your family become more organized. You’ll also have a regular opportunity to connect and share with each other. Go ahead, schedule a family meeting for tonight!

If you found this information helpful, or would like more support in correcting your child’s misbehavior, Thornwell would love to talk to you. Please reach out to Tracie Seng, your local Family Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (470) 223-5980. To find out more about the Building Families Program through Thornwell, please visit their website at


Most families have rules, or expectations for children. These rules are part of your family’s culture and can often be “unspoken.” Maybe your family expects that children should treat their toys and other material possessions with respect.

These unspoken rules may be clear to you. But are they clear to your child? Have you ever told your child, “You know you’re not supposed to do that!” Does he really know? Of course common sense comes into play at some point, but things that are common sense to us as adults, may not be as obvious to our third grader who has had a lot less life experience.

Family Rules 

In order for everyone to be on the same page, it is helpful to have a list of family rules written where everyone can see them. To create the rules, you may want to have a family meeting. As a family, you can decide on 5-7 simple rules for everyone to follow. If you have more than 7 rules your children may have difficulty remembering them, and it will be harder for parents to enforce them.

In order to have only a few rules that apply to lots of situations, think broadly. For example, instead of having these three separate rules: no hitting each other, no taking or breaking each other’s toys, and no screaming at each other, you could have the simple rule of “Treat others and their property with respect.” Ideally, rules work to capture your family’s morals and values. Some of our other favorites are – “Mom and Dad are the boss,” “We listen the first time,” and “We communicate instead of fight.”

After the rules are established it is a good idea to have a conversation with your children about what each rule means and what the consequences are for breaking a rule. It’s important to allow your children to have input as you create and implement the rules. This helps them feel responsible, like their opinion matters, and will give you more buy-in from them when it’s time to enforce the rules.

Don’t forget to have fun with it! After the rules have been agreed upon, your family can make an activity out of creating a piece of art with the rules on it, making sure each artist leaves their autograph. Displaying it somewhere prominently in the home would serve as a nice reminder, not only of the rules, but also the time you spent as a family working together to create them.

Keep in mind that rules should be revisited as your children grow. The rules that your family has when you have toddlers may be different than what you have when they’re teens. It’s a good idea to have an annual check in during a family meeting to ensure that the rules are growing with your family.

If you found this information helpful, or would like more support in correcting your child’s misbehavior, Thornwell would love to talk to you. Please reach out to Tracie Seng, your local Family Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (470) 223-5980. To find out more about the Building Families Program through Thornwell, please visit their website at

Written by Tracie Seng, LMSW 

Family Specialist- Building Families Program of Thornwell

“Why should I praise my child for doing something he should be doing anyway?” Countless parents ask this question. Upon deeper exploration, we’ve found parents worry that praising children is akin to spoiling them. Others feel their children will believe they aren’t required to do the activities for which they are praised, such as chores.

In Support of Praise

Let’s reframe this for a minute. How does it feel when your spouse comes home and thanks you for making dinner? Sure, it’s something you were going to do anyway, but how does it make you feel when they take the time to say thanks? You’ll probably feel better the next time you make dinner, and the feeling of being appreciated will put a smile on your face!

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