It can be a mind-boggling task when it comes to choosing the right car seat for your infant or child. There are so many choices out there. You want one that is safe, easy to use, fits into your vehicle properly and is appropriate for the age of your child.
The first step in determining what is the right car seat for your child is to take a look at all different types of car seats and booster seats.
Infant Rear-Facing Car Seat
If you child is an infant under the age of one they should secured in an infant rear-facing car seat. These are designed for babies under 20 pounds. These should be installed in the back seat with the seat facing the rear. The seat should recline at approximately a 45-degree angle. Harness straps should be snug and sit at or below shoulder level and the harness clip should be at armpit level.
Some parents prefer to purchase a convertible car seat which can be used as a rear-facing infant seat when child is less than one year old and weighs between 20 to 35 pounds and then used as a forward-facing seat when the baby is more than a year old and weighs at least 20 pounds. These seats can usually be used until the child reaches 40 pounds and is 43 inches in height.
A standard forward-facing car seat can be used when the child is over the age of one and at least 20 pounds and up to 40 pounds and around 43 inches in height.
When your child is one to four years of age and at least 20 pounds to approximately 40 pounds then they are ready for a high-back booster seat or harness.
Used Car Seats
Often parents are given hand-me-down car seats for their child or purchase a used car seat. A used car seat can be safe for your child, but there are several things that you need to look into before you use it.
- Do not use a car safety seat made before January 1, 1981. Car seats manufactured after that date are required to meet stringent federal safety standards.
- Do not use a car seat if it is missing the label, which lists its manufacturing date.
- If the car seat has missing pieces or is broken, it may be unsafe to use.
- Never use a car seat that has withstood the stress of a crash.
- Since the average safe life of a car seat is not known, so it is recommended that you not purchase a car seat that is over 10 years old.
Important Factors When Purchasing
When purchasing a car seat it is important to consider these things:
- Is the seat the right size and type for my child?
- Does this seat provide the best fit and comfort for my child?
- Will this seat fit securely in my vehicle?
- Is this seat easy to use?
When purchasing any seat it is important to fill out the registration card and mail it back so if there is a recall on the seat you will likely be notified. You can also obtain recall information through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by calling 1-800-424-9393.
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