Car seats, like seat belts, are essential to keeping your infant and child safe while traveling in a vehicle and if you’re a parent, you probably don’t think twice about buckling up your child. However, a big concern of new and experienced parents alike is whether or not they have the safest car seat for their child. With various makes, models, and prices on the market, choosing the best seat can be a bit of an undertaking. Before you purchase the first car seat within your price range, do your research, know the guidelines, and read reviews from parents like you.
Choosing the Right Seat
Selecting the right car seat can take some time, but the time you spend is a worthy investment to your child’s safety. First of all, you’ll need to know your child’s weight and height and choose a seat based on those measurements. An ill-fitting car seat can put your child at risk of sustaining a serious or fatal injury if an accident occurs. Secondly, you will want to take a look at your car. If it was manufactured after 2002, it has latch connectors that hook onto the car seat. Regardless of the year your car was made, it should be able to safely accommodate for a car seat of any size. Finally, you want to select a seat that meets or exceeds safety standards, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213, as well as following state laws.
Infant-Only Car Seats
There are a few options for infant car seats, either infant-only or convertible car seats. While infant-only car seats are designed to only support and protect infants, they will need to transition into a bigger seat as they outgrow their infant seat. As a result, many parents opt for a convertible seat to avoid purchasing more than one car seat before the child’s first birthday. Depending on the model, infant-only car seats may be able to support a child’s weight up to 40 pounds, as long as the child isn’t too tall for the seat. Infant-only car seats can only be installed rear facing, as it’s the safest way for an infant to travel.
Convertible Car Seats
As mentioned above, infants can travel in convertible car seats, but most infants make the transition to a convertible when they turn one year old or have exceeded the weight and/or height limit their infant-only seat. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), just like the infant-only seat, convertible seats should be installed as a rear-facing seat until the child is at least 2 years of age. In fact, it’s the law in states like California, New Jersey, and Oklahoma.
Why is there so much emphasis on rear facing car seats? Rear car seats are about five times safer than front facing seats and because children under the age of 2 aren’t strong enough to withstand the impact of a car accident, a rear facing seat is more likely to protect his or her neck, head, and spinal cord.
For Older Children
Experts say that children must have ride in a seat (such as a booster seat), appropriate to their height and weight until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches and are between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.