It's absolutely essential to your child's safety to pick the right car seat. Like so many other things, your child's car seat has to grow along with them. That means that the rear-facing seat you used when they were babies won't cut it once they get bigger.
Car seats are extremely important in keeping your child safe. They've been shown to reduce fatal injury by up to 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. Booster seats have dropped fatal injury rates by over 45% as well. Science has proven time and again that choosing the right safety seat for your child can make all the difference in the event of a car accident.
Rear-facing car seats are designed for infants up to 22 pounds, depending on the model of car seat. Furthermore, your child should ride in a rear-facing car seat until their head is within 1 inch of the top of the seat, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Don't just consider age, but weight and height as well.
Convertible or All-in-One car seats allow your child to stay in a rear-facing seat for longer. Be sure to understand the car seat manufacturer's limitations for height and weight. You should transition your child to a forward-facing car seat once they've reached the limits of the rear-facing model.
Forward-facing car seats are generally designed for toddlers over 22 pounds and between the ages of 1-7 years. Most forward-facing seats use the LATCH system (Lower Anchor Tethers for Children) found in all recent car models. Read your car's owner's manual to locate these LATCH points.
The harness should be snug and properly placed. When the tops of your child's ears are above the top of their forward-facing car seat, it is time to transition to a booster seat.
Once your child's weight and height have exceeded the manufacturer limits for a front-facing car seat, it's time to introduce them to a booster seat. There are two different types of booster seats: high backed and backless. These seats are engineered to put your child in a higher position so the lap and shoulder belt are seated properly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends using a booster seat until your child is big enough to be safely secured by your car's seat belts. Your son or daughter can be transitioned to a regular seat after they're 4 feet 9 inches tall and between the ages of 8 and 12.
We always recommend that you buy your car seats brand new. While this isn't always the cheapest option, car seats bought second hand can be dangerous for your children. If the seat has ever been involved in a crash, it's safety features are compromised.
Moreover, it's harder to keep track of manufacturer updates and recalls if you buy your car seat second hand. We always encourage parents to know where their car seats are from and have an understanding of manufacturer limits and regulations. For more information on car seat regulations, visit the tarNHTSA website to see their guidelines.
It can be difficult knowing which seat to pick, but buying according to your child's size and weight will keep them safe. For more information on the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Association recommendations for child car seats, visit our car seat laws and guidelines webpage.
Make sure you and your family members are covered in the event of an accident. Visit our recommended insurance coverage webpage to make sure your policy is up-to-snuff.