Choosing a Car Seat For Your Child
If you are a new parent, you may be confused when choosing a car seat for your child. Just when you find one that is right for your young one, you learn that you will need to upgrade to a different design once the child is a little older. The law of the land requires different car seats depending on the age and size of the child. We have compiled some information to help you decide which car seat to choose for each stage of your child’s growth and development.
– Birth Through 12 Months of Age: Rear-Facing Car Seat
Children one year old and younger should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. You can select one of three types of car seats that fulfill this requirement: an infant-only seat, a convertible model or an all-in-one seat.
Infant-only car seats are often preferred for convenience because they include a base that remains fastened to the seat in the car. The car seat itself detaches from the base for easy loading and unloading. All-in-one and convertible car seats have higher weight and height limits, so they can accommodate the child as she grows. If you purchase one of these models, you should not need to buy another car seat soon. Keep in mind that the NHTSA recommends that you keep your child in a rear-facing car seat as long as possible for safety sake, even beyond the one-year age requirement.
– Ages One to Three Through Four to Seven: Forward-Facing Car Seat
Once your child exceeds the height and weight restrictions for the rear-facing seat, you should purchase a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether. One main advantage of purchasing a convertible or all-in-one car seat is that both of these seats include front-facing capabilities.
– Ages Four to Seven and Above: Booster Seat
Booster seats are required when children outgrow the forward-facing seat. The booster seat is designed so that the car’s safety belt properly fits the child’s body. Booster seats should always be used in the back seat only. Use a booster seat until the child is able to wear a seat belt properly, with the lap strap over the upper thighs and the shoulder strap over the chest and shoulder. Car seats with the all-in-one design convert into booster seats, as well.
New Car Seat vs. Used Car Seat
Many parents wonder if they must purchase a new car seat for their child, or if they can get by with a used one or a hand-me-down. You may be able to get more use out of an older car seat if the following conditions are met:
– The Car Seat Has Not Exceeded Its Expiration Period
You can find this information on the seat’s labels, in the manual or on the manufacturer’s website. Most car seats have a life expectancy of six years.
– The Car Seat Has Not Been In An Injury-Causing Accident
If the car seat has been in an accident that caused the air bags to deploy, caused injuries, or caused the vehicle to be towed, invest in a new car seat for your child. Additionally, if the seat is damaged or the door nearest to where the car seat was placed in the vehicle was damaged, invest in a new car seat instead of using the old one.
– The Car Set Has Not Been Recalled
Many car seats are recalled each year due to designs or materials deemed unsafe. Check the NHTSA site for up-to-date information about recalls for car seats. You will need to know the brand and model to check on its recall status.
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