Your baby’s first car seat will help bring them home from the hospital. The moment they are placed in that vehicle, their life depends on the proper function of care seats. Some estimates are that 50 to 60 percent of car seats are not installed properly and are therefore not protecting the child from potential injury if the vehicle was involved in an accident. Learning how to put the car seat in place is as simple as following the directions provided with the seat. But, are you choosing the right car seat for your child?
The First Car Seat
The first car seat purchased for your child must accommodate the child’s smaller size. Later, you will need to ensure the car seat is big enough for your child, but for newborns, it is extremely important to choose a car seat that can accommodate their small size. All car seats sold in the United States are labeled with size limitations and requirements. The government requires that the seats be tested for their ability to protect your child and the sizing is determined from these tests.
The first car seats will fit into your vehicle as rear-facing seats. This protects the baby from impact strain and from the child hitting the windshield in an accident. Rear-facing seats only have a design to accommodate a child up to 20 pounds and should never be in a vehicle with a child in them larger than this.
Upgrading Your Car Seat
The first purchase of a car seat will likely be your largest investment. Many of today’s car seats will grow with your child during their first year of life, being used in different ways as the child grows. Yet, most people will need to upgrade the car seat at some point over the next few years.
Choose a car seat based on the baby’s height and weight:
• Children in rear-facing seats should be below 20 pounds.
• In a convertible car seat, children can remain in a rear-facing position until they are about one year old, though the weight limit of the car seat must be in consideration.
• Keep the child’s head at least one inch below the top at least one inch from the top of the car seat in any rear-facing car seat.
• The child’s ears should be below the top of the car seat in all front-facing seats.
As you upgrade the car seat to a larger or more fitting sized seat, keep those guidelines in mind. Remember too that all car seats are required to list the maximum weight of the child within it. Follow directions specifically on how to keep your child safe in these seats.
Tips For Car Seat Selection And Use
Take the time to read the owner’s manual of any car seat you purchase to ensure that you are using the seat properly. Five-point harness protection is one of the most important features of car seats. This means that there are five points that when aligned properly are holding your child in place.
Don’t purchase used car seats. These seats could have been misused or worse. You should also insist on the owner’s manual for any car seat you do purchase used. If it is not available or you have lost the manual in the past, go to the manufacturer’s website to download a copy of it. Most companies will provide you with this information as long as you know the name of the car seat or model number.
In most situations, car seats are safe from the day they are sold. Over time, there could be additional testing down that warrants a recall of the car seat. To stay up to date on any potential recalls, do sign up and register your car seat with the manufacturer (generally done right online.) This will allow you to be alerted of any changes and updates needed.
As you consider a car seat, avoid choosing one based on features and the look of it. Instead, look at the safety it can provide to your child. Most car seats are heavily reviewed with safety information available about them on the manufacturer’s website. Do your research before upgrading your website.