According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should ride in a car seat that is installed in the rear-facing position to the maximum weight and height allowed for that car seat.
Babies born pre-maturely must ride in this position for a minimum of one year past what would have been their date of their birth had they been full term.
Position your child in the center-rear seat of your car if the car seat can be securely fastened there.
Your pediatrician will always have the latest safety information regarding car seats.
If after you purchase your car seat you have any doubts that it is positioned properly consider getting a car-seat inspection -- it's free! To search for an inspection site near you go to: http://www.nhtsa.gov/cps/cpsfitting/index.cfm Don't forget to adjust your car seat as your child grows.
Buy the best car seat your budget will allow- it acts as your child's body guard while on the road and can save his or her life in the event of an accident.
Depending on the type and model car seat you purchase you may have to buy additional car seats to meet the safety standards for your child's age and weight as they grow.
In the event of an auto accident the car seat would absorb impact and could be damaged so it may have to be replaced to ensure maximum safety. In the event that the EPS is damaged when it has absorbed chock or for any other reason, contact the manufacturer to see if it can be replaced.
Many manufacturers have included extra features for baby's comfort or parent's convenience such as cup-holders, soft toys, buntings or boots that keep baby warm, belly and shoulder pads for protection and comfort and graduated inserts for excellent fit and comfort from newborn to toddler. Use only products, cushions and toys that came with your car seat or that are made by the car seat manufacturer.
In the event that there is a car seat recall and you want to check your model just visit: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/
|Age||Newborn to 1 year||Newborn and up||Toodler (3 years and up)|
|Weight||UP to 20 lbs||UP to 80 lbs||40 - 80 lbs|
|Orientation||Rear facing only||Rear & Forward Facing||Forward Facing Only|
NOTE: Weight is approximate - always follow the manufacturer's guidelines and your pediatrician's advice.
Both 3 and 5 point harnesses are used on car seats but the five point harness is the safest choice. The straps secure a child at the shoulders and the hips which restrains the strongest sections of the body.
The LATCH System:
The LATCH system is specially designed to connect your car seat to built-in metal anchors in the back seat. The term LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. When a car seat does not have a LATCH system the seat belt is used as an anchor.
The tether is an extra snap on piece that connects the car seat to the back seat behind the cars back seat headrest for additional security. Most forward-facing and some rear-facing car seats include a snap on tether.
Energy Absorbing Foam used in car seats to absorb the impact of a crash and protect baby. Manufacturers have performed extensive testing to determine the major points of impact in a crash and those are the places to which the most EPS support is added. The objective of the car seat is that the EPS would take the full impact in the even of a crash and protect the baby, if this were to happen the EPS could be broken crushed.
Infant Only Car Seat:
The infant only car seat provides head and neck support for infants up to one year old and weighing 20 pounds. It is crucial that baby is protected at this stage, any injury can have devastating affects.
Both the three and five point harness is used in the infant only car seat but the five point harness is the safest choice.
Babies have large and heavy heads, their neck and shoulder muscles are weak and their developing bones are soft. All infant only car seats are installed in the rear facing position. When a baby is in a car seat in a rear-facing position, the back of the car seat shell absorbs the energy from the crash, allowing the child's head and neck to be protected against the seat back. This helps prevent brain and spinal cord injury
|Nice Features||The Extras|
|- Stay-in-car adjustable base
- Adjustable canopy with visor and window
- Erogonamic EZ-Carry handle
|- Removable all-weather boot with integrated blanket
- Infant pillow
- Toys or activities
Convertible Car Seat
The convertible car seat is designed to grow with your child and accommodates a newborn in the rear-facing position for the first year and later becomes a forward-facing booster seat for older children. Look for a five-point harness system, which is always the safest choice.
You will be able to use most convertible car seats for your child in the rear-facing position up to approximately 40 pounds before converting to a forward facing booster seat suitable for children up to 80 pounds.
Booster Car Seat
At around the age of three when a child is fully mobile and weighs at least 40 pounds he or she is ready for a booster seat. Use a five-point harness or integrated seat belt positioner till your child is at least eight years old and 57" tall.
|Nice Features||The Extras|
|- Some models work both with and without their snap-in base which is handy when switching
- Buttons and clips make proper fastening of the harness straps easier.
- Travel Systems that incorporate a stroller and car seat
|- Comfort-conscious bunting bags provide warmth, multiple recline positions and rotating
- Travel systems that let you snap your car seat directly onto a stroller.
- An extra base unit makes trading off day-care pickups and drop-offs a cinch.
A booster seat is designed to raise a child in the vehicle seat to correctly fit into a seat belt that is sized for an adult. When a child is seated in a booster, the lap and shoulder belts will protect the child the same way it does an adult. In a crash, the booster seat needs to stay under the child's bottom and move with the child to keep the belts correctly aligned.
|Nice Features||The Extras|
|- Side-impact protection.
- Adjustable/Removable backs
|- Large cup-holders and snack stashes.
- Adjustable armrests.
- Built-in activity lights.
To determine when your child can sit in the car without a booster seat look at your child while he or she is sitting buckled up on the vehicle seat and ask yourself the following five questions. If you answer no to any of them your child is not read to leave the booster seat.
- Can the child sit all the way back against the vehicle seat?
- Do the child's knees bend natually over the edge of the seat?
- Does the shoulder belt cross the center of the upper chest?
- Does the lap belt sit low and snug across the hipbone, touching the thighs?
- Can the child sit like this for the entire trip?