Baby Car Seats

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Baby Car Seat Buying Guide

When traveling by car, your baby's safety is top priority. All fifty states have laws requiring that infants and toddlers ride in properly installed child safety seats. They should be installed in the rear seat of your car; rear facing for smaller children and front facing for bigger kids. Like many other children's products, you should never use older car seats or buy them used. Several models made before 1981 are even subject to recall by the government. A car seat that has been in an accident should be destroyed and discarded immediately. There are commonly three types of child safety seats:

Infant Car Seat for newborns and infants up to 20 - 25 pounds. Infant seats usually have a handle that can be rotated to easily carry your baby in the seat when you leave the car. They install rear facing in the back seat, the safest position for your baby. Most infant seats have a 3 point buckling system, with straps going over the shoulders and through the legs.

Convertible Car Seats for toddlers up to 40 pounds. Convertible seats install rear or front facing depending on the size of your child. They use a 3 or 5 point buckling harness. Some have a bar shield or T-shield that comes over the child's head and locks in place in front. Others may have a tether with one end attached to the top backside of the seat and the other to a bolt installed in the rear shelf of your car.

Toddler Booster Car Seat are for young children 30-70 lbs. who not big enough to be safely restrained by adult seat belts alone. Boosters have a high back and install front facing in the rear seat. Some incorporate your car's seat belts over the shoulders and across the thighs for proper restraint. Others have belt harnesses or shields.

Whether you're shopping for an infant, convertible or booster type, here are some things to consider when purchasing your new child safety seat:

  • Car seats get messy. Removable, machine washable padding, pad covers and canopies make life much easier.
  • Some seats recline for baby's comfort and to encourage napping. Look for easy access levers or other adjustment devices.
  • A common feature is a separate base and removable seat. This means you don't have to install the car seat every time you use it. It also makes clean up easier.
  • All buckles and adjustment devices should be kid proof, especially in convertible and booster seats for older children.
  • Many models are approved for airline use and some are even designed to rest securely in shopping carts.
  • Most infant seats have handles that rotate 360 degrees around the seat and allow the seat to double as a carrier. Padded handles and several locking positions are desirable for maximum comfort.
You can find many options in child safety seats today. Some have adjustable canopies. Others rock your baby to sleep with a cradling motion. Still others convert from a car seat, to a carrier, to a stroller. But remember that protection in an accident is the number one priority for child safety seats. Be sure the instructions are clear and easy to understand to ensure proper installation in your car. As with any child safety device, only buy car seats that meet or exceed current safety standards.

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