Baby Car Seats
Seat Buying Guide
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.
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
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