child safety

Choosing the Best Child Safety Seat

Your first child safety seat.

The first piece of safety equipment you absolutely must buy for your child is a child safety seat.

You cannot even leave the hospital with your precious newborn, unless you safely secure them in a car seat for the ride home.

When you go to purchase a safety seat the countless styles and options may seem overwhelming. How are you supposed to know which is the best child safety seat?

While there may be various colors and patterns, some which attach to strollers, some that don't, with or without cup holders, etc, there really are just a few general categories to be aware of.

infant safety seat Infant Safety Car Seats

These are the carrier type seats, made to hold infants from birth to twenty pounds. Infant safety car seats must always face backwards.

While this safety seat will not last for more than a year at best, it is a convenient option especially when it comes to transferring your baby in and out of the car, into the store, etc.

It is also a snug, comfy place to sleep for baby when they just don't seem to want to sleep anywhere else. Never place rear facing safety seats in front of an airbag.

convertible safety seat Convertible Safety Seats

These seats can accommodate babies from birth to about forty pounds. They must be installed rear facing and can be reclined for babies under one year of age and forward facing and non-reclining for older babies.

Again, never place rear facing safety seats in front of an airbag. Do not install the seat so that the infant faces the front of the car. This is a common mistake with this type of seat. Injuries are possible because of the extreme pressure on the child's most fragile parts of the body.

toddler safety seat Toddler Safety Seats

These seats are made for babies and toddlers twenty to forty pounds and are made to face forward.

One of the common mistakes made with toddler seats is the car belt being routed through the lowest section of the seat frame.

This can cause the seat to tip forward or strike interior surfaces of the car. Another common mistake is not fastening the harness over the child's shoulders.

booster safety seat Booster Safety Seats

Booster seats are made for children over forty pounds and up to eighty pounds. There are many styles of booster car seats, but they all have one main purpose - to ensure the appropriate fit of your vehicle's adult sized seat belts on your pint-sized child.

Booster seats can be equipped with small or large shields or they can be designed for use in the rear of a car equipped with a combination shoulder and lap belt. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear facing until they are one year old AND at least 20 pounds. Booster Seat Guidelines

Installing your child safety seat

Once you purchase the safety seat that works best for your lifestyle, it is essential that you install it correctly. Sometimes this is easier said than done (especially for first timers).

Approximately 80% of child safety car seats are used incorrectly. But don't worry, if all else fails there is generally someone at the hospital who can give you a hand.

You can always go to your local fire or police department for help and let the experts show you how its done. Generally, the best location to install it is the middle of the back seat.

Child safety seat laws and regulations

Child safety seat laws and regulations may vary from state to state, but all fifty states do have child safety restraint laws for children birth to at least four or five years of age.

All child safety seats manufactured after January 1981 must meet US Department of Transportation standards and be able to withstand test crashes. To find your state specific child safety seat laws check your state's Department of Transportation website.

Additional points to remember

  • Always anchor the child safety seat to the car's seat belt, using the belt locking device that comes with the seat.
  • Always lock the harness or straps of the seat into place.
  • If your vehicle has the appropriate equipment, tether the safety seat into place.
  • Adjust the seat's straps so that there is about one inch of room between the child and the strap. Remember to readjust straps to account for seasonal clothing changes.
  • If purchasing a used seat, never purchase a child safety seat that has sustained a crash. It could have unseen structural damage.
  • Young children should never be seated in front of air bags.
  • NEVER transport young children in a motor vehicle without a proper child safety seat.

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Child Safety Seat Related Topics

Child Car Seat Safety Ratings

Booster Seat Guidelines

Travel Systems

Safety 1st Infant Car Seats

Child Auto Safety

Traffic Safety

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