How to Choose a Child Car Seat

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How to Choose a Child Car Seat

If you are reading this, then you’re concerned about buying a child’s car seat wisely. Probably, you have encountered the scale of market offerings and the number of car seat manufacturer. When choosing the right car seat, a child’s safety is the most fundamental criterion.

Selecting an appliance in which your child will spend a significant amount of time and which will be a determinant of their safety and well-being, should be approached responsibly. Therefore, in this article, we will guide you through everything you need to know and keep your eyes open when choosing such an important kit.

Before cutting to the chase and before going into details, let’s get into the basics of fundamentals that you should know about baby car seats before you buy one. Perhaps you may be familiar with them, but revision beats learning. Or possibly you’ve never wondered about the car seat’s specifications. If so, you’re in the right place.

Key Things to Know When Buying a Car Seat

The Best Fit for a Vehicle

You may find that a particular vehicle seat may not properly fit in certain cars. For example, buying a particular car seat may not be suitable for your vehicle. This is especially disappointing when you have a certain car seat so far. When buying car seats blindly online, make sure the store offers a return policy.

Whether you’re going to buy online or not, we recommend finding an offline store where you can test drive the seat in and out of your car ahead of purchase. In some cases, if the store staff is competent and well-informed, they might be able to give you a helping hand to make sure the car seat is installed correctly and fits properly.

Placement

Right car seat placement matters a great deal. Depending on the type of car, the arrangement may have its own nuances. Some car seats are preferable to attach with a vehicle’s seat belt, versus some work better in a latch system (or vice versa). Some car seats are best mounted on the side as opposed to in the middle (or vice versa). Prior installation, verify the ideal location in your vehicle for a selected car seat.

Know-How

Proper use of a car seat is one of the factors that contribute to your child’s safety. Discover information on how to use your car seat by checking the manufacturer’s website, examining the manual, or if you have any concerns and/or doubts, reach out manufacturers. While this may require extra work and research, invest the time and effort to get informed concerning how the car seat is intended to be used.

Latch System Use

LATCH is an abbreviation for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.Use the system in the proper manner, taking into account the weight limit specific to your model. In most vehicles produced from or after September 1, 2002, LATCH is demanded on car seats to simplify installation procedure. Still, parents can attach the car seat using the vehicle seat belt and harness straps, even for vehicles equipped with the above system. Review your vehicle owner’s manual and car seat manual to find out what works best for your child.

Some cars also only have LATCH on the outside seats, so you’ll have to choose between a LATCH install or a middle seat.When you use a latch system, check the weight limit for your model. By not breaking the use rules, you will ensure that your child is as comfortable and safe as possible.

Getting a Car Seat Inspected

You can get help with proper installation from certified technicians. You can find a certified technician at a child safe seat inspection station. Furthermore, you can go to a technician both for help with installation and verify that your car seat is installed correctly. This service is usually free, and some of the stations offer online consultations.

Car Seat Expiration

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Car seats have an expiration date! They become potentially hazardous to use after the expiration date. This happens for several reasons:

  • Manufacturing standards change.
  • Technology evolves.
  • Plastic deteriorates due to various factors. For example, in very warm or cold temperatures.

You are unlikely to eat expired food, and the same goes for car seats. It is highly inadvisable to use expired car seats. An expired seat will not give your child much protection during the ride, much less in the event of an accident.

Typically, the expiration date is indicated on the bottom or sides of the car seat, and most car seats run out seven to eight years after the date of manufacture. However, the expiration date varies from model to model and manufacturer to manufacturer. If you can’t find an expiration date sticker, you can check with the seat’s manufacturer.

Car Seats & Car crashes

If you have been in an accident with a car seat in the vehicle, it is recommended that the seat for your child be replaced. After a crash, it may not be safe to keep using it.

Some insurance programs cover the replacement of car seats after car accidents. In the event you are involved in an accident, contact your car insurance company to verify if they cover the replacement of the car seat.

Also, there are rules that each manufacturer has regarding whether you need to replace your car seat after an accident.

After a minor accident, the majority of car seats can be used if ALL the next criteria are met:

  • The car was successfully moved away from the accident spot.
  • There is no damage to the vehicle door that is closest to the child’s seat.
  • Nobody who was in the vehicle was injured in any way.
  • The airbags (if any) have NOT inflated.

If there is no visible damage to the car seat, it does not mean it can be used again. The accident may have caused minor damage that is not seen by the eye, but which reduces the level of protection for the child.

Proper Buckling Up

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Each child’s seat belt can be fastened in either the right or the wrong way. It is absolutely vital at all times that you make sure that your child’s seat straps are tightened firmly and properly.

The Pinch Test provides a test to confirm that the harness is correctly tightened: Sit your child in the car seat, and buckle the shoulder belt up so that it is tight against baby’s shoulders. Next, in the shoulder area, try to grab hold of the harness strap. If you are able to pull on the fabric, the straps are too loose and should be re-tightened.The car seat should be reclined to a safe angle so your child’s head doesn’t fall forward.

Watch for the chest clip to be positioned at armpit level, and be mindful of the height of the seat belt. For rear-facing seats, the upper part of the seat belt should be at or within an inch of shoulder height. For forward-facing seats, the top of the seat belt should be at or within an inch above shoulder level.

Car Seat Registration

You have chosen the right car seat and installed it correctly. What’s next? It would seem that the job is done and you can use the car seat with confidence. In fact, there is one more step you need to take – register your car seat in the manufacturer’s database. This is essential in order to obtain information about recalls and safety warnings. In other words, to keep yourself updated with the necessary information regarding your child’s safety.

In addition to registering on the manufacturer site, you can register on the NHTSA to receive e-mail updates about car seat and booster recalls.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also offers car seat installation manufacturer’s  instructions for the various types of seats.

Every new car seat sold in the U.S. has a safety rating and meets minimum road safety standards.

Avoid buying a second hand car seat

Many parents would you like to save money and buy a used car seat. Should you save money by buying a second-hand car seat?Unless you know the full history of a used car seat, do not buy it. If you’re confident the used car seat hasn’t been in any car crashes, make sure it’s not expired. If it does have has visible cracks and missing parts. It lacks a label with the model number and date of manufacture so that you can check for recalls. Find the expiration date sticker or contact car seat manufacturers.

Car Seats Types and Safety

The right car seat plays a tremendous role in safety. Car seats can be rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster. The types have their own subtypes. When your child reaches a certain age or weight, it must be replaced with the next type of car seat. Let’s talk more about types and subtypes.

Rear-Facing Seat

A child rear-facing seats works best for your infants and small babies. With the safety harness in place, in the event of an accident, everything in your car will move forward, including your infant! As your baby sits in a rear-facing position, it will retain your baby and the movement of the child’s body will press against the car seat. Holding your baby in place will support the neck and spine as needed, relieving strain on the baby’s fragile neck and spinal cord.

Infants that are under 1 year old, must be transported in rear-facing car seats. If a child’s age is within the range of 1-3, it’s recommended to keep them in a rear-facing seat until they reach the top permissible weight or height.

Rear Facing Seat Subtypes

Infant seats

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Toddler car seat are considered to be infant-only car seat that is always rear-facing. This a right car seats fit to carry infants under the age of 1. Infant-only seats are compact, portable seat fit for remain rear facing positions only to reduce the stress to the child’s fragile neck and spinal cord.

Most infant car seats of rear-facing infant car seats are equipped with a base that is mounted to the passenger seat of the car. The base is mounted to the baby car seat and is detached by simply pressing a button or pushing a lever. By doing so, you can carry your baby in his or her seat as you leave the car. Most infant car seats are stroller compatibility. Stroller compatibility will enable you to easily take the seat out of the car and clip it to your stroller to get going.

Many parents prefer the convenience. If you have a second car, skip buying two car seats and instead purchase an extra car seat base so you can move your infant seat back and forth between cars.

For the large majority of infants, they outgrow their infant car seats well before their very first birthday. So when this takes place, parents are encouraged to purchase a convertible or multipurpose car seat and use it as rear-facing seats instead of infant seats.

Convertible Car Seat

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A convertible seat is made to accommodate more child’s body weight and height compared to the infant car seat. Therefore, these seats are expandable as your child outgrows the infant seat. Now, as soon as small babies reach the necessary height and weight limits for traveling in the seat forward-facing position, the seat can be converted from a remain rear-facing to a forward-facing by using the harness straps.

Nevertheless, as opposed to the infant car seat, the convertible car seat is not equipped with a base. The seat itself is mounted in the vehicle by means of a common seat belt or the LATCH system, depending on the model. So, It’s not a portable seat. Apparently, this deprives you of the convenience of transporting a sleeping baby in a car seat or strapping it on directly in the stroller.

Some parents choose to skip an infant car seat and use a convertible seat from day one.

All-In-One Seat

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All-In-One seats have the ability to be reconfigured from a child rear-facing to a seat forward-facing(equipped with seat belts and a tether) and to a booster car seat base on the height child’s and weight. Since it can be used for children of different weights and heights , its construction allows for keeping children in the rear-facing car seat for a longer period of time.

Forward-Facing Seat

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A forward-facing is intended for older children. Unlike a rear-facing, a seat forward-facing has seat belts and harness straps that stop your child from moving forward in an accident.

A forward-facing seat is similar to a convertible seat in that it uses the same five-point harness system and is not intended to be portable like an infant car seat.

As a rule, children of 4-7 years old are transported in a forward-facing. But if your child is under this age range but outgrows the height and weight limits, it’s time to switch to a forward-facing.

All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the seat’s manufacturer

As well to rear-facing seats, forward-facing can be divided into subtypes.

Forward Facing Seat Types

Convertible Seats:

The convertible seat can go from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing position through the use of straps and tether straps all the time as the child grows.

As we mentioned earlier, convertible seats come without a base, so in cases where you need to get out of the car with your baby, you can’t get them out with the seat, like with an infant seat. The seat remains in the car.

Combination Seats

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The combination seat can be adjusted from a forward-facing car seat to a booster by means of the harness and tether straps simply to suit the requirements as your child grows.

Combination seat with the harness : This seat goes from forward facing to a belt positioning booster when the child has reach the harness limits. 

All-In-One Seat

The All-in-One Seat can be reconfigured from a rear-facing position into a forward-facing one. The All-in-One Seat should be transformed over time to suit the changes that occur as grows.

Booster Car Seat Type

The booster chair has the option of replacing your child’s harness with a seat belt. However, the booster places the seat belt over your child’s strongest body part, lifting the seat belt higher. In this way, the Booster Car Seat keeps your child positioned so that the lap and shoulder straps are properly aligned at the hips and across the chest.

Before switching to a booster car seat, a child’s age must be at least 4 or 5 years old and at least 40 pounds. Age plays an important role not only in terms of physical parameters but because your child must also be mature enough to stay in a seat properly throughout the travel without playing with the seatbelt. If you are not sure your child can sit properly in a car seat, a 5-point harness seat fit for larger children is recommended.

Booster are usually used for children between the ages of 8 and 12. By the time your child outgrows a forward-facing car seat, replace it with a booster seats. However, the seat should still be in the back seat. Make sure child ride in a booster seat until they outgrow the size limits of their booster, or until they are big enough for an adult seat belt to fit them properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach.

High-Back Booster Seats

This type of booster chair is tailored intentionally to be adjustable when the child grows so that the seat belt is properly secured. Moreover, the booster seats also gives extra child’s neck and head support. Boosters with a high back are generally advised to be used maximally for as long as possible. Generally, they provide your child with a more secure fit in the seat. They also provide excellent child’s head and neck support, making children feel comfortable and easy to fall asleep during the trip.

Backless Booster Seats

The backless boosters is made to keep up with the child’s height to ensure that the seat belt fits properly and is well fastened. It is applied when a child grows and reaches the height and weight limit of the previous seat.

In contrast to booster with a high back, it does not provide baby’s head and neck support. Therefore, make sure the vehicle’s back seat has head rest that provide sound neck and head support. While it is recommendable to go for a high-back booster as frequently as possible, occasionally a backless booster might prove more feasible, like when traveling in airports or when using cabs or shared rides. It’s also easy to keep it on the rear shelf.

Combination Seats

Alongside your child growing up, the Combination Seat is transformed from a forward-facing position with safety harnesses to a booster seats.

All-in-One Seats

Since your child is growing, the All-in-One Sea can be moved from a rear-facing position to a forward-facing position and to a booster.

It is possible to move your child completely out of the booster seat to an All-in-one seat once the five points are satisfied:

  • Children can rest comfortably while leaning their backs against the seat.
  • They bend their knees at the seat’s edge.
  • The seat belt is kept firmly in place on the upper thighs, never on the abdomen.
  • The shoulder belt is placed right between the neck and shoulder.
  • Children are seated appropriately, they do not slouch, they do not play around with the seatbelt, they do not make unnecessary movements, seat belt fits properly, etc.

Summing Up

A right car seat will protect infants and children in the event of an accident. It is important to pick the most suitable car’s seat and use it whenever you have your child in the car. Apart from the child’s age and physical parameters, there are multiple aspects to take into account before purchasing a car seat.

According to both and safety standards the (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the middle seat is the safest place to install your baby’s car seat.

  • Some car seats fit your vehicle while others don’t.
  • Mount a car seat in the way that works the best specifically for the car seat model and your vehicle.
  • Figure out how to utilize a car seat you’ve picked.
  • Find out information about LATCH regarding weight limits.
  • Get your car seat inspected.
  • Make sure a seat is not expired.
  • After a car accident, replace. Not all car seats are to be changed though. Make sure it corresponds to the criteria of post-accident use.
  • The car seat belt fits properly where it should be.
  • Switch to the next seat once the height and also weight limit are reached.

When you find a child’s car seat that meets all these car seat safety criteria, be sure you found the right seat.

Selecting the right car seat is the first step in car seat safety.

Read also: How To Choose A Child Car Seat

Alice Brooks

Hi!!!My name is Alice Brooks. Here I share my observations and conclusions from my experience and the experience of my friends. First of all, I pay attention to safety and only then to trends. I want to help other parents to choose the right product.

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