Which seat should you buy?
Some may choose to purchase the Convertible Seat in lieu of the Infant Seat. This is an option. Keep in mind the Infant Car Seat is specially manufactured for your newborn and has built in support and cushioning meant for their tiny heads and body. Consumer reports states this is the safest choice for your newborn.
Convertible Seats offer the convenience of taking your child from birth to toddler (some up to 80lbs, models vary), eliminating the need to purchase two seats. Considering how quickly baby grows, they won't be in the Infant Seat for long.
Having the assurance that the seat you do select has gone through stringent safety testing and that it meets the age and weight requirements of your child, should be the priority. From there, be sure to select the seat(s) which best meet the needs of your family.
CAR SEAT ACCESSORIES
- Extra Infant Car Seat Base : One of the most convenient added accessories you can purchase. The extra base for the Infant Seat allows you to keep a base in an additional car, eliminating the need to switch the base between vehicles.
- Head Support : Purchase added head support if you feel the car seat support isn't enough. Extra head support keeps baby safe and comfortable.
- Seat Savers/Protectors : Placed under the car seat and ready to catch any mess that falls its way. Also available for the back of the front seat to protect from dirty kicking feet. Some even have pockets to store stuff.
- Car Seat Covers : Provide pockets and a place for bottles and toys. Also may offer adjustable head support cushioning, added padding and more comfort for baby. Look for styles made by the same manufacturer as your car seat to ensure the safest fit.
- Sunshade : Some styles are hung on the car window using suction cups, while others attach to the car seat. In either case, the sunshade keeps the sun from shining directly on baby.
- Carrier Bag : A great way to travel with your car seat. This carrier bag protects the seat from dirt and damage. Some come equipped with wheels so you can pull it like luggage, while other are back pack style or slung over the shoulder. Very convenient for air travel.
- Mirrors : Mirrors give you a view of your baby in the backseat without having to turn around. They can be attached to the headrest for rear facing children or used on your wind shield to see front facing kids. Some styles even do both.
- Toys, toys and more toys : There are lots of things available to attach and entertain baby for those trips in the car.
Since there are state and federal regulations that go along with car seats, it is best to start with a quick education of what's required and where you can locate helpful information. For starters, some requirements may vary by state, so a good rule of thumb is to check with your local officials for specifics in your area.
Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren. In September of 2002 the Government created this standardized child safety seat system to help simplify installation and improve safety for children. In all cars manufactured after this date, two small anchor rods are required in the back seat where the seat back and cushion meet. Cars are also required to have anchors either on the rear shelf area or on the cargo floor. LATCH equipped car seats have top tether straps and lower anchor attachments which affix to the car directly, eliminating the need to use seat belts. New car seats that are LATCH equipped can safely be used in older cars using the safety belts. Regardless of which way you will be installing your car seat, always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Authority is a great resource. Check their website www.nhtsa.gov for helpful information on car seat installation. They also conduct an annual Ease of Use rating on all car seats (with a complete chart of all tested styles). They offer a link to Child Safety Seat Inspection Locations by Zip Code and since most car seats are installed wrong, it's a great idea to have an expert check that you got it right. You can also check with local Police and Fire Departments; they should be educated on proper child safety seat installation as well.
Just like with Safety Gates and other important products, the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association puts their stamp of approval on those seats that have met the appropriate safety requirements. Look for the JPMA seal on car seats when making your selections. This is a great way to know that your car seat has been manufactured with the highest safety standards in mind.
CAR SEAT AGE AND WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS
Here are guidelines provided by NHTSA for general child seat use. You can find complete car seat information on their website at www.nhtsa.gov.
CHILDREN AGES 12 AND UNDER ARE SAFEST WHEN PROPERLY BUCKLED IN THE REAR SEAT
|AGE/WEIGHT||SEAT TYPE/SEAT POSITION|
|Birth to at least 1 year old and at least 20lbs||Infant Only Seat in rear facing position or Convertible Seat used rear facing|
|1 to 4 years old and at least 20lbs to approximately 40lbs||Convertible Seat in forward facing position Forward Facing (Toddler Booster Seat) using the harness|
|4 to 8 years old and over 40lbs||Belt-Positioning Booster with no back or High Back Belt-Positioning Booster|
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIPS
- Did you know that most car seats are NOT installed properly? Be sure to read all instructions provided with your car seat. Install properly. When in doubt ask for help.
- Ask the experts! You can find help at your local fire and police departments or check www.nhtsa.gov for locations in your area that provide seat checks.
- Car Seats should always be installed in the back seat. Never use a rear facing seat in the front seat that has a passenger side air bag.
- Your seat should come equipped with multiple harness slots. You will need to adjust the seat to accommodate your child as they grow.. and we know they grow fast!
- A properly secured seat will not be able to move more than one inch in either direction.
- Buckle up right every time. That means check the seat each time you use it to make sure it's level and secure.
- Always buckle up! Never place your child in the seat with buckles unfastened. Even if you think it's just a quick trip around the corner. Buckle up properly each and every time.
- Know the height and weight requirements for the seat you are using. As your child grows, be ready to switch to the next appropriate seat for their size. Using the wrong size seat is dangerous.
- Never use a car seat that has been in an accident.
- Be sure to send in your registration card to ensure the manufacturer can contact you directly for any recall notices.
- Babies in Infant Seats must recline (recommended approximately a 45 degree angle -- check manufacturer) so their head doesn't tilt forward, possibly obstructing their airway.
- If you have a car that is LATCH equipped, be sure to select a LATCH equipped car seat.