The Child Car Seat – Choose the Right One to Protect You Precious Cargo

When you are putting your child in the car, there is much more to consider beyond getting from point A to point B. There are an many manufacturers out there that are making child car seats. Many people may not know this but beyond the manufacturer you choose a your child car seat, there are also different types and classifications of child car seats which offer different types of protection for your little ones.

First you must choose between an Infant Car Seat or Convertible Car Seat.

Infant Car Seat

  • A rear-facing infant car seat (suitable for babies up to 22 or 35 pounds and 29 to 32 inches tall) fits babies snugly during the first year or so. A convertible seat – so called because it converts from a rear-facing seat for babies and toddlers to a forward-facing seat – carries children from birth to somewhere between 40 and 80 pounds and up to 50 inches tall, depending on the seat.

Convertible Car Seat

The convertible seat will “grow” with you child. This type of seat is often times larger and heavier than the typical infant car seat and starts off facing the back of the vehicle, and as your child grows the seat can be turned around to face the front of the vehicle and offer protection as your child grows without having to purchase a separate car seat.

Safest Seat For Your Children?

Most newborns will fit in a convertible car seat, but babies under 20 pounds are better off in the smaller infant car seats. They’re contoured to hold newborns securely and offer good support in all the right places. Infant seats are also more convenient because the baby can easily be transported from the car and carried in the infant seat which avoids waking a sleeping baby; some even snap right into a stroller for even greater convenience.

Before you make a decision to buy either an infant seat or a convertible seat do a little research.  First make sure the seat meets certain safety standards.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has a five-star rating system that scores according to ease of installation, security once the baby is in the seat and instructions for installing the seat properly. A five-point safety harness that straps over each shoulder and one that straps across each thigh and between the baby’s legs provides the best restraint.  Make sure it is easily adjustable; if it is not you will have to struggle with adjusting it as the baby grows. I have found with my own grandchildren they are not very tolerant during this adjustment process.  Since 2002, all car seats and vehicles have been compatible with the “LATCH” system. LATCH allows you to attach the car seat directly to your vehicle instead of using the seat belt to secure it.

You should also strongly consider how easy or difficult the seat and seat cover(s) will be to clean.

If you will go to http://www.safercar.gov/parents/index.htm you will find some great information to guide you in not only selecting a car seat but many other tips on traveling with infants and toddlers.

Written by Nancy Ayers, Case Manager, Rock Hill Office, Campbell & Associates, Attorneys at Law.

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