One of the most important purchases new parents will make is a car seat. While your child’s comfort is important, the safety of your child while in the car is critical. Choosing the best car seat can be confusing, there are many options available.
Here are some answers to questions often asked when it comes to buying a car seat. When in doubt, check the Consumer Products Safety Commission website and get the most up to date information concerning car seats.
How do I choose the very best baby safety seat?
It’s very important that the car seat you choose matches your child’s size plus their weight. A well-chosen car seat fits appropriately in your cars and truck and is easy to install.
Are there different types of car seats for infants?
You will be confronted with different types of car seats. Some are made to face the front, some are designed for infants and babies only, some are convertibles that you can remove from the car and attach to a stroller. Also available will be seats that are rear facing, booster seats for older and larger children, while others are designed to integrate with your car’s structure. Each kind of car seat will have different options and features as well as size and weight restrictions.
Should the car seat have a 5 point harness?
Due to the fact that it holds your child tighter in the seat in the event of a crash, a 5 point harness gives your kid the greatest protection. The purpose of a 5 point harness is to gather all of the straps attached to the car seat in one place, making it easy to put your child in the seat and snuggly fit the straps into the harness.
Can I get help installing the car seat properly?
Every car seat (other than many pre-owned seats) features printed directions. Sometimes, however, even the most mechanical person can struggle with the instructions for safely installing a car seat. At this point you have a few other options. You can contact the manufacturer for help. Most major manufacturers have detailed instructions on their websites. Another great option is to check with your local police or fire departments. Almost all fire departments have programs where you can bring your car and car seat to the station and they will install it for you.
What’s the safest way to secure my child in a car seat?
Securing your child in the car seat will depend on the age and size of your child and the type of seat being used. Children under the age of one should always use a rear facing seat, in the back seat and in the center. This is the safest spot in the car.
What does LATCH stand for?
LATCH is an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers For Children. It was created to help emphasize the importance of attaching the car seat properly to the car frame by the use of anchor hooks and a tether. Heavy duty lower hooks must be attached to the seat frame, somewhere beneath the seat itself. All car seats now come with a tether that is meant to clip to a hook in the seat. It is designed to keep the baby’s head from moving during a crash.
Can you explain the Tether?
Basically, a tether is a cut resistant strap with a heavy clip at the end. It is made of the same rugged material that a seat belt is made of and is exceptionally strong. By attaching the tether clip to the hook attachment that all new cars have, you add a layer of security to the car seat. The tether will anchor the top of the car seat in case of an accident.
When do I know that my child doesn’t need a car seat anymore?
Many parents take their children out of car seats too soon. The best way to check whether your child is ready to ride without a car seat is to check how your child sits on the car seat. They should be able to sit on the seat and easily bend their knees over the edge of the seat. The car’s seat belts must cross their shoulders without choking them and the lap belt must fit low enough to touch their thighs. Another test is to make sure your child is physically capable of sitting up for the entire ride.
Should I use a car seat on a plane?
Yes, if at all possible. Airline companies require kids age 2 and under to be in authorized car seats. The seats need to be 16 inches or less to fit in the aircraft seats. After the age of 2, a car seat on a plane is optional but recommended. For safety reasons you will want to ask a flight attendant for help installing the car set.
Are there safety issues when buying a second-hand infant car seat?
You can buy and use a second-hand car seat but you do need to keep some important safety issues in mind. Check closely to make sure that the belts and harnesses have no splits or tears. Don’t buy a seat that has cracks or tears in the covering. Test to make sure any mechanisms work, especially if the seat reclines. Check the model of the car seat against any recall lists. These can be found on the website of the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
My baby’s car seat has been recalled. What do I do now?
Generally when a car seat has been recalled, the manufacturer will post guidelines of what to do. Sometimes they will replace it for free or give you instructions on where to go to get it fixed. Usually this is done with no expense to you. This is a good reason to register your car seat with the manufacturer when you purchase it. The retailer that sold you the seat may also get involved with replacing the recalled product.
My child has special needs, where can I get help with car seats?
Kids with special needs will usually require unique and individual car restraint systems. Discuss your alternatives with your pediatrician. Agencies such as Easter Seals have programs and info on child car seats for special needs children and often can help with the cost.
A Final Thought On Car Seat Safety
You never want to be short-sighted when it comes to your child’s safety and a car seat is one of the most important purchases you will make. Do your research before you begin shopping and keep the basic safety rules in mind. You will be able to find a good looking car seat that is very safe and will protect your child in the worst circumstances.