Vehicle Safety: Choosing the Right Car Seat for Each Stage

Car seats are an essential piece of child safety gear. Most jurisdictions require all children under a certain weight or age to use some type of safety restraint in most moving vehicles. Car seats and booster seats have saved countless lives and prevented horrible injuries. 

Car seats and booster seats are often confusing to purchase and complicated to install. Rules and regulations can vary, depending on where you live. Make sure you check with your local authority to find out the laws regarding car seat usage that is applicable to you. 

Rear-Facing Infant Car Seats

Newborn babies should always ride in a rear-facing car seat with a five-point harness.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that all infants should remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the maximum height or weight allowed by the car seat manufacturer.

Rear-facing bucket-style infant car seats that have a convenient handle and easily click in and out of the installed base are the best choice for newborns. These car seats allow you to strap your baby into the seat in the comfort of your home and carry them to the vehicle already strapped in. All you have to do is easily click the seat into the vehicle base and you are ready to go. These car seats are also often compatible with strollers. 

Infants should use a rear-facing car seat until they are between 22-35 pounds and 26 to 35 inches tall. Once your baby has grown out of the rear-facing bucket seat, you will need to move to a convertible or all-in-one seat. 

Convertible Car Seats

Convertible car seats can be used both rear-facing and forward facing. They have an appropriate five-point harness, just like an infant seat, but are rated for use for babies and children up to 40 to 50 pounds. These types of car seats are not meant to be used to carry your child outside of the vehicle. Once installed, it is best to leave the seat in place. 

Convertible car seats work well both in rear-facing mode and then in forward-facing mode as your child grows. Most have adjustable head rests that can be extended as your child grows. 

Booster Seats

Once your child’s height or weight has exceeded the recommended allowances for the convertible car seat, you will need to purchase a booster seat. A booster seat is designed to lift up an older child to a height that fits the vehicle’s seat belt more safely. Booster seats use the regular seat belts that are in your vehicle. 

Installation Tips

Properly installing car seats is a task that most parents dread. It is imperative that you closely follow the installation instructions that come with the car seat. Keep these instructions somewhere handy because you will need to refer to them many times over the years. Most car seats even have a slot on the back specifically made for storing the instruction manual. 

Many jurisdictions have car seat check events periodically where you can have your car seat installation inspected. Some fire stations also offer this service. 

Every parent wants their child to be as safe and comfortable as possible. That’s why choosing the right car seat is so important. Just like choosing the perfect award-winning Baby Blendy bottles, the right car seat can make your baby happier and more comfortable.