October 25, 2018
No matter if you’re a new parent or a seasoned pro at raising kids, you always want the best for your baby when it comes to their safety.
Driving a car is a common activity for most families, but that doesn’t mean you should be lulled into a false sense of security because of its routine nature.
Of course, wearing a seatbelt is the most important precautionary measure you can take to protect yourself and your baby during the worst-case-scenario: a car crash. With children and infants in particular, it’s imperative that they’re properly secured in your vehicle.
Here’s a startling statistic: the leadingcause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 15 is car accidents. However, when you’re equipped with the proper knowledge and the most up-to-date car seat, you can help ensure your family’s safety for years to come.
Read on for more safety information to help you buy the right baby car seat for your child. Or, simply use the links below to find a specific topic.
Wondering which car seat to buy? We’ve got you covered. There arefour basic types of car seats you can use before your child graduates to regular seatbelts. Each are geared toward a specific phase in a child’s development, and questions of mobility, function, and length of use all factor into the final decision.
The best car seats for infants are rear-facing only. However, by about 8 or 9 months old, your child will reach the height and weight limits for a rear-facing seat. At that point, it’s recommended you transition your child to a convertible baby car seat and use the rear-facing orientation.
What to look for in an infant car seat:
When you want a car seat that will grow alongside your child, opt for a convertible model. Once you’re ready to make the jump from an infant-only to a convertible car seat, you use the same rear-facing orientation as you did for your newborn. Then, when they’re older and weigh enough, the car seat can be changed to a forward facing seat.
Here’s what to look for in a convertible car seat:
All-in-one baby car seats are the most versatile option. They can be used from the infant stage all the way to the toddler stage. For an all-in-one car seat, you need to make sure it features the same basic safety features as convertible car seats and infant car seats, including: a rear-facing orientation, a 5-point harness system, tethers, a front adjuster, and impact foam.
Before immediately jumping on the all-in-one bandwagon, there are some negatives and positives to consider. We’ve listed some key elements that should factor into your decision below.
Pros of all-in-one car seats:
Cons of all-in-one car seats:
A booster seat works by elevating your child to a point where the adult seat belt fits comfortably over them. The seat belt is used to secure both the child and the seat itself. Once your child has reached 40 pounds, it’s time to invest in a booster seat.
Booster seats come in two set-ups: backless and high-backed. The high-backed booster seat is best if your car has low seat backs without any head rests. However, if your car does have head rests and adequate seat backs, a backless version is perfectly fine.
When using a booster seat it’s important that the belt is securely fastened so that it’s tight but not uncomfortable for your child. The belt should be placed across the pelvic region, instead of the stomach. Additionally, the diagonal shoulder belt should be resting on the shoulder instead of the neck.
Booster seats generally have additional padding and an adjustable headrest so you can keep using it as your child grows. Even if you think your child has grown out of their booster seat, it’s important to use it until they can sit comfortably against the seat of your car with a flat back and knees bent over the cushion.
Any car seat on the market today meets federal safety requirements. To meet these regulations, car seat makers perform a series of intensive crash tests to simulate that dreaded worst-case-scenario. Modern car seats use advanced technology to absorb and safely disperse shock, effectively protecting the most sensitive parts of your child’s body.
Although car seats come with a variety of harnesses such as 3-point and 2-point safety harnesses, the best protection is offered by a 5-point harness. This type of harness keeps your child safer during a crash because it restrains them at the hips, shoulders, and pelvic region so it’s less likely they’d be thrown from the car.
Impact protection technology keeps your baby’s body in proper alignment during day-to-day use and in the event of an accident. There’s quite a few ways modern car seats help shield your child from impact forces, including:
Because car seats are notoriously difficult to install, look for car seats that have harnesses that are easily adjustable. It’s crucial that you know how to adjust the harness of your car seat because it affects the overall safety and integrity of the seat.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that59 percent of car seats are installed with at least one error that could impact its effectiveness during a car accident.
Tips for adjusting car seat harnesses:
A properly fitted harness helps to divert impact forces away from your child and drastically diminishes the chance of ejection in the event of a car crash.
Lateral headrests offer side protection for your baby’s head and keeps it centralized in the car seat. This helps protect against jerky motions when you accidentally hit a pot hole or make a sudden maneuver.
Seat belt guides are typically specific to each individual booster seat, as these types of car seats use a seat belt to strap down both the seat itself and your child. Look for a booster car seat that has seat belt adjusters which help ensure the seat belt is always in the correct orientation as your child grows.
When you’re looking to purchase a baby car seat, you might run into something called “LATCH”. LATCH stands for “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.” Simply put, it’s a system of anchors and attachments that eliminate the need for seat belts. Designed to make the process of installing baby car seats easier on parents, most vehicles made after September 1, 2002 are equipped with LATCH.
Besides using them in the car, there are also plenty of baby car seats that are airline approved and meet the height, width, and weight requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Simply look on the label or do a little research online to check specific FAA-approved models.
If traveling with your baby is on your bucket list, we recommend investing in the rightbaby gear and arming yourself the proper knowledge so you both have the best travel experience possible.
For example, if you’re planning a road trip with a fussy baby, take a look at our tips to help soothe the symptoms ofinfant car sickness.
Another travel necessity is a reliabletravel crib. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a complicated crib set-up when you’re trying to enjoy a family vacation. Take the time to plan ahead and invest in a travel crib that’s easy to set up, portable, and airport-friendly.
We know even the most seasoned parents can struggle with installing car seats–some of them can be really complicated! We’ve outlined a couple of tips below that will hopefully smooth out the process.
Since new baby car seats can be expensive, you might be tempted to buy a used car seat that accommodates a tighter budget.
We don’t recommend purchasing a used car seat unless you know with absolute certainty the model, manufacturer, and the car seat’s past history – including any involvement in an accident.
Here are three factors to consider if you decide to go this route:
At the end of the day, the best car seat for you and your baby depends on how you plan to use it as they grow. For newborns, rear-facing infant car seats with 5-point harness systems are the ideal choice. If you’re looking to extend the life of your car seat, opt for a convertible or all-in-one car seat that adapts to your child’s different developmental stages. Eventually, your little one will transition to the final type of car seat: the booster seat. Whatever stage your child is in, it’s important to have the safest car seat possible so you can continue making a lifetime of memories together.
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