Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of deaths with children and adolescents, ages 1 to 21. Each year thousands of young children are killed or injured in auto crashes due to lack of proper restraints. You’re going to have a baby and the due date is approaching soon. You must have a baby car seat. If you’re planning to drive the bundle of joy home, the hospital wants to see that seat first. Having the proper car seat, a couple of weeks prior to the due date would be advisable. With so many infant seats on the market, parents can find themselves overwhelmed. The good news is all infant seats must meet safety standards. Once you obtain the car seat make sure to register it with the manufacturer. If there are any recalls or problems, the manufacturer will be able to get in contact with you.
Car seats can also be very expensive. If you need financial assistance, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at NHTSA.gov. You never obtain a used car seat, it may be damaged or may not have all the proper safety parts. Most car seats are out of warranty within six years. The type of infant seat you will need depends on the child’s size and the type of car you have.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers guidance in choosing the most appropriate car seat for your child and vehicle. Basic guidelines state that infants and toddlers will need a rear-facing car safety seat until they are two years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car safety seat’s manufacturer. There are three types of rear facing safety seats: infant-only seats, convertible seats and three in one seats. When children reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their infant only seat, they should continue to ride rear facing in a convertible seat or a three in one seat. They do make convertible seats and three in one seats that adjust for infants.
The infant only car seat is used for infants up to 35 pounds, depending the model. They are small, light weight and come with carrying handles. These are the one’s that you see in the shopping carts. They sometimes come as a part of a stroller system. They may come with a base that is left in the car. The seat clicks into the base. You won’t have to install the seat each time you use it. You may purchase more than one base for additional cars.
Convertible seats are used rear facing and then convert to forward-facing for older children. They are heavier and do not come with carrying handles. The weight limit is 30-40 pounds. They come with a harness. The harness secures at the shoulders, at the hips and between the legs.
The three in one seat can be used rear facing, forward facing, or as a belt positioning booster. They are often bigger. Adequate space within the vehicle should be determined.
Installation instructions can be obtained from the car seat manufacturer, from your auto manual, the NHTSA.gov, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Parents.com. Parenting slide shows can be found at parenting.com. The NHTSA.gov website has a link to professional inspectors. More than 95% of car seats are installed incorrectly. Be safe. Make an appointment. Hospitals, fire departments and police stations will assist you with no fees. They will even install the seat.