Child Safety Seats
Child car seats; Infant car seats; Car seats
Automobile accidents are one of the major causes of injury and death in children. In the United States, the law requires car seats for children under 40 pounds. For children over 40 pounds, specific laws vary by state.
Have a spouse or friend bring a car seat with you to the hospital when the child is born. You will need a car seat to bring the baby home from the hospital.
Buying a Child Safety Seat
It is best to use a new car seat. Used car seats often lack instructions and may have cracks or other problems that make the seat unsafe. For example, it may have been damaged during a car accident.
All car seats have expiration dates somewhere on them, usually on the bottom of the seat. Do not use a car seat past its expiration date, as the plastic may no longer be strong enough to support your child safely.
The "best" seat for you depends on your:
- Child's age
- Child's weight and height
The seat must fit your child's size and be able to be properly installed into your car. A more expensive seat is not necessarily the safest nor easiest to use. All car seats sold in the United States must meet government safety standards.
Make sure you fill out and return the registration card that comes with a new car seat. This way, the manufacturer will contact you if the seat is recalled because of a safety problem or other defect. If you do not have a card, call the company that made the car seat and ask for one.
There are several different types of child safety seats:
- Rear-facing seats
- Forward-facing seats
- Booster seats
- Car beds
- Built-in car seats
A rear-facing seat is one in which the infant faces the back of the car. Always install a rear-facing seat in the back seat of your car. This is the safest position for an infant. NEVER place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of a vehicle with passenger airbags.
There are two types of rear-facing seats:
- Infant-only rear-facing seats
- Convertible seats
Infant-only rear-facing seats are for babies up to about 22 to 30 pounds, depending on the specific car seat. You will need a new seat when your child gets bigger. Infant-only seats have handles that allow you to move the seat from the car to the house or other locations. Some have a base that you can leave installed in the car, so you can just click the car seat into place each time you use it.
Convertible seats are for bigger infants and toddlers under age 1 -- up to about 30-35 pounds, depending on the specific seat. The seat can be used as a rear-facing seats for younger children, and switched to a forward-facing seat on the child's first birthday if the child weighs at least 20 pounds. However, experts recommend keeping the child in a rear-facing position until he or she outgrows the weight or height allowed by the safety seat.
Reprinted with the permission of MedlinePlus.
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