Car Seats - What to Know For Safety

11/24/2011 09:45


Children should ride rear-facing in a car seat until they reach at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. Parents are tempted to turn the car seat around, before the child is old enough, because it is difficult to see the child when they are rear facing. The baby would rather be turned around also, so they can see Mom and Dad. You must resist doing this, because it is not safe. Your babies neck is just simply not strong enough to take the force that is caused by a car accident. So as hard as it is, these guidelines must be followed.

Different Rear Facing Car Seats

There are 2 kinds of rear-facing car seats. There are infant-only seats and convertible seats. Infant car seats are small and have a handle for carrying the seat. Many of these come with a stroller system that the seat can snap into. Infant car seats can not be installed front-facing. Infant car seats can only be used for up to 22 to 30 pounds depending on the seat. Each manufacture is different, so be sure to check their specifications. They are more commonly used for infants, because they can be used as a carrier also. The baby can be set in them in the grocery store, doctors office or where ever you go. Make sure to keep your baby strapped in at all times, to prevent them from slipping out.

Many infant car seats come with a base for the car. You attach the base in the car and then you can just pop the car seat into it. This is nice because you don't have to mess with the seat belts every time you put your baby in the car. You have the option to buy extra bases to use if you have multiple cars. Some car seats can be put in with or without the base. That might be something you'll want to look for. Then if you ride with someone else you won't have to move the base out of your car to use in another car.

Convertible car seats can be used rear-facing until the baby is old enough and then they can be turned around. This saved you money, because you can use the seat longer. These can be used for a couple of years depending on the size of the child. They take up more room and are not meant to be taken in and out of the car. They are rated to be used rear-facing for higher height and weight, so they are great for babies that are bigger or taller.

Types of Harnesses

The 5-point harness is the most secure. They attach on both sides of the babies shoulders and the hips. And then between the legs. These are used in infant only car seats and in convertible car seats.

The T-harness is a padded t-shaped or triangle-shaped shield attached at both shoulders and then between the legs. It would be considered a 3-point harness. These are used in infant only car seats and in convertible carseats.

The overhead shield has a padded tray-like shield that comes over the child's head and rests in front of the baby. This one only applies to the convertible car seat.


*Always make sure the car seat is tightly installed. The harness should fit snugly around your baby. *Never use a car seat in the front seat of a car with a passenger air bag. If it inflates, it will cause serious injury to your baby or even death. *Check the harness slots. They should be at or below your babies shoulders. *If the seat belts in your car require locking clips, then make sure you use them. All car safety seats should come with locking clips. Check your vehicle manual. Most newer cars do not need locking clips. *If you are using a convertible seat in the rear-facing position, make sure the seat belt is routed through the correct belt path. Read the instructions that came with the car safety seat to be sure. *If your vehicle was made after 2002, it may come with the LATCH system, which is used to secure car safety seats. *Make sure the seat is at the correct angle so your infant's head does not flop forward. Many seats have angle indicators or adjusters that can help prevent this. If your seat does not have an angle adjuster, tilt the car safety seat back by putting a rolled towel or other firm padding (such as a pool noodle) under the base near the point where the back and bottom of the vehicle seat meet.

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Always use the instruction manual that is provided with the car seat. It is the safety of your that is at hand, so make sure you use the car seat the proper way that it was intended.