You’ve got the car seat, you’ve got the baby … so how do you know if you’re actually keeping your baby safe in that car seat? Car seat safety is no joke — that’s your most precious cargo back there, mom! Watch this video about car seat safety and then check out these helpful car seat safety tips to determine if you’ve got the right car seat for your child and if that car seat is installed correctly.
Car seat safety
Types of car seats
Infant only car seats: An infant car seat is especially designed for babies from birth to about 20 pounds. Infant car seats are designed to be used in the rear-facing position and cannot be safely used as forward-facing car seats. Studies show that keeping an infant rear-facing for as long as possible offers the best protection. Many infant car seats also double as an infant carrier so parents can easily move a sleeping baby from the car without removing them from the car seat. These infant car seats are often sold as part of a travel system along with a compatible stroller that the infant carrier can be attached to. A carrier base stays in the car. Learn more about preterm infants and car seats >>
Convertible car seats: A convertible car seat is designed to be used from birth until a child outgrows the car seat. They can be used in both the forward-facing and rear-facing positions. This type of car seat is not nearly as portable as an infant-only, carrier style seat, but you may see it as a better investment because it won’t need to be replaced when your child reaches 1 year of age or 20 pounds.
“For some reason, I feel more comfortable having my baby in an infant car seat first. It’s specifically designed for them, and a lot of the convertible seats are HUGE and it leaves tons of wiggle room.”
– SheKnows Message Boards mom, Andrea 930
Booster car seats: Booster seats are designed to be used with toddlers in a forward facing position only and typically have a minimum weight requirement from 30 to 40 pounds. If you chose a booster car seat with a detachable back, the car seat will last until the child is approximately 80 pounds. Booster seats may or may not have their own buckle and harnesses. Those that do not rely on the car’s seat belt to secure the child in the car seat.
How to choose a booster seat >>
Car seat laws
Each state has varying laws about the proper use of car seats including the ages and weights of children who must be restrained in a car seat. Consider these car seat safety facts:
- Infants should be in a rear-facing car seat until at least 20 pounds and 1 year of age. In fact, everyone would be safer riding backwards because this position better protects the head, neck and back in the event of an accident.
- Forward-facing toddler car seats should have a 5-point restraint system
- 90 percent of all car seats are installed incorrectly! Use these Top 10 car seat safety tips as a checklist to ensure your child’s car seat is properly — and safely — installed.
- Car seats have an expiration date! Generally, car seats are no longer considered safe 6 years after their original date of manufacture. Car seats and many other baby items should not be purchased secondhand.
Did you know? AAA recommends that any child up to age 8 or 4 feet 9 inches tall should be secured in a child safety seat. This is also a law in some states, so check your state car seat laws to make sure you’re in compliance.
car safety seats save lives
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that an estimated 8,959 lives were saved by child restraints from 1975 to 2008. Is your child safety seat 5-star rated?
Car seat safety checks
Many local fire departments and hospitals will assist parents in installing a car seat correctly. Large baby retailers like Babies R Us often have car seat safety events where they will show parents the correct way to install a car seat. Find a car seat inspection site in your area.
More car seat safety information