There is a lot of confusion surrounding car seats. Some are expensive and advise about them and all the brands available may be overwhelming for parents. We hope that this article will shed some light 🙂
To begin with , there are some guidelines that generally apply to children and car safety:
1. No car seat is safer than the next. All car seats in the USA must meet the same safety standards. You may find some seats that surpass the basic safety standards. These mat range from functionalities that make a seat easier to use or features that enable one to use the car seat for much longer. The safest car seat according to the American Academy of Pediatrics is one that fits your child , fits your car and is ALWAYS used 100% correctly.
2. You should NEVER buy a used car seat. it it is not coming from a trusted friend or family member , it may not be safe. Only do so if you are sure that:
- It has all the original parts and pieces as well as the manual
- It has never been in an accident
- It is less than 6 years old
- It has not been dropped
- The straps have never been washed as this may wash off the flame retardant
If you do not trust the seller of a used car seat , do not buy from them. You can get a pretty good Cosco Scenery for $40. This car seat needs to be kept rear facing for at least two years and rear faces to at least 35lbs and then goes into front facing at 40lbs and really is a great deal for a very safe car seat. you can also call your local police station where they have updated information on car seats and have programs in place to hand out free/inexpensive car seats to families.
Stage 1: Rear Facing. The goal is to keep your child rear facing for as long as possible. This should be 2 years at the very least. It is unsafe to turn your child to front facing at 20lbs. This can cause serous injury during a crash because a child’s vertebrae does not fuse until 3 to 6 years of age.
Transitioning to front facing too soon puts you child at risk.
Stage 2: Forward facing. When you have successfully transitioned your child to the front facing position , they should stay in this position with a 5 point harness for as long as possible. This offers more safety than just the seatbelt and a booster. Most convertible car seats will accommodate up to 40lbs but the Britax Marathon/Decathalon/Boulevard goes up to 65lbs, Evenflo Triumph Advance to 50lbs, and the Fisher Price Safe Voyage Deluxe to 55lbs,. There are many other car seats that go way past 40lbs.
To sit well in a booster , your kid ought to be able to have a lap belt and not across their tummy. The should belt should ALWAYS sit across their shoulder and NOT their neck. At the same time , your kids head should now be proportional to the rest of their body. Kids under the age of 5 are more prone to head injuries and their spine is not completely fused until the age of 6.
Stage 3: Booster Seat with a seat belt. Your kids must be at least 4 years and 40lbs . 5 years though may be better because most 4 year olds are not able to sit well in a booster. No back boosters offer little safety so it is always better to use a high back booster. Ensure that your child is at least 4”9 tall and 80lbs before they can use a seatbelt only. A booster is a good idea until your kid is 8 to 10 years.
So like we said before, the BEST car seat fits your child, fits your car and MUST be used CORRECTLY 100% of the time. you can try out many seats before you make a decision on what works best for you and your precious child.
Happy car seat shopping 🙂