One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when your child is riding in a vehicle. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car safety seats helps keep children safe. But, because so many different seats are on the market, many parents find this overwhelming.
The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child’s age, size, and developmental needs.
Here are some things to know so you can pick a seat that’s right for your child:
Learn how to install the seat and use the harness before your child’s first ride. Don’t depend on store displays to show you how to do it.
Babies start out in infant-only (rear-facing) seats or convertible seats. As they grow, kids switch to forward-facing seats before moving to a booster seat.
What Are the Types of Car Seats?
Infant-only seats fit newborns and smaller infants best. You’ll need to buy another seat when your baby outgrows it.
Infant-only safety seats are convenient because they’re designed to double as carriers, chairs, or rockers when not used in the car. Many models detach right from the base, letting you leave the base installed in the car. Some can be clicked into strollers to be wheeled around. If your baby is in the infant safety seat outside of the car, never put the seat on a high surface like a kitchen counter, a dresser, or changing.
Infant-seats are easy to use, but don’t let your baby spend too much time in one at home or at daycare. Too much time in a car seat can limit a baby’s movement and opportunities for stimulation, which are important for developing sensory and motor skills.
- are heavy and not very portable
- should be used only for travel (not outside the car)
- can be economical because you might not need to buy a separate infant-only seat
- are a good option for larger babies who outgrow their infant-only seat and still need to be rear-facing
If you use a convertible seat:
- Make sure it fits your child correctly. A small child in a large seat may not be the best option.
Never leave your child alone in or around cars, and lock your vehicle when it is not in use. Any of the following situations can happen when a child is left alone in or around a vehicle. A child can
- Die of heatstroke because temperatures can reach deadly levels in minutes.
- Be strangled by power windows, retracting seat belts, sunroofs, or accessories.
- Knock the vehicle into gear, setting it into motion.
- Be backed over when the vehicle backs up.
- Become trapped in the trunk of the vehicle.
Your child’s safety is paramount and a well informed parent must take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of their children.