Choosing a car seat for your little one is a monumental decision! There are several different types of child restraints including infant only, convertible, forward facing, combination, 3-in-1 and boosters. Some seats are easier to use than others, but all seats that are rated by the National Highway Transport Safety Association (NHTSA) meet Federal Safety Standards & strict crash performance standards. Here are a few tips in choosing a car seat:
- Do your research! Ask friends or relatives which seat they would recommend and why. Also, check out the NHTSA’s “Ease of use rating“.
- Always buy new! It is not advised to purchase a used car seat, you cannot be sure if the car seat was cared for properly by someone that you don’t know, and that is trying to make a buck. If you are getting a hand-me-down from a trusted friend or relative ask:
1. “Was this seat ever in an accident?” Even if the child was not in the seat, it should be replaced after a crash.
2. “How has the padding and harness straps been cleaned?” Consult the manual to make sure the cleaning was done per the instructions.
3. “Are all the parts present and in working order?” Check the car seat manual to make sure.
4. “Was the car seat ever recalled?” And did you get the replacement or replacement parts?
5. “Is the seat expired?” Most car seats are considered “expired” six years from the manufacturers date.
6. “Are the labels still visible and do you have the manufacturers instructions?” Do not use if the labels are damaged or removed and call the company for a free instruction manual.
- Try it out! Go to the store with all of the cars that the seat will go and and make sure it will fit. Not every car seat fits every car, especially if you have two very different cars.
- Choose the right type of seat and make note of the height and weight requirements. Purchase a seat that will grow with your child. Download the NHTSA’s car seat recommendations for Children.
- Register your seat! This will ensure that you will be notified immediately if there is a recall. If you have moved, or if you did not register your seat, be sure and update your information.
- Get your seat inspected! Beaumont Health System offers FREE car seat safety inspections by Certified Passenger Safety Technicians! We will inspect your seat, check against recall lists, show you how to install your seat properly and how to harness your child in properly. Call 248-898-SAFE to make your appointment today!
“Remember, the best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use, and fits in your vehicle correctly.” -National Highway Transport Safety Association.