Infant Car Seat Safety
Before your baby is born, it is important to carefully select and purchase an age-appropriate car safety seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that car safety seats are 71% effective in reducing infant occupant deaths and injuries. Legally, you must have a car seat before the hospital will allow you to take your child home. In addition, laws in all 50 states stipulate that your child must ride in a car safety seat every single time he or she rides in a car.
When purchasing your infant car safety seat, you will have two car seat options: a rear facing infant-only seat or a convertible seat used rear-facing.
Infant Only Car Seats
Infant-only seats are designed specifically for infants and must be replaced once the child is 20-30 pounds. Weight limitations vary by model, so be sure to read your car seat specifications carefully.
Convertible Car Seats
Convertible seats are car safety seats that are suitable for infants when used rear-facing, but can also convert to a forward facing car seat when the child is older. The advantage is that you can use the seat for a longer period of time because the weight and height limits are higher.
Always install an infant car seat in the rear seat of the vehicle. Not only are passenger-side airbags hazardous to infants (even if the car seat is rear-facing), but car accidents are most likely to happen at the front passenger area of the car. You will need to keep your child rear-facing from birth to at least 1 year and at least 20 pounds. At that time, you can replace the car seat with a forward facing child seat, placed in the rear seat of the vehicle, until the child reaches 40 pounds.
Car seat safety is not something to be overlooked. Make sure the car seat you purchase for your infant fits them correctly, is uncomplicated to use, and fits in your vehicle properly. Additionally, it is ideal to purchase a brand new car seat. Older or used car seats might be damaged, could be missing parts, or may have even been recalled.
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