Car Seat 101: Four Car Seat Basics Every New Parent Should Know
There are so many things to do before bringing home your baby for the first time. From packing your hospital bag to setting up the nursery, you no doubt have a “honey-do” list as long as the countdown to your due date. But there is one thing you absolutely must have before you even think about going into labor – a car seat. Did you know that most hospitals won’t even discharge a newborn without parents having a car seat installed? Learn the car seat basics before even thinking about bringing home your new bundle of joy.
Know the law. While child safety seat laws vary from state to state, all states have laws in place that require children up to at least age four to use a car seat. To read your state’s car seat laws, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website.
Understand professional recommendations. In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that children under a year old and weighing less than 20 pounds should face the rear while riding in a car. However, in March 2011, the AAP changed its recommendation and began to advise that babies should be kept rear-facing as long as possible – especially during the time they fall into the height and weight requirements of their car seat.
Discover the differences. When looking at different car seats, there are many different price ranges, safety ratings and reviews. But before you get down to details, you must first understand the differences between the three basic types of car seats.
- Infant seat – Infant seats are portable car seats that often pop in and out of a base that stays buckled in your car. Infant seats often hook into a traveling stroller apparatus that allows you to easily transfer sleeping babies from the car to the house without removing them from their seat. These rear-facing infant seats should usually not be used by babies who weigh more than 20 pounds. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most infants outgrow these seats at about four to eight months old.
- Convertible car seat – Convertible car seats can be used by infants approximately five pounds to 35 pounds in size. This seat isn’t portable like the infant seat, and it stays secured in your car. Most parents usually use this seat once their children have grown out of their infant seat. As stated previously, it is now advised that your child be kept rear-facing as long as possible (usually around two years old). Then you may turn your convertible car seat around until your child grows out of it, which can be anywhere from three to seven years old.
- Booster seat – Usually at around eight years old your child will grow out of his or her convertible car seat and move into a booster seat, which should be used until approximately age 12. This is simply a small seat that helps children use your car’s seat belt until they are large enough to use the normal seatbelt without assistance. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “A seat belt should lie across the upper thighs and be snug across the shoulder and chest to restrain the child safely in a crash. It should not rest on the stomach area or across the neck.” So until this definition can be met, your child should use a booster seat.
Learn proper installation. An estimated seven out of 10 car seats are installed incorrectly. If you’re in doubt as to whether you’ve installed your new car seat properly, drive your car to your local fire department or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for other certified car seat inspection locations around you. It’s worth it to take the proper precautions to make sure your child is as safe while riding as a passenger in your car.
Another way to keep your little one and the rest of your family safe while driving is to always make sure you have the right auto insurance policy. Protect those in your care with these car seat basics and by getting the car insurance quotes you need to prepare for every situation.
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