Despite a huge push for parental car seat education, about 90% of all baby and infant  car seats are installed incorrectly or used incorrectly on a daily basis. Car seats are an infant’s protection from injury when in a moving vehicle. Installation is highly important, but even the perfect install means nothing if the wrong car seat is chosen in the first place.

Choosing the Right Car Seat for Baby
There are three stages of car seat – infant, growing and booster. Infant car seats are created for newborns up to a weight of 22 pounds. The infant car seat needs to remain rear facing until baby reaches 20 pounds or one year of age. Growing car seats provide a safe ride for children from 22 pounds to 40 pounds. These seats are front facing. Booster seats support children from 40 pounds to 80 pounds and up to 57 inches tall. The general rule of thumb is age 8 or 88 pounds.

There are also convertible car seats that sell for much more money up-front than age or weight specific car seats, but they grow with baby over the years. Typically the weight range for a convertible car seat is infant to 100 pounds. The seats can be placed rear facing, front facing and dissembled to a booster seat when the time is right.

Safety Concerns with Car Seats
Infant car seats should be purchased new whenever possible. Used car seats may have been recalled over the years or may have been involved in a car accident. When a car seat is involved in a car accident it is no longer safe for an infant or child. This includes booster seats. If buying used is the only option, parents should make sure the car seat is less than six years old, has no accident history, comes with an instruction booklet and has all labels and installation instructions attached

Infant and child car seats are used to protect baby from car accidents in the same way seat belts protect adults. In the case of an accident, the strap will lock around a booster seat, but car seats need to be locked in place with a retractable seat belt whenever possible. Children need to stay in a car seat until they weigh at least 80 pounds, which may seem old for some parents, but safety is a priority. Every car seat should be inspected at a local fire station or through another facility for proper installation.

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