As a parent, you’ll likely be transporting your child from one location to another in a car fairly often. Depending on their age, you’ll need to provide them with a proper car seat in order to ensure optimal safety levels. Simply providing them with a car seat, however, is not enough. Finding the right model is equally important. Knowing which type of seat is best suited for your child – and making sure it is as secure as possible – is vital when looking out for your family’s safety.
Choose the right type of car seat
There are four different types of child restraint devices made for vehicles: rear-facing seats, forward-facing seats, booster seats and seat belts.
Rear-facing seats are best for children after birth. They come equipped with a harness, and the seat cradles an infant’s neck in the event of a crash.
Forward facing seats limit a child’s movements and should be used once the infant has outgrown their rear-facing seat until roughly the time they enter grade school.
Booster seats are meant to help children fit into a seat belt and should be used until they are big enough to do so without the booster seat.
Seat belts are what adults commonly wear while traveling in a vehicle. They should not be solely used on children younger than eight years old. It is also important to know that even once a child is ready to use nothing but a seat belt, they should still remain in the back seat until they enter their teenage years.
Check for shoddy construction
Once you’ve determined the type of car seat your child needs, make sure that it has been constructed of quality parts and materials. This is crucial and means that your child is not at risk of suffering from any of the seven common causes of car seat injuries.
Register to be aware of recalls
You’ll also want to register your seat in case there is a recall; that way, you’ll be notified of any issues the manufacturer is willing to fix. If you’ve lost your registration or forget to do so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a great place to check for the most recent recalls.
Speaking of recalls, you’ll want to make sure that your car seat has never been recalled before.
Don’t reuse it
Never use a car seat that has been used by another child, especially if that seat has been through an accident. Car seats are good for one collision, no matter how “new” they may still look.
Install your car seat with care
After taking all of these factors into account, you’ll be ready to select a car seat. It is just as important for parents to understand the process of installing a car seat as it is for them to know what they’re buying.
Properly connecting lower anchor attachments and tethers is absolutely essential, as these are the crux of what make your seat safe.
If you are not completely confident in the way you’ve set up your seat, get it inspected. Certified technicians will usually do so for free, and most will even show you how to properly install them for future reference. You can find a local inspector by entering your zip code at the bottom of the page here.