Which car seat is the best for my child?

The best car seat will be the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and the one that you will use correctly every time

The American Academy of Pediatrics and Child Passenger Safety Technicians recommend keeping your child in a rear facing car seat until age 2 or until the upper height and weight limits of the car seat; transitioning next to a forward facing harnessed car seat; followed by using a booster seat to allow the child to grow into the vehicle's seat belt. 

A 2007 study in the journal, Injury Prevention, found that children under the age of two are 75 percent less likely to die or to be severely injured in a crash if they are rear-facing.

To assist in determining which car seat you are comfortable using, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed an ease of use rating. It evaluates the instructions, installation features, labels and securing the child correctly and can be found at here

Pre-Owned Car Seats

If you are using a seat that was given to you by a family member, or purchased at a thrift store or garage sale, please keep in mind a few things:

Do you know the history of the seat?  Was it ever in a crash? 

A car seat has only been tested to withstand one crash.  If a car seat has already been in one crash, contact the manufacturer to see if you need to replace it.

Has it expired?

Car seats typically expire in 6 years. 

Does it have all of its labels?

If the labels are missing, you are missing vital information such as the manufacturers phone number, make and model of the seat and when it was made, as well as pictures of how to install the car seat.  

Has it been recalled?

A recall can be anything from needing to replace a label to replacing a bolt, but if the seat is not registered to you or if it is missing labels, it will be difficult to find out.?

Are all of the pieces there and in proper working order?

Do you know if the previous owner has taken it apart and lost anything?

A previous ownder may have taken the car seat apart to clean it but missed putting a strap back properly, for example. 

In any of these cases, talking to a Child Passenger Safety Technician would be helpful.

Tips for installing a car seat properly

If a car seat is not installed correctly, your child's safety could be in danger. Every car seat has different installation instructions. Here are key items to keep in mind when installing a car seat.

Installing the Car Seat

  1. Read the car seat instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle's owner's manual on car seat installation. Every car seat needs to be installed using either the lower anchors of the LATCH system or the seat belt to secure it in place. If you choose to use a seat belt to install your car seat, pay close attention to how to lock your seat belt in the vehicle owner's manual. Because every car seat and vehicle is different, it's important to follow all instructions carefully.
  2. Place the car seat in the back seat of your vehicle and follow the manufacturer's installation directions.
  3. The car seat must be secured tightly in the vehicle. It should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path.
  4. If it is a forward-facing seat and has a top tether strap, connect it to the tether anchor and tighten. This step is very important as it limits forward head movement in a crash.
  5. If it is a rear-facing seat, make sure the car seat is installed at the correct recline angle. Most car seats have built in angle indicators or adjustors that help with this step.

Fitting Your Child Correctly in the Car Seat

  1. Properly position the harness on your child.
    • Rear-Facing – Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slot that is at or below your child's shoulders.
    • Forward-Facing – Harness straps should lie flat, not twisted, and be placed through the slot that is at or above your child's shoulders.
  2. Buckle the harness and the chest clip and tighten.  The harness is snug enough when extra material cannot be pinched at the shoulder.
  3. Make sure the chest clip is at armpit level.

If you have additional questions about child passenger safety, car seat installation, or would like to set up a an appointment for further assistance, please contact our Prevention team at (863) 519-8900 ext 205.