Inside the Car Seats Info website you will find up-to-date information on Infant Car Seats, Convertible Car Seats, Harness Booster and Belt-Positioning Booster Seats.
The various types of Car Seats used to protect your child while riding in your motor vehicle are regulated by the laws of the state that you live in. Each state has differing regulations regarding the use of child safety seats car seats and you must familiarize yourself with the appropriate requirements before purchasing a seat.
Vehicle crashes are one the main killers of children in the age range 1-14 in the United States. The likelihood of your child being killed or seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident reduces dramatically, by over 50%, if your child is seated in a correctly fitted car seat at the time of an accident.
Considerations For Parents and Carers..
The selection of a car seat is crucial in ensuring your child’s safety when travelling in your car or motor vehicle. If the car seat being used is the wrong type for your child or it is not fitted correctly in your car then it will not offer the maximum protection in the event of an accident. For parents to make the right selection of car child seats the following conditions must be met:
It Must Be The Right Type of Seat
A rear-facing, forward-facing or booster seat must be chosen suitable for the age of your child.
The current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatricians
ALL infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat either until they reach 2 years of age or they exceed the manufacturer’s weight or height allowances for the seat.
Children who have outgrown their seat, or who have reached the age of 2 years, should use a Forward-Facing Car Seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the maximum weight or height guidelines given by the manufacturer.
Once a child has reached the weight or height limit for their forward-facing car seat they should then be moved to a Belt-Positioning Booster Seat until they have reached a minimum height of 4 feet 9 inches at around 8-12 years of age.
When a child exceeds the height or age guidelines for their booster seat they should use a proper adult seat belt with both Lap and Shoulder Seat Belts for maximum safety.
When children travel in the front seats of cars the risk of serious injury or death during a road traffic accident increases considerably. Therefore, the AAP recommends that ALL CHILDREN SHOULD TRAVEL IN THE REAR SEATS UNTIL THEY REACH THE AGE OF 13.
The Seat Must Fit Your Child
This will depend upon the weight and height of your child. The manufacturers of Child Car Seats and Booster Seats give parents precise weight and height usage guidelines to follow to make sure that the seat is suitable for your child to use. By following these guidelines you can be sure that the seat will provide optimum protection for your child in the event of a road traffic accident. Once a child exceeds any one of these measurements then either a new car seat must be purchased, or in the case of a 3-in 1, convertible or combination seat, the seat must be altered to accommodate the increased size of your child.
The Right Car Seat for your Car
Despite the best efforts of parents, some models of car seats just cannot be fitted correctly to all cars. Particular care must therefore be taken to ensure that the car seat that has been chosen can be fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If the car seat will not fit correctly in your car then it should be returned to the supplier for exchange for another suitable model.
It makes sense then that you only purchase car seats from a vendor who will exchange it if it won’t fit your car or if you are not satisfied with the car seat once you have fitted it for whatever reason.
Different Types of Car Seats
Most Car Seats will fall into either one of several of the categories below.
Infant Car Seats
All Infant Car Seats must be used rearward facing and are suitable for seating a newborn infant from 5lbs up to around 29lbs. Some models do fit 4lb infants, check the manufacturer’s specifications.
!!!WARNING – REAR-FACING CAR SEATS MUST NOT BE USED ON A PASSENGER SEAT FACING AN ACTIVATED AIRBAG!!!
All these infant car seats must be fitted rearward facing so that infants face the back of the car. This offers the maximum protection to the vulnerable infants head, neck and spine should a head-on collision occur. The baby is normally secured in these types of seats with a three-point integral safety harness.
Infant Car Seats may also be supplied with a carrying handle so that the sleeping baby can be moved from the vehicle without disturbance and transferred to an accompanying pushchair frame which is sometimes supplied by manufacturers as part of their Car Seat Travel Systems. Some of these car seats are fitted with a reclining mechanism which can make it more comfortable for your child. The quantity and also quality of head and seat cushioning also varies widely between the different seat manufacturers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants should use rear-facing car seats ONLY and remain in a rearward-facing seat until they are at least 2 years old or have grown out of their seat. At this point they will be ready to transition into a forward facing seat due to their weight and height exceeding the seat maximum carrying capacity.
In Sweden it is recommended that children should be kept rearward-facing until the age of 4 for the maximum protection. As a result, the infant mortality rates in the event of a car accident are far lower in Sweden than any other countries.
Convertible Car Seats
Typically suitable for carrying an infant from 5lbs – up to a young child of 80lbs. Check manufacturers guidelines for the precise weight and height limits of the seat in question.
These car seats can be used rearward facing up to the manufacturers limit, typically around 30lbs and then converted into a front facing car sear until the child has outgrown it and is ready to transition into a Booster Seat. Most of these seats involve your child being secured with a 5-point adjustable safety harness. The manufacturers offer various enhancements such as bottle/drinks/snacks holders differing levels of padding.
Harness Booster Car Seats
These Toddler Car Seats typically have a carrying in the range of 30-85lbs but once again these limits vary by manufacturer.
Harness Boosters are all front facing only and come supplied with adjustable 5-point front harness. Once your child has exceeded the weight or size limits of the harness the seat converts to a belt-positioning booster type of seat. Some of these come supplied with integrated bottle and snack holders and a few have compartments for your child to put small things in to keep them occupied during their journey.
Belt-Positioning Booster Seats
Suitable from about 40lbs upwards until the manufacturers weight limit is exceeded.
These Booster Seats are the next stage of seating your child safely and provide a means of keeping your child safe until they are large enough to use an adult seat belt. The Booster Seat raises the seating height position of the child on the car seat so that an adult seat belt can be used properly. The adult seat belt can then be positioned correctly on your child with the lap belt across the tops of the thighs and the diagonal belt fitting across the centre of the shoulder and chest away from the vulnerable neck area.
Some models feature seat belt guides and additional harness straps and may also have arm rests and additional side padding for a more comfortable ride. The fabrics that some of these seats are supplied in are specially designed to appeal to the older child to encourage them to want to sit in their special seat.
Once you have taken delivery of the seat it must be installed PROPERLY by carefully following the manufacturer’s installation guidelines or by taking the seat to a National CPS Certification Training Program certified installer registered under the national scheme.
!!!WARNING!!! INFANT CAR SEATS MUST NOT BE INSTALLED ON ANY PASSENGER SEAT FACING AN ACTIVATED AIRBAG!!! ANY AIRBAG MUST BE DEACTIVATED BEFORE FITTING AND USING ANY CHILD CAR SAFETY SEATS!!!