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How To Find The Right Car Seat

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Options ForBirth To 2yrs Old

Infant Only Carrier

  • Most children outgrow this in height between 6 and 12 months
  • Rear facing only
  • Can purchase and install multiple bases into several vehicles
Pros

Convenience and can use seat with multiple bases in different cars

Cons

Not cost effective unless used for multiple children

Convertible Car Seat

  • Rear-facing up to height and weight limit of the seat (usually around age 2 – 3)
  • Then forward-facing up to harness weight limit (40 – 80 pounds)
Pros

Can be used to the upper weight limits of the harness, usually until the child requires a booster seat

Cons

Have to remove the child from seat each trip and can’t switch out seat with multiple bases in different vehicles

Options For3yrs To 6yrs Old

Combination Car Seat

  • Can be used forward-facing with a 5 point harness up to height and weight limit of harness
  • Then harness can be removed and used as a high back belt positioning booster seat up to height and weight limit for that seat
Pros

Good value – seat could be used from 2 years through 8 years, depending on the growth of your child

Cons

Best to purchase a seat with a high weight limit for the 5 point harness whenever possible

Convertible Car Seat

  • Rear-facing up to height and weight limit of the seat (usually around age 2 – 3)
  • Then forward-facing up to harness weight limit (40 – 80 pounds)
Pros

Purchase a seat with a high weight and height limit and your child can ride in a 5 point harness, the safest seat, for the longest time

Cons

Must buy a belt positioning booster when child outgrows harness if the child is under 8 years old or under 4′ 9″ tall

Options For7yrs To 8yrs Old

Backless Booster Seat

  • Used to “boost” the child into position for optimal placement of the safety belt
  • Used once the child outgrows the 5 point harness system
  • Basic booster seat best used in a vehicle with a good headrest
Pros

Inexpensive; accommodates most car seats with headrests; can easily be stored and used for carpools and transferred to other vehicles

Cons

Does not have “seat belt guides” so must be used for children tall enough for shoulder strap of safety belt to cross over collar bone and mid chest region

High Back Belt Positioning Booster

  • “Boosts” the child into position for optimal placement of the safety belt
  • Has “seat belt guides” in 2 positions to adjust the shoulder strap into the optimal placement over the child’s collarbone
  • Used once the child outgrows the 5 point harness system
Pros

Good for cars without headrests; helpful for adjusting shoulder strap position

Cons

Child can outgrow height limits of seat; sometimes does not accommodate contours of car seat

Options For9yrs Or Older

Seat Belts

Children are ready to transition to a seat belt alone when they pass the 5 point Safety Belt Test:

  • Can the child sit on the seat with the hips all the way to the back of the  vehicle seat?
  • Do the child’s  knees bend over the front of the vehicle seat?
  • Does the lap portion of the seat belt lie as low on the hips, across the top of the thighs?
  • Does the shoulder strap portion of the seat belt cross over the mid-section of the chest, falling between the shoulder and neck?
  • Can the child stay seated like this for the whole car trip?

If you responded yes to the questions on this test, and the child is at least 8 years old, they are ready to transition to a seat belt.

Children under the age of 16 must fit securely in a seat belt by passing the 5 point Safety Belt Test.

seat belt