There are several types of child car seats, which can make choosing the best one for your child a challenging task. It’s important to keep in mind that you will need to change your child’s car seat throughout the different stages of their childhood. Read on to learn three tips for choosing the best car seat for your child.
#1 - Consider your child’s size and age.
Your child will need a different type of car seat for each stage of childhood. Some models may offer customization for the various stages of your child’s development (convertible seats), but these are not always the most effective when it comes to safety.
#2 - Know the various types of car seats available.
There are three main types of car seats available for children, including:
- Rear-facing car seat
- Forward-facing car seat
- Booster seat
The rear-facing seat is best for young children. It is typically adequate for babies from birth until age three, depending on your child’s size and weight.
It features a harness, and if you’re in an accident, the seat will cradle and move with your little one in order to decrease the amount of stress placed on your child’s delicate neck and spine.
The forward-facing seat is best for babies starting at age one and may accommodate your child until age seven, depending on his or her size and weight.
This type of seat features a harness and tether. This limits how far forward your child can move in the event of an accident.
The booster seat is best for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing seats. These seats can accommodate children from age four to twelve, depending on your child’s size and weight.
This type of seat positions the seat belt in a way that allows it to correctly fit over the tougher areas of your child’s body in order to keep him or her safe in a crash.
#3 - It is critical that you properly install the car seat.
If your child’s car seat has lower anchors, you’ll use the lower anchor attachments to install the seat. In addition, you’ll need to attach the top tether from the car seat to your car’s tether anchor.
You can typically find the tether on the top rear of the car seat if it is one of the following types:
The tether should be adjustable and will feature a hook and strap, allowing you to connect it to one of the other tether anchors in your car.
In the United States, the majority of rear-facing seats do not utilize a tether for installation, but it’s important to review your car seat’s instructions and your car’s owner’s manual to be absolutely sure.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “recommends always using a tether with a forward-facing car seat—installed with your vehicle’s seat belt OR the lower anchors—as long as it is permitted by both the car seat and vehicle manufacturers.”
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