If you have a new baby, one of the first things on your mind is how to keep him or her safe as they grow. A car seat may be the most important safety purchase for your child, and it can seem confusing with so many options on the market. This article will answer some of the most common questions about infant car seats and provide helpful tips that will help you choose which type of seat is best for your family.
When can a newborn be in a car seat?
Most babies can be in a car seat from the time they are born. In fact, it is recommended that newborns be placed in a rear-facing car seat until they reach at least two years old or until they exceed the height and weight limits of their car seat. Some parents choose to keep their baby in a rear-facing car seat for even longer if they are still within the height and weight limits of the seat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you should use a car seat for your baby as soon as they are born. There is no specific weight or age requirement, but it is important to keep in mind that newborns are especially vulnerable in a car accident. A car seat will help protect your child’s head, neck, and spine in the event of a crash.
How long is the recommended time for a newborn to stay in a car seat?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping your baby in the car seat for as long as possible. Your child should remain rear-facing until they outgrow their infant car seat, which usually occurs when they are around age two and twenty pounds. The AAP also suggests that you keep your child harnessed to a five point harness system until she is about four years old or weighs forty pounds – whichever comes first.
A newborn baby should not be in a car seat for more than an hour at a time. The same goes for an infant. It is also important to remember that if your baby falls asleep in the car seat, you should remove them from the device and put him or her on a flat surface such as a crib mattress when possible.
How tight should car seat straps be?
Car seat straps should be snug when you place your baby in the device. They shouldn’t be so tight that they leave a mark, but it is important not to strap them too loosely either. The shoulder belt needs to cross at or slightly below your child’s shoulders and the lap belt requires placement low on their hips or pelvis.
The AAP recommends checking car seat fit regularly with this simple test: grab both of your infant’s arms and pull up while he/she is still buckled in the harness system. Your child cannot lift his head more than an inch off of his car seat if everything fits correctly – especially when compared to how much room there is between him and the top of carrier (usually more than an inch). If the harness doesn’t fit snugly, you need to adjust it.
- The straps should be tight enough to keep the child from slipping out of the seat;
- If a child is wearing bulky clothing, the straps may need to be loosened;
- Never loosen or tighten a strap while your child is in their car seat because it could cause injury;
- The top tether strap should always be secured tightly at all times;
- To test if you have tightened the straps correctly, try picking up your car seat by holding onto just one side of the handle and see how much it moves.
When you should stop using infant car seats?
- when the child is over 65 pounds
- when the child can sit in a regular car seat without help
- when the child turns 4 years old
- after an accident where there was no airbag or if you were rear-ended at high speed (40 mph or faster)
- if your baby has outgrown it, meaning that he’s taller than most children his age and weight exceeds 65 pounds
- if your baby is less than 1 year old and weighs more than 20 pounds, then he needs to be riding in a rear-facing infant carrier until he reaches at least one year of age and weighs 20 lbs., but not more than 40 lbs., which would require him to be riding in a convertible car seat instead of an infant carrier
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you keep your child in a car seat for as long as possible. However, once your baby has outgrown their infant car seat – usually around age two and twenty pounds – you should switch to a convertible or forward-facing car seat with a harness system. The AAP also suggests keeping your child harnessed until they are four years old or weigh forty pounds, whichever comes first.
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What to do with an expired car seat?
Car seats expire six years after they are manufactured. You should not use an expired car seat and you should discard it in a way that will prevent anyone from using it again. The best way to do this is to cut the straps, rendering it unusable, and then recycle the plastic shell.
- Check the expiration date and see if it has been expired for more than 10 years;
- If it is still in good condition, donate to a car seat charity or hospital;
- Throw away the car seat if it is expired and not in good condition;
- Donate any accessories that came with the car seat such as toys, books, or inserts;
- Clean up all loose straps and belts before throwing away your old car seat;
- Make sure you dispose of your old car seat properly by taking it to an authorized recycling center.
When baby is less than one year old and weighs more than 20 pounds
Ride in a rear-facing infant carrier until he reaches at least one year of age and weighs 20 lbs., but not more than 40 lbs., which would require him to be riding in a convertible car seat instead of an infant carrier. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your child in a car seat for as long as possible so they are safe when traveling in a vehicle. However, once your baby has outgrown their infant car seat – usually around age two and twenty pounds – you should switch to a convertible or forward-facing car seat with a harness system.
Common mistakes parents make when using a car seat
One of the most common mistakes parents make is not installing their car seat properly. This can be very dangerous not only for the child but also for the driver and other passengers in the car. It is important to read both the car seat instructions and your vehicle’s owners manual to ensure a safe installation. Other common mistakes include leaving children unattended in or around cars, not buckling children into their seats tightly enough, and allowing children to play with objects that could potentially cause suffocation such as straps, cords, or toys. By following these simple safety rules, you can help keep your child safe while traveling in a vehicle.
- Child safety seat https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_safety_seat
- Car Safety Seat Recommendations https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/43,1489,98,112.html
- Child safety seats https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000670.htm