One of the first things about having a baby is that you’ll need a car seat to take your baby home (and the hospital will be checking this). But do you know what to look for in a good one and how it should be installed?
Get a car seat certified for newborns and up. You can either get a bucket type seat (that’s for babies up to either 20 to 35 pounds) or a convertible car seat (which can be used from 5 lbs to 40 lbs (some go even up to 65 lbs). This is one item that you should buy new. Car seats can expire after 5 years and you don’t know if even a gently used one has been in an accident or not. According to the video below, car seats can be affected by cold and heat, so using an older infant car seat isn’t a good choice. This is one item that you should buy new. Car seats can expire after 5 years and you don’t know if even a gently used one has been in an accident or not.
Infant Car Seat: They look like a bucket (LOL) and have a handle and a base. It retails from $77 up to $250 and are made by several brands like Graco, Maxi Cosi, Peg Perego, Britax…etc.. You install the base (using either the lap belt or the LATCH connectors (don’t’ use both at the same time). Then turn the car seat so the baby faces the back seat (called rear-facing) and the infant car seat will lock into it. To take the infant car seat out of the base, you usually push or pull a lever.
Convertible Car Seat: This car seat can last for years, but may cost from $50 up to $350. Babies can ride rear facing in the convertible car seat from 5 lbs on. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “All infants and toddlers should ride in a Rear-Facing Car Seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.“
Children can stay forward facing from age 2 on. They can then use the convertible car seat until they are ready to go into a belt-positioning booster seat (check your state laws, in NYS it’s 40 lbs, 40 inches and the child must be at least 4 years of age). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a “Belt-Positioning Booster Seat must be used until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years of age.”
3 in 1 Car Seat: Very similar to a convertible car seat, except it can convert into a belt-positioning booster. The good thing about this type of car seat is that you won’t have to buy another car seat when your child gets to belt-positioning booster age.
What car seat should you buy for an infant? The infant car seat is more popular because you can attach it to a stroller or carry it into your home (this way you’re not waking the baby up if they’re asleep – which is most of the time in the beginning). If you have two cars, you can buy two bases and keep one in each car.
Have it Professionally Installed: Installing a car seat isn’t easy, so the simplest solution is have a trained professional do it. Here at J & R Jr., we’ll install it for you, for free! Or you can have a police or fire department install it. Most police departments or fire departments will do it for you. Go to Seatcheck.org to find an installation center near you.
• The harness should be at or below your baby’s shoulders – you may have to re-thread the harness to make sure this happens.
• The harness should be snug and the harness clip should be placed at the mid-chest level.
• The car seat should be installed tightly. The American Academy of Pediatrics says “If you can move the seat at the belt path more than an inch side to side or front to back, it’s not tight enough.”
The car seat should be installed the rear of the car and if possible, install it in the middle of the rear seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions, “Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an active front passenger air bag. If the air bag inflates, it will hit the back of the car seat, right where your baby’s head is, and could cause serious injury or death.”