Picking the Right Car Seat for Your Child

Car seats protect young ones in your family in the event of a crash. This is important because passenger vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for kids aged 1 through 13. In 2022, the state of California saw 159,623 collisions which caused serious injury or death. You must pick the right seat and use it properly anytime your kids are along for the ride. The following are crucial factors to consider when choosing the right car seat for your child.

Choose the Right Kind

There are primarily three types of car seats to pick from, and all meet identical federal safety standards. Booster seats are for kids that have outgrown forward-facing seats and let the child use adult seat belts. Forward-facing seats are usually for kids aged 2 and older after their height or weight is too much for a rear-facing seat. Babies start with rear-facing car seats when they’re between 5 and 40 lbs. in weight.

Find and Read the Label

The car seat label lists the age, height, and weight limits for the children that it can support. If you shop online, check out the product description for a section labeled “specs” or “specifications” for this information.

Check the Expiration Date

Every car seat should have an expiration date. This information is usually imprinted on the plastic or printed on the label. Don’t buy or use car seats past their expiration date. When it reaches the end of its proper life cycle, disassemble it and dispose of the pieces in different bags.

Verify the Fit

The car seats available on the market have a variety of physical sizes. That’s because kids come in different heights and weights based on their growing age and rate of development. Specific seats might be deeper, taller, or broader, depending on what you need.

Pick an Easy Option

You need a car seat installed properly in your passenger vehicle to protect your child. However, you also want something easy to use in case you need to transfer it between vehicles or move it around occasionally. Consult your passenger vehicle’s owner manual for related features, including head restraints, top tethers, and lower anchors.


Confirm the Safety Standards

All car seats should meet the federal motor vehicle safety standards, but you must confirm this. The label should have a statement clarifying that the restraint system conforms to these standards.

Determine Your Budget

Car seats range in price from less than $50 to more than $700. Look for a comfortable price point towards the middle. More expensive seats might have more features, but they’re not necessarily safer than mid-range options. All car seats available in the modern market pass strict testing required by the federal government.

Think Hard About Used Seats

A used car seat is possible, but you should only buy from someone you know has been the only owner. Anything that’s missing instructions, labels, or parts is suspect, and it’s also dangerous if it’s been through a crash. You might not know if a stranger’s car seat was fixed in the event of a safety recall.

Register the Seat

Once you own a car seat, register it with the manufacturer. The company can then notify you in the event of safety recalls.

Remember Booster Seats for Older Kids

Older kids aged 8 through 12 might still require booster seats for safety. Ensure any kids in your family or cars ride in one until they’re big enough for a properly fitted adult seat belt or outgrow the booster seat size limits. As kids age, they’ll likely look forward to riding like an adult with a booster seat, but you need to judge for yourself when they’re physically ready.


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