Buying a first car seat for your newborn baby
Baby car seats are very important to the safety of your child while he/she is travelling in a vehicle. All newer car seats meet all the safety regulations that have been established nationally. The correct installation and the correct seat can be the difference between injury and no injury should you become involved in a crash. Many fire departments and police departments offer clinics to teach you how to correctly install your seats and to ensure that they are correctly installed. All types of car seats should be installed in the backseat. The front seat is deadly if your car has a passenger airbag. There are several types of car seats available - infant car seats, convertible car seats, forward facing toddler seats, and booster seats.
Infant car seats are seats that are designed for infants usually from 5 pounds up to between 22 and 30 pounds (depending on the model). These seats should always be rear facing as this is the safest position for your baby. Many infant car seats have bases that latch into the vehicle which allows the actual seat to act as a carrier and to snap in and out of the base. This will keep you from having to "install" the seat every time you get into the vehicle. Your infant should remain in the rear facing position until he/she is one year old and 20 pounds. Both criteria should be met before placing your child in a forward facing seat.
Convertible car seats are car seats that work in both the rear facing and forward facing positions. This type of car seat is installed in the vehicle in a rear facing position fully reclined until the baby reaches one year and 20 pounds. At that time, the car seat can be turned around and installed in a forward facing position. These car seats have a five point harness (or a T-shield or a tray shield) and can be used for children up to age 4 and 40 pounds (some models allow for a heavier 4 year old and go up to 80 pounds). Many models offer the ability to remove the 5 point harness and install the seat as a belt positioning booster seat.
A forward facing toddler seat is a car seat that is designed for children age 1 to age 4 ranging in weight from 20 pounds to 40 pounds or more depending on the model. This is the next step in car seats after the infant car seat. Many of these types of seats also convert into a booster seat.
Booster seats are designed to ensure the seat belts in your vehicle fit your child. The seats are for children from age 4 and 40 pounds. There are high back and backless styles available. Any toddler or convertible car seat is going to convert to a high back. A backless style sits in the seat under the child and raises the child to the appropriate height for the belt. It is imperative that your child sits in a baby car seat make sure you are using the right one.
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