It’s common knowledge that young children should always ride in car seats, but have you ever wondered how baby car seats work? Well, we’re here to help you understand not only how baby car seats work, but also why they’re important, how to install them, and how to know what kind of car seat your child needs.
An essential part of child safety: the car seat
Sadly, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children under the age of 13. Make sure children aren't only riding in car seats, but that they’re riding in car seats that are best suited for their size and age. Babies and very young children should be in rear-facing car seats, but after a year or two they can switch to front-facing seats.
Before buying a car seat, check its height, and weight limits to make sure it'll properly fit your child. Whether you’re driving around town with your kiddo or planning your first family road trip, having a well-fitting car seat is essential.
How Do Baby Car Seats Work?
Different styles of car seats work differently, which is why various styles are recommended for particular age groups. For instance, rear-facing car seats cradle and move newborns and infants so there's less stress on their fragile necks and spinal cords in the event of a crash.
Front-facing car seats work similarly, but they face the front of the car and rely on harnesses and tethers to protect the child. Booster seats raise the child's body so the vehicle's lap-and-shoulder belt fits properly across their hips and chest. This is because their body is stronger in those areas.
If you’re wondering how to protect your car seat from the baby seat, don’t. Baby seats are designed to sit on top of the car seat, not destroy it. As long as you follow the instructions, your car seat should not get damaged.. Various types of car seats are installed differently, using latches, buckles, and clasps, so be sure to read the directions carefully when you install them.
A General Installation Guide
- Rear-facing car seats should be used for infants. You should position them in the middle of the rear row. As they grow, you can move their seat to the passenger-side rear seat.
- Infant car seats come in two pieces, the base, and the top. Put the base down on the car seat, secure it with the vehicle’s safety belt, then click the top section into the base.
- Front-facing car seats are also secured to a car seat using the vehicle’s safety belt. As the child grows, requiring the shoulder straps to be lengthened, you may need to loosen the safety belt to extend the seat’s shoulder straps.
- Booster seats are installed by feeding the car’s safety belt through the base and attaching it to the receiver.
How Long Should Your Child Be In A Baby Car Seat?
Wondering when is your baby too big for the infant car seat or when can babies face forward in the car seat? Every child is different, but most children usually outgrow a rear-facing infant car seat around their first birthday. The upside of these models is that they can be easily moved between cars and used in compatible strollers, making them very versatile.
Convertible car seats allow for the seat to be switched from the rear-facing position to the front-facing position. These car seats allow the child to face the rear for about two years, then switch to the front-facing position using a five-point harness and tether. Convertible car seats can be used for children of different sizes and allows them to remain in the rear-facing position longer, which is safer for them.
All-in-one car seats are basically convertible car seats that can also transition into booster seats for older children.
When Should Your Child Transition To A Booster Seat?
- When your child is at least five years old
- When they weigh at least 40 pounds
- When they can sit in the booster without slouching, leaning over, or playing with the seat belt
How Long Do Baby Car Seats Last
Just like sneakers or gym equipment, constant use results in car seats weakening over time. This normal wear and tear, combined with exposure to heat and cold, means that car seats eventually lose their effectiveness. As such, manufacturers assign expiration dates, which are usually listed under the car seat or on the frame.
Most car seats last about six years. Just keep in mind that expiration dates vary by manufacturer, so do your research before purchasing a second-hand seat online or at a rummage sale.
How To Pick The Best Baby Car Seat
You don’t necessarily have to spend $700 to get a great car seat, but you do want to be cautious about purchasing a used car seat. Buying a new car seat is best, but if you’re only able to afford a used car seat, take some additional precautions when choosing a car seat.
If that second-hand car seat was involved in a crash, then it might no longer be able to protect your child. Even if the car seat wasn’t in a crash and hasn’t expired, you’ll still want to confirm the model wasn’t recalled. If you’re on a tight budget, you may also want to look into cars that can save you money and the 10 ways families can get the cheapest car insurance possible.
When choosing which car seat to buy, consider your total budget and how you’ll use the car seat. Convertible car seats are popular because they grow with your child, so you’ll only need to buy one car seat, which you can then use for up to six years. However, convertible car seats are bulky and not portable.
Infant car seats last 18 months and are safer for newborns and infants. They can also be detached, transported, and used with a stroller.
Now that you know how baby car seats work, how to choose the best baby car seats, and how to install them, we hope that you and your kiddo are ready for the fun adventures that await you on the road ahead.
Read more posts to help you have a better drive on the road here.