5 Important Car Seat Buying Tips
Of all the items you may purchase for your child, the car seat will probably be the hardest and the most important. Using a car seat can help lower the risk of death for an infant under the age of one by 71 percent and for toddlers ages one to four years by 54 percent. All 50 states require car seats be used for infants and children, and 48 states require children who have outgrown car seats to use booster seats.
Car Seat Buying Tip #1: Your Child's Size Matters
The car seat you select for your used car needs to be designed to properly fit your child based on her height and weight. This information can usually be found on the car seat's box and the information label on either the front of the back of the seat or can be obtained directly from the manufacturer. Additionally, your child's age will also play a role in whether you need a rear-facing or forward-facing car seat. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents keep their young children in a rear-facing car safety seat until the age of two.
Car Seat Buying Tip #2: Research Before Buying
Car seats can be purchased in a variety of places, from Target to Toys R Us, and are available in a wide range of price points, from your basic to the designer. Probably the best place to start is by researching different child safety seat products online and reading reviews. Product review sites like Consumer Reports offer lots of information and ratings of car seats, as well as car seat crash test results. Good Housekeeping and Parents.com also offer up their picks for parents.
Car Seat Buying Tip #3: Install The Car Seat Correctly
Now that you have the right car seat to keep your child safe in your used car, you need to know how to install it the right way. In fact, seven out of 10 car seats are not installed correctly, leaving children at risk if in an automobile accident. Always read your car seat's manual for full installation instructions, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers car seat installation tips, as well as how-to videos. There are also inspection stations caregivers can visit to help ensure their child safety seat is installed correctly.
Car Seat Buying Tip #4: Know About LATCH
If your used car was made September 1, 2002, or later, you have the option of using the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system to install your child's car seat. The LATCH anchors the car seat via tethers to latches or hooks in the vehicle's back seat rather than using the car's seat belt. However, there are weight restrictions for using the LATCH system, and new law issued this year reflects that.
Car Seat Buying Tip #5 – Register It
Just liked your vehicle, your child's car seat should also be registered. You can do this easily on the NHTSA's website, SaferCar.gov. Additionally, by registering your child safety seat, your information is not accessible to car seat manufacturers who can let you know if they are any recalls or safety notices issued.