Which child safety seat is the safest?
There is not yet a credible rating system for
child safety seats in place. Since all current child
safety seats must meet the same standards, you may
want to visit a store with a wide variety of child
safety seats and ask the manager if he/she will let
you install the store's display models in your car.
Most stores are fairly receptive to the idea of
bringing one model at a time to your vehicle. Ask
these three questions about each model you consider:
- Does it fit your child? Check the
manufacturer's instructions to ensure that your
child is within the allowable weight and height
ranges for a specific safety seat, and that
he/she also meets the recommended
age development characteristics. Some general
guidelines are that:
- Infants should ride in rear-facing
safety seats as long as possible, until they
are at least 12 months old AND weigh at
least 20 pounds.
- Children who are at least 1 year
old and weigh 20-40 pounds should ride in
forward-facing child safety seats (if they
can no longer ride rear-facing).
- Children over 40 pounds should be
correctly secured in belt-positioning
boosters or other appropriate child
restraints until the adult lap and shoulder
belts fit correctly (around age 8).
- Does it fit your vehicle(s)? - Not all child
safety seats can be correctly installed in all
seating positions of all vehicles. Be sure to
read both the child safety seat and vehicle
instructions. In general, a correctly installed
child safety seat should not move more than 1
inch side to side or forward, when pulled at the
safety belt path.
- Will you use it consistently and correctly?
- Different child safety seats vary in design
and features. It is important to choose one that
you and your child are comfortable with, and
that you will correctly install and adjust for
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