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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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 every ride.

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