As the holidays quickly approach and our Pennsylvania roads grow slick with snow and ice, finding the right car seat can seem like an impossible task. For parents-to-be that may be expecting their first little one, researching every safety feature and review online may seem like the best way to get all of the information possible. For parents with a few children under their belt already, they may think that breaking “old faithful” out of a box in the garage may be the answer.
Find a Seat That Fits the Kid AND the Car
Even the safest car seat on the market cannot protect your child if it is too big or too small. Car seats are designed to protect a child of a certain height and weight, and their design will vary. For very young infants, a rear-facing seat is best, while large toddlers and small children will be best protected in a forward-facing seat. Children under the age of 12 will benefit most from a booster seat. Find the design that best suits your child at this moment in time—a car seat is one item where you should avoid looking for something that they will “grow into.”
Another important thing is to ensure that the car seat will fit in your car. Many older vehicles, trucks, and coupes will have a difficult time accommodating every type of car seat, so make sure that the seat you purchase will install correctly in your car. Most new cars have anchors and tethers in the back seat to secure car seats known as LATCH systems, or Lower Anchor and Tethers for Children. These make installing car seats much safer and easier—check your car’s manual for information on location and use.
Most importantly, find a car seat that you will use properly every time. A safe car seat can only work if you always use it, and use it correctly. Many local law enforcement and fire stations offer free inspections of your car-seat installation, so take advantage of this life saving service!
We take car seat use seriously; the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration found that car accidents are a leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and thirteen years of age. Car seats have saved thousands of children’s lives over the years, so make sure that your child is properly buckled up on every ride.
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