How to choose a car seat
Child restraint seats keep your kids safe in the car and decrease their risk of getting hurt in a car accident. To figure out what type of car seat you need, consider your baby’s age, weight, and height. And be sure to consult your owner’s manual for tips on installing it correctly. If you’re not sure you’re doing it right, find a Child Passenger Safety technician to help out.
Infant car seats protect children up to about age two. Height and weight restrictions vary, but car seats for infants typically keep kids safe up to 35 pounds and 32 inches tall. Infant car seats are always rear-facing and usually come with infant inserts to provide additional support and padding for newborns. With rear-facing seats, shoulder straps come through the car seat slots and sit just below your child’s shoulders.
For children roughly between ages two and four, get a forward-facing toddler seat. These seats often use a five-point harness and usually convert to a booster. Again, height and weight restrictions vary, but you’ll typically use the forward-facing harness for kids up to 50 inches tall weighing 50–60 pounds. Here, the car seat’s shoulder straps will sit at or just above your child’s shoulders.
Belt-positioning booster seats use your car’s safety belts and are designed for kids between ages four and eight or up to about 57 inches tall. Like all child restraints, they should be used only in the back seat of your car.
Convertible seats, or three-in-one seats, grow with your child, converting from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing harnessed seat for toddlers, then to a booster seat for bigger kids. The main drawback with convertible seats is that they can’t be taken out of the car and snapped into a stroller like infant car seats can. Instead, you’ll have to have a separate stroller or a baby carrier to transport your little one.