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Choosing the Best Location

When choosing the best location for your car seat there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle to consider. In a perfect world everyone would ride in the back center seating position. However, that’s not a reality when we have more than one passenger in the car with us.
You’ll need to consider..

1. The center seating position

car seat best location photo
This is the safest location because it is the furthest point away from any incoming glass & metal during a crash. However, only use this spot if your car seat will install correctly there. A well installed car seat behind the driver or front passenger (we call them outboard positions) is better than a poorly installed car seat in the center.

2. The vehicle owner’s manual

Make sure the vehicle manual says that it’s ok to use the center position in your car. There could be various reasons, but sometimes the car manufacturer has decided that this position won’t work properly for a car seat, possibly putting the child at risk for injury if you do use it.
The manual will also tell you whether or not you have LATCH & can use it in each seating position, if you have top tether anchors & where they are, where your air bags are, how your seat belts lock for a car seat and some other very useful information about the use of car seats in your car.

3. Spacing issues

(Particularly with rear facing car seats.) Some car seats require a space between the top of the rear facing car seat and the vehicle seat back in front of the car seat. Others allow for the seat to touch. Typically touching is better than leaving a small space, which could potentially cause another collision in a crash (between the car seat & the vehicle seat).

4. AIR BAGS

Check your car seat manual AND vehicle manual before placing a car seat near an air bag. Remember…NEVER put a rear facing car seat in the front seat with an active air bag. This is a deadly combination.

5. Who else rides in the car?

And where do they sit? Do the lap/shoulder seat belts need to be used for older kids (so that the car seat kid must ride in the middle where there is only a lap seat belt?)? Will siblings create driving distractions if seated right next to each other?
Taking in the bigger picture will help keep all riders as safe as they can possibly be during a crash.

6. Who rides in the middle?

I’m going to give you two trains of thought & let you decide.
One…the child who needs the most protection rides in the most protected spot. (ie: the baby is the most “delicate” child and therefore goes in the middle.)
Two…A rear facing child is better protected than a forward facing child in a side impact crash as well as an offset crash, one where the crash happens to a front corner of the car, which happens a lot. Everyone in the car keeps moving forward until something stops them. For the rear facing child, the thing that stops them is the back of the car seat, which means that there is protection between the glass & metal and the child’s head. The forward facing child is stopped by the harness, but the head moves forward out of the car seat, exposing it to the glass & metal coming into the car.
It’s a tough decision to make. And there is no right or wrong answer.

7. Are all seat belts working properly?

I’ve come across many damaged seat belts in my years checking car seats. Make sure you use a seat belt that has all the parts and is not fraying or holey.

8. Will all the car seats in your car fit next to each other?

Sometimes the car seats you have may not fit next to each other, especially if you’re trying to fit 3 seats side-by-side. Find a local car seat fitting station to help you. It’s a lot easier for someone to give advice when they can physically see your car, car seats, kids, etc. Plus they may have a variety of car seats on hand that they can help try out in your car.

9. Someone has to ride in the front…who should it be?

If all the seat belts in the back seats are being used and a child under 13* HAS to ride in the front seat, chose a forward facing child who uses a harnessed car seat (ie: a convertible or combination car seat). These seats will hold the child back away from the dashboard at all times. A child in a booster seat or seat belt has the option to lean forward, play with the radio, tie their shoes, pick up stuff off the floor, etc. This places them in a very dangerous position & the spot where most kids who are hurt by the air bags are. And it’s still a dangerous spot if there is no airbag because now your child’s head is being crammed into a hard plastic &/or metal dashboard in a crash.
If you have to put a child in the front seat, move the front seat as far back from the dash as possible. If that child is in a booster seat or seat belt have a talk with them about sitting still & not leaning forward.
* Thirteen is the age when a child is considered to be mature enough to sit still & in position in the vehicle seat. This could be an older or younger age for your child. You’re the best judge of that. If they put their feet up on the dash, turn sideways to lean on the door, lean forward, etc. send them right back to the back seat.

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How to Install car seat?

How to Install car seat?
7 Steps to Proper Car Seat Installation

1. Start with the Right Seat

How to Install car seat? the first step is

Proper car seat installation begins with using the right car seat for your child and your vehicle. Check out this page to help you determine which car seat is best for you.

2. Choose the Best Location

The safest location for car seat installation is the center-most position of the vehicle. This allows the child to be furthest from the incoming metal and glass if you were to get in a crash.
Double check your vehicle’s owner manual to see if the center seating position is an allowable car seat position, especially if your back seat folds down in two sections where one section is larger than the other. (We call these split back seats.)
You’ll also need to consider these points when choosing the best location for your car seat.

3. Select the Right Direction

Here are the basic guidelines for which direction a child should face:
From birth until 2 years of age (yes, I said 2 years old) a child should ride rear facing UNLESS the child has outgrown the rear facing limits of their convertible car seat.
A recent report shows that one year olds are 5 times safer riding rear facing than forward facing.
Note: The EXTREME minimum age a child could ride forward facing is both one year AND 20 pounds. If the child has not met BOTH of these numbers, then he is at high risk of severe injury and/or not surviving a crash. For preemies this age should be the adjusted age or longer. Please consult your physician.
Once a child has outgrown the rear facing limitations of the convertible car seat, the child may face forward. At this point, there are some adjustments that must be made to your car seat! Check your owner’s manual.

4. Preset the Harness Positions

Rear Facing Harness Height
Place the child in the car seat with his bottom all the way back. Choose the harness slot that is AT OR BELOW the child’s shoulders.
Adjust the straps according to your car seat’s instruction manual.
Forward Facing Harness Height
Place the child in the car seat with her bottom all the way back. Choose the harness slot that is AT OR ABOVE the child’s shoulders.
Adjust the straps according to your car seat’s instruction manual.
Crotch Strap Position
If your car seat has an adjustable crotch strap, choose the slot that is closest to your child’s crotch.
Rear Facing Note: If there is space between the crotch strap and the child, use a rolled up wash cloth to fill in the gap. This prevents the child from slouching down into the seat.
Forward Facing Note: Many car seat’s require that the child does not sit on the crotch strap. Read your owner’s manual for more information.

5. Buckle the Car Seat to the Vehicle

Using the Seat Belt
Pre-installation note: make sure the LATCH straps are stored away according to the instruction manual. Children have been hurt by unsecured LATCH straps. Check your car seat owner’s manual for more information.
1. Find the correct seat belt path on the car seat or car seat base. It will be the path that is closest  to the vehicle seat back.
2. Route the seat belt through the seat belt path.
3. Buckle the seat belt, making sure there are no twists in the belt.
4. If necessary, adjust the seat belt so that it is in “locked” mode.
5. Adjust the car seat to the proper angle and apply pressure to the car seat. (Maintain the angle while pushing on the car seat.)
6. Pull all the slack out of the seat belt. Here’s a trick of the trade.
7. Attach the top tether. See #6 Attach the Top Tether below.
8. Use the “one inch test” to determine if the installation is tight enough. Need help getting it tighter?
9. Check for proper angle. Need help adjusting or keeping the angle?
Problem Solving Additional Issues

1. Starts tight, but then slips
2. Tips to one side
3. Still moves more than one inch
4. Seat belt will not go into “locked” mode
5. Which is safer, LATCH or the seat belt?
When and How to use a Locking Clip ?
One locking clip comes with each new car seat. However, most of us do not need them and should not use them.
As of model year 1996, all passenger vehicles are required to have seat belts that “lock” to hold a car seat in place while you’re driving down the road.
In most cases we can simply use the vehicle’s “locking” mode for car seat installation. If you have a vehicle that is older than 1997, you may need to use a locking clip.
If the car seat is not “locked” into place it may shift or tilt over while you drive and turn. This puts the car seat into a position where it cannot do it’s job the right way, putting your child in danger.

Pre-installation note: if your child can reach the unused seat belt, it is important that you buckle it behind the car seat before installing your car seat with LATCH. Children have gotten the seat belt wrapped around their necks. Check your car seat owner’s manual for more information.

1. Find the correct path for the LATCH strap on the car seat or car seat base. It will be the path that is closest to the vehicle seat back.
2. You may need to re-route the LATCH strap through the car seat. Make sure that the strap doesn’t interfere with the crotch strap or harness straps under the car seat padding.
3. Verify in the vehicle’s owner’s manual that you can use LATCH in the seating position that you chose.
4. Find the Lower Anchors in the vehicle seat crack. If you cannot visibly see them, there should be a picture or tag of some sort identifying their location.
5. Make sure the “hooks” are facing the correct direction (usually facing downward, but you need to check your owner’s manual).
6. Adjust the car seat to the proper angle and apply pressure to the car seat. (Maintain the angle while pushing on the car seat.)
7. Pull all the slack out of the LATCH strap. Here’s a trick of the trade.
8. Attach the top tether. See #6 below.
9. Use the “one inch test” to determine if the installation is tight enough. Need help getting it tighter?
10. Check for proper angle. Need help adjusting or keeping the angle?

Problem Solving Additional Issues

1. Still not tight enough
2. I don’t have LATCH in the center
3. Which is safer, LATCH or the seat belt?
4. I can’t get the hook unlatched.

6. Attach the Top Tether

Rear Facing

Most car seats sold in the United States DO NOT allow for use of the top tether when used as a rear facing car seat.
Britax is one manufacturer who does allow for rear facing tether use with their car seats. Rear facing top tethers can help stabilize the car seat, preventing extra movement of the car seat during a crash. Installation of this tether is not as tricky as it may seem.

Forward Facing

The use of the top tether strap is much more important than most people realize. Without the use of it, the child’s head will most likely hit the vehicle seat in front of him, even when the car seat installation is perfect.

Attaching the top tether
So where do I hook this all important strap?
Well, it’s different in every vehicle. It can be on the ceiling, on the back dash, on the floorboard, under the vehicle seat that the car seat is sitting on or another location.
In some pick up trucks it can even be a two part system that requires you to feed the hook through a fabric loop and then to a metal bar one seating position over.

WARNING: The “anchor” that you connect this hook to is specially reinforced for a car seat. DO NOT hook the top tether to just any ol’ spot. It MUST be a top tether anchor and will be identified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual as such.
BEWARE: Some cargo tie-downs look exactly like the top tether anchors, but are NOT specially reinforced for car seats. ONLY USE SPECIFIED TOP TETHER ANCHORS.

7. Adjust the Straps Goal:

For the child to be positioned snugly right under the middle of the harness so that the straps can do their job in the event of a crash.
Harness Straps
Place the child in the car seat with his bottom all the way back. No slouching…this is important for the harness to fit right.
Place the straps over the shoulders and over the thighs. Buckle the harness and chest clip, making sure the straps are completely flat.
Tighten the harness straps so that you cannot pinch any webbing at the collar bone when the rest of the harness straps are flat & snug.
Slide the chest clip to the armpit height of the child.
One good way to think about how snug you want the straps is that you want the harness straps to be like the belt of your pants. Not so tight that it dents the skin in, but tight enough that it does the job.
Padding…to Add or Not to Add
Extra padding, like winter coats, will change the way the harness works during a crash…for the worse. This padding will flatten out like a pancake during a crash and give the child more room to fling forward, resulting in a greater chance of injury.

SOLUTION #1: Take your child’s coat off before buckling him into the harness. Buckle the harness and place the coat on the child BACKWARDS.

SOLUTION #2: Leave a blanket in the car & only use the coat for getting to & leaving from the vehicle…not in the car seat.

Rear Facing Padding Notes:
To keep the child properly positioned under the harness it may be necessary to use additional padding in these places ONLY:
1. Two tightly rolled receiving blanket, one between each side of the child and the inside of the car seat, but never under the harness.
2. One tightly rolled wash cloth between the crotch strap and the child IF there is a gap in this spot.
3. One tightly rolled receiving blanket around the child’s head.

What about those head-roll inserts you ask? You may use it only if:

1. It came with the car seat or has been approved by the car seat manufacturer for your specific car seat
AND
2. It does not interfere with the proper placement of the harness straps through the harness slots. (The straps need to go straight through the slots & not be lifted by the head-roll.)

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Top 10 Car Seat Dangers to Avoid

Top 10 Car Seat Dangers to Avoid these car seat. it’s dangers when using and installing your car seat!

1. Placing a rear facing car seat in front of an air bag.

airbag warnning photo

A rear facing child’s head is very close to the airbag. The force from an airbag can kill a young child.

If you have no other option than to use a front seating position with a rear facing child, you MUST turn the airbag off or petition the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to have your airbag disabled.

Special note: the driver’s airbag CAN hit the center front seat passenger. Unfortunately I know this because I was there! I was riding in a lap only seat belt in the middle seating position in a pick up truck. (Yes, this was before I knew better.) A drunk driver slammed into the front corner on the driver’s side. The airbag deployed, saving me from smashing my face into the hard plastic dashboard. Instead, without a shoulder belt to hold me back, my face flung forward into the airbag, breaking my nose, cutting my face in two places and giving me a huge, swollen shut black eye. It also caused some momentary loss of memory. (I believe this is a better outcome than if I had hit the hard dashboard!)

2. Turning your child forward facing too early.

Don’t be too excited to turn your child forward facing. We’d all be better off during most crashes if we were facing the rear… but it’s hard to drive that way.

Keep your child rear facing until 2 years of age (yes, I said 2 years old) UNLESS he has outgrown the rear facing limits of his convertible car seat.

Note: The EXTREME minimum age a child could ride forward facing is both one year AND 20 pounds. If the child has not met BOTH of these numbers, then (s)he is at a high risk of not surviving a crash or facing severe injuries.

3. Moving to the next car seat too soon.

This is one area where early graduation is NOT a good thing. Children are safer riding in their current car seat until they outgrow each seat.

Here you will fine a complete guide for when to switch best infant car seats or best rear facing convertible car seat safely

4. Assuming the car seat is installed right.

The numbers are alarming! About 90% of us are using or installing our harnessed car seats wrong! And over half of us are using our booster seats wrong!

True, it’s not rocket science and you CAN get it right. Sometimes it’s a matter of knowing just how the car seat is supposed to be set up. Sometimes it’s a bit trickier.

Get your car seat inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Find one near you.

5. Using winter coats or extra padding

coat image

Extra padding, like winter coats, will change the way the harness works during a crash…for the worse. This padding will flatten out like a pancake during a crash and give the child more room to fling forward, resulting in a greater chance of injury.

SOLUTION #1: Take your child’s coat off before buckling him into the harness. Buckle the harness and place the coat on the child BACKWARDS.

SOLUTION #2: Leave a blanket in the car & only use the coat for getting to & leaving from the vehicle…not in the car seat.

SOLUTION #3: For infants, use car seat covers or blankets over the infant seat, not under the harness.

6. Using a car seat that has already been in a crash.

Car seats are one-time-use items, just like bike helmets. A crash can put severe stress on a car seat. Even though you may not see any damage, it just might not hold up during a second crash.

Your car seat owner’s manual should have a warning about replacing the car seat in the event of a crash.

Most insurance companies will cover the replacement cost of the top 10 car seat, but you have to tell them about it. They generally do not ask you if you had a car seat in the vehicle.

Here are policy statements from SAFE KIDS Worldwide and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

7. Missles in the car. (AKA: hard toys, tissue boxes, crow bars, etc.)

Any loose object in your car will travel the speed you were going through your car during a crash. A hard toy, a baby mirror, a can of paint, a hammer, a small plastic trash can…anything that is thrown at me or my kids at 30, 40, 50 miles an hour is going to hurt like the dickens! And quite possibly send us to the emergency room.

I personally became more aware of items in my own car when a sheriff’s deputy told me that she once arrived on the scene of a crash and found a tissue box embedded into the back of a passenger’s head.

Now, I realize that somewhere in all this lies reality. You cannot live without carting around items like groceries, etc. However, do try your best to secure these items and make an effort to go soft (stuffed animals instead of hard toys, static sunshades instead of roll down sunshades with metal bars in them) instead of hard.

8. Altering your car seat.

Hmmm. This may sound weird, but I’ve seen top 10 car seats that have had holes drilled into the plastic so that toy bags could be attached. I’ve seen interesting modifications made to the back of the harness when the harness was removed for washing & the parent couldn’t remember how to put it back together. I’ve seen knots in the straps, twist ties used for holding straps together, etc., etc.

The car seat will only work properly if it is set up the way it was intended to be used. It has only been crash tested THIS way.

Using it any other way or modifying it in any way may cause serious harm to your child.

9. Not buckling the car seat into the vehicle

The concept here is that, in a crash, the child slows down with the vehicle. If the car seat is not buckled into the vehicle it will fly around the car and possibly out of the car causing serious injury or death to the child.

10. Not buckling the child’s harness

When a child is not buckled into the car seat or a passenger is not seat belted, they become another missile in the vehicle, traveling at the speed the vehicle was going until something stops them. Ouch!

Restraints are designed to keep passengers in the vehicle. Once a person is ejected they are 4 times more likely to end up as a fatality. So buckle up!

best Convertible Car Seat and baby

Choosing a best Convertible Car Seat

best Convertible Car Seat Choosing very important step. “Convertible car seats” are named because they can be switched from rear-facing to forward-facing. These car seats are great for older babies and young toddlers because they can be adjusted to account for growth spurts, and they’re designed to fit a wide range of heights and weights. For any car seat, it’s very important to buy one that fits your child and your vehicle, and one that you can use properly every time. Not all convertible car seats are created equal, though. When buying a best convertible car seat, here are some features and considerations to keep in mind.

Weight Limits

Convertible car seats used to be sold in a pretty standard range of weight limits, so it was a bit easier to choose among them. Today, though, there are lots of differences in car seat weight limits, so you’ll want to be sure you pay close attention to not only the highest weight limit listed, but the weights for each mode – rear-facing or forward-facing. Some car seats have a rear-facing weight limit of 30 pounds, while others can be used rear-facing until 40 pounds or more. The newest safety research tells us to keep babies and toddlers rear-facing as long as possible. That means it’s wise to look for the highest rear-facing weight that fits your vehicle and your budget.

Once your toddler is ready to ride forward-facing, you may want to look for high weight limits there, too. It’s safer to stay in the 5-point harness longer versus moving to a booster seat and vehicle seat belt. The lowest available forward-facing weight limit is 40 pounds. Most kids will hit that weight before they’re ready to move to a booster. Other best convertible car seats have forward-facing weight limits of 70 pounds or more. If you’re planning to buy a combination car seat that has a forward-facing harness and becomes a booster later on, you could choose a best convertible car seat with a lower weight limit. If you’re hoping to graduate your child from the convertible right to a booster, though, go with the higher weight limit.

Some convertible car seats have an extra step that allows them to become a booster seat. These seats are often called 3-in-1 or all-in-one car seats. When you’re looking at weight limits on this type of car seat, it’s very important to note which weight is the maximum for the harness and wich one is for the booster. A seat that is labeled on the box as birth to 80 pounds may be referring to a booster weight, while the harness weight is much lower.

Height Limits

Most manufacturers list height limits for rear- and forward-facing, too. For some car seats, the manual may tell you to check how your child’s head is in relation to the top of the shell, or where the shoulders are in relation to the harness slots. The fit is the key to determining when a seat is outgrown in those cases. Other car seat manuals may want you to go strictly by your child’s height. While all convertible car seats have several harness slots or a sliding harness system to adjust the fit, the height of those slots varies widely. Check to see how high the top harness slot is on any convertible car seat you consider. The higher the slot, the longer it can be used, since that slot needs to be at or above your child’s shoulders when forward-facing. The height of the car seat’s shell is also important. More shell height also means a longer useful life for a car seat.

Best Convertible Car Seat for Newborns

Some parents want to skip the infant-only car seat and go right to a convertible. That’s possible, now more than ever, but you do need to be especially careful in choosing a Best convertible car seat if you go that route. Because these car seats are designed to hold larger toddlers, newborns can easily get lost in that huge seat. There are some convertible car seats, though, that have a set of very low harness slots that could work for a newborn. Some also come with special padding to help take up some of the space around a small baby in the big seat. If the car seat doesn’t come with newborn padding, you shouldn’t buy after-market accessories, such as head supports or torso padding, to try to make the baby fit. Only padding that came from the manufacturer has been crash-tested with the seat.

Vehicle Fit

You can fall in love with one of the best car seats on the market, but if it doesn’t fit well in your vehicle, it isn’t safe. The tall shell that works so nicely to protect tall toddlers can be problematic in rear-facing mode in small vehicles. Sometimes the angle of a car seat’s base doesn’t play nicely with the slope of the vehicle seat. If others need to ride in the back seat with baby, the car seat width can also be an issue. If possible, try the car seat in rear-facing and forward-facing mode in your vehicle before you buy it. If you can’t try it first, be sure to buy it from a store {For Example Amazon.com} with a very good return policy so you can exchange it if necessary.

If your vehicle has LATCh, try out the car seat’s LATCh connectors and make sure you can attach and detach them easily in both modes. Even if you intend to use LATCh, try out the seat belt installation, too. Make sure you can get the seat belt through the belt paths, and that you can buckle the seat belt and tighten it so that there’s less than an inch of movement from side to side and front to back. Also check the recline angle in rear-facing mode. Do the front seats interfere with the angle of the car seat?

Convenience Features

All car seats sold in the U.S. have to meet the same safety standards. Some Best convertible car seats have convenience features that make them easier to use, though, which can increase safety if it helps you ensure you’re using the car seat properly each time. Some features that might make buckling baby up a bit easier include no-rethread harnesses, built-in seat belt lock-offs, adjustable head rests, premium push-button LATCh connectors, and thicker twist-proof harness straps. You can go without most of these features and save some cash, but you’ll need to take some extra time to make sure baby is safe each time you’re on the road.

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Are You Using the Car Seat Harness Correctly? Identifying Common Use Problems With best Infant Car Seats

best Infant Car Seats is very good for your baby. but sometime have problem.If you’ve got a baby, I’d bet you’ve got a car seat, maybe even several. It’s one of those items that we just can’t get by without. The scary reality though, researchers have found that 80-90% of car seats are not being used properly, even more are used without thought to known car seat best practices. Sometimes it is a matter of not being installed properly or of using the wrong seat for the size of the child. However, quite often it has to do with how the baby is harnessed in the seat.

 

Here are ten things you should be checking for when you clip those harness buckles.

1. Failing to Read the Car Seat Manual

Ok, I realize this isn’t going to be a real page-turner, but for the sake of your baby be sure to read the manual. Before you attempt to install it, before you clasp the harness clips, before you do anything with your best infant car seat, read it cover to cover. The reason being is that although there are general guidelines for using a car seat, there can be differences from seat to seat. Having a firm understanding of how your seat is to be used is imperative.
Along that same line, be sure you register your car seat with the manufacturer so that you can be updated if the seat is recalled.

2. Twisted Car Seat Straps

I would guess that the most common instance with incorrectly using the car seat harness has to do with twisted straps.  I have caught myself hastily strapping in a child with that issue. What’s the big deal, you might ask? Think of it this way, a twisted strap reduces the surface area that is restrained. Instead of distributing the force of impact evenly over the harness, the twisted strap focuses the pressure on certain points of the body. It can be very dangerous for your baby.

3. Harness Straps At Wrong Height

Another issue with the harness has to do with the harness height in relation to your baby’s shoulders. And the thing is, there are tow different rules depending on whether your baby is rear-facing or forward facing. Babies in infant seats or best rear-facing convertible car seats should have the height at or below shoulder level. And while it is now advised that babies stay rear-facing until at least age 2, once they turn forward-facing, harness height should be at or above shoulder level.

4. Harness Too Tight or Too Loose

The pinch test. That’s what you need to remember. When your baby is sitting in her car seat, you should not be able to pinch a fold in the strap. Another test is to be sure that you can only fit one finger between the strap and the top of your baby’s shoulder. A strap is too tight if it pushes into your child’s skin or seems to use contortion to put your baby in an odd, uncomfortable position.
5. Straps Slipping off the Shoulders

best Infant Car Seats harness pictuer
I have seen harness straps seemingly falling off the baby’s shoulders more than just a few times. Most often when I see this happening, it is either on a very small infant or a baby with the car seat clip improperly positioned. It is important that the straps are securely placed on top of the shoulders. Straps that are “sitting on the edge” of the shoulder can easily slip off entirely. In an accident this may lead to the baby’s ejection from the seat.
6. Chest Clip Improperly Positioned
The chest clip is the plastic doo-hickey that brings the two shoulder straps together at the chest. For you baby’s safety it is most imperative that you have the clip positioned at armpit level. Too high and it can choke your baby, too low and in an accident not only might your baby slip through the harness, but it can cause extensive damage to internal organs. You want the clip to spread the force of impact across the bones of the sternum.
7. Buckle Position Incorrect
Some seats allow for the buckle between baby’s legs to have different positions. You want to use the position that is closest to your baby’s body. Allowing too much distance can lead to issues of the harness being too slack.
8. Hip Straps Improperly Placed
This point you will have to re-read your manual to be certain where the harness hip straps are to be located. Depending on the seat, the manufacturer might suggest that the straps be located over the top of the thighs or coming up over the hips. Be sure you know which is the right fit for your car seat.
9. Too Much Material Between Baby and Harness
I think there are more than a few people who do not understand how important it is to keep the amount of material or fabric between baby and the harness to a minimum. Winter coats, blankets, and even some car seat covers can cause what is known as coat compression. Check baby’s winter wear or opt for safe winter baby accessories before assuming that your baby is safe in them.
10. Using an Expired Car Seat
This point actually has to do with the entire seat and not simply the harness. Car seats expire, generally after 6 years (check your own manual to be sure). Though many may balk at such a thought, these seats aren’t tested beyond that period and studies have shown how that every day wear and tear combined with the high temps that the inside of cars with stand truly do affect how the seat performs. Your should find out when you should stop using your car seat by checking the manual or the back of the car seat itself.

idea of best infant car seats and best rear facing convertible car seat

switch best infant car seats or best rear facing convertible car seat safely

how to switch best infant car seats or best rear facing convertible car seat safely?

Time to switch car seats?

This is one area where early graduation is NOT a good thing. Children are safer riding in each car seat until they outgrow the limitations of that car seat.

The 3 biggest concepts here are:

1. Rear face longer

2. Use a harness longer

3. Don’t move to an adult seat belt until it really fits

Of course, you must stay within the manufacturer’s size guidelines!
So Tell Me When it’s Safest to Switch from…
best infant car seats to a best rear facing convertible car seat

Your baby will outgrow her best infant car seats and need to switch car seats when she reaches ONE of these 3 factors:

1. The weight limit of the seat, which could be a variety of weights including 20, 22, 30, or 35 pounds. Check the label on your car seat.

2. The height limit of the seat, which also varies. Check the label on your car seat.

3. Your child’s head is within one inch of the top of the car seat. This one is less known, but just as important. If your child’s head extends beyond the protection of the car seat during a crash possible brain injury could occur.

Extra Note: You don’t have to start with an infant seat, but they are very convenient and many times newborns fit better in best infant car seats than a convertible seat.

Because of this there is no minimum age or weight to switch car seats from an infant seat to a rear facing convertible.

Special Note: Low birth weight babies need special attention. If you have a baby who weighs less than 5 pounds make sure you check the minimum weight limit of your car seat before using it!
A Rear Facing to a Forward Facing Harnessed Seats

best rear facing convertible car seat is safer! Keep your child rear facing until 2 years of age (yes, I said 2 years old) UNLESS he has outgrown the rear facing limits of his convertible car seat. (See below.)

A recent article published in the professional journal, Pediatrics (2008) shows that children are five times safer riding rear facing from their 1st birthday until their 2nd birthday.

Chances are that your child will outgrow his car seat before then, but keep his risk of injury lower by rear facing him as long as possible.

It’s time to turn forward facing when your child has reached at least one year of age AND 20 pounds AND ONE of these 3 factors:

1. The weight limit of your convertible seat, which could be a variety of weights including 30, 35 or 40 pounds. Check the label on your car seat.

2. The height limit of the seat, which also varies. Check the label on your car seat.

3. Your child’s head is within one inch of the top of the car seat. This one is less known, but just as important. If your child’s head extends beyond the protection of the car seat during a crash possible brain injury could occur.

Note: The EXTREME minimum age a child could ride forward facing is both one year AND 20 pounds. If the child has not met BOTH of these numbers, then (s)he is at a high risk of not surviving a crash or facing severe injuries.
A Convertible Seat to a Combination Seat

Not everyone needs to make this switch. The goal here, however, is to keep your child in a harness as long as possible…without going beyond the limitations of the car seat.

And since many kids outgrow their best convertible car seat before they are ready to move to a booster seat, like mine did, they may need an intermediate step before switching.

This is where combination car seats come in. If your child has outgrown his convertible car seat, but is not AT LEAST 4 years old or is still fidgety (as many kids are) then a combination seat is for you.

Your child has outgrown his convertible seat and needs to switch car seats when he has reached ONE of these 4 factors:

1. The weight limit of the seat. Check the label on your car seat or owner’s manual.

2. The height limit of the seat. Check the label on your car seat or owner’s manual.

3. When his shoulders have reached the top harness slot of the car seat.

4. When the top of his ears have reached the top of the car seat.
A Car Seat to a Booster Seat

Your child is ready to move to a booster seat when she is mature enough to sit still for the entire trip (at least 4 years old… or older in many cases) AND she has reached ONE of the 4 factors below in her harnessed car seat.

***Harnessed car seats provide more protection for your child so don’t be too quick to move to that booster!***

1. The weight limit of the harness in the car seat. You can now find convertible and combination car seats that have much higher weight limits, including 50, 55, 65 and even 80 pounds.

Special Note: Make sure you check your instruction manual for the weight limit of the harness on your combination seat. I’ve seen many parents leave their child in the harness too long because the box said the combination seat went to 100 pounds. (This is the maximum weight limit for the seat when used as a booster seat. Remember: the combination seat is a combination of a harnessed car seat and then a booster seat.)

2. The height limit of the seat. Check your label or owner’s manual.

3. When her shoulders have reached the top harness slot of the car seat.

4. When the top of her ears have reached the top of the car seat.
A Booster Seat to a Seat Belt

Your child is ready for an adult seat belt when:

1. He can sit on the vehicle seat with his bottom all the way back (no slouching)

AND

2. His knees drop at a 90 degree angle (touching the floor is great)

AND

3. The shoulder belt does not cross his neck. The belt can be touching the neck, HOWEVER, if this cause him to put it under his arm or behind his back then he’s not ready just yet. (Double check to see if your seat belt is adjustable at the top.)

This is typically around age 10 and somewhere around 4 foot 9 inches. Why isn’t there a specific set of numbers?

what is the best convertible car seat

What is the best car seat or best convertible car seat?

“What is the best car seat or best convertible car seat?”  The answer may surprise you

is the most commonly asked question about car seats. Well, since your car is shaped differently than mine and your child is probably shaped a bit differently than mine, not to mention our preferences are probably a bit or a lot different, theor best convertible car seat car seat that works best for your car, your child and for, well, you is going to be different than the best convertible car seat that works best for me and my family.
So what IS the best car seat or best convertible car seat for YOU, YOUR child and YOUR car?

Below you will find the topics you need to consider when determining which car seat is best for you.

Fits Your Child

It is important to choose a car seat that accommodates the height, weight and age of your child as well as any behavioral needs (s)he may have.

You should also check out the latest recommendations for safe travel. For example: A recent study showed that toddlers are 5 times safer riding rear facing than forward facing until their second birthday. This means that you would want to choose a car seat that allows your child to ride rear facing for as long as possible.

Easy to Use

Once you choose the correct seat type for your child, check out the various features on those car seats. You may find a feature easier to use than me or vice versa, but this Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Rating system from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a pretty good indicator of how easy or difficult a feature is to use. The rating system goes from an ‘A’ to a ‘C.’ A is the best rating. C is the lowest rating.

Keep in mind, however, that a car seat may have all A’s, but may not install safely in your car and therefore is NOT a good choice for you. And a car seat with a lot of C ratings is just as safe as a car seat with A’s, but may be a bit more difficult to use.

Buckles into Your Car Properly

Believe it or not, some car seats DO NOT work in some cars. This is because cars aren’t all shaped exactly alike. So if you’re looking for a “universal” car seat or that one best car seat for every car, you’re not going to find it. Many, if not most, stores will let you take a car seat to your vehicle to try it out in your car before you buy it. Find out how to tell if a car seat installs properly in your vehicle.
Safety Features

The first thing I must point out to you is that all car seats in the United States must meet the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). There are specific federal guidelines for how a car seat must perform during a specific crash test and a few guidelines for how the car seat is designed.

Having said that, there are some additional safety features that are nice to have and are not required in the FMVSS. Here are some features to look for:

EPS/EPP Foam: Helps absorb some of the shock from a crash, similar to a bicycle helmet; partially or entirely lines the inside of the car seat

Side Impact Testing: Many car seat manufacturers are testing their car seats in side impact crashes allowing them to provide better protection for your child.

Side “Wings”: Provides an extra barrier between your child’s head and the incoming metal from a crash. Most are lined with EPS or EPP foam. (A possible bonus…head support for a traveling sleeping child.)

Ability to rear face longer: Rear facing is safer (5 times safer for children from ages 1 to 2). Some car seats have a rear facing weight limit of 40 pounds.

Ability to use harness longer: Five or seven point harnesses offer more protection than three point. Keep your child in a harness longer by purchasing a car seat that goes to a higher weight limit. Many car seats now go to 50, 65 and even 80 pounds. But beware: check for higher top harness slots or your child will outgrow the height before the weight.

Seat belt guides for boosters (esp ones that adjust): Allows for the seat belt to rest in the safest position on the child’s shoulder.

In Your Price Range

The extra safety features are nice to have, but don’t think that your child won’t be safe if you don’t spend $200 on a car seat.

Remember, all car seats sold in the United States must meet the same Federal Motor Safety Standards and, therefore, must all perform a certain way in a crash.

Also, it’s much more important to have a car seat (regardless of the price) that you know the history of (ie: a new car seat or one from someone you know and trust) than to get a used fancy one from a garage sale or other avenue.