Routine Care | Car Seat
This article describes the following items about a car seat:
To see if your car seat is installed properly and to find a certified passenger safety technician in your area, visit www.SeatCheck.org or contact Child Safety Seat Inspection Station Locator. You can call 866-SEAT-CHECK (866-732-8243) or 888-327-4236 or you could also call your local police or fire departments (NON-EMERGENCY) lines to find out if they offer car seat checks. Our local fire department had sessions you could stop by and they would check that the car seat was installed correctly. We went before our son was born and they were very nice.
A car seat may also be described as an infant carrier. When buying the infant carrier, you may want to purchase two bases if you have two cars the baby may be traveling in. You will want to determine what type of stroller you want to get at the time you are choosing the car seat/ infant carrier. If you go with a travel system stroller you generally buy the stroller and the infant carrier together. Refer to this “Strollers” for more information on travel systems and other strollers. Generally, you move your baby from the infant car seat to a convertible seat (rear facing) once the baby reaches the height and weight requirements set by the car seat manufacturer usually when "infant's head is within 1 inch of top of the seat" and when the baby weighs "22 pounds - 32 pounds" (Sears). Shortly after my son's one year check-up we moved him from his infant carrier to a convertible car seat.
You can buy a convertible car seat that is safe for an infant and then eventually converts to a forward facing car seat once the child meets the height and weight requirements. I did think it was nice having the infant carrier as with the infant carriers you can easily take out the carrier and snap it into a stroller or simply carry the baby to and from the car. On the other hand, an infant carrier is an added expense as you will later need to buy a convertible car seat once the child outgrows the infant carrier.
We bought the Graco SnugRide infant carrier and the Britax Diplomat convertible car seat. We bought the Graco infant carrier since Graco had several products that integrated with its infant carrier. We liked the fact that Graco had a battery powered swing holder that the infant carrier attached to. We figured that if our son fell asleep in the car we could bring him inside and attach the infant carrier to the swing to allow him to sleep longer. We actually didn’t use this piece of equipment as much as we hoped. In a way this was a good thing since we didn’t NEED to use it since our son slept well in his crib. If he was the type of a baby that didn’t sleep well then we may have had to resort to the baby swing.
We bought the Britax convertible car seat partly because it was recommended by my sister-in-law. We liked the harness system with the Britax models. The model we bought had a lot of nice features such as true side impact protection. Since the harness straps were wider than our Graco model the straps did not twist as much as our infant carrier. It was fairly easy to get our son in and out of this car seat.
Some other companies that sell infant carriers and car seats are Baby Trend, Chicco, Eddie Bauer, Evenflow, The First Years, Peg Perego, and Safety First.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should ride rear facing until they have reached the maximum height and weight recommended for the car seat model, or at least age two since they are “75% less likely to die or experience serious injury” when they are riding rear facing (Sears). We tried to keep my son rear facing as long as possible. The problem with having the toddlers rear facing is that their legs are not able to extend since the feet are being blocked by the seat. According to the Sears article, injuries due to the legs reaching the back of the seat are NOT common.
The reason severe injuries occur less when the child is rear facing is “the force of the accident is distributed evening over the entire body” while a child forward facing “can suffer from neck and head injuries” since the “force of the car crash is concentrated on seat belt contract points” (Sears).
I have to admit as much as I would prefer to have my son ride rear facing due to safety, my son's legs were so cramped that we had to turn him front facing once he was around 16 months. My son seemed to enjoy riding front facing much more than rear facing. He may have been getting car sick when he was rear facing since my husband use to get car sick as a child or it could have simply been uncomfortable since he was unable to extend his legs when in the rear facing position. I would not weight comfort over safety but there does come a time when you do have to turn your child front facing. Please confirm with your model to determine the height and weight requirements as to when it is safe to have your child ride front facing and also please consult with your child's doctor.
Sears, William M.D. , Martha Sears, R.N. , James Sears, M.D. , and Robert Sears, M.D. "Pediatric News
Updates August 2009: Keep Your Toddler in a Rear-Facing Car Seat Until Age 2(Not 1). "
AskDrSears.com. 20 Jan 2010 <http://askdrsears.com/news/headlines0809.asp>.
Last updated: January 2010