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The Right Car Seat For Your Child

A new study conducted by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia shows that parents are increasingly placing their children in child safety restraints during automobile trips. But the study also showed that 62 percent of 4- to 8-year-olds are restrained in adult seat belts, which puts them at unnecessary risk of injury in a crash.

Many parents think that after a certain age, children don't need an appropriate child seat, but that is not true. Booster seats are important.

The new study shows that motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for children ages 4 to 14.

Miriam Arond, editor-in-chief at Child magazine, talks about the different types of car seats, when to use them, and how to use them on The Early Show.

The following explains the different terminology regarding safety seats for children.

Infant Seats

  • Are used rear-facing only
  • Are for newborns (who weigh at least 5 pounds) up to 20 or 22 pounds, depending on the model
  • Are small and portable. They have handles, and many come with a detachable base. With these, you leave the base in the car, and you take the baby in and out of the car in the seat. That way, you don't need to install the seat every time you take the baby in or out.
  • The baby needs to ride rear-facing until he weighs 20 pounds AND is one year old. If your baby weighs 20 pounds before age 1, you need to switch to a convertible seat and keep it rear-facing until age 1.
  • If your newborn weighs less than 5 pounds, you need to look into renting a preemie car bed from the hospital.

Convertible Seats
  • Are bigger and heavier than infant seats. Because they can be used rear-facing and forward-facing, they can be used longer and for larger children. But the downside is that they may not fit newborns as well as some infant seats.
  • Are used rear-facing until infants have reached at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds (or more, depending on the model) Always follow the upper weight limit for the model.
  • Once the child is 1 and weighs 20 pounds, you turn the car seat around to be front-facing. The child can stay in this seat until he weighs 40 pounds, usually. Check the weight limit on the seat.
  • You also need to change the position of the seatbelt and put the seat in the upright (instead of reclining) position at this point. Follow the directions in the manual to be sure you're doing this correctly.

Travel Systems
  • Stroller combined with infant seat. This is becoming very popular.

Combination Seats
  • Cannot be used rear-facing.
  • Are only for children who are at least 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds.
  • Convert to belt-positioning booster seats when the child reaches the appropriate weight (usually 40 pounds).

Booster Seats
  • Belt-positioning boosters are best.
  • Shield boosters are unsafe.
  • Booster seats should be used until your child can correctly fit in a lap/shoulder seatbelt, usually when the child reaches 4'9" in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age. Check the upper weight and height limit of the booster seat you have.

Latch
Stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. This is a carseat attachment system that makes carseats easier and safer to use. All cars, minivans, pickup trucks, and carseats made after September 2002 come with LATCH. For older cars, tether kits are available from the manufacturer. Also, some vehicles now come with integrated carseats (they are built into the car when you buy it).

The following are the seats that Child magazine has selected:

Infant Seat
SnugRide Infant Car Seat from Graco

  • Has 5-point safety harness
  • Level indicator on side tells you whether you've installed it correctly
  • Has bumper insert for head support
  • Has base that stays in the car while you take the seat in and out
  • Has adjustable ergonomic handle with grip padding
  • Has adjustable canopy and sun visor
  • Has removable, washable seat padding
  • Weighs 7 pounds without base
  • $99.95

    Convertible Seat
    Roundabout Convertible Car Seat by Britax

  • Rear-facing for infants up to 30 lbs. And 30"tall
  • Forward-facing for toddlers up to 40 lbs.
  • LATCH-compatible
  • 5-point safety harness
  • Approved for use on airplanes
  • Weighs 16 lbs.
  • $199.95

    Travel System
    Comfort Dimensions Elite Travel System by Evenflo

  • Stroller/car-seat combo for birth to 22 lbs.
  • LATCH-compatible
  • Car-seat has 5-point safety harness
  • Stroller has storage basket
  • Two cup holders
  • Stroller weighs 21 1/2 lbs.
  • Seat weighs 8 lbs. without base
  • $179.95

    Combination Seat
    Baby Classics Platinum CarGo Booster by Graco

  • Converts from a 5-point harness carseat (20-40 lbs.) to a belt-positioning booster (30-100 lbs.)
  • Latch-compatible
  • Removable toddler head support
  • Removable head pillow
  • Cup holder
  • Mesh storage pocket
  • Removable, washable seat padding
  • Weighs 8 1/2 lbs.
  • $99.95

    Booster Seat (in the car)
    Bodyguard Booster by Britax

  • Belt-positioning booster seat for 40-100 lbs.
  • Enhanced side impact protection
  • Built-in locking system keeps seat belt tight and secure
  • Width-adjustable seat base for your growing child
  • Height-adjustable headrest
  • Energy-absorbing foam in headrest and backrest (same as in bicycle helmets)
  • Headrest provides comfortable support for napping
  • Removable, washable seat padding
  • Weighs 13 1/2 pounds
  • $129.95
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