One of the endless important purchasing decisions you have to make when you have a child is which car seat you are going to choose. There are many questions to ask yourself, What stage car seat do I need? How long will my child be safe in it? Is the seat I am choosing legal where I live? The list of questions just goes on and on, so here are a few guidelines to help you.
The stages of child car seat use
There are four stages of child car seat, and some car seats or travel systems cover more than one stage. You should place your baby in the car seat appropriate for their weight and height and keep your little one in each stage for as long as possible.
Stage One – Rear-Facing Seats
Placed at an angle of 45-degrees, rear facing car seats are angled, so your baby’s head is adequately supported for them to breathe. The harness should be adjusted each time you place your baby in the seat as different thicknesses of clothes can affect the fitting.
Don’t worry if your child’s feet touch the back of the seat, as long as they are within the weight and height limits for the seat; they will be safe. They might even enjoy kicking their feet!
Rear-facing seats should only be used in the back seat as an airbag deploying in the front of the car could cause serious injury or even death.
Stage Two – Forward Facing Seats
Other things to consider
Once you know which stage is safe for your baby, you can start narrowing down your choices.
- Make sure the car seat can be safely installed in your vehicle.
- Think about how often you may want to move the seat from vehicle to vehicle. Some stage one seats have the option of buying extra bases so you can easily clip and unclip the seat in multiple cars.
- Do not use a seat that has been involved in a crash. There may be damage to the seat you cannot see that can make the seat ineffective or even dangerous.
- Register your car seat with the manufacturer, so if any safety issues or recalls are issued, you will be contacted directly.
- If you are using a car seat you have previously used for a younger child, check the date the seat was made and ensure it is not out of date (yes, car seats have an expiry date!)
- Only buy a car seat that is certified for use in the country you are using it in. Different countries have different safety standards, and you must use a seat with the appropriate certifications. For further information, you can check out the regulations for Canada & the US.
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