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Celebrity Baby Blog

Child Seat Choices for Your Ride

12/12/2006 at 07:00 AM ET

Courtesy of AskPatty.com, Automotive Advice for Women

Carseat_1With the holidays around the corner and likely a lot of driving aheadof you, child safety should be in the forefront of your mind. But what,with all the holiday preparations and crazy shopping to do, it might bethe last thing you are thinking about. We’ve put together some greattips – with the help of The Car Seat Lady – for you to keep in mind this season when you are buckling in your kids.

There are two basic types of car seats; rear facing and front facing. But which do you use and when is it best to use each type? We’ve got some straightforward answers for you here.

Rear-Facing Basics
Rear-facing kids are 4-5 times safer than those riding forward-facing.
•In a perfect world everyone should ride rear facing – since it is so much safer – but especially infants and toddlers.
What type of seat should the rear-facing child use and where should I put it?
•Infant seats typically accommodate babies up to 20-22 pounds (a few go to 30-35 pounds).
•Convertible car seats accommodate rear-facing children up to 30-35 pounds and forward-facing children up to 40 or more pounds.
•The center of the back seat is statistically the safest place of the vehicle, as you can not take a direct impact.

•Ifthe car seat does not fit securely in the center, and/or there areother children riding in the back seat, it is often necessary for therear-facing child to ride on one of the side seats.
•Rear-facing children MUST ride in the back seat if there is a passenger airbag in the front.

When should a child switch from rear-facing to forward-facing?
•When they are too big for rear-facing in their convertible (not infant-only) car seat
* i.e. they are 30-35 pounds OR their head is within 1 inch of the top of the car seat.  It is
perfectlyOK for the rear-facing child’s feet to touch the back of the vehicleseat * it is NOT a source of discomfort or injury.
•The baby must be at least 1 year old and at least 20-22 pounds before going forward-facing.
   

RearfacingForward-Facing Basics
•Older kids who have outgrown the rear-facing capacity of their convertible car seats must ride forward-facing.

•Thesechildren should be not only at least 1 year old AND at least 20 pounds,but actually should be around 30-35 pounds or tall enough so that theirheads are within 1 inch of the top of their convertible seats. Childrenshould not turn forward-facing until they outgrow their convertibleseat’s rear-facing height and/or weight limits.

Where should I put a forward-facing seat?

•The center of the back seat is statistically the safest place in the car, as you can never take a direct hit there.
•Ifyou have only one child, it is safer to place the car seat in thecenter as long as the car seat can be properly secured in thisposition. Please note that the center rear seat of most vehicles doesnot use the LATCH system.

When should a forward-facing child switch to using a booster seat?
•A child should be both at least 3-4 years old and at least 40 pounds before starting to use a booster seat.
•Ifyour over 40-pound child is not mature enough to sit still while usinga booster seat (i.e. he leans over to fight with a sibling, picks updropped toys, hangs out the window, etc.,), then he his
notready for a booster seat. In this case you should look for a safetyseat that has a 5-point harness and can accommodate a child weighingmore than 40 pounds.

Remember to keep safety first andforemost in your mind this holiday season and buckle up your family!Ask Patty always says, "When you’re driving with your loved oneremember you are carrying precious cargo!"

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