Buying best car seats for toddlers: One of the essential pieces of baby equipment is a car seat, which you will use right away, starting with your child’s first ride home from the hospital. Car seats are expected by law in every state, and correct and consistent use of them is one of the excellent alternatives that parents can protect their children. It is never safe to hold an infant or child on your lap in a moving vehicle. Moreover, an infant must never ride in the front seat of a car that has passenger airbags.
The safest area for all children to ride is in the back seat. Moreover, it is critical that the car seat be installed so that it is rear-facing, which is the only safe position for infants in cars. In a crash, a forward-facing baby is at greater risk of head and neck injuries because the head may be thrown forward.
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Buying best car seats for toddlers: Types of car seats
There are two kinds of car seats for infants: infant-only seats and convertible seats, which accommodate both babies and toddlers.
- Infant-only seats. These car seats are designed for children who weigh up to about 20 pounds, depending on the position.
- Convertible seats. These are bigger and larger than infant-only seats, and they can be used for children until they reach at least 40 pounds. All convertible car seats manufactured today come with five-point harnesses. Although you will save some money using a convertible seat, an infant only seat may be simpler to use and may fit a newborn better.
Choosing best car seats for toddlers
Some other important features to look for when purchasing best car seats for toddlers include:
- Wide, twist-free straps. A twisted strap is less efficient in restraining a child in a crash.
- Two-piece chest clips. They help protect your baby and are difficult for a child to detach.
- Front-harness adjustments. Some car seats have a mechanism in the front that adjusts the tightness of the harness.
- Head-impact protection. Most car seats have an added layer of foam or special plastic to improve head protection in case of an accident. The foam or plastic is recessed into the shell of the car seat around the head.
Avoiding simple mistakes: best car seats for toddlers
Here are some basic mistakes that parents often make when it comes to car seat safety, and how to avoid them.
Buying a used car seat without researching its history. If you are considering a used car seat, make sure the car seat meets safety standards, comes with instructions, hasn’t been recalled, hasn’t been in an accident, and has no visible cracks or missing parts. If you do not know the car seat’s story, don’t use it.
Installing the car seat in the wrong spot. The safest area for your baby’s car seat is the back seat, away from working air bags. If the air bag expands, it could hit the back of a rear-facing car seat — right where your baby’s head is — and cause a serious or fatal injury. Installing best car seats for toddlers next to a gate with a side air bag may not be appropriate either. If you are only setting one car seat in the back seat, place the vehicle seat in the center of the seat.
Wrongly buckling up your baby. Before you put the seat, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure the seat is tightly secured — allowing no more than one inch of movement from side to side or front to back — and facing the correct direction. Take time to ensure your child in the seat correctly. Place the chest clip or harness even with your baby’s armpits — not at the abdomen or neck.
Improperly trying to keep your child upright. Recline the car seat back according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually a 45-degree angle. This is so that your newborn’s head does not flop forward on impact in case of an accident.
Moving to best front facing car seat too soon. As your child gets older, resist the urge to place your baby’s car seat in the forward-facing position so that you can see his or her face in your rearview mirror. Riding rear-facing is advised until a child reaches 30 to 40 pounds.
Accepting the car seat as a replacement crib. Remember that best car seats for toddlers is not a crib. A 2009 study showed that squatting upright in a car seat may compress a newborn’s chest and can lead to reduced levels of oxygen. Although it is essential to buckle your child into a car seat during travel, don’t let your child sleep in or relax in a car seat for extended periods of time when you are out of the car.
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