While there are a lot of tough decisions to make for your child, choosing a car seat can be one of the most difficult because of the additional safety and functionality concerns. To put your mind at ease, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about car seats.
How Can I Be Sure That My Child Is Secure?
After you have purchased and successfully installed your car seat, before strapping your child in, it is always a good idea to have a professional check the security of the seat. You can get a safety seat inspection by finding a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) at a police or fire station, or by going to seatcheck.org to find an inspector in your area.
Once you have had your seat inspected, it is important to follow safety practices when using the seat. Before each car trip, make sure the harness is snug on your child by using the “2 finger test.” Put two fingers against your child's chest and pull the harness tight until it is firm against your fingers. Remember, no matter how confident you are with your seat, following the manufacturer’s instructions is key!
What About Air Bags?
Airbags are possibly the greatest uncertainty when it comes to car seats, but the answers are pretty straight-forward. Before anything, read the owners manual for your car to check for specific instructions about both front and side airbags.
Because of the front airbag, children in rear-facing seats must always be in the back seat. If your pediatrician recommends constant supervision due to a special health-care need, determine whether your car has an off switch for your airbags. This is a very special scenario and should be used with extreme caution.
Side airbags can also be challenging for children in the back seat. Typically, the center rear seat is the safest place for a car seat.
What’s The Difference Between Rear and Forward-Facing Seats?
Deciding whether your child should be rear or forward facing depends on their age. A child should be in the rear-facing position until they are 2 years old unless they reach the height and weight of a toddler sooner. Most rear-facing seats will include height and weight limitations in their instructions. To be safe, it is probably best to leave them in the rear-facing seat until they are of age.
Once your child is over the age of 2, they are ready for a forward-facing seat. Not all seats allow both functions, and it can be a burden to have to purchase an additional car seat. Convertible seats, like the best-selling Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat, allow parents the option to transition when they feel comfortable, without having to worry about a new seat.
Do Car Seats Expire?
You may not realize that a car seat has a shelf life. Often, manufacturers stamp the expiration date on the label located on the sides or the base of the car seat. While it might seem like a ploy to sell more seats, there are very important safety reasons for placing an expiration date on a seat.
A car seat often expires 6-10 years after the day it was made. Like anything manufactured, technology improves and standards change. In addition to wear and tear, car seats are often exposed to extreme temperatures, causing the seat materials to break down and belts to lose their elasticity. In addition to expiration dates, remember to keep your eye out for product recalls.
What Do We Do When We Travel?
Deciding on the logistics of traveling with a car seat can be daunting. You can always rent a car seat when you arrive at your destination, but it can be hard to ensure the quality and safety of the seat you will receive. Also, many parents don’t realize that it is recommended that children ride in a car seat while on an airplane.
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking your car seat from home is often the best option, whether you take your everyday seat or invest in a back-up or travel seat. Additionally, you can get a travel bag, for your seat to keep your investment safe from any unexpected damage.
Whether you are just starting your research or have additional questions, it is always a good time to chat with a professional. Stroller Haus offers online consultations to help you every step of the way.