How to Choose a Car Seat For Your Baby

The day has come to bring your little baby home from the hospital. Its okay to ride him or her on your lap in the wheelchair on the way to the car, but that should be the very last time you carry a baby on your lap while riding in a wheeled vehicle. No exceptions, so how to choose a car seat for your baby is one of the most important topics you will want to address before you make plans to bring the baby home.

In the United States, because of national safety standards, hospitals nationwide will not allow you to leave the hospital if you do not have a car seat in the car at time of discharge. Most labor and delivery nurses will do a complementary check on proper installation and fit for the baby before you can leave. Neonatal and child fatalities due to traffic accidents have significantly decreased since the inception of these laws. Safety is key.

There are several points that are important when considering how to choose a car seat for your baby. The very first thing that most people don’t even realize is never purchase a used car seat from someone you don’t know and trust. Like lifelines that can only be used once, car seats that have been involved in an automobile accident should be discarded and replaced. There is always the possibility of unseen integrity damage that could cause preventable injury should there be another auto accident involving the car seat.

Another determining factor on how to choose a car seat is size and weight of the baby. A newborn certainly can’t ride in a toddler’s car seat or vise versa. Premature babies will need a cloth insert placed in the car seat that has a padded roll that surrounds the top of their head from ear to ear to prevent neck injury, as well as padding around the body for stabilization. Most states have laws that guideline weight, height and age of children, correlating this with what type of seat your child needs.

Car seat manufacturers have come up with some clever design features and now offer a multiple piece car seat that can be modified as your baby grows. This newborn car seat can double as a baby carrier once removed from the stationary base, which stays buckled in the car. Speaking of buckling, a car seat is only as safe as its installation. Be sure to read all the literature on your new car seat and follow all instructions. The safest location in your vehicle for your baby is the center rear seat with the car seat facing towards the back of the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, since inception of this law, vehicular fatalities for children have been reduced by 30%.

Inaccurate, inappropriate or disuse of a child safety seat is a chargeable offense. Be sure to follow all local and national laws when it comes to providing a safe environment for your baby in an automobile.