Before you take your bundle of joy home, you know you need a car seat. As a parent, you learn quickly that the first car seat you purchase will not be your last.
Knowledge of the type of car seat you need for each stage of your child’s development is challenging. Knowing what to look for is essential, since using the wrong car seat could leave your child with devastating injuries after an accident.
Here’s what you should know about choosing the right car seat for your child.
The temptation to skip ahead
Many expenses come with having a child, and buying several car seats over the course of early childhood can add up quickly. It can be tempting to purchase a car seat just above your child’s current size since the correct car seat will eventually be outgrown.
However, choosing a car seat that does not fit your child’s size and stage can lead to severe injuries. Car seats are designed to support a child at each developmental stage. For example, a rear-facing infant seat will offer more head, neck and spine support than a forward-facing seat made for an older child.
Knowing when to replace
Ideally, a car seat can protect your child for the entire time they are within the size and stage the seat supports. However, there are times when you may need to replace a seat before your child grows out of it.
If you notice your child’s car seat is damaged or was already involved in an accident (even if there is no visible damage), it is time to replace the seat. Like other safety equipment, car seat manufacturers design them to protect a child in one crash, not several.
When you have more than one child, you may have an opportunity to get extra use out of a previously purchased car seat. However, it is crucial to check the expiration date. Most car seats are only safe to use within six years of the manufacturing date.
Being mindful of your child’s car seat and when it is time to replace it is essential for keeping your child safe in the car.