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Healthychildren.org posted this article regarding car safety seats for children. In the article, they recommend rear-facing car seats for infants and toddlers, beginning with their first ride home from the hospital until they reach the age of 2, or until they meet the highest weight/height allowed by the car seat's manufacturer.
There are 3 different types of car safety seats:
Rear-Facing: -Used for infants up to 22-35 pounds. -Small and have carrying handles, and may be a part of your stroller system. -May come with a base that the seat clicks in and out of, which can be left in your vehicle so installation of the car safety seat for each ride is not necessary. -Only used for travel.
Convertable Seats (used as rear-facing): -Can be converted to a forward facing car safety seat as your child grows. Your child can use these kinds of seats for a longer period of time as they can convert to a forward-facing car safety seat. They are bulkier and do not come with carrying handles or separate bases. -May have higher rear-facing height and weight requirements, which are ideal for bigger babies. -Usually have a 5-point harness that will attach at the shoulders, hips and between the legs. They may also have an overhead shield, which is a padded tray-like shield that will swing down over the child.
3-in-1 Seats (used as rear-facing): -These can be used by your child even longer than the convertable seats, as they can work as rear-facing, forward facing or as a belt-positioning booster. -Usually bigger in size, so make sure it will fit in your vehicle while it is rear-facing. -Do not come with carrying handles or a separate base, but have higher weight/height limits, which are ideal for bigger babies.
Installation Tips -Place the harness in your rear-facing car safety seat in slots that are at or below your baby's shoulders. -Make sure the harness is snug and that the harness clip is at the mid-chest level. -Ensure the car seat is installed tightly in your vehicle. If you can move the seat at the belt path more than 1 inch side to side or front to back, it is not tight enough. -Never put the rear-facing car seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has front passenger air bags. In the event that the airbag inflates, it will hit the back of the car seat, where the baby's head is, and could possibly seriously injure or even kill your baby. -If you are using the convertable or 3-in-1 seat as a rear-facing car safety seat, make sure the seat belt or LATCH belt is routed through the correct belt path. -Ensure the seat is at the correct angle so the baby's head does not flop forward. -If you have any trouble with installing your car safety seat, you can contact a local CPS technician.