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Healthychildren.org posted this article about car seat safety for infants all the way the school aged children. When shopping for a car safety seat for your child, keep the following tips in mind:
There is not a seat that is the "best" or "safest." Choose a seat that is best and safest for your child: fits your child's size, is installed correctly, fits well in your vehicle and is properly used for every drive.
Just because a car seat has a high price does not mean it is the safest to use.
If you don't know the history of the car seat, avoid using it. Never use a car seat if:
It is too old. Look at the date it was made then refer to the manufacturer to find out how long they recommend using the car seat.
There are any visible cracks.
If there is no label with manufacture date and/or model number. These details allow you to check and see if the car seat has ever been recalled.
The seat does not come with instructions.
There are any missing parts. If you buy your car seat used, it may be missing important parts. Contact the manufacturer to make sure you have all the correct parts.
If the car seat has been involved in a moderate to severe crash, do not use it. If the seat was involved in a minor crash, it still might be okay to use, but some car seat manufacturers recommend replacing the car seat after any kind of crash. If the crash was minor, the NHTSA says all the following to be true:
The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash scene.
The vehicle door closest to the car seat was not damaged.
No passengers in the vehicle were injured.
The airbags did not go off.
There are no visible signs of damage to the car seat.