| Car Seat Information
The most common question from parents is “What is the
best car seat?”
No single “best seat” exists
for all children and vehicles. The best or safest seat is
- fits your child's size and weight
- fits in the vehicle tightly
- will be used correctly on every ride.
Compatibility between child safety seats and vehicles is
a major issue. Safety belts seem like simple devices, yet
installation can cause headaches. Many varieties of safety
belt systems exist, but some types developed to improve comfort
or safety for adults have been found to be less beneficial
LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) is the new
way to install children’s car seats in vehicles.
This system uses special fittings instead of seat
belts. If both the vehicle and the car seat have LATCH attachments,
use them instead of the seat belt, if they make the car seat
fit tighter. In many vehicles, but not all, the LATCH system
will make it easier to install a tighter fitting car seat.
- Always read and follow manufacturers’ instructions
for both the car seat and vehicle. Anchor the seat tightly
with either the vehicle belt or the LATCH system.
- Dress your baby in clothes that allow the harness to
fit between the legs. Do not swaddle in a blanket or use
a bulky snowsuit.
- Put harness straps in lowest slots. (They need to be
at or below your baby’s shoulder level.) Make harness
snug. You should not be able to pinch slack in the straps
between your fingertips. After the harness is buckled and
adjusted, you can cover the baby with a blanket.
- The most common problems with a newborn's fit in a car seat are:
-- Shoulder straps are too high (lowest slot not at or below the shoulders).
-- Crotch straps are too far away from the baby to provide a snug fit.
- Put the infant in the back seat of the car. Never put
a baby in a front seat with an active airbag. The back is
safer for all passengers.
- The rear-facing position is the safest. Infants should
remain rear-facing in a convertible seat until they have reached the maximum height and weight for the model, or at least until the age of 2. Most convertible seats can be used rear-facing to 30-35 pounds. Check the weight limit on your seat.
- Recline the infant seat far enough back so the baby’s
head does not flop forward. Recline the seat to the angle recommended in the seat's manual.
- The day before you take your baby home from the hospital,
bring in your car seat. Take time to position your baby in the car seat, adjust straps, etc. Make sure the
seat will provide a correct fit for your baby. If it does
not, you will want to find a different one before going
home. Ask your nurse for assistance, as needed. Before leaving,
you will want to settle your baby in the car seat in the
comfort of your room.
- It is your responsibility to know your car seat and vehicle
and to place your baby in the car seat and vehicle when
you leave the hospital. Hospital staff will not place your
baby in your car seat or place the seat in your vehicle.
- For babies born small or premature, you may need a smaller car seat. Your provider may order a car seat test to
determine if your baby can tolerate sitting in a car seat. Ask your
nurse for more information.
- Children under the age if 13 should ride properly restrained
in the back seat. And remember, most children ages 4 to
8 are not big enough to fit in an adult safety belt. Minnesota state law requires children to use a booster seat until they are age 8, or 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
- View a listing of upcoming Car Seat Check-Up Events.
- For more information, visit www.buckleupkids.state.mn.us.
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