Becoming a parent for the first time involves a huge amount of learning, as there are hundreds of things involved which childless people will have had no reason to come across before, nor had any incentive to learn about.
When you first learn of the impending new arrival, your thoughts will probably be taken up with decorating and equipping a nursery, buying clothes, bottles, and much more, but many people don’t think of a baby car seat until later on in the pregnancy.
It’s very important to make sure you know what to look for in a child car seat, as after all, you will need one on your baby’s very first journey, from the hospital back to home.
This being an introduction and overview to car seats for babies and toddlers, individual laws are governing the use of car seats within each State, Worldwide.
Ensure you have the correct information because you may be within the legal parameters driving in one State but then become illegal in another.
Ensure if you purchase online, the safety certificate and car seat design can be used within your own country.
Buying a second-hand car seat could be a false economy and place your child in danger.
For the baby first journey, you will need a seat which faces towards the rear of your vehicle.
This provides the best protection in the event of an impact for an infant who is unable yet to support the weight of their own head.
The seat will be nicely reclined backwards, providing a safe and comfortable cocoon for your baby.
It’s important to choose a rear-facing seat which is sturdy and dependable, yet light to carry.
Young babies sleep a little and often, and the last thing you want to do after finally getting your child to sleep in a car journey is to wake them by removing them from their warm and comfortable seat.
Having an easily detachable model which is light to carry means you can ferry your baby from car to house with as little disturbance as possible.
These rear facing seats are only suitable for younger infants.
Once they’ve grown to weigh around 20 pounds, or the top of their head is nearing the upper edge of the seat and thus no longer protected properly, you will need to move to a forward facing seat but ensure you are complying with your state law because ignorance offers no defense and places your child in danger.
You may only become aware of this when you are involved in an accident, at which point, it could be too late to rectify your mistake
These seats are much more upright, but better models can be adjusted to provide a more horizontal position to help your toddler sleep during longer journeys.
Because of the upright position, it’s essential that your child is able to sit up on their own before using this kind of seat.
Forward facing seats are built to last for a fair few years, and most will be good until your child reaches the age of 4 or 6.
The UK law requires all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must use the correct child car seat until they are either 135 cm in height or 12 years old (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt.
There are very few exceptions.
For the USA and Canada, please look under http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/child-passenger-safety/ for individual state advice.
There are laws in each Australian state and territory that regulate which car seat you need for your child from birth to 16 years.
Up to six months: Your baby must be restrained in an approved rearward-facing child restraint like an infant capsule or a convertible car seat specially designed for newborn babies.
From six months to four years old: Your child must be in either a rearward-facing or forward-facing child restraint, such as a child safety seat.
From four years old to seven years old: Your child must be in either a forward-facing child restraint or a booster seat restrained by a correctly adjusted and fastened seatbelt or child safety harness.
From seven years old to 16 years old: Your child must use a booster seat or a seatbelt properly adjusted and fastened.
You can check with the road authority in your state or territory for more information.
It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that children under the age of 14 years are restrained correctly in accordance with the law.
Before we finish, there are two extremely important things to bear in mind when buying a car seat.
Firstly, you should be very careful when buying one that isn’t brand new.
Although it might seem like an economy to get a second hand seat, there’s no way of knowing for sure its history.
It may have been involved in an accident at some point in the past, resulting in weaknesses that may not be visible to the naked eye.
These weaknesses could endanger your baby even in a minor accident.
You should only buy a used seat when you can be absolutely sure of the history – such as when buying off close friends or family.
Finally, baby car seats shouldn’t be fitted in front seats where an airbag is fitted.
In an accident, the inflation of the airbag could cause serious injury or suffocation to a child, so always fit car seats in the rear of the vehicle in this case.
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