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Am I using the right car seat?

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among children in this country. Properly using a car safety seat can help prevent tragedies. Choosing the right car seat, however, can be confusing. Follow the guidelines below when determining what type of car seat to purchase:

  • Infant only. These small and portable car seats are for babies from birth to about 20 pounds. These must always face the rear of the car. Some models snap into a base that remains anchored in the car.
  • Convertible. These are for larger children weighing up to about 40 pounds and may be used rear- or forward-facing. Keep the seat facing the rear of the car until your baby weighs at least 20 pounds and is at least 1 year old. Look for a seat with a five- or six-point harness system rather than an overhead or T-shield restraint.
  • Booster. Once your child reaches the top weight or height allowed by the convertible seat, use a belt-positioning booster seat. These raise a child so the car’s lap/shoulder seat belt fits correctly. Your child should use a booster seat until he or she is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, usually around ages 8 to 12.
  • Combination. These seats are for children big enough (at least 20 pounds) and old enough (1 year) for a forward-facing seat. They have an internal harness for children who weigh 40 to 50 pounds and then convert to a belt-positioning booster for bigger kids.