Dos and Don’ts of Choosing A Child’s Car Seat

This post is part 2 of 4 of Happikiddo’s “Buckle Up No Excuse” road safety series. #buckleupnoexcuse

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With the variety of brands and models of car seats available in the market, it can be overwhelming to find the right car seat. After all, there are several types of seats — from infant to convertible and booster — depending on your child’s age and size. Even after finding the right one, it’s highly important to install your car seat correctly and know when to transition your child to another type of seat as he grows older.

Here’s a quick guide to help you through the decision-making process of finding the right car seat, including the dos and don’ts of using it to make sure your child remains safe on the road at all times.

In a nutshell, there are 5 groups and 3 types of car seat:

Car seat age group

  • Group 0: From birth to 12 months
  • Group 0+: From birth to 12-15 months
  • Group 1: From 9 months to 4.5 years
  • Group 2: From 3 years to 7 years
  • Group 3: From 6 years to 12 years

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1. Rear-Facing Car Seat

  • Infant Car Seat (Group 0): Designed for newborns and small babies, the infant car seat is a small, portable seat that can only be used rear-facing. Babies usually outgrow their infant car seats by eight or nine months and transition into a convertible or all-in-one car seat but still using it rear-facing.
  • Convertible Seat (Group 0+ & 1): This type of car seat can change from rear-facing to forward-facing with a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash. Because it can be used with children of various sizes, it allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer.
  • All-in-One Seat (Group 0+, 1 & 2) : This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) then to a booster seat as a child grows.

It is recommended for infants to use rear-facing car seat until they are at least 9kg.

Group1FF
2. Forward-Facing Car Seat
 

  • Convertible Seat (Group 0+ & 1): As a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether.
  • Combination Seat (Group 1 & 2): This seat transitions from forward-facing with a harness and tether into a booster.
  • All-in-One Seat (Group 0+, 1 & 2): This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows.

You will need to put your child in a forward-facing car seat until he/she is at least 18kg.

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3. Booster Seat
Booster seats protect children from serious injury 3 ½ times better than seatbelts alone.

  • Booster Seat with High Back (Group 2 & 3): Designed to increase the child’s height for the seat belt to fit properly, it also provides neck and head support and is ideal for vehicles that don’t have head rests or high seat backs.
  • Backless Booster Seat (Group 3): Also designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits nicely, it does not provide head and neck support. It is ideal for vehicles that have head rests.
  • Combination Seat: As a child grows, this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness into a booster.
  • All-in-One Seat (Group 0+, 1 & 2): This seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat (with a harness and tether) and to a booster seat as a child grows.

You need to use a booster seat if your child is under the age of eight, weighs between 18kg-36 kg AND is less than 145 cm tall.

DOS 🙂

  • DO get a car seat with a five-point harness that will hold your child snugly.
  • DO select a car seat based on your child’s age and size, and choose a seat that fits in your car.
  • DO read the owner’s manual on how to install the car seat properly – using the seat belt or lower anchors and a tether, if available.
  • DO choose a car seat with a removable cover for easier clean-up.
  • DO always check height and weight limits by referring to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. Keep your child in the car seat for as long as he/she fits within the limits.
  • DO keep your child in the back seat at least through age 12.
  • DO make sure that the harness-retainer clip – if there is one on your car seat – is at the level of your child’s armpits.
  • DO put your baby in a rear-facing car seat at a 45-degree angle. If it’s too flat, your baby could slip down; if it’s too upright, his head could flop forward and squeeze his airway. Use a rolled-up towel under the foot of the sea to elevate it if necessary.
  • DO place a tightly rolled-up blanket alongside your baby’s body if he’s small.
  • DO make sure the harness straps are above your child’s shoulders in a forward-facing seat to give optimum protection in a crash.

DON’TS 😦

  • DON’T ignore the car seat expiry date at the bottom. The plastic materials of a car seat deteriorate and get brittle over time under weather exposure. Be sure to check the expiry date before buying a preloved.
  • DON’T put a newborn in a forward-facing car seat. A baby should ride in a rear-facing car seat until he’s at least 1 year old and weighs 9kg. If your baby is less than 1 year but weighs more than 9kg, put him in a convertible rear-facing car seat.
  • DON’T forget to tighten the safety belt attachments when installing your seat. The seat is too loose if you can wiggle it more than an inch from side to side.
  • DON’T put your car seat or booster in the front seat next to the driver. This is highly dangerous in the event of an accident, even if your child is in a car seat. Kids must be at least 13 year sold before they can ride in front.
  • DON’T forget to check that the tethers are attached correctly if your car uses the Latch system. Be sure to tighten all straps.
  • DON’T ignore height guidelines for your rear-facing infant seat. If your baby’s head is higher than the top of the car seat’s shell, it’s time to switch to a rear-facing convertible seat.
  • DON’T leave the harness straps loose. Rule of thumb is it must fit only one finger underneath the straps.
  • DON’T ignore reviews or recalls. Run through theInternet for the brand/model you are eyeing on for any past recalls and users’ reviews.

Still unsure? Feel free to visit us at any Happikiddo stores for free consultation on choosing the right car seat for your child.

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