Car Seats: Booster seats, car bed, child car seat, infant car seat, LATCH
Car seats 101 require a knowledge base that is simply taken for granted until it’s required and then a big learning curve is involved. You would think that buying and installing the right car seat would be simple but it’s not. It’s a complicated part of parenthood that requires reading and understanding complex instructions that apply to your child or baby car seat and your motor vehicle.
Here are some definitions that hopefully clarify car seats:
Booster car seats are used only for toddlers in a forward facing position. The minimum weight requirement varies from 30 to 40 pounds, depending on the model you select. The good news is that the booster car seat can take your child safely to 80 pounds in a car seat. As infant car seat laws change and vary state to state many states are going with higher weight requirements for children in car seats.
Car bed is an infant restraint that allows premature babies to lie flat, with the long axis of the child’s body perpendicular to the direction of travel and head away from the door, the primary restraint surface being the side of the bed; primarily used with low birth weight infants and those with special medical needs.
A child car seat is a common alternative term for child restraint system (CRS), especially when speaking with general audiences.
Convertible car seats are used from birth until your child outgrows a car seat. This means that you can get more use out of your investment. Convertible car seats can be used in forward facing or in rear facing positions, depending on the weight of your child. (Rear facing is used for infants up to 20 pounds and 1 year old. Forward facing happens after your child reaches about 20 pounds. The cons of using a convertible car seat are that they are not portable and cannot be used as an infant carrier. Convertible car seats do not have bases and are not easily moved from one car to another. Some parents find these bigger seats more difficult to use for smaller infants.
Front facing is a car seat that faces the front of the car but is in the back seat. Once your child is at least 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds, he can ride forward-facing. However, it is best for him to ride rear-facing until he reaches the highest weight or height limit allowed by the car safety seat.
An infant car seat is designed for infants or babies. An infant car seat is used from birth until your baby weighs in at about 20 pounds. Infant car seats are designed to ride in your car in the rear facing position. They are not designed to be turned around to a forward facing position. An infant car seat can last 6 to 12 months depending on the growth rate of your baby. Some babies outgrow the infant car seat faster than others. Once your baby has outgrown this car seat you will need to switch to another type of car seat designed for older babies and toddlers. The infant car seat can also double as a carrier. You can carry your baby out of the car to the house, to the grocery store, or anywhere. Many models of the infant car seat can either be strapped into the car directly or into a base that stays strapped into the car seat. Multiple bases can be purchased for multiple cars.
LATCH is an acronym that stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and refers to the top tethers and lower attachments. LATCH was once thought to solve problems related to the complexity of car seats but a new study demonstrates that LATCH has only complicated car seat systems.
Rear facing is a car seat that faces the back of the car while it’s in the back seat.
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