Choosing a Car Seat

When you choose a car seat, check to be sure it’s safe, right for your vehicles, easy to use, and right for your child.

The seat should have a label on it certifying that it meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213. If you are buying or borrowing a used seat (generally not advised), be sure it is less than six years old and has never been in a crash. Also check for recalls on the seat, the condition of the seat, the manufacturer’s instructions and the age of the seat.

Right for Your Vehicles
The seat should fit properly in all the vehicles in which you plan to use it.

Easy to Use
Experts strongly advise that you have help in installing your car seat into each of your vehicles to insure proper insallation. As many as 90 percent of all car seats are not used properly. You can contact your local SAFE KIDS Coalition, State Highway Office or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site, www.NHTSA.GOV, for a listing of certified technicians in your area. Be sure the shoulder harnesses are easy to shorten and lengthen; if you find them difficult to adjust without a baby in the seat, choose a different seat.

Right for Your Child
The seat should be appropriate for your child’s weight, height and age.

For more information, see our additional content on car seats:

More information about car-seat safety, selection and the new tether system is also available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safe Kids Campaign and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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