How to Select the Perfect Car Seat for Baby

5 Great Car Seat Tips

1. Have the Car Seat Inspected

Installing a car seat is hard. Most parents -- various surveys show 70 to 90 percent -- do it wrong. Manufacturers try to help by providing exhaustive step-by-step instruction booklets and sometimes even videos with each car seat. Even so, after you install a seat, you should have an expert look at it to make sure it fits your car and is in correctly (it shouldn't budge more than an inch from side to side).

Call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find an inspection site by zip code, or visit www.seatcheck.org or www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

2. Buckle Up Properly

The harness straps need to fit baby snugly and be in the right position -- read instructions carefully.

3. Seats Keep Getting Better

Not that it helps if you're shopping now, but new latch-finding clips and easier harness adjustments are just two features that companies hope to offer in the next year.

4. Mind the Registration Card

It's important to fill out and mail the registration card that comes with a car seat so you can be contacted if there's a recall.

5. Follow the Law

State laws vary, but most require children to sit in booster seats until they're at least 4 years old, and sometimes as old as 8 or as heavy as 80 pounds. They boost your child up to ensure that the seat belts fit and protect properly.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, March 2005.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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