Car Seat Confusion

Car Seat Dos and Don'ts

Car Seat FYIs

  • The death rate of children under 4 has declined by 50 percent since car seats first became popular in 1975.
  • Keep your child facing rear as long as your convertible car seat will allow. That means most kids should stay facing rear well past their first birthday. It can mean the difference between life and death.
  • To make sure your seat is installed correctly, log on to seatcheck.org, then click on "Find a Technician" to locate a certified child passenger safety technician or inspection station near you.

The Safest Place for Your Baby's Car Seat

The safest spot for a car seat is in the middle of the second-row seat. Unfortunately, most cars have LATCH anchors -- which allow you to install a car seat without using a seat belt -- only in the two outside positions of the car's second row. What should you do?

DO try to install your car seat with a seat belt in the rear middle position first. "LATCH is not a safety device -- it's a convenience. If you can get a tight fit in the center using a seat belt, that's your best option," says Mike James, Alabama Statewide Child Passenger Safety Coordinator.

DON'T fret if you can't get a tight fit in the center rear-seating position. Your child will be better off in a properly installed seat in an outboard position than she will be in a seat that's improperly installed in the center.

DON'T use the two inside LATCH anchors of the outer LATCH positions to install a car seat in the center unless your vehicle manual and car-seat manual both specifically tell you that this is allowable.

Peg Rosen is a writer in Montclair, New Jersey. She is a certified child passenger safety technician.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, August 2007.

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