Is Your Child Safe in the Car?

Safety First

Buying Your First Car Seat

baby in car seat

Since your baby may arrive early, Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., coauthor of Baby 411, recommends that you start car-seat shopping around your sixth month of pregnancy. You'll want to get either an infant-toddler car seat (also called a convertible seat) or a smaller infant seat. The first offers savings: You'll be able to use it longer. But babies under 20 pounds might be better off in infant-only seats, which are specially contoured for newborn bodies, says Dr. Brown. They are also convenient: Most double as carriers, clicking in and out of a base that's kept in the car so you can move your dozing baby without disturbing her. Most standard-size strollers can accommodate them, or you might consider a ready-made car seat/stroller combo. When your child outgrows the infant seat, though, you'll need to switch to a convertible seat, which can go both backward and forward, notes Dr. Brown.

Do This to Be Safe

Get your car-seat installation double-checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). Find an inspection station near you at seatcheck.org or call the Department of Transportation's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.

Car Seat Installation Tips
Car Seat Installation Tips

Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Parents magazine.

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