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Buckle Up: 6 Smart Car Seat Safety Rules

  • Use an age-appropriate car seat. Babies belong in a rear-facing seat until they're at least 1 year old and weigh 20 pounds. Recent research shows it's safer for them to stay rear-facing until they reach the car seat manufacturer's height or weight limit (usually when they're between 18 and 23 months).
  • Try out a new seat to make sure it secures easily. Also take your current seat to every test drive.
  • Make sure your car seat is installed properly. Visit www.seatcheck.org to find a car seat technician in your area, or go to www.chop.edu for instructions on using the LATCH system (lower anchors and tethers for children).

  • Let a child under age 13 ride in the front seat. She could be seriously injured if an air bag deploys, and she's closer to dangers (such as the dashboard and windshield) if you're in a crash.
  • Ride with a child on your lap -- ever. Even for a short taxi ride, it's not worth the risk.
  • Buy a used car seat, and only accept a hand-me-down if you're certain it has never been involved in an accident and the seat is less than 6 years old (the date of manufacture should be on the label).

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Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the March 2008 issue of Parents magazine.