The best car seat for your child is the one that fits your car, fits your child and that you can use properly every time on every ride.
Before buying a new car seat for your child, The Safety Source-Injury Prevention Service at Children’s Medical Center recommends you know the answers to these six questions.
What to Ask Before Buying a Car Seat
1. What’s my child’s height, weight and developmental needs? Kids grow quickly. Make sure you know your child’s current height and weight to determine the right car seat and which direction your child should face in the vehicle. You may also want to consider any developmental needs your child may have. Does he/she always unbuckle the car seat when riding in it? Are they fidgety?
2. Is the car seat instruction manual clearly written? It’s best to take a look at the instruction manual before buying a new car seat. If the instruction manual is not clearly written and easy to follow, look for a different model with a manual that is. Four out of five car seats are used incorrectly, and in Dallas County alone, 94% of car seats are not installed the right way.
3. Where are my car’s airbags? Never place a rear-facing child in front of an airbag. Airbags are designed for adults and may cause injuries to children. If your vehicle has side or curtain airbags, make sure it’s ok to place your child’s car seat next to them by reading your vehicle and car seat manuals.
4. What are the car seat laws in my state? According to Texas law, all children younger than 8-years-of-age, unless 4 feet 9 inches, are required to ride in a car seat or booster seat according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions that is weight and height appropriate for that child.
5. What’s the NHTSA rating of the car seat? The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s five-star rating system is based on how easy the car seat is to install, how easily you can secure your child and the content and clarity of the instruction manual.
6. When should a car seat be replaced? A car seat should be replaced according the manufacturer’s recommendations. All car seats have an expirations date that is printed on the car seat’s labels. You may also replace it if recommended during a recall. In some instances, a car seat must be replaced if the car seat has been in a crash. Always check with your car seat’s manufacturer for their replacement policy.
Get a Free Car Seat Check at Children’s
According to Claudia Romo, Manager of the Injury Prevention Service and Emergency Services Community Health Worker/Promoter Program at Children’s, car seat safety is no longer as easy as 1-2-3, because new technology inside vehicles and in car seats have made car seat installation a challenge.
But not to worry, the experts at Children’s are ready to help.
“At Children’s, we take car seat safety very seriously, because we see how children are injured in car crashes when they are not in a car seat or in a car seat installed the right way,” Claudia says. “Everyone should make time to talk with our certified car seat technicians at the free car seat check at our Dallas and Plano locations.”
Car seat checks take place by appointment only every Monday at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and the last Friday of every month in Plano at Children’s Medical Center at Legacy.
To schedule your free car seat check at Children’s, call the car seat safety line at 214-456-2059.