New grandparents have to tackle plenty of challenges of which getting acquainted to an infant car seat can be the biggest. Using appropriately safe and secure car safety seats is an absolute essential for grandparents while driving around with their grandkids.
The wide array of car seats available on the market can make things a little complicated for grandparents but the entire system does make some sense once you get used to it.
Children generally use the following seats as they grow up:
- Infant car seat
- Rear-facing convertible seat
- Front-facing convertible seat
- Booster seat
The convertible seat is used in both the rear-facing and front-facing positions. So, some parents prefer not to purchase the infant car seat and hence only two to three seats should be needed to seat a child in a car until he is old enough to use conventional car seat belts.
Seat types are standard but they come with varying weight limits. When you purchase car seats for your children, keep an eye at the age and weight limits against each of them. Generally, this information is attached to the car seat itself.
Here is some basic information for grandparents about all the four types of car seats:
Infant Car Seat
This is a starter that was considered mandatory until the infant was seven pounds in weight. The latest versions of rear-facing convertible seats can seat kids as small as five pounds or some parents prefer not to purchase the infant car seat at all. However, there are others who are still in love with the infant car seat.
This kind of seat comes in two pieces: the infant carrier and a base that the carrier snaps into.
This implies that you can remove the baby from the car without having to take the baby out of the seat. This can be particularly handy when the baby is taking a nap. There are some versions that are part of the travel system such as the stroller and car seat combination.
Most of the grandparents can opt not to buy this sort of seat and get the rear-facing convertible seat instead.
If you are interested in purchasing this infant car seat, then do it along with an additional base for use in the car. Some seats can be used without the base but they require more car of part of the parents to keep the baby safe. Infant seats are always used in a rear-facing manner.
Rear-Facing convertible seat
Majority of the grandparents will prefer to purchase the rear-facing convertible seat first up. This kind of seat lets the children sit in a rear-facing posture until a certain point in time and then allows them to sit in the front-facing position. Babies who are a year old or weigh around 20 pounds need to be seated in the rear-facing position. Experts recommend the children to be seated in the rear-facing position for as long as allowed by the manufacturer. Researches reveal that seating babies in rear-facing position until they are two years old is the safest option.
The baby’s height also needs to be taken into account to decide when to switch the seat’s position. In the rear-facing position, the harness slots should be at or below the baby’s shoulders. The hard plastic case should be an inch higher than the baby’s head. The length of baby’s legs does not matter when it comes to deciding whether to switch the position or not.
Front-Facing Convertible Seat
When you convert the convertible seat to the front-position, the harness slots should be at or above the kid’s shoulders. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to use all the harness slots in the front-facing position so you better check out the user’s instruction manual. Ensure that the top of the baby’s ears should be below the top of the car seat shell.
The infant car seat can be used in the front-facing position until the baby weighs 40 pounds. The newer models let kids seat who weigh more than 40 pounds. Experts suggest that the baby is kept in the harness in the convertible seat for as long as possible.
The booster seat is available in two different variations: high back and low back. Some high back booster seats can be converted into low back ones which is meant for taller and older kids.
Booster infant car seats use the vehicle safety belts but control the position so that the belts do not scratch against the child’s face or neck.
A combination seat is another option that can be used by grandparents. Similar to the convertible seat that encompasses phases 2 and 3, the combination seat encompasses stages 3 and 4. It is a forward facing seat with a five point harness. When the child is older enough, the harness can be detached and the seat becomes a high back booster infant car seat that employs the car’s safety belt. You can get the combination seat if your grandkid is old enough to ride the car while facing in the forward direction and you want to get rid of the convertible seat.
This information can be viewed in graphical format at safecar.gov. You can also get more detailed information at American Academy of Pediatrics’ website. Grandparents also need to be aware of the laws prevalent in their state with regard to car seat safety. However, it is natural that most of you will not take even a little risk with your beloved grandkids and prefer to go for the safest practices rather than looking to do the minimum which is asked by the law.
Grandparents will also be fascinated to know how easy a car seat is to use. Ease of use ratings for child safety seats is provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
With sufficient knowledge about infant car seats, now comes the process of installing them. You should go through the instructions that come bundled with the car seat. If you have them misplaced, you can find them online. You will also be needing your car’s user manual. Additional information is also available online. If for some reason, you are not able to get the seat installed yourself, you can consult local businesses or artisans who will get the job done. You can also consult the child safety seat inspection stations to check the installation. These terminals are generally located in security offices, fire stations or health care centers. They can also be found in car-dealerships or non-profit organizations. It is prudent to solicit an appointment to ensure that the car seat safety technician is available.
All car seats are designed to be used with the LATCH system that connects the car seats to the anchors in the vehicle. It renders the installation of car seats easier. Car seats that use the LATCH system are not safer that the ones installed in the conventional manner using car belts.
Weight limits are an issue with the LATCH mechanism. Since current recommendations demand children to be seated in safety seats for as long as possible, the weight of the child along with the weight of the safety seat could be more than the safety limit of the lower anchors. Here are new regulations about the use of LATCH system.