Deciding which car seat to buy is a very tough decision, one that most parents research before completing a purchase. It is incredibly important to keep your child in a car seat for as long as possible and to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, as each car seat is different. Keep in mind that the safest place for your child to be is in a rear-facing car seat due to its increased ability to protect your child’s spine, head, and neck in the event of a collision. So, please keep your children in rear-facing seats as long as possible, while following the height and weight guidelines set out by the manufacturer. This blog will not go into specific brands of car seats but will offer some information on the types of seats that are available along with some guidelines regarding which seat is best for your child at specific stages of development.

According to Montana State Law, children under the age of 6 AND weighing less than 60 pounds must be seated in an approved car seat or booster seat. Recently, the Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement stating that they recommend that all children under the age of 2 (and meeting the height and weight limits of their car seat) remain in a rear-facing seat. Remember that children under the age of 13 should always ride in the back seat (because of airbags) and that rear-facing seats should NEVER be placed in the front seat. Here are some guidelines to help you decide which car seat style is best for your child:

Birth to Age 2: A rear-facing seat is recommended

Age 2 to Age 4 (or until 40lbs): Children should be moved to a forward-facing seat

Age 4 to Age 8 (or until 4’9” tall): Children should now be sitting in a booster seat

Age 8 and up (or over 4’9” tall): Children no longer need to sit in a seat of any kind and only require a properly secured seat belt.

Types of Car Seats

Infant rear-facing car seats: These seats are typically only designed for infants and have a general weight and height restriction of 4-30 lbs and up to 32”. Make sure to check the specific recommendations of your seat to ensure that it is being used correctly. These types of seats are very convenient as they can be removed for a stationary base and carried or placed on a stroller.

Convertible car seats: These seats usually come with a weight and height limit of up to 70 lbs and up to 49” tall so they can accommodate your child for many years as he/she grows.

They begin as rear-facing and when needed can be converted to forward-facing with ease. The downfall to these seats is that they are one unit and somewhat bulky. They do not offer the portability of a rear-facing seat.

All-in-one/3-in-1 seats: These seats accommodate your child on all stages of development until they are ready for a seat belt. They will convert from rear-facing to forward-facing, to a booster when the time is right. They typically have a weight restriction of 5-80 lbs and a height limit of 30-65” tall.

Regardless of which car seat you choose for your family, make sure that it is checked by a Child Passenger Safety Technician. They will ensure that your seat is installed properly and are readily available around town for free to help with installation and check-ups.

If you are in an auto collision, make sure that you are your child are checked by a chiropractor for spinal misalignment. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in children ages 1-12 and 3 out of 4 car seats are misused and installed improperly.

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