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All about car seats

If you ever take your baby out in the car it is vital that you make sure he is as well protected against an accident as he can be. One of the first things you must do is buy a proper car seat, and you must choose the right one for your baby's weight. Also it must be fitted correctly. For information on.

How to Fit a car seat Correctly > Click here to open window

Why it Might Not Fit Correctly > Click here to open window

It is the weight that matters, not your baby's age, so a heavier child will move to a different seat earlier than a lighter child. You will probably buy at least two car seats, sometimes even three, before your child is old enough to sit in the car with the adult belts alone for protection.

The seats for younger babies (up to 10 or 13kg) are designed to fit in the car so the baby faces backwards. A baby's neck muscles are not strong enough to support his head if he is thrown forward in an accident; in a rearward-facing seat, the stress is taken up by the whole of his body and he is less likely to be injured.

Many of these seats are also designed to help you carry a baby, but by the time he gets to around seven or eight months the combination of him and the car seat will be too heavy to do so. However, don't take this as a sign that you should move to the next size car seat. Leave him rearward-facing until he gets to the maximum weight (10 or 13kg) for the seat you have bought.

What a Turn Around
Two-way seat is the term often used to describe a seat that is designed to fit children from birth to around 18kg (probably about age three or four). These seats fit rearward-facing to begin with, but they can be turned around and made forward-facing for older babies.

If you choose one of these seats, make sure you can fit it properly both ways. If you have used it for nearly a year before you discover it doesn't fit your car when forward facing, you can't take it back to the shop. Again, don't rush to change from rearward to forward-facing too soon.

There is a large choice of car seats for older babies. Some are suitable for children up to 18kg, several are designed to last longer, often by converting into a booster cushion. Most use seatbelts to fasten the seat into position and a separate harness to hold the child. A few, usually those that are suitable for slightly older children, use the seatbelts to hold both the child and the seat. If you decide one of these is best for you, choose one that locks the seatbelt in position and make sure your child doesn't treat playing with the straps as a game.

The Right Fit
The second thing you must make sure of when choosing a car seat is that it fits your car. Car manufacturers design their seats and seatbelts to give maximum comfort and protection for adults. Unfortunately, this means that some combinations of car and child car seat do not work.

Buying a car seat that fits your car must be your priority. Ring the manufacturers' help-lines before you go shopping. Buy where there are knowledgeable staff. It can be difficult when that attractive seat gets the thumbs down, but remember that the point of a car seat is to protect your child should you be unfortunate enough to have an accident, not to look good to other drivers. If the seat doesn't fit, it won't work.

 
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