Choosing Safe Baby Products: Infant Seats & Child Safety Seats
Infant seats should not be confused with infant or child safety seats (car seats). Regular infant seats simply allow young babies to sit up. They're not designed to protect a baby in a crash and should never be used to transport infants. Some child safety seats, however, can double as infant seats.
What to look for:
Child Safety Seats (Car Seats)
More children are seriously injured or killed in auto accidents than in any other type of accident. Using a child safety seat is the best protection you can give a child when traveling by car.
Never substitute any type of infant seat for a child safety seat. Only child safety seats — properly installed in the back seat — are designed to protect a child from injury during a collision.
What to look for:
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they are 2 years old or until they have reached the maximum weight and height limits recommended by the manufacturer.
Once kids are ready to transition to a forward-facing seat, they should be harnessed in until they reach the maximum weight or height for that seat. When they have outgrown their forward-facing harnessed seat, they need to be placed in a booster seat. Kids should use a booster seat until the car's lap-and-shoulder belt fits properly, which is typically when they've reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years old.
For more information on proper installation of child safety seats and how to harness your child, read our article on auto safety. You also can call the Department of Transportation Auto Safety Hotline — (888) DASH-2-DOT — if you have questions.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD