Thousands of young children are killed or injured every year in motor vehicle crashes. It is your responsibility as a parent to keep your child as safe as possible. That means staying informed about proper use and regulations involving car safety seats. As a general rule, your child should be in a rear-facing infant car seat until 1 year of age and 20 pounds, a convertible car seat until 4 years of age and 40 pounds, a booster seat until 8 years of age and 80 pounds, and buckled in the back seat until 13 years of age. State laws do vary, so be sure to verify the child safety seat laws in your own state.
Most preschoolers will ride in a convertible car seat or a booster seat. When shopping for a car seat or booster seat, keep the following tips in mind:
A more expensive car seat doesn't mean it is safer.
Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/recalls/childseat.cfm) to confirm that your car seat doesn't have any defects or recalls.
Register your seat with the manufacturer. This way they can contact you if the seat is recalled later.
Never use a car seat that has been in a moderate or severe crash.
Don't use a car seat if you don't know the seat's history.
Never use a car seat that is too old (check the date on the manufacturer's label).
Don't use a car seat that has any visible damage or cracks in the plastic.
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