The goal behind our website isn't just to make a living selling
any old baby gear. We have a passion for our products, and the
true reward is in helping you find what's best for your needs.
We mean that. The answers below are written by Certified Child
Passenger Safety Technicians, giving honest feedback and advice
is what you deserve when doing your research on an important
investment like your child's car seat.
Like milk, car seats have an expiration date, which is
generally 6 years from your car seat's date of manufacturing.
Each car seat has a sticker with the manufacturer date. Use this
date and not the day you received or installed the car seat.
Why 6 years? First of all, car seat safety standards change,
and you want a car seat that meets the most recent standards.
Second, car seat components degrade over time. The plastic
shells become brittle when exposed to the extreme heat and cold
of cars and the harnesses begin to show wear.
Many car seats feature a weight capacity that allows you to
use the car seat past 6 years. In some of these cases, the
manufacturer will vouch for the safety of the seat past 6 years.
For instance, the Graco Nautilus and Britax Frontier have
notations in their instruction manuals about longer term use.
Uncertain about when your car seat expires? Check the
expiration date in your car seat's instruction manual to make
sure you know when it's time to get a new seat.
So here's a little background... in order to meet US Federal
Safety standards, every car seat on the market must pass
specific crash test standards. The most common types of car
crashes are front-end collisions. This is what dictates the
Federal crash test standards as being a simulated front-end
collision. Because car seats had to pass these tests, they've
performed very well in these types of collisions, which then
lead to the fact that most child injuries were being caused by
side-collisions. Car seat manufacturers have since become
focused on providing ultimate safety by incorporating
side-impact-protection (also known as SIP) in their car seats,
making your children less susceptible to injury in the event of
most any kind of collision.
Britax was one of the first manufacturers to incorporate
Side Impact Protection in the form of head 'wings' that protect
a child's head from trauma in a side impact collision. Since
then, Britax and other car seat manufacturers have incorporated
not only Side Impact Protection for a child's head but also
torso protection by adding more padding and impact foam on the
sides of car seats. There are currently no Federally sponsored
Side Impact crash tests done on car seats in the US, so
manufacturers are able to dictate their own definition of what
Side Impact Protection actually is. Because of this, there are
also no benchmarks set in order to know how well side wings or
torso protection actually work during a side collision.
This really depends on what type of car seat your child is
currently using. See below for a short description of what
'type' of car seat your child will need based on the type of
seat your child is now using.
Newborns will start out in either an
Infant car seat or a Convertible car
seat. Both types of seats normally have a minimum weight
requirement of 5 lbs. in the rear-facing position and maximum
weight limit will be around the 20 - 30 lb. mark.
(Low Birth Weight Babies may need to start
out in an Infant car bed if they weigh less than 5 lbs.)
From an Infant car seat, your child will
either move into a Convertible or a
Convertible seats normally
have a minimum rear-facing weight requirement of 5 lbs. and
a minimum forward-facing weight requirement of 20 lbs.
Maximum weight limits range from 40 - 65 lbs.
Youth/Toddler seats cannot
be used rear-facing and normally have a minimum
forward-facing weight requirement of 20 lbs. Forward-facing,
these car seats can generally be used up to 40 lbs. with the
5-point harness or without the 5- point harness as a
belt-positioning booster up to about 80 - 100 lbs.
From a Convertible seat, your child will
either move into a Youth/Toddler seat or a
Youth/Toddler seats are
forward-facing only seats with a minimum weight requirement
of about 20 lbs. Forward-facing, these car seat can
generally be used up to 40 lbs. with the 5-point harness or
without the 5-point harness as a belt-positioning booster up
to about 80 - 100 lbs.
Booster seats have minimum
forward-facing weight requirements starting around 30 or 40
lbs and can be used with a child up to 80 - 100 lbs.
From a Youth/Toddler seat, your child will
move into a Booster seat.
Booster seats have minimum
forward-facing weight requirementss starting around 30 or 40
lbs and can be used with a child up to 80 - 100 lbs.
child ready for a Booster seat?
This is usually a dificult transition for both parent and
child. Kids want to move out of their 'baby seat' but parents
have a hard time saying goodbye to the 5-point harness and
'installed' car seat. It is always safest to keep your child in
a 5-point harness as long as possible but when the time comes,
please make sure that your child meets the following criteria:
- Your child exceeds the maximum weight
or height limits of his or her current harnessed seat OR
your child's ears reach the top of the back of the harnessed
seat even though he or she doesn't meet or exceed the
maximum weight and height requirements.
- Your child's shoulders are above the
topmost shoulder harness slot.
- Make sure that you are following your
State Laws governing Booster seat use where you live.
- Normally, we recommend that your child
be at least 4 years old and weigh at least 40 pounds before
moving him or her into a Booster. With this said, there are
Booster seats on the market with minimum weight requirements
lower than 40 pounds because as we all know, each child
grows differently. This however should not be a reason to
put a child younger than 4 in a Booster seat.
Ultimately, the most important thing is to use a Booster
seat. Many parents skip this step if their antiquated state's
laws don't require children to stay in a child restraint past
the age of 4 or 40 pounds. The NHTSA (National Highway
Tranportation Safety Administration) recommends all children use
a child restraint of some kind until they reach at least 4'9"
Booster seat be used with just a vehicle's lap belt?
The short answer is No. Belt-positioning Booster seats are
meant to boost children up so that your vehicle's lap and
shoulder belts can be positioned properly across your growing
child's body. All will require a lap AND shoulder belt for
does my child need to stay Rear-Facing?
It is recommended that all children remain in the rear-facing
position until they reach 20 pounds and 1 year. This is even
incorporated into most state car seat use laws. However, it is
safest for your child to stay rear-facing as long as a car seat
will allow. Look for seats with higher rear-facing maximum
There are a lot of car seats out there. Many tout having
extra features to increase safety. Ultimately, however, the
safest car seat for your child is the one that best:
Fits your child
Fits your vehicle
And is a seat that you will be able to use
consistently and correctly
How do I
know if the car seat I'm interested in will fit in my vehicle?
We admit that there's a slight disadvantage in purchasing
your car seat online since you're not able to 'try before you
buy'. However, we've done everything possible to ease that
- We've measured each car seat we carry
and have the detailed specifications for each seat on our
- We make it known if a particular car
seat has been known to be returned or difficult to install
in certain vehicles.
the safest place to install a car seat in my vehicle?
The middle of the back seat is considered the safest position
for a child in a car. This position is furthest from any
possible point of impact.
What is FMVSS?
FMVSS stands for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
These are the standards put into place by the NHTSA (National
Highway Transportation Safety Administration). The NHTSA is an
agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. All car
seat manufacturers must test their car seats to ensure they meet
FMVSS for safety.
What is EPS
EPS foam, or Expanded Polystyrene foam is a material that is
used in bicycle helmets and car seats, among other things. This
material 'cushions' the blow upon impact.
What is ASTM
When you see an ASTM Certified* product like a Baby Jogger
jogging stroller, you know that it meets the most rigorous
standards set by the jogging stroller industry. Undergoing ASTM
testing and meeting the set standards is voluntary, done so at
the expense of the company, and not required by any government
or commercial body. Because ASTM standards are the highest
anywhere, any product (such as a Baby Jogger stroller) that
meets or exceeds them is certifiable as an item of the highest
*ASTM (the American Society for Testing and
Materials) is an international not-for-profit organization,
founded in 1898, that develops and produces standards for
products, materials, systems, and services. ASTM standards,
which are completely voluntary in their implementation, have a
world wide reputation as the most complete, meticulous, and
respected of their kind. An ASTM standard is a document produced
within a given industry that thoroughly outlines best practices
and determines what the boundaries of quality are for that good