The first rule of child safety seats is to fit the correct seat to your child’s (and family’s) needs. The type of car seat your child needs depends on many factors. No one seat is the "safest" or the "best." The "best" child safety seat for your family is the one that is easy to use, fits in your vehicle's seats, is compatible with the vehicle's seat belts or LATCH system, and is the proper size for your child, based on age, height and weight.
Remember, your baby will ride rear-facing until she is 2 years of age or until she reaches the highest weight or height limit allowed by the manufacturer of her child safety seat. Some rear-facing child safety seats accommodate infants up to 35 pounds or more. Please visit Car Seat Safety For Your Baby for a description and types of child safety seats, or learn more about how to avoid common car seat installation mistakes.
Car seat checklist
Follow this easy-to-use checklist when buying a new child safety seat:
- The seat you have selected can be used rear-facing.
- The seat meets the federal motor vehicle safety standard. This information can be found on a sticker on the side of the car seat.
- Your child’s height and weight fits the height and weight limits listed on a label on the side of the car seat.
- The harness is easy for you to adjust each and every time you put your baby in and out of the seat.
- The seat is easy to install in your car.
- If you have more than one car and are buying an infant carrier with a base, you can buy a base for each car.
If you are buying a used child safety seat, you also have to check the following:
- The history of the child safety seat; make sure it was never involved in a crash.
- The seat has not been recalled. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for recall information.
- The seat is not too old. Most manufacturers place an expiration date on their child safety seats, which is normally around six years.
If you still have concerns about installing and using the child safety seat properly, you can visit a car seat fitting station nationally or in the greater Philadelphia area. Please visit our Car Seat Checks page to learn more.