We all want to make sure that our baby is as safe as possible in the event of an auto accident, but there is so much data on car crashes and car seats that you just do not know where to start. What car seat to use, what position in the vehicle to install it and facing where? There are too many options, so of course it will be confusing.
I think that it is important to understand basic facts first.
The safest spot in the vehicle is almost always the middle rear seat. This is the spot that is most protected from frontal impacts. In the moment of impact, all objects inside the vehicle will travel towards the point of impact. Frontal, or nearly frontal impacts are the most common, since that is the direction the vehicle is traveling in. Any rear seat is safer (in most instances) than any front seat, however the rear window seats can be dangerous in the event of a lateral collision. Therefore, the rear middle seat is the safest in most cases.
An infant or toddler should never be positioned behind a frontal air bag. Air bag deployment, while definitively very helpful in limiting severity and increasing survivability for adults and teenagers, is a violent event, and babies, toddlers and small children are better off being well restrained and away from their reach. Again, the rear middle seat is the farthest away from both frontal and lateral seat belts.
The people over at the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all infants ride in rear-facing car seats (in the back seat of course) until they are both one year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. I recommend you visit their web site , where you will find the best guide I have seen regarding car seat use, including car seat descriptions by manufacturer. You will also find contact information and links to most car seat manufacturers.
Although with the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system an attempt to standardize installation of car seat was made, regrettably there is still confusion due to the variation in motor vehicle and car seat makes. After carefully reviewing both the vehicle's Owner's Manual and the Car Seat manufacturers' instructions, contact a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technician. To find the nearest CPS Technician to you, you can call toll-free at 866 / SEATCHECK (866 / 732-8243). If you are reading this blog, you obviously have access to the web, in which case I recommend you visit www.seatcheck.org . All you do is type in your zip code, and you will be provided with a list of CPS Technicians near to you. It is very easy.
Finally, you really need to research if the car seat your are looking to buy has been involved in a product recall. This information is easy to locate, and there is simply no excuse to not do it. For this information you may call toll-free888 / DASH-2-DOT (888 / 327-4236). Again, if you are reading this, I recommend you visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) web site for this information.