3 safety tips for infant car seats

Consumer Reports News: February 09, 2009 04:27 PM

Your baby's infant car seat will be one of the most important pieces of gear you use during that life-changing first year. Here, three top reminders on how to use it safely. 

--Have your baby ride rear facing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants should ride facing the rear of the car until they are at least 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds. But it is even better for them to ride rear facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat's manufacturer. Check your owner's manual. Many convertible models offer the potential to keep babies rear facing until they reach as much as 35 lbs. or even more. If your baby outgrows his infant car seat (in height or weight) before age 1, install a convertible car seat in the rear-facing position and keep it that way as long as the seat allows. Don't place an infant seat in a forward facing position; it always stays rear facing.

--Never place an infant car seat on a bed, sofa, or other soft surface. They are suffocation hazards, should the baby be too upright or the car seat tip with your baby in it.

--Never put an infant car seat on an elevated surface such as a countertop or table. Your baby's movements can cause it to slide over the edge.

See our car seats buying guide for advice and Ratings.

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