1) When determining which seat to buy, it’s important to know your child’s weight and height. Staying within the seat’s limits will reduce your child’s risk of injury. It’s best not to guess. (See our child-seat timeline in the buying guide.)
2) Don’t rush to move your child from a rear- to forward-facing seat, or to a booster seat, because you think he or she is physically “big enough.” Depending on age, your child’s musculoskeletal system may not be developed enough to handle the increased burden of crash forces.
3) Parents may think that keeping children rear-facing until age 2 is uncomfortable. But it’s not, because kids are more flexible than adults.
4) To check whether the seat is properly installed (4 in 5 are not, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), go to safekids.org to find a nearby child-seat checkup.
Emily A. (Mathews) Thomas, Ph.D., is a specialist in pediatric injury biomechanics. She is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. She works out of our 327-acre test track headquarters in Colchester, Conn.
For more information, visit our child seat buying guide and ratings.
This article also appeared in the February 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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