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Tips to choose the safest car seat for your baby

There is a long list of things to buy when you are expecting your first child. From the right bassinet to the safest baby toys, every parent only wants what is best to protect the child they welcome into the world.

This is a natural instinct. But deciding which products are the best for your child often requires careful research. The same goes for your child's car seat.

So, what steps should you take to select the right car seat for your child?

1. Limit your search to rear-facing car seats only

Under Tennessee law, children must be in rear-facing car seats until:

  • They are at least one year old; and
  • They weigh at least 20 pounds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that parents use rear-facing car seats until children weigh 35 pounds.

2. Evaluate your vehicle

It is critical to make sure your vehicle will accommodate a new car seat. Examine the back seat of your vehicle - where the car seat will be - and measure the dimensions. That way, you will know how much room you are working with before you choose a car seat.

Also consider which installation option will work best with your vehicle. Nowadays, you can install a car seat using either:

You can use either option in your vehicle since it will have both the seat belt and the LATCH attachments.

3. Check the car seat's rating

When shopping for a car seat, expecting parents find there are so many options to choose from that it can be overwhelming. That is why it is critical to look at each seat's rating.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates every car seat on the market. They consider four important factors when rating car seats, including:

  • How clear the instruction manual is;
  • How clear the label is on the restraint;
  • How well the seat secures the child; and
  • How easy the seat is to install in the vehicle.

Thankfully, you can easily check the NHTSA's ratings to evaluate your car seat choices. However, you should also create your own list to evaluate each car seat, so you can choose the one that works best for your budget, your vehicle and - most importantly - your baby.

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office has a helpful website that covering this topic in more detail and providing additional information. To visit, go to https://tntrafficsafety.org/cps.

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