Child safely riding in a carseat.

As a new parent or parent-to-be, your child’s safety is one of your top concerns. That’s why you may have spent hours scrolling through blogs and websites in search of the safest car seat—the right model, features, front/rear-facing…and the list goes on. So, how do you choose the best infant car seat? 

Believe it or not, the most important factor has nothing to do with specifications or brands, but rather using the child safety seat correctly. 

A Quick Look at Car Seat Data

Car crashes are the number one killer of children aged 1 to 13 in the United States. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, using a car or booster seat properly can reduce your child’s risk of death in a car crash by 71 percent.

The key is using the car seat properly. Unfortunately, 73% of the time, this is not the case.

The Safest Car Seats

All new car seats sold in the U.S. must meet federal safety standards. The safest car seats are the ones that are designed for your child’s stage of life and are used consistently and correctly. 

Car seats should never be purchased from yard sales or consignment shops. Only use a seat if you know its history and are 100% sure it has never been in an accident. Any seat that has been in an accident should be replaced. And finally, when purchasing a car seat online, make sure it arrives in a box with instructions, a safety card, and a safety label that includes the date of manufacture.

How to Install a Car Seat

Seat installation can be tricky for even the most adept parent. Here’s a car seat checklist from SafeKidsWorldwide to help you out. If you are having even the slightest trouble, questions, or concerns, certified child passenger safety technicians are able to help or even double check your work for free. Find a location near you.

Car Seat Safety Tips

  • Pennsylvania law requires children under 2 years of age be secured in a rear facing car seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Children who have outgrown the rear-facing seat, should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible.
  • All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. This typically happens when children reached 4’ 9” and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
  • When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt, they should always use the lap and shoulder seat belts.
  • All children younger than 13 years should be properly restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.
  • Be a role model. We know when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up too.

And finally, one of the most important safety tips does not involve a car seat at all: Never leave your child alone in a car—not even for a minute. While it may be tempting to dash out for a quick errand, the temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of the store.