You can't bring your baby home from the hospital without a car seat safely installed in your back seat. Before you embark on that confusing journey down the car seat aisle of your local baby supercenter, here are some features to look for:
A new car seat is always best. This is one baby item that you want to choose very carefully.
If you choose a hand-me-down car seat, check it carefully to make sure it hasn't been recalled (visit http://www.safercar.gov/), and it doesn't have any cracks or broken parts. Never use a car seat that was in use during a motor vehicle accident.
Start with a rear-facing seat, and stay with it until your baby is at least 2 years old, or until he or she is bigger than the seat's recommended height and weight.
Look for a 5-point safety harness which will help keep your baby snug.
The buckled harness straps should always be properly secured. Loose harness straps don't protect your baby adequately.
Make sure to adjust the chest clip to the level of your baby's armpit.
Every car seat has an expiration date. This is usually 6 years from the date it was manufactured. If you can't locate the expiration date, call the manufacturer.
Buy a car seat that fits right into your stroller. It will save you valuable travel time.
The car seat should be light enough to carry easily. If it's heavy now, imagine how it will feel with your baby inside!
If you need help installing the car seat, ask a pro! Drive over to your local fire station and they'll do it the right way.
Good to Know is a new feature that allows members of the community to answer questions from WebMD experts, doctors, staff, and other community members. We're testing this new feature and we'd like your feedback.
Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter
Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on what to expect each week of your pregnancy.