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Make their 1st car ride a safe car ride: Rear facing car seat basics

Newborn buckled into a car seat

We all want our kids to be safe. Learn the basic steps on using a rear facing car seat. Make every ride a safe ride.


Welcome to motherhood. As you gaze down on your new bundle of joy lots of things cross your mind.

One of the most important things about bringing baby home is their car seat. Infant seat or convertible? How do I install a car seat? Who can I contact if I need help??

Let's start with the few basics of rear facing car seat
All babies need to ride rear facing in the car, this is the safest position for their delicate necks and spines. And they need to stay rear facing to a minimum of 2 years old. It's 5x safer for small children to ride rear facing in the vehicle. Most convertible seats rear face to 40 pounds and some to even 50 pounds.

Babies can ride in infant seats or convertible seats. The infant seat is more convenient as it has a handle and can be moved from the car to the house without waking baby. But it's biggest disadvantage is that it's outgrown after a few months Convertible seats can be used from birth and last for years. Some smaller seats are outgrown at 2-3 years old but other convertible seats fit as long as 5-6 years.

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When rear facing the harness needs to be at or below the babies shoulders. The harness needs to be snug as a hug with no slack. The chest clip needs to be at armpit level.

When installing your seat the first thing to do is read the instruction manual that came with your seat. It has step by step instructions to correctly install the seat. You want to install your seat using the seat belt or the LATCH system. Check in your vehicle manual to see what seating positions in your vehicle have latch.

Once installed the car seat or base for the infant seat should move less than 1 inch from side to side. When checking for movement grab the seat with your non dominant hand at the belt path (the spot where the seat belt or LATCH goes across the seat) and shake with the same amount of force as you would shake hands with someone.

It's always good to have your seat install double checked by a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) you can search for a CPST in your state at
http://cert.safekids.org if there are none in your area you can also look for CarSeat Safety groups on Facebook and ask questions and post pictures of your seat install.

So take a deep breath. You can make every ride a safe ride for your new baby.