Vivian is 5 years old and weighs 25 lbs.

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Buying Tips for Vivian

Types OF forward-facing CAR SEATS

Look for a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether that has room for your child to grow for several years.

There are four types of forward-facing car seats.

  • convertible car seat can be used in a rear-facing position, and then turned to face forward when your child is big enough. If you have one of these seats, you do not need to buy a new car seat until your child is ready for a booster seat.
  • A forward-facing-only car seat is used in only one direction and has a 5-point harness and top tether.
  • A combination seat is forward-facing with a 5-point harness and top tether, and can change into a booster seat when you remove the harness.
  • A 3-in-1 car seat can be used in a rear-facing position, a forward-facing position and as a booster seat.

Carefully read the labels if you decide to use a combination seat or a 3-in-1 car seat. Follow height and weight limits. The labels will tell you when to remove the harness and switch to a booster seat.

Even if your child is older than age 2, use the seat in the rear-facing position as long as your child meets the height or weight limit found on the label. Some rear-facing seats can be used for children up to 40, or even 50, pounds.

Bonus Tips

  1. Take a photo of your car seat label and keep the photo on your phone. That way, you’ll have the height and weight limits handy to check as your child grows. It’s also a fast way to check for recalls.

Installing Tips for Vivian

Four Important Installation Tips

  • Install your forward-facing car seat in a back seat using one of two systems: either a top tether and locked seat belt or a top tether with lower attachments (LATCH). Both systems are safe, but don’t use both at the same time.
  • Your vehicle owner’s manual shows the approved LATCH seating positions in your car. Not all seating positions have lower anchors, but they all have seat belts.
  • Use a top tether with your forward-facing car seat. The top tether reduces the forward motion of the car seat in a crash. Look for a top tether anchor in your car before you select the location for your car seat.
  • Make sure the car seat is snug enough to pass the Inch Test. A properly installed car seat should not move more than 1 inch side to side or front to back when pulled at the car seat’s belt path. The belt path is near the forward-facing child’s hips.

Fitting Tips for Vivian

Four Steps to the Right Fit

  1. Your child’s back and bottom should be flat against the car seat. Do not put anything behind or underneath them, such as a blanket or small pillow.
  2. Make sure that the harness straps come through the car seat’s slots at or just above your child’s shoulders.
  3. Buckle and tighten the harness so it is snug. Do the Pinch Test to make sure you cannot pinch the harness strap at your child’s shoulders.
  4. Position the chest clip to be level with your child’s armpits.

Bonus Tips

  1. Every time you put your child into the seat, make sure the harness straps are snug. A snug fit means you cannot pinch the straps (webbing) at the shoulder when it is buckled. You have to loosen and tighten the harness each time you put your child in the car seat.

When to Change for Vivian

Tips FOR Moving to a Booster Seat

Your child is safer in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and top tether, so wait until your child reaches the weight or height limit of the car seat before moving her into a booster seat. When you keep your child forward facing in a harness, there is more protection than using a booster seat with lap and shoulder belt or a seat belt alone.

Once your child outgrows the harness of a forward-facing convertible car seat, forward-facing-only car seat, or combination car seat, it’s time to move to a booster seat.

If you are using a combination car seat or a 3-in-1 car seat, there’s no need for a new seat. Just follow the seat directions for changing the seat into a booster.

Bonus Tips

  1. Your children might not like sitting in their car seats. That’s normal. Keep a bag of soft toys, books, and games in the car, and tell them that they can play with them only if they’re sitting properly in their seats. Don’t take the bag into restaurants, the house, or anywhere else. This way, your children learn that their good behavior in the car is rewarded with special things in the bag.

Other Things You Need to Know for Vivian

Buckle Up, THey’re Watching

Set a good example because your child will mimic what you do. Buckle up every person in the car, every ride, every time.

Avoid distractions. Put your phone down, take your headphones off and keep your eyes on the road. Don’t be tempted to install a mirror to watch your child in a back seat. Your family is safest with your eyes on the road.

We care about safe adults, too.

Bonus Tips

  1. Never leave a child alone in a car. Being tired or having a change in routine can make even the most loving person forget a sleeping baby in a back seat. To help you remember your child, put your phone or other item that you’ll need at your destination in the back seat. This will help you remember that your child is there.

    Keep car doors and trunks locked so kids at play don’t get into them. And ask neighbors to lock up, too. We hear too many stories of kids getting trapped in cars.

Share these tips with friends and family!

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Looking for more information?

Check out our basic car seat safety tips, find FAQs, or check the Glossary.