You're a new parent and along with that comes all kinds of new gear – of of which is the car seat. I can't tell you how many times I cursed over the LATCH system when moving our twin's seats around from vehicle to vehicle. But, that's besides the point. This is the one thing that you will have in your vehicle for the next eight years. Yes, we said eight. So, it's time to educate yourself on infant seats vs. convertible car seats and boosters so you know ages and stages for your child. This is the easier part to navigate in car seat land. However, in addition to that, there are a lot of other questions that arise which aren't easily answered. Those are below:
1. Do you need a car seat in a taxi or ride share?
The short answer for any vehicles is yes. Regardless of the fact that you may be going a short distance in a taxi or rideshare service, you should still bring a seat along for safety. Most airlines allow you to check your carseat for free, so bringing it along is not cost prohibitive.
If for some reason you do not have a seat along on travel, use a rideshare service that offers you the option of a car seat with the ride. Uber offers an UberFamily service where you can pay an additional $10 to have a forward facing car seat arrive with your ride. Lyft does not offer this same service currently.
If you have an infant under a year old, plan to bring your seat on any travel and buckle them in. Most Ubers and Lyfts will deny you a ride without a proper car seat.
The Car Seat Lady: Taxi Tips
2. How long are car seats good for? Can you use them from child to child? Do car seats expire? If so, why?
Yes they do. Over time, car seats can have hidden damage and deterioration or break down of their product as a result of regular daily use. This may result in limiting the protection the seat offers. Many manufacturers state 6-10 years of use depending on the type of seat. If it has a steel frame, the seat can last up to 10 years. Graco and Britax, two popular brands of seats, both state a 6 year timeline for a carseat that does not offer a steel frame.
If your car seat has a steel frame, it is possible it will have up to 10 years before expiring.If you are receiving the seat from a friend or family member, make sure you know the history of the car seat before you decide to use it. Has it ever been in a crash? Do all of the pieces and parts look to be in good order? Has the seat expired? Check out more considerations for used and borrowed seats over at the Car Seat Lady
Britax car seat expiration details
Graco car seat expiration details
3. Who can help install my car seat?
If you want to be certain you have installed your car seat properly, check out these useful video tutorials from Safer Car and give it a go. Then, use this handy search from Safer Car to help you locate someone in your area who can check out your work. This is a great way to feel confident with your installation as a new parent. If this search doesn’t yield a result, you can also use a similar service/function from Safe Kids – they’ll connect you with a certified safety technician who can educate you and double check your work to make sure baby is as safe as possible.
4. Which car seats have steel frames?
5. Which car seats fit three across in a car?
The most comprehensive guide we could find you was over on BabyCenter's blog. They found 47 carseats that will fit three across (in most) vehicles. So, no need to buy a minivan if say, you end up with (surprise!) twins after your first and you only have a sedan.
6. Can you donate your car seat?
The short answer, not usually. Organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army will not accept a used car seat because they do not know the history of the seat (age, if it’s been in a car accident etc..). There are some churches or parent resource centers that may consider donations, but those are few and far between. Your best bet is to wait until there is a trade-in event at a store like Babies R’ Us or Target and use it for a discount on another purchase.
7. When are car seats no longer needed?
This depends on the height and weight of your child. In general, children under age four are in a car seat, beyond that a booster until around the age of eight. Each state has their own height, weight and age restrictions. You can check those out here.
8. Where are car seats safest place in a vehicle?
Back seat, and rear facing for as long as possible, but at least for the first year, some states (like, Oklahoma) require until the age of two.
9. Where do car seats go in a truck?
The two things to make sure of with a pick-up truck, if you don’t have a full size cab, is to turn off your airbag in the passenger seat and make sure that the base fits completely on the seat, or a minimum of 80% of the seat so it is adequately supported.
10. How can I find out compatibility with my stroller and my car seat?
This is a matter of a little time and research if you aren’t buying and all-in-one infant seat stroller combo. The Car Seat Lady has done a lot of legwork in this department. Use her handy dandy tool to figure out your needs on this front.