Home Blog Page 3

Car Seats and Expiration Dates

baby rear facing car seat

Consider some statistics gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): Since the mid-1970s, the number of children under three years old who die in car crashes has lowered by 66 percent. Similarly, the number of infants who die in crashes has dropped by 80 percent. The fatalities have decreased even though the number of children riding in vehicles has concurrently increased by 5%.

What has changed in the past 40 years? Most significantly, it is the use of car seats and booster seats. A report by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that a properly used restraint system can lower fatal injuries to a child by 70 to 80 percent.

Do Car Seats Really Expire?​​booster seats.​

Your existing car seat worked perfectly well for your older child. Why should you invest in a new one for your newborn? Aren’t car seat expiration dates just a ploy by manufacturers to scare you into spending money on a newer model you don’t actually need? Would you give your sick child medicine that expired five years ago? Of course you wouldn’t, because that medicine is no longer effective.

Your current model may still look great, but the damage done to an old car seat is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Think about the conditions you put a car seat through. Day after day, it sits in the back seat of your car, pelted by the sun’s damaging rays. If you live in a cold climate, it is subjected to extreme weather as your car is stationed in your driveway or a parking lot. Car seats are primarily made out of plastic. Have you ever mistakenly left a toy outside for an extended period of time until it was damaged beyond use? Have you noticed that your lawn furniture begins to deteriorate after a few years of consistent outdoor wear and tear? As durable as they are, plastics do break down over time. They crack and tear, and parts become loose. When subjected to the stress of a car crash, brittle plastic is not dependable.

The car seat is one of very few products that is specifically designed to save your child’s life. New design features are being created every day in order to increase its effectiveness in doing just that. Today’s professional football players don’t use the same helmets as their 1960s counterparts. Over the years, helmets have been tweaked and improved to keep the players as safe as possible. Apply that same logic to car seats. It is important to take advantage of the latest in technology to keep your children as safe as possible. If you wouldn’t send your child onto the field in a 1960s football helmet, why would you place him or her in an outdated car seat? Take a look at a car seat that was designed five to 10 years ago and compare it to a brand-new model. You’ll notice differences in design and materials.​​​​

latch system car seat

If your vehicle is a 2003 model or later, it is equipped with the LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The system allows you to attach your child’s car seat to the car using secure metal anchors. Car seats must be tightly secured in the car so that even pushing or pulling on them cannot move them more than an inch. The LATCH system is designed to increase that security and keep your child as safe as possible in the case of an accident. All car seats manufactured after September of 2002 are designed to be compatible with LATCH.

Many car seat manufacturers fit their products with safety features that exceed the current federal standards for safety. These features that are considered extras today will likely become federally mandated in the future. Thanks to industry research, crash tests, and advancing technologies, car seats will continue to feature new innovations year after year.

safecell impact protection

Consider the SafeCell Impact Protection technology from Britax. It is a combination of parts that work together to keep your child secure. It is designed to absorb energy and limit movement in a collision. Side impact protection shields your child from flying debris and absorbs crash forces. It provides extra protection for your child’s head and neck. An impact-absorbing base counteracts forward movement so that your child does not collide with the front seat upon impact. An impact-stabilizing steel frame provides extra strength.

britax clicktight installation system

Britax’s ClickTight system is designed to provide even easier and more secure installation than LATCH. The system has no weight restrictions and uses only the car’s existing seat belt path for secure attachment. Unlike LATCH, it can also be used in the car’s center and third row.  

How Do I Know if My Car Seat Has Expired?

car seat expiry

Generally, most car seats expire around six years after their initial release, though some can be used for up to ten years. To find out if your specific seat has expired, check the manufacturer label on the unit. This is usually located on the bottom or on the side of the car seat. If you can’t find a label, check the instruction manual that came with the seat. If you still can’t find the information, call the manufacturer directly. With certain models, some parts can expire before others. Make sure you have the complete expiration information about your model before trusting it with your child’s safety.

It is also possible for an older model car seat to be recalled due to faulty parts or operation without you being aware of it. Therefore, it is imperative to stay on top of any news about your specific model. You can check for any recall information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website at safercar.gov. You can also register your car seat with the site and sign up for updates and recall notices. Some organizations, like hospitals or local police departments, offer free car seat inspections. Their technicians can examine your car seat, show you how to use it properly, and help you choose a new one if necessary. Your local American Automobile Association (AAA) can help you locate an inspection station near you.

What Are the Federal Standards for Car Seat Manufacturers?

car seat recommendations for children

Car seat manufacturers must design their products to meet specific NHTSA mandated performance standards, also known as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Most importantly, each child restraint system must pass a test that simulates a collision at 30 miles per hour. Additionally, the system must meet flammability requirements, have adequate buckle release pressure, and meet certain requirements for padding around the head area of the seat.

LATCH systems on car seats must have two distinct sets of features. The first set is lower anchor connectors that replace seat belt installation. The second set is tether connectors designed to reduce forward motion upon impact. This second feature is not a requirement for rear-facing car seats.

Finally, each car seat must also have a visible label that lists instructions for installation and use, verification that it has passed required safety tests, the name and address of the manufacturer, and the date the product was manufactured.

What Are the Car Seat Laws?

united states map

Each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia have car seat laws on their books. These laws require that children under a certain age must be placed in an appropriate child restraint system when traveling in a vehicle. However, the specifics of the laws vary from state to state. You can find the exact laws of your state by visiting the IIHS website at iihs.org.

It is a parent or driver’s responsibility to ensure that a child is properly fastened when riding in a vehicle. Depending on the state, failure to adhere to the law can result in monetary fines. Some states penalize noncompliance by giving drivers points on their licenses.

Generally, children aged two or younger should be placed in a rear-facing car seat. This is a recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In fact, the NHTSA recommends that you keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Once your child physically outgrows a rear-facing seat, it is time to switch to a forward-facing seat with a tether and a harness. A child typically outgrows a forward-facing seat between 4 and 7 years old, depending on his or her weight and height. At this point, it is time to use a booster seat. A booster seat should be used until the child is big enough to safely use a regular seat belt.

When driving, your child is your most precious cargo. Expiration dates on car seats must be taken seriously; they are meant to help keep your child as safe as possible while out on the road. Even the most safety-conscious drivers are not immune to vehicle collisions. Your choice of car seat is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent to a young child. Don’t make the mistake of trying to stretch the life of your current model. If your car seat has expired or is about to expire, it is time to invest in a new one. Not only will your child be safer, but you’ll enjoy peace of mind that you’re doing everything in your control to keep him or her secure.

Car Seat And Expiration Dates: Everything You Need To Know

baby rear facing car seat

​Consider some statistics gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): Since the mid-1970s, the number of children under three years old who die in car crashes has lowered by 66 percent. Similarly, the number of infants who die in crashes has dropped by 80 percent. The fatalities have decreased even though the number of children riding in vehicles has concurrently increased by 5%.

What has changed in the past 40 years? Most significantly, it is the use of car seats and booster seats. A report by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that a properly used restraint system can lower fatal injuries to a child by 70 to 80 percent.

Do Car Seats Really Expire?

car seats expire

Your existing car seat worked perfectly well for your older child. Why should you invest in a new one for your newborn? Aren’t car seat expiration dates just a ploy by manufacturers to scare you into spending money on a newer model you don’t actually need? Would you give your sick child medicine that expired five years ago? Of course you wouldn’t, because that medicine is no longer effective.

Your current model may still look great, but the damage done to an old car seat is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Think about the conditions you put a car seat through. Day after day, it sits in the back seat of your car, pelted by the sun’s damaging rays. If you live in a cold climate, it is subjected to extreme weather as your car is stationed in your driveway or a parking lot. Car seats are primarily made out of plastic. Have you ever mistakenly left a toy outside for an extended period of time until it was damaged beyond use? Have you noticed that your lawn furniture begins to deteriorate after a few years of consistent outdoor wear and tear? As durable as they are, plastics do break down over time. They crack and tear, and parts become loose. When subjected to the stress of a car crash, brittle plastic is not dependable.

vintage car seat

The car seat is one of very few products that is specifically designed to save your child’s life. New design features are being created every day in order to increase its effectiveness in doing just that. Today’s professional football players don’t use the same helmets as their 1960s counterparts. Over the years, helmets have been tweaked and improved to keep the players as safe as possible. Apply that same logic to car seats. It is important to take advantage of the latest in technology to keep your children as safe as possible. If you wouldn’t send your child onto the field in a 1960s football helmet, why would you place him or her in an outdated car seat? Take a look at a car seat that was designed five to 10 years ago and compare it to a brand-new model. You’ll notice differences in design and materials.

If your vehicle is a 2003 model or later, it is equipped with the LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The system allows you to attach your child’s car seat to the car using secure metal anchors. Car seats must be tightly secured in the car so that even pushing or pulling on them cannot move them more than an inch. The LATCH system is designed to increase that security and keep your child as safe as possible in the case of an accident. All car seats manufactured after September of 2002 are designed to be compatible with LATCH.

Many car seat manufacturers fit their products with safety features that exceed the current federal standards for safety. These features that are considered extras today will likely become federally mandated in the future. Thanks to industry research, crash tests, and advancing technologies, car seats will continue to feature new innovations year after year.

Consider the SafeCell Impact Protection technology from Britax. It is a combination of parts that work together to keep your child secure. It is designed to absorb energy and limit movement in a collision. Side impact protection shields your child from flying debris and absorbs crash forces. It provides extra protection for your child’s head and neck. An impact-absorbing base counteracts forward movement so that your child does not collide with the front seat upon impact. An impact-stabilizing steel frame provides extra strength.

Britax’s ClickTight system is designed to provide even easier and more secure installation than LATCH. The system has no weight restrictions and uses only the car’s existing seat belt path for secure attachment. Unlike LATCH, it can also be used in the car’s center and third row.  

How Do I Know if My Car Seat Has Expired?

Generally, most car seats expire around six years after their initial release, though some can be used for up to ten years. To find out if your specific seat has expired, check the manufacturer label on the unit. This is usually located on the bottom or on the side of the car seat. If you can’t find a label, check the instruction manual that came with the seat. If you still can’t find the information, call the manufacturer directly. With certain models, some parts can expire before others. Make sure you have the complete expiration information about your model before trusting it with your child’s safety.

It is also possible for an older model car seat to be recalled due to faulty parts or operation without you being aware of it. Therefore, it is imperative to stay on top of any news about your specific model. You can check for any recall information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website at safercar.gov. You can also register your car seat with the site and sign up for updates and recall notices. Some organizations, like hospitals or local police departments, offer free car seat inspections. Their technicians can examine your car seat, show you how to use it properly, and help you choose a new one if necessary. Your local American Automobile Association (AAA) can help you locate an inspection station near you.

What Are the Federal Standards for Car Seat Manufacturers?

federal standards for car seat manufacturers

Car seat manufacturers must design their products to meet specific NHTSA mandated performance standards, also known as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Most importantly, each child restraint system must pass a test that simulates a collision at 30 miles per hour. Additionally, the system must meet flammability requirements, have adequate buckle release pressure, and meet certain requirements for padding around the head area of the seat.

LATCH systems on car seats must have two distinct sets of features. The first set is lower anchor connectors that replace seat belt installation. The second set is tether connectors designed to reduce forward motion upon impact. This second feature is not a requirement for rear-facing car seats.

Finally, each car seat must also have a visible label that lists instructions for installation and use, verification that it has passed required safety tests, the name and address of the manufacturer, and the date the product was manufactured.

What Are the Car Seat Laws?

car seat laws

Each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia have car seat laws on their books. These laws require that children under a certain age must be placed in an appropriate child restraint system when traveling in a vehicle. However, the specifics of the laws vary from state to state. You can find the exact laws of your state by visiting the IIHS website at iihs.org.

It is a parent or driver’s responsibility to ensure that a child is properly fastened when riding in a vehicle. Depending on the state, failure to adhere to the law can result in monetary fines. Some states penalize noncompliance by giving drivers points on their licenses.

Generally, children aged two or younger should be placed in a rear-facing car seat. This is a recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In fact, the NHTSA recommends that you keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Once your child physically outgrows a rear-facing seat, it is time to switch to a forward-facing seat with a tether and a harness. A child typically outgrows a forward-facing seat between 4 and 7 years old, depending on his or her weight and height. At this point, it is time to use a booster seat. A booster seat should be used until the child is big enough to safely use a regular seat belt.

When driving, your child is your most precious cargo. Expiration dates on car seats must be taken seriously; they are meant to help keep your child as safe as possible while out on the road. Even the most safety-conscious drivers are not immune to vehicle collisions. Your choice of car seat is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent to a young child. Don’t make the mistake of trying to stretch the life of your current model. If your car seat has expired or is about to expire, it is time to invest in a new one. Not only will your child be safer, but you’ll enjoy peace of mind that you’re doing everything in your control to keep him or her secure.

Car Seat Buyer’s Guide: Best Recaro Baby Seat Alternatives

recaro best seat

The two most important things to do before your baby arrives are to pack a hospital bag, and to install a car seat. From the first day babies leave the hospital, car seats are there to keep them safe and comfortable. Your child will typically see your car seat even before your house. In order to keep them safe, you need to make sure you have the best car seat available.

Of course, that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Thoughtfully consider each type of car seat, and choose the one that is best for your growing family. Recaro is a German car seat manufacturer that specializes in premium-quality and highly safe car seats.

Unfortunately, these seats are no longer available in the USA. This guide will give you the pros and cons of each highly-rated Recaro baby seat alternative, and help you decide which one is right for you. You’ll also find some important FAQs. Whether you are ahead of the game and researching this early, or reading on the way to the hospital, this guide will help you make sense of the highest rated car seats on the market. You’ll also find a few helpful tips when looking for the safety and comfort features of each car seat.

FAQs

1. What Size Baby Seat Do I Need?

There are dozens of sizes and types of baby car seats on the market, and it’s hard to know what all the names mean. Thankfully, each baby seat is also rated based on weight and height. Weight in particular is often advertised clearly, but be sure to check the minimum and maximum height requirements for your baby seat. Baby seats overlap considerably in weight requirements.

For example, the Recaro Performance Coupe is rated from 4-35 pounds, while the Performance Sport is rated from 20-120 pounds. Carefully consider which baby car seat will meet your needs, and plan ahead for when your baby outgrows the infant seat. No baby seat is designed to accommodate all ages, so at minimum you will need two Recaro baby seats. However, these Recaro alternatives offer a few all-in-one models, so you will only need one car seat.

Recaro Performance Coupe

RECARO Performance Racer Convertible Car Seat, Midnight

Buy on Amazon

2. Are These Car Seats Safe?

Recaro baby seats meet all the requirements and are rated excellently to keep your child safe. However, laws and regulations are constantly changing regarding baby car seats, so all car seats will expire six years after they are manufactured. This is to ensure your car seat is up-to-date and follows all local and national laws. One of the biggest dangers surrounding car seats is installation. If you aren’t sure how to install a car seat properly, take it to a child passenger safety technician. They will help you install your baby seat properly, which can dramatically reduce the likelihood of injury.

3. What Types of Baby Seats Are There?

Recaro baby seats are divided into four basic categories. Infant seats are designed for the smallest passengers. Booster seats are meant for older kids, anywhere from 30-120 pounds. Convertible seats are designed to overlap the two, providing support for midsized children. Finally, a combination car seat, which is similar to a convertible, has the widest weight range. Each of these come with their own pros and cons, and none of them are able to safely restrain your child from birth until they are old enough to not need a baby seat.

4. What is Recaro?

RECARO Performance Racer Convertible Car Seat, Midnight

Recaro is a German automotive and aircraft company that specializes in premium-quality safe and comfortable seating. For 100 years, Recaro has made innovative and successful products across the automotive and aircraft industries, and they continue to win awards with their baby seats in Europe. However, Recaro has recently closed their entire US market.

5. Is My Baby Seat Installed Correctly?

Each car seat has its own specific instructions when installing. Improper car seat installation is, unfortunately, very common. An improper installation can be very dangerous for your child. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully. If you aren’t sure, take your car seat to a national child passenger safety specialist, who can verify it is installed correctly.

6. What Makes a​​​​ Good Car Seat?

There are several important factors to consider when looking for the best car seat on the market. First, make sure the seat is a newer model. Most car seats expire after six years, so you want a seat that will last. There are three key areas to compare each car seat: safety, comfort and ease of use. Obviously, a safe car seat is the most important feature.

Every car seat passes the minimum crash test safety ratings, but some seats go above-and-beyond and offer some additional protection. It’s a vital aspect to consider, but thankfully, most car seats provide excellent safety features. Second, you want your child to be comfortable. Whether it’s the first ride home from the hospital, the hundredth ride to Grandma’s house or a long road trip, comfort is very important for your infant or child.

Each car seat has some different features to address your child’s comfort needs, so compare them and consider your own situation. Finally, you want a car seat you can easily adjust. As your child grows, you’ll need to move the straps and eventually switch from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster seat. You may even need to switch between cars. You’ll want a car seat that is simple to install, easy to adjust and convenient to clean. An easy-to-install car seat could literally save you hours of stressful adjusting, repositioning and pulling straps. With one-click designs, levels, and sliding straps, premium car seats take all the stress out of adjusting your car seat.

How We Reviewed

In order to find the best Recaro baby seat alternatives, each car seat was carefully selected to represent the highest quality in both safety and comfort. Customer reviews and professional opinions were used to create this list of bestselling baby seats. Each one has specific features, pros and cons and detailed specifications.

Price Range

Car seats fall under a wide price range, and the additional features and comfort of more expensive seats make lower cost models feel uncomfortable and awkward in comparison. It’s definitely a product that you get what you pay for. It’s also extremely difficult to advertise for a lower-cost model, as no parents want to feel they’ve bought a seat with lower standards.

The most expensive seat includes a few unique features, like a rebound bar. However, take a look at each seat and compare the features. For this list, each car seat has unique features, so the best car seat for you may not be the most expensive or the most inexpensive.

RECARO Performance Racer Convertible Car Seat, Midnight

Best Recaro Alternative Baby Seats

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

No products found.

This deluxe car seat features plenty of padding and protection, and can protect your child from birth until 120 pounds. This highly flexible feature is even more improved than any Recaro baby seats, making it an excellent alternative. The straps are easily adjusted, and its two cup holders are convenient for drinks and snacks for your older child.  The seat can recline and adjust in a variety of ways, so your child can be comfortable even on longer trips. If you need to change switch vehicles, the latch system is designed to be simple and easy. It also gives a loud click, which is a clear indication that your car seat is fastened correctly. In terms of safety, there is also a level-indicator that helps you determine the correct position for your car seat.

Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Circa
  • Easy installation: Patented Click Tight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
  • No rethreading, ever: Quick adjust 14 position harness with Click & Safe Snug Indicator gives a click sound when the...
  • Adjust accurately: Harness indicator gives an audible click when you’ve pulled to the proper tightness

No one wants an unsafe car seat, and this Britax model offers several unique safety features. The rebound bar helps protect your child while rear-facing. It keeps the seat stable, and lowers the rebound rotation by 40%. The headrest has extra padding on both the inside and outside of the shell. The headrest has an impressive 14 positions, and the seat is designed to be efficient and comfortable. While it is a convertible car seat, it doesn’t have the same range as a 4-in-1. It’s one of the most costly car seats, and the seat itself is also quite heavy. However, in terms of safety, this is an excellent option.

Britax Boulevard G4.1 Convertible Car Seat

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat | 2 Layer Impact...
  • 2-In-1 convertible car seat: easily transitions from rear-facing mode to forward-facing mode as your child grows from...
  • Install confidently: with ClickTight, you know it's right in just 3 easy steps: open, buckle, close
  • Cool N Dry fabric: improves air flow for a cooler ride; wicks away moisture to help keep your child dry

The best-priced model, the Boulevard G4.1 is designed to have high-end components at a mid-range price. In terms of car seats, it’s still very comfortable, safe and adjustable. However, head-to-head with other, more expensive baby seats shows it is still lacking some features. This car seat is only rated for children under 65 pounds. The sides only have two layers of protection, rather than three. It’s still very highly rated, and is a great car seat under $300.

Chicco NextFit iX Convertible Car Seat

Chicco NextFit iX Convertible Car Seat, Eucalyptus
  • ReclineSure 9-position leveling system for an accurate fit in a wider range of vehicles
  • Dual RideRight bubble level-indicators verify seat angle in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes
  • Premium connectors and a SuperCinch tightener help achieve a secure installation with LATCH

A mid-range model on this list, the NextFit iX combines some of the safety and comfort of more expensive car seats, with a more affordable price. It doesn’t install quite as easily, but still offers plenty of adjustable features for your child. This car seat has an infant insert, forward-facing and rear-facing options, as well as reclining and adjustable headrest features. It also comes in a few color options, which help your child feel comfortable and look stylish.

Diono Rainier All-In-One Convertible Car Seat

Diono Rainier All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, from Birth to 120...
  • TOP-TIER SAFETY WITH A STREAMLINED DESIGN: Diono’s convertible car seats feature a fully integrated steel frame...
  • STYLISH AND SNUG FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S COMFORT: The Rainier features a 12-position, aluminum reinforced adjustable...
  • EXTENDED REAR-FACING CAPACITY FOR THE SAFEST RIDE: The Rainier offers an extended rear-facing capacity of 5-50 lbs,...

Another premium, all-in-one model, the Rainier offers all the high-quality safety, convenience and comfort you would expect, and a few unique features. Its rear-facing position is rated up to 50 pounds, so your child can stay in the safest position for longer. It has a steel frame, deep side walls and durable and comfortable foam that is energy absorbing. It’s easy to install, adjust and clean. Some customers feel the child straps are difficult to use with, but overall it’s a very highly rated product.

Our Final Thoughts

While you can no longer purchase a Recaro baby seat in the USA, each of these car seats provide some of the innovative technology, durable safety features and extreme comfort that Recaro is still known for in Europe. Any car seat on this list would be an excellent addition to your travel plans, and you can drive confidently knowing your little one is safe and comfortable.

Of course, always ensure your car seat is properly installed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help to make sure it is installed correctly. These car seats are all very high-quality, and each one has some slightly different features. Look over the list and consider which option has the best choices for you and your child. Choose a car seat that combines the best safety, comfort and ease of use.

Car Seat Laws Throughout The 50 States: A Citizen’s Guide

50 states

​If you have a child and are traveling by car, depending on that child’s age, you may be required to have them in a protective car seat for the duration of the drive. For those who are unsure about rules, regulations, and car seat laws in your area, you can find your state in the list below for more information.

Alabama

alabama mapalabama flagalabama seal

In the state of Alabama, children who are ages six and under must use a child passenger restraint system. Infants and children 20 pounds or less should be secured in a rear-facing infant-only seat. Children who are at least five years old and 40 pounds can ride in forward-facing seats, and a booster seat can be used after the age of six. Young adults must wear seatbelts until the age of 15.

Alaska

alaskaalaska flagalaska seal

Alaskans are required to keep children less than one year or less than 20 pounds in a federally-approved rear-facing car seat. Those who are older than one, yet less than five, must be secured in a federally-approved child restraint device. If a child is older than four, but not eight yet, the child may ride in a normal seatbelt if they are more than 57 inches tall and weigh over 65 pounds. Otherwise, the child must ride in a secured booster or other federally-approved child passenger restraint system.

​Arizona​

arizona maparizona flagarizona seal

​Arizona requires all children who are less than five-foot-tall and under the age of eight to ride in a child restraint system. If there isn’t enough sitting room in the vehicle for this type of system, one child may ride in a seatbelt as long as another is in a restraint system.

​Arkansas

arkansas maparkansas flagarkansas seal

​The state of Arkansas requires those under 15 years of age to be fastened in a passenger restraint system for children. Children who weigh 60 pounds or more, and are in between the ages of six and 15, can use the vehicle’s safety belt. Children less than 60 pounds and six years of age must ride in an appropriate child safety seat.

California

california mapcalifornia flagcalifornia seal

​Californians must use restraint systems for children who are under the age of eight, but those taller than 4 foot 9 inches may ride secured by the safety belt in the backseat. People eight years and older should be secured with a safety belt.

Colorado

colorado mapcolorado flagcolorado seal

​The state of Colorado requires riders who are between eight and 16 years of age to be secured with an approved safety belt or restraint system.

Connecticut​

connecticut mapconnecticut flagconnecticut seal

​Connecticut prohibits a rear facing car seat from being used in the front seat of any vehicle. Additionally, children riding in a booster seat must use a regulated lap-shoulder seat belt.

Delaware

delaware mapdelaware flagdelaware seal

​Children in Delaware must be secured in the rear seat if they are under 12 years old or under 65 inches tall. Children under eight are required to be restrained in a child safety seat.

Florida

florida mapflorida flagflorida seal

​In Florida, children who are three years old and younger must be firmly secured in a crash-tested and federally-approved seat device for children. Those between three and six must be fastened in a federally-approved-crash tested child restraint device, booster seat, or integrated child seat.

​Georgia

georgia mapgeorgia flaggeorgia seal

​Children in Georgia are considered legally secure in a lap-only belt if they weigh more than 40 pounds. If your child grows to be five foot before reaching age eight, she can ride in an adult seatbelt. Children under eight require a child restraining system.

​Hawaii

hawaii maphawaii flaghawaii seal

​Hawaiians must be secured in a booster seat or child safety seat if they are under the age of eight but older than four. Children under four must ride in a child passenger approved restraint seat.

Idaho

idaho mapidaho flagidaho seal

​In Idaho, your child must be secured with a child safety restraint if he or she is six years or younger.

Illinois

illinois mapillinois flagillinois seal

​Children in Illinois may ride in the back seat with a lap-only safety belt if there is not an approved lap-shoulder belt available. Parents in Illinois must provide a restraint system for any other person who transports their child under the age of eight.

Indiana

indiana mapindiana flagindiana seal

​Hoosiers who are between age eight and 16 must be strapped in with a restraint or vehicle seat belt. Those who are younger than eight must be held in a child restraint system.

​Iowa

iowa mapiowa flagiowa seal

​Children in Iowa from six to 18 must ride in a child restraint system or safety harness. Children under one year of age must be properly secured in a rear-facing approved restraint seat, while those from age one to six can be fastened in a restraint system in any proper orientation.

Kansas

kansas mapkansas flagkansas seal

​Children in Kansas who are older than eight must be retrained in a vehicle’s seat belt. Those younger than eight but older than four must ride in a child safety restraint system if they weigh less than 80 pounds and are under 4 foot 9 inches.

​Kentucky

kentucky mapkentucky flagkentucky seal

​Kentucky residents are required to secure children under the age of eight and between 40 inches and 57 inches tall in a booster child seat. Children 40 inches tall or less must be secured in a child restraint seat.

Louisiana

louisiana maplouisiana flaglouisiana seal

​The state of Louisiana requires children under six years of age and 60 pounds to be secured in a child restraint system.

Maine

maine mapmaine flagmaine seal

​A child in Maine who is under 12 and who weighs less than 100 pounds must be secured in the back seat of your vehicle if possible. Children who weigh at or less than 80 pounds, but are over 40 pounds, must ride in a restraint system. Those weighing less than 40 pounds must ride in a child safety seat.

Maryland

maryland mapmaryland flagmaryland seal

​Maryland state law demands that children under eight years of age must be secured in an approved child safety seat until the child is 4 foot 9 inches or taller.

Massachusetts

massachusetts mapmassachusetts flagmassachusetts seal

​The state of Massachusetts requires riders who are under the age of eight and less than 57 inches tall to be secured in a child restraint.

Michigan

michigan mapmichigan flagmichigan seal

​Children who are between the ages of four and eight must be fastened into a child restraint system if they are less than 4 foot 9 inches. Those under the age of four must be secured in a child passenger restraint seat.

Minnesota

minnesota mapminnesota flagminnesota seal

​In Minnesota, all children under the age of eight years must be fastened in a child restraint system.

​Mississippi

mississippi mapmississippi flagmississippi seal

​In Mississippi, children who are between the age of four and seven must use a booster seat system if they weigh less than 65 pounds or are smaller than 4 foot 9 inches. Those younger than four years must be fastened with a child passenger restraint seat.

Missouri

missouri mapmissouri flagmissouri seal

​In the state of Missouri, all children who are under four years of age or less than 40 pounds must ride in a child restraint system. Those between four and eight years of age who are less than 40 pounds will be required by law to use a booster passenger seat.

Montana

montana mapmontana flagmontana seal

​Those who weigh less than 60 pounds and are younger than the age of six must be secured in a child safety passenger restraint.

Nebraska

nebraska mapnebraska flagnebraska seal

​In the state of Nebraska, all children six years and younger must ride in a federally-approved safety seat for children. Those over six must ride in a child safety seat, and those under 18 must wear a safety belt.

Nevada

nevada mapnevada flagnevada seal

​Nevada requires riders who are younger than six and are lighter than 60 pounds to be restrained with a child restraint system.

New Hampshire

​new hampshire map​new hampshire flag​new hampshire seal

​New Hampshire state law requires children younger than seven or shorter than 57 inches to be secured into a federally-approved passenger child restraint system.

New Jersey

new jersey mapnew jersey flagnew jersey seal

​In New Jersey, those who weigh under 30 pounds and are under the age of two must ride in a rear-facing system with an approved 5-point harness. The same is required for those under age four and less than 40 pounds – until the child outgrows the system’s height or weight limits. Children who are under 57 inches and younger than age eight must be secured in a child restraint that is forward-facing and equipped with an approved 5-point harness.

New Mexico

new mexiconew mexico flagnew mexico seal

​New Mexico requires children under 18 to be secured in a child restraint device or seat belt. Those between one and four years of age who weigh less than 40 pounds must be fastened into a child restraint seat. Children younger than one must ride in a rear-facing seat. Children aged five and six must ride in a booster if they are less than 60 pounds.

​New York

new york mapnew york flagnew york seal

​The state of New York requires children to remain in a child restraint system until they are eight years old. Children who are shorter than 4 foot 9 inches cannot use the vehicle’s safety belt.

North Carolina

north carolina mapnorth carolina flagnorth carolina seal

​North Carolinians must use a child passenger restraint system for children less than 80 pounds. Those younger than five and less than 40 pounds must be secured in the rear seat of the vehicle.

North Dakota

north dakotanorth dakotanorth dakota

​In North Dakota, children younger 18 should be secured with a seat belt or child restraint.  Those who are younger than eight must ride in a child restraint system unless they are taller 4 foot 9 inches.

Ohio

ohio mapohio flagohio seal

​Ohio parents are required to use child restraint systems for children ages four and younger. Those ages five to eight and less than 4 foot 9 inches must use a booster seat, while children ages eight through 15 must ride in a child restraint system or with a safety belt.

Oklahoma

oklahoma mapoklahoma flagoklahoma seal

​Children in Oklahoma have to ride in a child passenger restraint system if they are under eight years old and if under the age of two the system must be rear-facing. Children from ages four to eight who are less than 4 foot 9 inches must ride in a child restraint system or booster seat.

Oregon

oregon maporegon flagoregon seal

​In Oregon, children younger than two must ride in a rear-facing restraint system. Those who weigh more than 40 pounds while being shorter than 5 foot must be secured with a booster seat.

Pennsylvania

​Pennsylvania law requires rear-facing restraint systems for children under two years old. Children younger than four require a child passenger restraint system, while those between age four and eight must ride in a booster seat.

Rhode Island

rhode island maprhode island flagrhode island seal

​In Rhode Island, children shorter than 57 inches and under the age of eight must ride in a child restraint system. Children under two or those that weigh less than 30 pounds require a rear-facing seat. Those under eight years old but taller than 57 inches or at least 80 pounds can wear a safety belt.

South Carolina

south carolina mapsouth carolina flagsouth carolina seal

​Children under two years old must ride in a rear-facing seat in South Carolina. Children ages two to four must ride in a forward-facing seat, while children ages four to eight can graduate to a booster seat. If a child is eight years old and at least 57 inches tall, he or she can be secured with the vehicle’s safety belt.

​South Dakota

south dakota mapsouth dakota flagsouth dakota seal

​South Dakota requires children under the age of five to be fastened into a federally-approved child restraint system. Children between five and 18 must wear an adjusted seat belt.

Tennessee

tennessee maptennessee flagtennessee seal

​A rear-facing seat must be used for children under the age of one in Tennessee. Ages one to three may ride in a forward-facing seat, and those between four and eight must use a booster seat while shorter than 4 foot 9 inches.

Texas

texas maptexas flagtexas seal

​In Texas, a child passenger safety device must be used for any child younger than eight years old. Exceptions can be made for children who are at least 4 foot 9 inches tall.

Utah

utah maputah flagutah seal

​Children taller than 56 inches may use a lap-shoulder belt in the state of Utah. Children younger than eight should be protected with a child restraint device provided by the operator of the vehicle.

Vermont

vermont mapvermont flagvermont seal

​Every passenger in the vehicle must be properly restrained in Vermont if they are under the age of 18.

Virginia

virginia mapvirginia flagvirginia seal

​Children from ages eight to 18 must be restrained using a safety belt. Children younger than eight must be restrained with a child restraint device.

Washington

washington mapwashington flagwashington seal

​Children who are eight years of age or are at least 4 foot 9 inches must be restrained using the vehicle’s safety belt. Children under eight years old must ride in a child restraint system unless they are taller than 4 foot 9 inches.

West Virginia

west virginia mapwest virginia flagwest virginia seal

​Children under eight years of age must be secured in a child passenger safety system in Virginia.

Wisconsin

wisconsin mapwisconsin flagwisconsin seal

​In Wisconsin, children under eight years old must be secured in a child safety restraint system.

Wyoming  

wyoming mapwyoming flagwyoming seal

​In the state of Wyoming, riders who are younger than eight must be fastened with a child safety system, and those eight and older must use the vehicle’s safety belt.

Why Do Car Seats Have Expiration Dates: Know Car Seats and Their Laws

sleeping baby in the reverse carseat

“Why do car seats have expiration dates?” Most of us have questioned the sanity of such a concept, and thought it was a clever ploy by manufacturers to assure as many sales as possible. It so happens there are many sound and sensible reasons for an expiration date to assure your child enjoys a safe ride every time.

Why Do Car Seats Expire: Know Car Seats and Their Laws

For safety and optimum quality, foods have expiration dates, and drugs and medications have expiration dates to prevent using weakening or other unsafe changes. Even shampoos and toothpaste have expiration dates.

Did you realize that children’s car seats have expiration dates, too? If you have been out of the baby business for several years, or are just getting to that phase of life, you may not have given this any thought, or even know that is the case.

Back in the 60’s a “car seat” was basically the equivalent of a plastic ice cream tub with wire coat hanger legs, that cost between $5 and $7 at the local five and dime. The plastic part was thin – you could see light through it. It was vented down the back to allow air circulation, though little good that did, because the seats were lined with a plastic covered foam pad “for comfort.”

There was a little handle cut out at the top for easy carrying, and a 1-inch wide plastic strap around the waist was supposed to keep the little one contained. An adjustable wire stand beneath the seat (which was just snapped into a couple of tabs, by the way) could sit your little one up or down in any of three or four positions.

The entire seat weighed about two pounds, could be rinsed in the tub, and was often seen being held together by masking or duct tape after being used for a couple of kids.

Not only were these seats lightweight, but they were also much less bulky than the seats of today, and would fit just about anywhere. People put them on the floor of the car, sideways on a seat, or in their lap.

Most people didn’t even bother to strap them to the seat, and they were usually placed up front by Daddy and Mommy, so the ride would not have to be interrupted if nursing, or diaper changing was necessary during the drive. Horrified yet?

Car seats have come a long way since then. Heavy molded plastic seats have multiple slots to fit seat belts through. The angle the baby sits at, is adjustable. The seats are padded an inch or so with thick and soft washable fabrics for optimum comfort and breathe-ability.

There are head rests and foot rests with cup holders. There are more generic brands and designer brands, and all come in a rainbow of colors. You can get units as one-piece dedicated car seats, or they detach from the base, and can be carried indoors or placed in a stroller. Those are a lot of great features, and they seem to be made well enough to last through a few kids, so why do car seats have expiration dates?

Who Needs to Understand Car Seat Expiration and Laws?

Anyone who is a parent, grandparent, babysitter, or another type of child caretaker needs to be aware of, and understand, car seat expiration dates and the laws that go with using them.

Are the expiration dates just a gimmick by a bunch of lobbyists forcing people to replace an expensive item for the benefit of the manufacturers? Truthfully, there are real and legitimate reasons why a car seat can become unsafe within a six-to-ten-year period.

Wear and Tear

The plastic base that straps the seat securely into the car can become cracked or fractured from being exposed to the heat and cold that goes with changes in the weather, parking in the sun, bumping into the sides of the car door, and a variety of other reasons. The base material can also shrink and dry out causing small fractures.

Straps are made of the same material as seat belts for strength and durability; however, with the frequency of being fastened and unfastened, buckles rubbing on them, and being tightened and repeatedly loosened, the clips can fail, leaving your baby to be hurled like a football through the car in the event of a crash. The straps can also become worn and frayed, and may even lose some of their rigidity over time.

Safety First

car seat safety

Image from: carseatsafetymatters

Continuous and repeated testing with crash-test dummies has revealed from time to time that in certain circumstances, different areas of a car seat may fail. An accident – even a minor one – can prove fatal to your little one if there is a design or material flaw.

Necessary Recalls

Occasionally through continued testing and development, a critical error in the design or materials may become evident. This will obligate the manufacturer to issue a recall for all seats sharing that serial number.

They will usually replace or repair the seat at no cost to you. Make sure to register your car seat when you purchase it in order to receive these notifications.

Missing Parts

If you need to have the company send you out a replacement buckle, seat pad, or another component that has gone bad under warranty, you will usually need to do that within the time set before the expiration date.

This is another reason seats are dated; the manufacturers may discontinue the particular make or model you have as they add new, updated seats to their line. This usually means they will dispose of replacement parts for earlier models.

Improved Standards 

With study, and trial and error, new and better technologies are coming along all the time. Tethers and lower anchor latches have only been around for 15 years, but they are greatly reducing death and injuries in accident scenarios. Your older car seat has an expiration date partially to allow you to take advantage of the newer safety measures.

Where Do You Find the Expiration Date on a car seat?

Look at the tag or label on the bottom of the seat, and the expiration date should be printed there, but it is also required to be imprinted in the plastic itself in order to avoid someone switching the labels on a seat. There is also a height and weight guideline printed there.

What are the Laws for Using Baby Car Seats?

The laws regulating the use of your car seat may vary from state to state. Just because you can allow your preschool age child to ride without a car seat in one state, doesn’t mean that is the case across the border, and please use common sense. A preschooler will at the very least require a booster seat.

Check your state’s laws if you will have any children up to age 8 in your vehicle, and since state laws vary, here is a summary of the guidelines given by the American Academy of Pediatrics for an idea of rules to follow. One of their main focuses is that a baby, infant, or young toddler, is much less likely to suffer head, neck, or spinal cord injuries in a rear-facing seat, due to the increased support.

  • 1Pay attention to the weight limit of each car seat. Realize that although a seat may be safe for a 10-to 30-pound infant, your two-year-old is not likely to do well sitting in it.
  • 2Babies and infants must be rear-facing until they are two-years-old or outgrow the height and weight recommendations of the seat.
  • 3At two years of age, or sooner, if they have surpassed the recommended limits, the child can sit forward-facing provided they are in a car seat with harness straps, until they reach the recommended height and weight limits (65-pounds to 80-pounds) of the larger seat.
  • 4Sitting in the back seat of the car with a seat belt only, is not allowed until they reach the established weight and height limits, and they should still be buckled into a belt-positioning booster seat at that point.
  • 5Children less than 13 years old still need to be sitting in the back, but must use a lap belt and shoulder restraint in order to be safe. Once a child reaches 13 years old, they may sit in the front seat, but only with seat and shoulder restraints buckled snugly in place.

It is recommended that you do not purchase a used or secondhand car seat, as you do not know how it was taken care of, or what problems it may have – even if it is still within the expiration date. However, if you have a good seat that has been well cared for, you no longer need it and there is time left on it, take it to your local family shelter or police station. They can inspect it and approve it for re-use by those in need.

Final Thoughts

Not sure which car seat is right for your little one? The American Academy of Pediatrics has an app to help educate you, and assist you in making a good choice. For those who cannot afford a quality car seat for financial reasons, or the child is unable to ride in a standard car seat for medical reasons, there is a car seat loaner program.

If you have ever asked yourself “why do car seats have expiration dates?”, you are not alone, but knowing will help you make a wise decision on behalf of your precious little ones, and that feeling of security your left with, has no expiration date.