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Cosco Apt 40RF: Car Seat Reviews and Essential Information

mother looking at her baby

When you’re shopping for car seats, it can be tough to find one that doesn’t include a lot of unnecessary features. While safety and comfort are worth every penny, some other additions are costly and can seem frivolous. Many parents, when looking for a car seat at a great price that doesn't cut any comfort or safety, chose the Cosco Apt 40RF.

However, this model has been discontinued and is now replaced by the Cosco Apt 50. This model is almost identical, with a few small improvements. It falls in the same price range and has the same features. This guide will give you all the information you need about the updated Apt 50, including customer ratings and professional reviews.

You’ll also see a head-to-head comparison with other car seat brands, and a pros and cons list. We'll also answer some of your biggest questions about car seats and convertible car seats. Check out this popular, affordable car seat, and your child will ride in comfort and style.

Types of Car Seats

Not all car seats have ratings for the same use. Despite their similar looks and builds, car seats are all rated for different heights and weights. There are four basic categories of car seats.

It’s important to check the specific guidelines for each seat. Don’t assume a car seat will work for your child just because it fits into one of these categories. Each one meets a slightly different set of needs.

There is a lot of overlap in height and weight between car seat types, so if your child is nearing the limit, it’s a good idea to buy a new car seat early. That way they won’t suddenly outgrow their car seat, with no other option available.


Infant Car Seats

These seats are made for the tiniest tots and newest babies. They typically use an easily-detachable seat that you can take with you inside. It’s perfect for gently carrying your little one in and out of the car, and it prevents their seat from becoming too hot or cold.

These seats are rear-facing, and your child will usually grow out of them when they reach around 20 to 30 pounds in weight or 30 to 32 inches in height. They are for small infants, so these car seats can accommodate infants as light as 4 pounds.


Convertible Car Seats

Most parents will tell you that your child can seemingly become 30 pounds in the blink of an eye. While infant car seats can be a great option, you will soon need to replace it with a larger seat.

Convertible car seats overlap a great deal with infant seats, but also provide space for a larger and taller child. These seats are convertible because they can make the transition from rear-facing to forward-facing. Typically, you should keep your child in the rear-facing position for as long as possible, because it’s far safer for them.

Some convertible car seats are safe for children as heavy as 80 pounds, but many only accommodate 40 pounds. There are different height and weight requirements for both forward- and rear-facing, so be sure to read the owner’s manual of your car seat carefullyt.


Booster Seats

Once your child has outgrown a convertible car seat, he or she will be ready for a booster seat. These devices are either a full chair with a back or simply a large cushion. They allow your child to use a seat belt in a safe manner until he or she is tall enough to sit in a seat on their own.


All-In-One Car Seats

Many car seats are available that can support a child until he or she is ready for a seat belt. These convenient seats are generally premium-quality and highly adjustable.

They are safe for children and infants beginning from birth all the way until they are tall enough for a seat belt. While they are comfortable and convenient, be sure to check the price on each option. Some all-in-one seats cost more than buying an infant seat, convertible seat and booster seat.


The Cosco Apt 50 is the new and improved version of the Apt 40RF. It’s one of the most cost-effective seats on the market and has plenty of protection and padding for maximum comfort.

It’s designed to support rear-facing children between 5 and 40 pounds, and forward-facing children between 22 and 50 pounds. This car seat uses a five-point harness and side impact protection in order to meet or exceed federal safety standards. It’s functional as a safety seat on airplanes and is lightweight enough to carry through the airport easily in a carrying bag.

The car seat has two built-in cup holders. You can adjust the shoulder straps to six different positions, and the buckle to three different positions. The entire padded cover is safe for both the washing machine and dryer, and it comes in five different colors.

The seat is installed using the LATCH system, which is easy to take off, but difficult to install and tighten securely. The seat is primarily designed to be affordable, effective and efficient. It isn’t the least expensive seat from Cosco but offers more padding and a higher weight limit than their most affordable seat.

Is the Cosco Apt 50 Safe?

Safety is the number one concern for any parent. No one wants to cut corners on car seats, only to have their child to be injured should the worst happen. Because of this, it’s sometimes difficult to choose an affordable car seat, for fear of losing out on safety features.

While more expensive car seats do boast additional levels of safety, all Cosco seats meet or exceed the federal safety standards for car seats. Customers have reported using the Apt 50 when they experienced a car accident, and their child remained unharmed.

Of course, if your car seat isn’t installed properly, or if the harness is not adjusted correctly, you may be putting your child at risk. Always check the straps and connections in your car seat to ensure a safe ride. If in doubt, contact a professional to have your car seat installation inspected for free.

Specifications

Price

$$

Weightpounds for rear-facing position

5-40 

pounds for front-facing position

22-50

Five-point harness

Yes

Adjustable harness and buckle

Yes

Two cup holders

Yes

Certified for use on an airplane

Yes

Meets or exceeds federal safety standards

Yes

Pricing

The Cosco Apt 50 and its competitors represent some of the most affordable car seats on the market. There are some seats that are less expensive than these, but they lack some basic comfort features. There are many car seats that are far more expensive than the convertible car seats on this list.

Car seats can range from $49.98 to over $500. Less expensive seats offer a smaller range in weight limits and less padding. More premium seats come with a whole host of unique features designed to improve the safety, comfort and convenience of your car seat. However, more expensive seats are typically far heavier and more difficult to fit in smaller vehicles.

How It Compares

Take a look at each of these car seats, and compare their features. Car seats with a high ease-of-use rating are simple to adjust, clean and strap your child into. Assembly time refers to both installing your car seat and adjusting the harness for your child.

Seats with a high build quality are comfortable, durable and have additional features that make them more convenient for both you and your child. All three car seats are best sellers, so consider which one fits your needs.

Price

$$

Ease of use

4 out of 5 stars

Assembly time

3 out of 5 stars

Build quality

4 out of 5 stars

Graco Contender 65

Price

$$

Ease of use

4 out of 5 stars

Assembly time

4 out of 5 stars

Build quality

4 out of 5 stars

This seat is a great mid-range choice. It’s still an affordable seat, but it features a few convenience and comfort additions. First, the headrest and harness can easily adjust without removing the seat.

This can save you lots of time and headache. It also has an extra layer of foam padding for both the seat and headrest. It only comes with one cup holder, but it’s also a convenient, built-in accessory. However, it’s more expensive than the Cosco Apt 50, which makes it less of a budget pick.

Price

$$$

Ease of use

4 out of 5 stars

Assembly time

5 out of 5 stars

Build quality

5 out of 5 stars

The Triumph LX starts to feature some of the more premium elements in car seat design. The harness on this car seat slides, which makes it quick and easy to adjust the harness to fit your child. As your child grows, you can also use the adjustable knobs to loosen the shoulder straps. 

This car seat can recline, which allows you to position your child in the most comfortable position, whether they are awake or sleeping. There are many different color options to choose from. While it’s considerably more expensive than the Cosco Apt 50, this convertible seat offers plenty of high-end features at a mid-range price.

If you would like some of the convenience of a premium car seat and want to give your child the safety and comfort of one, consider the Evenflo Triumph LX.

Pros and Cons of the Cosco Apt 50

As you consider purchasing this bestselling car seat, carefully weigh the pros and cons. There are many positive reasons to buy it, but there are also unfavorable reviews and areas where a higher-quality car seat may provide a more cost-effective option.

Pros of the Cosco Apt 50

This car seat is an excellent value for its price. For its price, it’s the most affordable car seat that can accommodate children up to 50 pounds. Its versatile design allows it to be used for an extended range of your child’s car seat needs, and it’s lightweight enough to transport easily.


This makes it one of the most effective car seats for air travel. The removable cover makes the Apt 50 easy to wash. It covers all the basics of the Apt 40RF, but has a higher weight limit rating. Customers found it easy to install and comfortable for their children.


The built-in cup holders are perfect for snacks and drinks. The additional side impact protection makes it an extraordinarily safe car seat, so you don’t have to sacrifice safety for a well-priced convertible car seat.

Cons of the Cosco Apt 50

While the cover does have padding, this car seat is far less comfortable than its competitors. Your child may not mind during short trips, but it might not be the most comfortable choice for extended rides in the car.


The buckles and cover require you to remove the seat completely in order to adjust or remove them, which makes it time-consuming as your child grows. If you are looking for the most affordable seat, the Cosco Scenera NEXT is more affordable than this model.


It’s missing many of the convenience and comfort features of a more premium-priced car seat.

Conclusion

The Cosco Apt 50, Cosco's newest addition replacing the Apt 40RF, receives 4 out of 5 stars. While it’s a very affordable and safe car seat, it still is missing some additional convenience and luxury features of car seats that are priced slightly higher. The Graco Contender 65 offers more cushioning on both the seat and headrest and easily adjusts to accommodate your growing child.

The Evenflo Triumph LX, while considerably more expensive, has a remarkable range of convenience and comfort. Both of these car seats represent a major upgrade in time-saving techniques, but they are more costly than the Apt 50.

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 Infant Car Seat Base

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 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.

Thankfully, baby seats on this list all represent some of the most premium, although expensive, seats on the market. Like a Recaro baby seat, each one combines the best comfort and safety on the market. The most inexpensive car seat on the list is $440.36, while the most expensive is $1,053.95. This price range is difficult to compare, because even the lowest model still provides excellent features and support. 

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.

Best Recaro Alternative Baby Seats

Graco 4Ever
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. At $239.99, it is the one of the most inexpensive baby seat on this premium list.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Comparison Table

PRODUCT

IMAGE

DETAILS

OUR RATING

PRICE

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Graco 4Ever 4 in 1 Convertible Car Seat
Rear-facing, forward-facing and booster
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
Reclining feature
Britax Boulevard G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
Britax Boulevard G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
Car seat weight: 19.5 lbs.
Chicco NextFit iX Convertible Car Seat
Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat
Adjustable headrest
Diono Rainier All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
Diono Rainier All In One Convertible Car Seat
Rear-facing, forward-facing and booster

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

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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

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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​

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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​

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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

Illinois

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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

Maine

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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

​Mississippi

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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

New Hampshire

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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​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

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

Virginia

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​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

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​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

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

Wisconsin

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

Wyoming  

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​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 Expire: Know More About Car Seats and Their Laws

sleeping baby in the reverse carseat

Meta Description: “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.

Why Do Car Seats Expire

Image from: multivu.com

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?

Car Seat

Image from: multivu.com

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

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.

  • 1
    Pay 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.
  • 2
    Babies and infants must be rear-facing until they are two-years-old or outgrow the height and weight recommendations of the seat.
  • 3
    At 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.
  • 4
    Sitting 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.
  • 5
    Children 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.

 

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