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So I guess I'm just looking for general information on car seats.
I've seen some that are HUGE but allow an infant to have it up until a certain age or weight.
But those are just car seats and don't allow you to take the carrier part of it and carry baby wherever you need to go without disturbing or waking them.
About how many car seats do you usually go through? And at what age can a child sit in the backseat without a car seat or booster or anything?
And then I saw some car seats that were front facing and some were rear facing. What age does the seat need to be rear facing or front facing?
You are right, there are many options for car seats, there are 4 main "Types" of seats. Rear facing (the infant seats that you can remove and carry with you) Convertible (Rear faces and Forward faces, depending on your needs) Forward Facing (pretty self explanatory) and Booster seats (Used with a lap and shoulder belt).
A family can go through all 4 seats if they choose, however I would think many use 3, Infant seat, convertible, booster. (Our family will use 2, a convertible and a booster)
Laws can differ slightly but where I live a child must meet the MINIMUM requirements of 20lbs AND 1 year old AND walking independently. However it's recommended that a child remain rear facing as long as they fit within the seats weight and height restrictions.
The law where I live as of August 8th 2013 states that a child must be in a booster seat until they reach 4'9, 80lbs OR are 9 years old. Again, a child who meets the age requirements and not the height or weight is not going to be as safe riding without a booster.
I just checked the laws for my state. There's a good deal of information and I found out that we have 'inspection stations' that can help if I have any questions. So I guess if I can't get solid answers at the store I buy the car seat from, I can go to them instead.
I have a while before I have to actually worry about that, but I know I'll feel better working out details now instead of later when it's crunch time.
Absolutely. It's a wise idea to get your seat inspected even if you think it's installed correctly and that your child is in properly, there is almost always something to learn! (Even I am learning new things, and I'm a car seat tech!)
Most stores wouldn't have a trained technician on staff, all they can do is tell you what is written on the box. A car seat is not 'safer' because it costs more. All seats must pass the same safety standards, but a seat that fits well in your car and for your child is a safe seat!
Always read through the whole user manual, and also see what your vehicle manual has to say about seats and installation! Make sure you follow all the instructions in both!
Keep in mind that the laws state the MINIMUM requirements to transition a baby to the next stages of car seats, but that they will always be safer staying in the lower stage until they've physically reached (by height and/or weight) the maximums for that seat!
For example by law at 1 year, walking independently and 20lbs you may turn a baby forward facing. However the car seat that we own allows for rear facing until my baby is 35lbs, so that is what we will do.