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Car safety seats, also called infant safety seats, are legally required to transport children in cars or other vehicles. Most countries with passenger safety rules include laws regarding the safe transport of children, depending on their age and weight. In the United States, it’s required by law that children under the age of seven be secured in safety seats in all of the fifty states. All states also require booster seats for children aged four to fourteen depending on each individual child's age, weight, height, and state’s requirements where they live. In the U.S., babies are not allowed to leave the hospital unless the parents have an infant car seat to transport the baby home. The infant car seat, or child safety seat, is secured to the seat of the vehicle with safety harnesses, and then the infant is held in the seat with additional harnesses. There are several different types of car seats, divided into four groups: 0-3. Some new cars include stock restraint infant car seats by default.

Group O infant car seats hold the baby in a rear-facing position and are secured by a standard adult seat belt or an ISOFix fitting. This type of infant car seat called “carrycot” holds the baby laying on its back. It must be put in the rear seat of the vehicle. Carrycots are secured by both seat belts in the rear seats of the car and have handles to be moved into and out of the car. The carrycot infant seat is designed to distribute the restraining forces over the child’s head and body, excluding the limbs, in the event of a collision. The recommended weight for this type of seat is birth to 22 pounds. There are also convertible seats that can transform from a rear facing seat to a forward facing seat, and some can even be used later as a booster seat. However, convertible seats are not considered the best choice for newborns, as the bottom harness slots are often above the shoulders on most newborn infants. If you decide to use a convertible, be sure to look for one with low bottom harness slots.

Group 1 infant car seats are a permanent fixture in the car, using an adult car seat belt to hold it in place and a 5-point baby harness to hold the child in place. Recommended weight for Group 1 seats is 20 to 40 pounds, or 9 months to 4 years. It’s also recommended that children sit rear facing for as long as possible. Group 2 infant seats are basically the same as Group 1, but are larger. The recommended weight for Group 2 seats is 33 to 55 pounds and/or 4 to 6 years of age. Group 3 seats are also known as booster seats. These are held in place so that the adult seat belt is held in the correct position for safety and comfort, and are forward facing. The recommended weight for booster seats is 48 to 76 pounds and approximately age is 4 to 10 years. By law in Canada and some U.S. states, children need to be restrained until they are either 40 lbs., or 4 years of age, whichever comes first. After this, they can be moved into a booster seat.


 


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