Top 5 Car Seat Questions

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Baby Talk

Your Top 5 Car Seat Questions Answered by Chicco Experts

As a leader in child passenger safety, Chicco is here to help guide you through your child’s car seat journey, which sometimes can be confusing. To give you a head start, we asked our Child Passenger Safety Expert and Customer Service Manager what the most commonly asked car seat questions are – one’s that you are sure to encounter as you travel along.

Fit4 Infant Car Seat

You’ll find that a recurring theme throughout these responses is the recommendation to consult your car seat manual. Because of the variables of child, car seat and vehicle, the most accurate information will be covered in your manual. There are designated slots or compartments in most Chicco car seats to store the manual, so it’s always easily located and within reach.

Jumping right in...

5. When should I remove the newborn positioner from my infant car seat?

Most Chicco newborn positioners are designed for babies weighing between 4 and 11 pounds. There are some exceptions, however, such as the Fit4 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. The Fit4 is an all-in-one car seat that features a Stage One Positioner, designed for use by babies weighing between 4 and 16 pounds.

The newborn positioner (also referred to as an infant insert) is a tool that helps your little one fit correctly in the car seat, so it’s important to know and follow the directions for your specific model. When in doubt, consult the manual!

4. What is the difference between a car seat and a booster seat?

Car seats, such as an infant car seat or convertible car seat, secure the child via an integrated 5-point harness and can be rear-facing and forward-facing. The car seat is secured in the vehicle either by the vehicle seat belt or by a system of hooks and anchors, called LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). If your vehicle was manufactured after September 1, 2002, it is equipped with LATCH for easy installation.

In comparison, a booster seat and the child occupant are both secured by the vehicle seat belt. The booster seat raises (boosts) the child into the correct position so that the vehicle seat belt fits him or her correctly at the hips and shoulder. It also allows other vehicle safety systems (such as airbags) to support the child in the case of a crash. The booster seat is forward-facing only.

In your child’s car seat journey, they’ll start off rear-facing in car seats, move into a forward-facing car seat position, then graduate into booster. How do you know when it’s time to make the switch to a booster?

A child is ready for the booster seat if he or she:

  1. Maximized the height or weight limits of their 5-point harnessed, forward-facing car seat
  2. Are at least 4 years old, 40 pounds and meet the requirements of the booster seat
  3. Can sit relatively still the entire car ride to ensure that the seat belt stays positioned correctly

Also, familiarize yourself with your state’s car seat laws, as they can vary from state to state. For the most up-to-date information on safety standards and regulations, visit www.safercar.gov.

3. Where is the best spot in my vehicle to place the car seat?

There is no simple answer to this question. The ideal location will vary depending on your vehicle, type of car seat and number of passengers. The goal is to identify the seating position that makes it easiest for you to properly secure the car seat and your child. To get started, think about how many passengers typically ride in the vehicle and what seating positions are available.

You’ll also need to identify the installation method: the vehicle seat belt or LATCH. Consult your car seat manual for help determining which method is appropriate for your car seat and the child occupant. If installing via LATCH, your vehicle manual will have information on availability and directions for use. You might be limited if you have other car seats already installed utilizing LATCH. Visit ChiccoUSA.com for helpful how-to videos and guidance for both installation methods.

After you’ve narrowed it down, assess how easy it is to install the car seat and place your child in it. You might have tried the rear-middle seating position but found that it’s too difficult for you to climb in the backseat with your little one and secure them properly. That’s ok, simply reassess your options and try again.

2. What should I do with my expired car seat?

Most importantly, do not use an expired car seat. To prevent use of an expired seat, Chicco recommends removing the seat cover, cutting the harness and writing TRASH or EXPIRED on the seat.

Then what? You can try contacting your local municipality for recycling options. Retailers such as Target and Walmart also hold occasional car seat trade-in events, where you can bring in your expired car seat to receive a discount off a new one or a store gift card.

And lastly, one of the most important and commonly asked questions:

1. Am I able to use my car seat after a crash?

In short, no.

Chicco does not recommend using a car seat or booster seat that has been involved in even a minor crash, due to damage that may not be visible. Your child’s safety is our top priority, so we err on the side of caution if there is any reason to believe that the integrity of the seat may have been compromised. While a new car seat may not have been in your budget, be sure to call your car insurance carrier to discuss options for replacement.

Proper child passenger safety requires education and experience, but you’re not in it alone. The Chicco customer service team is highly trained and ready to help answer whatever questions arise as you continue in your parenting journey. Reach out to them Monday through Friday, from 8AM to 5PM Eastern. In addition, digital resources such as our comprehensive car seat comparison chart and our New Parent FAQ page are full of helpful information and available 24/7.