Infants Come In All Sizes

Babies come in all sizes and so do their car seats. Most are labeled for babies from 5 pounds and up--but that doesn't mean they will fit EVERY 5 pound baby--or even 6 or 7 pounds.

Babies come in all sizes and so do their car seats. Most are labeled for babies from 5 pounds and up--but that doesn't mean they will fit EVERY 5 pound baby--or even 6 or 7 pounds.  

Next time you are in a store that sells car seats, look at the differences between seats. The lowest harness slot can range from 4.5 to 8 inches (from seat to shoulder)! The harness slots in all rear-facing seat MUST be at or below the child's shoulders. If a baby is too small and the lowest slots are above his shoulders it should NOT be used until the baby grows. 

Just as we adults vary in leg/arm/torso length, so do babies. The proper position for all kids in car seats is to have their bottoms against the back and sitting up straight. The harness will hold even babies in this position if properly used.  You can then check for which harness slot is closest to their shoulder.  Remember, for rear facing it must always be at or below the shoulder (never above). With kids who are old enough to face forward, it's just the opposite. 

When shopping for a car seat, take along a tape measure and find the lowest harness slot available, especially if the baby is expected to be small. Never buy extra products for the car seat that didn't come with the seat or from the seat's manufacturer, such as extra padding to make the seat "fit" a small baby. These products have not been crash tested with the seat and may change how the car seat performs in a crash. 

There are car seats designed for low birth weight babies (under 5 pounds). Check with a car seat technician for more information. Visit web sites such as safekids.org, your state government's Transportation Safety site, or search for "car seat check (your state)". Unfortunately, it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack to find all the car seat help in your area but police and fire departments can usually give you local information. 

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