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Car Seats for California Kids for First Time Expectant Parents

In 2011, according to Safe Ride 4 Kids, in 2011, of the 650 children under age 12 who were killed in car accidents, approximately 220 of them were not properly restrained.  Between 1979 and 1985, all 50 states enacted car seat laws for children.  The law in California has changed recently.  Kids under age 2 who weigh less than 40 pounds and are shorter than 40 inches tall must ride in a rear facing seat.  Bigger kids under 8 who are shorter than 4 foot 9 inches must be in a car seat or booster seat.  Bigger kids must be fastened in but can ride in the front seat.

Photo Courtesy

Photo Courtesy

For first time expectant parents, if you’ve shopped for a car seat, you likely found the number of choices overwhelming.  Where do you begin? According to Car Seats for The Littles,, the many different types of car seats are based on age of child and types of features.  Actually it is the weight and height of the child rather than their actual age that determines what type of seat you might need. 

Read-facing seats with a slight angle tilting back are designed for infants and are considered safer than front facing.  These convenient Infant seats often have a base that stays in the car; place baby in the seat with handle while in the house, carry to the car, then snap the seat into the base.  Expect to pay from about $40 to several hundreds. Infant car seats that snap into a stroller as well as into a car, known as travel systems, cost between $100 and $300.

Toddlers and bigger kids, more interested in facing front to look out the windows and interact with others in the car are allowed by law to sit in front-facing car seats that have a five point harness to safely fasten in your child. Expect to pay about $50 to $150 for a front facing seat.

Booster car seats, high back or backless, are appropriate for children up to about 8 years old, depending on their height and weight. Expect to pay $12 to about $40.  They’re lightweight and easy to move from car to car.

For more versatility, check out the convertible, multimode and combination child car seats. Though they’re more expensive, in the long run, they might be right for you. 

Buying used items and using hand-me-downs may be fine for certain baby items, but when it comes to car seats, don’t risk it. Car seats shouldn’t be used after a moderate or severe crash.  And something most new parents don’t know is that car seats have expiration dates.  A car seat comes with a label stating its manufactured date; six years beyond that, the seat must be replaced.  Using an old car seat can cause serious safety risks to your child.

Take your time, talk to experienced parents and read online customer reviews to determine the best car seat for whatever age your child is. 

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