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THE TOP 5
5-point VS. Shield
Shield Booster Dangers
Lap Belt Dangers
Front-Facing Too Soon?
Locking in a Child Seat

SHOPPING GUIDES
Infant Seats
Convertible Seats
Combination Seats
Booster Seats

THE BASICS
Rear-facing
Forward-facing
Booster

OTHER INFORMATION
Air Travel
Aftermarket Products
Child Seat Types
Used Seat Checklist

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Car Seat Types and Styles


INFANT SEAT

Rear-facing only. Birth weight or 4-5 lbs to 20 or 22lbs. All seats manufactured after September 1, 2002 must be equipped with LATCH anchors.

Graco SnugRide DX5
Infant seats come in several styles. Some have a base that you buckle into the car. Then it's simply a matter of snapping the seat into the base. Others are "base-less" and simply buckle into the car (as shown in the picture). Most all infant seats with bases work without the base. There is a choice of a three-point harness or a five-point. The five-point harness may do a better job of keeping a small infant in place, but both types offer similar crash protection. NEVER place a rear-facing seat in the front seat of any car equipped with a passenger-side airbag - the airbag could deploy and cause serious injury or death.


FIVE-POINT CONVERTIBLE

Rear-facing birth to 22-35 lbs. Forward facing 20-22lbs to 40-65 lbs. All seats manufactured after September 1, 1999 must be equipped with a forward facing tether. All seats manufactured after September 1, 2002 must be equipped with LATCH.

Britax Roundabout
Five Point convertible car seats are generally considered to be the best protection and are recommended by experts over car seats with overhead shields or t-shields. Convertible seats are used both rear and forward-facing. Choose a seat with a higher (30-35 lbs) rear-facing limit (experts recommend that babies remain rear-facing for at least 1 year AND 20 lbs, and as long after that as they fit in a rear-facing seat).


OVERHEAD SHIELD CONVERTIBLE

Rear-Facing birth to 22-35 lbs. Forward facing 20lbs to 40 lbs. All seats manufactured after September 1, 1999 must be equipped with a forward-facing tether. All seats manufactured after September 1, 2002 must be equipped with LATCH.

Overhead Shield Graco ComfortSport
Child Restraints with overhead shield have harness straps for the shoulders, a crotch strap, and a large plastic "shield" as the lap restraint. This type of seat is not recommended for newborns or small babies, as their head will sit too close to the shield and could strike it in a crash. Also not recommended for children with eyeglasses.


T-SHIELD CONVERTIBLE

Rear-Facing birth to 22 lbs. Forward facing 20lbs to 40 lbs. All seats manufactured after September 1, 1999 must be equipped with a forward-facing tether. All seats manufactured after September 1, 2002 must be equipped with LATCH.

Century 2000
T-Shields have harness straps attached to a molded rubber shield, shaped like a "t". These seats are not recommended for babies or small children, as the shield may be too close to their neck. For an older child, it may be an option, especially if the adult buckling them in has hand difficulties. The only seat available in this style is the Century 2000STE. Drawbacks to this seat include a low 22 lbs rear-facing weight limit, and the seat is buckled in over the child's legs, making installation difficult. There are no t-shield seats currently being made.


HIGHER WEIGHT FORWARD-FACING RESTRAINT

Forward facing, from 20-30 lbs to 60-80 lbs.


Britax Husky 

These types of restraint allow children to remain harnessed (or restrained) past 40 lbs. There are two situations that would necessitate the use of such a seat.

First, a child who is too young or immature to sit properly in a belt positioning booster, but is over 40 lbs. Second, any child over 40 lbs who must ride in a vehicle with only lap belts.  Complete list of higher weight restraints.




COMBINATION SEAT

Forward-Facing only. Use with internal harness from 20-30 lbs to 40-50 lbs. Use as a belt positioning booster from 30- 40 lbs to 60-100 lbs. Best used with children age 3 and older, as sides do not have much support for sleeping.

Graco Platinum Cargo
A combination seat is a good choice when a child outgrows a traditional convertible seat. The seat has an internal harness that is used to 40 lbs. The harness slots in combination seats are traditionally higher than those in convertible seats. At 40 or 50 lbs (check your manual) the harness is removed and the shell is used (along with clips on the sides) to properly position a lap/shoulder belt. When using the combination booster as a belt-positioning booster, it must be used with a lap/shoulder belt, never just a lap belt. When used with the harness, it can be installed using only a lap belt. 


BELT POSITIONING HIGH BACK BOOSTER

Forward-facing only. Does not have a harness. Used to properly position a lap/shoulder belt across the hips/chest of a child from 33-40 to 60-100 lbs. High back models provide head/neck support in vehicles without headrests or with low seat-backs.

Britax StarRiser/Comfy
A belt-positioning booster aids in properly positioning a lap/shoulder belt across the strong parts of a young child's body. Many children do not fit into regular seat belts until they reach 80 lbs, 9 years of age, or 58 inches. The belt-positioning booster has guides across the bottom to keep the lap belt off the stomach and clips on the sides to thread the shoulder belt through so that it lays properly across the chest/collarbone. Must be used with a lap/shoulder belt.


BELT POSITIONING BACKLESS BOOSTER

Forward-facing only. Does not have a harness. Used to properly position a lap/shoulder belt across the hips/chest of a child from 33-40 to 60-100 lbs. Low back models must be used in vehicles with high seat backs and head support.

Cosco High Rise
A low-back belt-positioning booster aids in properly positioning the lap/shoulder belt across the strong parts of a young child's body. This belt-positioning booster has guides to position the lap belt across the strong bones of the hips, and a clip that locks onto the shoulder belt to pull it into the correct position over the child's chest and collarbone. This kind of booster has no head or neck support and must be used in a vehicle that has high seat backs and/or headrests. Must be used with a lap/shoulder belt.



SHIELD BOOSTER

Forward-facing only. Does not have a harness. Should only be used WITHOUT the shield to properly position a lap/shoulder belt. (Manufacturers instructions allow child to use with shield from 30-40 lbs, without from 40-60 lbs)

Cosco Grand Explorer
Shield boosters were originally the only boosters available for use after a child outgrew a convertible car seat. However, advances in child passenger safety and car design have made the shield part of the seat obsolete. Safety experts recommend that the shield booster only be used without the shield from 40-60 lbs to properly position a lap/shoulder belt. Children under 40 lbs should remain in a harnessed seat (either convertible or combination booster). There are no shield boosters currently being manufactured.

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