Child Safety Seats Have an Expiration Date

By  //  August 10, 2021

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Picture this for a moment. It is the middle of the night, and your whole house is quiet. Your house is so quiet, in fact, that you sneak downstairs to the kitchen–without stepping on any of your kids’ toys. You go to the cabinet, and take out your favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Then you go to the refrigerator to get a glass of milk to go with your cookies, and you realize that the milk expired a week ago. It’s still ok to drink it, right? Not if you want to keep it down. Just like the milk you didn’t drink, car sets have an expiration date as well.

Here is some information about car seats and when they expire. 

The Dangers of an Outdated Seat

You would not want to use the same car seat today that parents used 20 years ago. Just like cars, computers, and lots of other items, you need to get up to date car seats for safety reasons. In the 1970s, many cars were only beginning to have seatbelts, and it wasn’t until the late 1980s that car seats were even brought to market.

Car seats have improved dramatically since 2000. Even if you have a car seat that is less than five years old, you’ll need to check it to make sure that it is still up to code. In fact, many car seats now have an expiration date from five to eight years from the date of manufacture written on the car seat itself. 

Which Car Seats Are Appropriate for Which Child?

If your child is an infant, you need to make sure your car seat is a seat specifically for infants. The car seat should cradle the infant, rather than trying to seat the infant straight up in the seat. You need to make sure your infant seat has head and neck protection, because the head and neck of an infant is the most fragile area of their bodies. Over time, your baby will develop neck muscles to support their head and neck.

Be sure until that time comes, the head and neck of your infant is cradled. The infant seat usually is detachable–the car seat has a handle, and separates from the base of the seat that remains in the car. You’ll want to make sure the base is secure in your car with no wiggle room. 

An infant’s car seat must be rear facing, and if possible, you’ll want to put the car seat in the center of the rear seat. Your infant will stay in the infant’s car seat until he or she reaches between 30 and 40 pounds or three years of age. Check your state’s child seat requirements to make sure you are adhering to their rules for your infant.

Your infant’s car seat may not be able to hold your infant as they grow, so be sure and check the requirements for your seat. You can also feel comfortable to change your child’s car seat if their head has reached close to the top of their seat. 

About Older Children And Car Seats

If you have a child who is three years of age or older, they are ready for a convertible seat. Convertible seats can be used with children until they reach five years old or about 50 pounds. You can also choose to move your child out of their convertible car seat when the top of their head is within one inch of the top of the car seat. 

One of the most important factors of a convertible car seat is making sure your child’s head is protected. Often, toddlers and preschool children nap in their car seats, especially after a really hard day at school. You need to think about getting your child a cushion from their head from companies such as NapUp. The company specializes in head straps for napping children. These straps keep your child’s head elevated even when they are napping. 

Older children need to have a booster seat for a few years after they move from their preschool seat. You will want to keep your child in a booster seat until they reach 80 pounds, or four feet, six inches tall. You can also determine from looking at your child whether they are ready to just wear a seat belt.

If the seatbelt fits across their bodies without cutting into their head or neck, they may be ready to leave the booster seat behind. Of all the car seats, the booster seat is the seat that has changed the least. However, just like other car seats, you’ll want to check the expiration date. 

Once you’ve checked the car seats, and made sure your child is in the right seat for their age and weight, you’re ready to hit the road!