Consumer Reports: Advice for parents on child safety seats

Consumer Reports has important new child-seat advice for parents.

Based on its latest tests, Consumer Reports is urging parents to move their children out of their infant carrier and into a rear-facing convertible seat at a younger age.

For newborns, an infant carrier provides the best fit, a good level of safety and it's the most convenient car-seat option.

But new test results from Consumer Reports find that for older babies turning one, a rear-facing convertible seats can provide more crash protection than an infant seat.

Consumer Reports crash-tested both types, using a 22-pound dummy representing a one-year old child.

With more than half the infant seats tested, the dummy's head hit the simulated front-seat back. But that didn't happen with 24 of the 25 convertible seats.

Children are technically too tall for an infant carrier seat when their head is less than one inch from the top of the carrier's shell. But Consumer Reports' new advice goes further.

"We recommend that all children be moved to a rear-facing convertible seat by their first birthday, even if they haven't outgrown their infant carrier," said Emily Mathews, Ph.D., of Consumer Reports.

You should keep your child in a rear-facing seat until at least two years old. The seat can then be installed in a forward-facing position and used for several more years.

Along with crash tests, Consumer Reports evaluates each seat for ease of use and installation because without proper installation even the safest seat can't fully protect your child in a crash.

Top ratings for convertible seats go to the Chicco Nextfit for $300 and the Britax Marathon ClickTight Seat for $265.

But you don't have to spend a lot to get a safe seat. Consumer Reports recommends two Best Buys-the Evenflo SureRide for $100 and the Cosco Scenera NEXT for $45.

Both of those Best Buy car seats are widely available.

You can find the Evenflo Sure Ride and Cosco Scenera NEXT on Walmart's website as well as Amazon's.

To make sure your seat is properly installed, look for a car seat check-up event near you at http://www.safekids.org.
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