Infant Seats Infant seats should not be confused with infant or child safety seats (car seats). Regular infant seats simply allow young babies to sit up. They're not designed to protect a baby in a car crash and should never be used to transport infants. What to look for: The base (bottom of the infant seat) should be wider than the seat, and the locking mechanisms should be secure. Push down on the seat to make sure it is sturdy. The base should have nonskid surfacing to prevent the seat from moving on a smooth surface. The safety belt should be secure and the fabric should be washable. If wire supporting devices snap on the back of the seat, make sure they are secure so that they do not pop out and cause the seat to collapse. SAFETY NOTES: Never place your baby in an infant seat on a table, counter, or other raised surface — your child could fall. Don't put it on the washing machine or any other vibrating surface because the vibrations could cause the seat to move and fall. Use the safety belt every time you place your baby in the seat. Don't place the seat on soft surfaces (such as beds or sofas) because it may tip over and the baby could suffocate. Child Safety Seats (Car Seats) More children are seriously injured or killed in auto accidents than in any other type of accident. Using a car seat is the best protection you can give a child when traveling by car. Never substitute any type of infant seat for a child safety seat. Only child safety seats — properly installed in the back seat — are designed to protect a child from injury during a collision. What to look for: Choose a seat with a label that states it meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Accept a used seat with caution: Never accept a seat that's more than 6 years old or one that was in a crash (even if it looks OK, it could be unsafe). Avoid seats that are missing parts or are not labeled with the manufacture date and model number (you'll have no way to know about recalls). Also, check the seat for the manufacturer's recommended "expiration date." If you have any doubts about the seat's history, or it has cracks or other signs of wear and tear, don't use it. Be sure that the seat you choose fits your child. A smaller baby can slip out of a seat that's too large. Consider choosing a seat that's upholstered in fabric. It may be more comfortable for your child. SAFETY NOTES: Infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the maximum weight and height limits recommended by the seat's manufacturer. Safety experts say to do this based on a child's size, not their age. So, small children can stay rear-facing until age 3 or 4. When kids are ready to move to a forward-facing seat, they should be harnessed in until they reach the maximum weight or height for that seat. When they have outgrown their forward-facing harnessed seat, place them in a booster seat. Kids should use a booster seat until the car's lap-and-shoulder belt fits properly. This usually is when they've reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are between 8 and 12 years old. You can find more information about keeping kids safe in cars online at: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Safe Kids Worldwide Back to Articles Related Articles Household Safety Checklists Young kids love to explore their homes, but are unaware of the potential dangers. Learn how to protect them with our handy household safety checklists. Read More Choosing Safe Baby Products Choosing baby products can be confusing, but one consideration must never be compromised: your little one's safety. Read More Road Rules for Little Passengers Use these tips to teach your kids how to stay safe when riding in a car or on a school bus. Read More Auto Safety More kids are injured in auto collisions than in any other type of accident, but you can protect them by learning the proper use of car seats and booster seats. Read More Booster Seat Safety Your tot's not a baby anymore! It's time for a big-kid booster seat. But how can you ensure that your child is still safe and secure in the car? Find out here. Read More Car Seat Safety What's the right way to install an infant safety seat? Is your toddler ready for a convertible seat? Get the car seat know-how you need here. Read More Childproofing and Preventing Household Accidents You might think of babies and toddlers when you hear the words "babyproofing" or "childproofing," but unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in kids 14 and under. Read More Using Car Seats Safely (Video) Safely securing kids in cars can be tricky. This video makes it easy to figure out which seat your child needs, and when. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.