Car Seat Essentials

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There is one piece of new-baby equipment you can't put off buying before you head home from the hospital--the car seat. Fact: Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of children.

Now that we've agreed it's inexcusable to risk your child's heath by entering a car without a safety device, you do have options. First there's the infant car seat. This seat is designed to snuggle infants in a small vessel. According to Keep Kids Healthy, the weight limit on these seats is around 20 pounds. These seats are very portable and a breeze to carry. Many infant seats snap into strollers to give parents a seamless transition from car to home (perhaps allowing the infant to continue snoozing).

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The other choice is a convertible car seat that works from birth until the child reaches 40 pounds. These seats can be switched to forward-facing seats once the child reaches the the appropriate weight and age. On the plus side, this may save you a few bucks as you'll only have to buy one seat for the first two years--but you'll have to buy a child safety seat eventually.

Rules:

  1. Infants should ride in a rear-facing position until they are about a year and weigh 20 pounds.
  2. Don't skimp on safety. This is not the purchase to look for bargains.
  3. Install properly. Forget about winging the installation. Read the instructions or better yet, hire a professional or go to Seat Check.com to find a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration location to help you with the installation.

I was thrilled with my road test the newest infant seat from Maxi Cosi. The Mico is a sleek and extremely functional item. In fact, the Dutch-designed car seat should satisfy the most discriminating shopper. First let's talk safety. The Mico is outfitted with EPP foam that will protect your child during a collision. The seat is well padded to keep baby comfortable and secure while strapped in place. There are four strap settings to make sure your child is properly fitted. With all this coddling, you think the seat would weigh a ton, but it's easy to pick up and the handle is quite comfortable to carry.

Mico's base can be secured with the LATCH system or using seat belts. The seat is marketed to fit best with the Quinny Buzz and the Quinny Zapp stroller (they are all distributed by Dorel Juvenile Group), but it will fit onto other strollers. And in a nod to cool European style, the Mico comes in festive colors: Juice, Lemonade, Ocean Reef and a print called Happy Flowers. $169.99.

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