Car Seat Information
Ready to Roll? Infant Car Seat Advice for a Safe Ride.
Before your baby can leave the hospital by car, she’ll need to be in an approved car seat — it’s Washington state law.
We recommend that you buy a new car seat and read the instructions carefully before installing and using it. Car seats should not be used past their expiration date, which is usually about five years from the manufacture date (you can find it on a sticker on the seat). Car seats should also be replaced after an accident.
Getting a used car seat is risky — there’s no way to tell if it’s been in an accident or if its safety has been compromised in other ways.
Most parents opt for an infant seat at first, which has a carrying handle and can be removed from its base in the car. This lets parents move a baby in and out of the car without having to take her out of her seat (and potentially wake her). Most seats can hold babies as small as five pounds.
Fitting and Safety Tips
- The middle of the back seat is the safest spot to install your baby’s car seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in a spot with an active air bag.
- Make sure the car seat base is secured tightly in the car. You shouldn’t be able to wiggle it more than about an inch in any direction.
- Straps should fit tightly enough against your baby that you can only slip one finger between the strap and her shoulder. The chest clip should be at armpit level.
- When strapped in the car seat, your baby should not be wearing any thick clothing or have a blanket underneath her. However, it might be helpful to take two tightly rolled receiving blankets and wedge them next to each side of your newborn’s body after strapping her in, which will help hold her up a bit better.
- Check the instructions to see if the carrying handle should be in the up or down position when in the car.
For more information on choosing the right car seat and installing it properly, attend Swedish’s class on car seat safety and installation. You can also learn more at the Safety Restraint Coalition, Washington’s independent authority on child car seats.