You probably learned at your birthing class that your baby must ride in an infant car seat at all times, but you don’t remember the nurse talking about when to replace the seat. Infant seats are important. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the leading cause of death in children is traffic accidents.
Infant car seats that have been involved in a car crash should be replaced immediately, even if they appear to have no damage. Internal weakening of structure may be present that isn’t seen by the eye, causing the infant car seat to be less effective should another crash occur. If you get notice of a recall, you should also consider the seat as damaged and replace it immediately.
If your infant reaches the weigh of 20 lbs. before she is 1 year old, you need to replace her infant seat. Likewise, if a baby’s head is within 1 inch of the top of the seat before the first birthday, a larger infant seat will be needed.
Getting a new vehicle may be reason to also replace an infant car seat if the seat has a base that doesn’t fit the car or isn’t easily accessible–such as when switching from a 4-door sedan to a 2-door coupe. Also consider whether the seat belts secure the current seat properly.
According to Safety Belt USA, an infant seat that is 10 years old should be replaced–and earlier if the date posted on the seat has passed. Technology may have made the seat obsolete, or there may be invisible deterioration that will make the seat ineffective in an accident.
Replace an infant seat when you see any signs of wear on any part of the seat. Frayed straps or broken buckles can be a matter of the life and death of your child. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the majority of injuries sustained by infants are due to lack of, improper use of, or worn safety equipment.