Caring For Your Baby

A new baby brings joy but also challenges to daily life. We are here to help and make sure you feel confident caring for your baby when you leave the hospital as well as in the weeks, months and years to follow.

Car Seat Safety

Baby in car seat

When taking your baby out and about in your vehicle, you’ll need to make sure they are comfortably and securely seated for the entire ride.

As most car seats are fitted incorrectly, we highly recommend that you have someone check the installation of a special baby/child seat at a fitting station. Without correct installation, the car seat will not be able to protect your baby properly in the event of a crash.

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Car Seat Safety

What you need to know about buying and using car seats

When used correctly, car seats reduce fatal injuries in passenger cars by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, eight out of 10 car seats nationwide are misused. It might be too loose, for instance, or it might face the wrong direction. The child might be incorrectly harnessed. It’s also critical that you’re using the right type of seat.

What kind of car seat should I buy?

All car seats meet the same basic federal safety standards. Select the seat based on the child’s age, height and weight. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a chart that shows the appropriate style for your child’s age.

You can call Christiana Care’s Parent Education Department at 302-733-3360 and ask to speak to a Certified Car Seat Technician for help.

What is a rear-facing car seat and how do I use it?

A rear-facing car seat only faces the rear of the car. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ride facing the rear until they meet the maximum weight and/or height noted on the car seat.

What is a convertible seat?

With a convertible car seat, the child faces the rear until he or she reaches the stated weight and height. Then you can convert the seat so that it faces forward with a five-point harness.

What is a three-in-one-seat?

This car seat lets the child face the rear or the front depending on the child’s height and weight. When the child reaches the specified criteria, remove the five-point harness and use the car seat as a high-back booster.

What is a four-in-one car seat?

This car seat meets all the characteristics of a three-in-one except the back is removable.

What is a booster?

A booster ensures that the adult-sized seat belt fits correctly over the child’s hips and chest. Always use the booster with both a shoulder and lap belt. The lap belt should be flat and snug across the child’s upper thighs. The shoulder belt should fit across the shoulder; it should not hit the child’s face or neck.

Before you use a booster, make sure the child is at the right height and can sit comfortably in the booster for an entire trip.

How are most car seats secured?

Car seats are secured using the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). Use the vehicle owner’s manual to determine the designated seating position. When the car seat and child together weigh more than 65 pounds, the car seat must be installed using the seatbelt system.

How long do I need to use a car seat and a booster?

According to Delaware law, a child riding in a car must be in a federally-approved child restraint or booster seat through age 7 or until he or she weighs more than 65 pounds. All children under 13 should ride in the back seat, even if they’re big enough to use the seatbelt.

Is it OK to buy a used car seat or one donated by a family member?

A secondhand seat might be useable if it meets all of the following criteria:

  • It hasn’t been in a moderate-to-severe crash.
  • There are labels with the manufacturing date and model number, so you can determine if it was recalled or if the seat is too old.
  • There have been no recalls. If you do find a recall, contact the manufacturer. Some problems can be fixed.
  • All parts are present. If the seat is missing a part, contact the manufacturer to see if you can order it.
  • There is an instruction book. If it’s missing, see if it’s possible to order the instruction manual from the manufacturer.

Can I add items to a car seat?

Do not add anything to the car seat or your car. For instance:

  • Do not add mirrors, which can be a major distraction and increase the risk of a crash with injuries.
  • Do not add extra head or body positioners, which could interfere with the way the car seat protects your child.
  • Do not add toys or heavy objects to the seat.

What should the baby wear?

Don’t dress the child in bulky clothing or coats. The material compresses during a sudden stop or crash, and the child could be ejected.

Should I replace my car seat if it’s involved in a crash?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that car seats be replaced following a moderate-or-severe crash to ensure a continued high level of crash protection for child passengers.

You don’t need to automatically find a replacement after a minor crash, which is defined by all of the following:

  • The vehicle was driven away from the crash site.
  • The vehicle door closest to the car seat was undamaged.
  • No vehicle passengers sustained injuries.
  • Airbags — if the car has them — did not deploy.
  • There is no visible damage to the car seat.

Can I bring my car seat when we fly?

Turbulence causes most airplane-related injuries. Your child is safer restrained in a car seat. Plus, when you reach your destination, you have the car seat to use while you travel.

If you purchased an airplane seat for your child, use a car seat that meets FAA regulations. There should be a label on the seat. Booster seats can’t be used on airlines. 

When can my child use a seatbelt?

Children are ready for the car’s seatbelt when they can sit with their bottom against the back of the vehicle seat with their knees bent and their feet flat on the floor. They should be able to stay in that position for the entire ride. Most children need to be at least 4-feet-9 inches tall. The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines recommend using a belt-positioning booster seat until the child can use the car’s seat belt, generally between ages 8 and 12.

For more information, visit:

Christiana Care Health System Car Seat Safety

Safe Kids Worldwide: The Ultimate Car Seat Guide

National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration Car Seats & Booster Seats

American Academy of Pediatrics Car Seats: Information for Families

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Child Passenger Safety: Get the facts

Helpful Tips

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends keeping children rear facing until age two.
  • The safest spot for your car seat is the rear center seat.
  • Infants should be at a 30- to 45-degree angle.
  • Do not add anything to your car seat unless it came with it.
  • Be careful when using a used car seat. Make certain that it has not been in a crash and has not expired. Ask the previous owner for the owner’s manual and be sure that all the pieces are there.
  • All car seats have an expiration date.
  • Attend a Christiana Care car seat class. You will learn the right way to put your baby in the car seat.
  • You will be responsible for placing your baby in your car seat and fitting your car seat in the car when you leave the hospital.

Car Seat Safety Inspections

We want to help you keep your baby safe.

Before bringing your baby home, we can teach you how to install your child safety seat here or at any of the inspection station locations listed below.

Locations