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Expiring Car Seats

Few parents are aware that car seats, like milk, actually expire.  But, many who are aware that car seats expire often believe that it is a marketing ploy by manufacturers to get parents to purchase new seats – an expensive endeavor. 

The truth is, car seats are made out of a special kind of plastic that over time develop hairline cracks that you cannot see.  These cracks can cause serious weaknesses in a car seat and eventually cause the seats to not properly protect the baby. 

Additionally, extended exposure to sunlight has been shown to deteriorate the straps of a car seat, potentially making it unsafe for the child in the event of a crash. 

Most car seats expire in five to seven years, and in most cases, the expiration dates are clearly marked on the seat.  So, for the health and safety of your baby or child make sure to replace these seats as they expire. 

When choosing a new seat do mom, dad and baby a favor and make sure the seats are comfortable for infants and convertible/forward facing seats have at least two cup holders – one for sippy cups and one for snacks.

Other quick tips when choosing a car seat:
-Never purchase a car seat second-hand because you do not know the history of the seat.
-If you have been in an accident, replace the seat your child was riding in.  The accident may have caused hairline cracks in the seat that are not visible to the naked eye.
-If your infant seat is expired, so is the base.  Replace both and make sure not to use expired bases.
-Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least two years old.
-Always stay informed about car seat recalls and safety issues.
-Make sure your car seat is installed correctly and your baby is strapped in snuggly

Rosy Rosenthal is a certified car seat specialist and works with WakeMed Campus Police.

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4 thoughts on “Expiring Car Seats

  1. A list of top recommended car seats for each age group would be very helpful, if available. Thanks.

  2. Hi. Just a question…so the donation drives where people donate used car seats to fire departments and shelters…is this not a good idea? What services are available for parents who cannot afford to purchase car seats? These gems can be pretty pricey.

  3. Tracelynn-

    You are right car seats can be quite expensive. If you don’t know the history of a car seat it is always better to use a new seat than a used one that could have potentially been in an accident. SafeKids Wake County or the Health Department would be good resources to find car seat donations, however due to liability issues they only distribute new seats as well.

    -Heather

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