Tis the season for travel! There are family gatherings and celebrations to get to, sports events to attend, work and kid schedules to adhere to, and, of course, all the chauffeuring to school and back. This means that if you have smaller children, it is necessary to know exactly how to choose your child’s safety car seat. Here at LOF-Xpress™, your safety is our top priority. That’s why we’re sharing our top tips for choosing the correct car seat for your child. We want you to have peace of mind and the comfort of knowing your most precious cargo is safe during this holiday season and always.

Choose the Proper Facing Direction

For at least the first year of your child’s life – and longer in some states – you are required to transport them in a rear-facing car seat. Children who ride in rear-facing seats have the best protection of their head, neck, and spine. All car seats come with installation instructions and guidelines for direction based on your child’s height and weight.

The transition to a front-facing car seat is partly a personal decision and partly a legal one. As we mentioned, most states require children to travel in a rear-facing car seat until they’re one year old, but some states mandate rear-facing car seats for children until they reach two years old. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend leaving children in rear-facing seats until they are 3 years old or until they outgrow the seat’s size or weight limit.

You can find Iowa’s car seat laws {here}.

Choose the Right Seat

To make sure the car seat is a good fit, it’s essential to get the one that’s right for your child’s height and weight. There are 3 main types of car seat options:


Rear-facing position only. This can be used until baby weighs 20 to 22 pounds or his head is within 1 inch of top of the seat. Some baby car sets are constructed as complete units, like seats for larger children, while others consist of a base that secures to the vehicle and a snap-out seat that doubles as an infant carrier. Fixed seats are often convertible models that can be repurposed for front-facing seat use as your child grows.


Rear-facing and forward-facing position.  Most babies use this next, because they still need to ride rear-facing. As mentioned, it may be used from birth, but infant-only seats tend to fit small babies better. Choose a convertible seat that is certified to face rear until baby weighs at least 30 pounds. With the expansive weight and height ranges offered, a convertible car seat will get many years of use.


Forward-facing position only. Boosters are for children who have outgrown seats with a harness and use a belt-positioning booster with lap/shoulder belt in the car. Booster seats fit kids up to 80-100 pounds. Most kids need boosters from about age 3 or 4 to at least age 8. Head support is important for children, so it is recommended that a high-back booster be used if the car has a low backseat. A backless booster can be used if the car’s seat has a headrest.

Make Sure to Check the Label

Believe it or not, your car seat has an expiration date. Most are good for around 6 years, but expiration dates vary from seat to seat. Find your seat’s label and double check to make sure all car seats in use are safe.

Ensure Correct Installation

All seats come with clear instructions, but we recommend choosing one that explains installation with a diagram, as well as, text. Make use of all the instructions you can — those in the instruction booklet (which should always be kept with the seat), and the diagrams on the seat itself — to install the seat correctly.

After your car seat is installed, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through it. If you can move it more than an inch to the side, front, or back, you should revisit your installation instructions. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.

LOF-Xpress™ pro-tip for expectant parents: Get the seat installed before it’s time to bring baby home from the hospital.

LOF-Xpress™ pro-tip for ALL parents: Take advantage of car seat installation clinics or techs in your area to ensure proper use. Central Iowa friends, a list of local events and technicians can be found {here}.

The following infographic is from www.safercar.gov/therightseat. Please visit their website for additional information.