Ellen Byars, Clinical Nurse I
Unit 4-3 Mother/Baby
Many expectant parents arrive at the hospital with questions about car seats. My advice to parents: “Test drive” your car seat before coming to the hospital! You can use a baby doll, a bag of sugar or whatever you can find (get creative!) and actually go through the motions of placing the base (if the car seat has a base) and seat into the back of the car before your baby arrives. Doing this prepwork will help reduce stress on the day you are discharged from the hospital.
Tips for picking the perfect car seat
- A child under the age of 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.
- There are different kinds of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and three-in-one car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, which allow you to keep your child rear-facing for longer.
- Always refer to your specific car seat manufacturer’s instructions, and read your vehicle’s manual to learn how to correctly install a car seat using the seatbelt or LATCH system. Remember to check for any height and weight limits printed on labels on the car seat and in the vehicle’s manual.
- Keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible, according to the car seat manufacturer’s directions. If your child is older than age 2 and still fits in the car seat (used rear-facing), then it’s fine for him or her to continue to use the car seat.
Does your baby weigh less than five pounds?
Britax, Chicco, Combi, Dorel, Graco Learning Curve (formerly Compass) and Mia Moda make car seats to accommodate your itty-bitty cutie. You can find these locally at
- Babies R Us: 7001 Fayetteville Road, Durham
- Sears: 1620 Guess Road, Durham
- Toys R Us: 3330 Westgate Drive, Durham
Free help from the fire department? Why not?
Most fire department personnel are trained to check car seats for proper installation. For example, Parkwood Fire Department (1409 Seaton Road, Durham) has someone available to check car seats almost anytime. This kind of check-up is free, and it will most likely give you some peace of mind that your little peanut is safe.
To learn about Women’s Services and for a virtual tour of the Birth Place at Durham Regional Hospital, visit durhamregional.org/childbirth.