TAMPA, Fla. -- Michelle Pratt knows the head-spinning world of car seats and boosters. She is a licensed car seat safety technician and the mother of two young children.
“I’m a no-judgment kind of mom,” Pratt says. “We’re all fighting the fight.”
She is the head of Tampa-based Safe in the Seat , which helps parents through car seat craziness.
With Target now accepting car-seat trade-ins for a discount on a new one, Pratt’s calming wisdom is in high demand.
Here are a few safety factors to consider before spending the money on a car-seat swap:
- Just like a jug of milk, check the expiration date on your current car seat. “Every seat has an expiration date,” says Pratt. “A lot of people don’t realize that. It’s usually between six and 10 years.”
- “It’s also really important to remember that if your car, and your car seat, has ever been in an accident — even a fender bender — you shouldn’t be using it anymore.”
Is your child the right height, weight, age, maturity for your current car seat? If you need help with that, most manufacturers can help you find the answer on their website.
“I have an almost-5-year-old that I’m going to keep in a harness because he’s too squirmy for a booster,” says Pratt.
- Do a basic inspection. If there’s wear and tear on straps, buckles, etc, it’s probably time for a new car seat.
- And finally, if you need a new car seat, but you want to save money by opting for a used one, do all the same research, ask all the same questions (expiration date, accident and recall history) of the used car seat.