If you’re buying a car seat for the first time, you might be surprised to learn that they come with an expiration date. Let’s talk about why.
The number one reason — and likely the most important reason to you – is to keep your baby safe. It’s not a ploy to get you to spend more money on car seats. It’s actually a recommendation of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. But what does putting an expiration date on a car seat have to do with safety?
There are a few things.
- Changing Technology: Most of us know it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with technology. With technological advances, new safety features are being added to car seats. You want your child to be sitting in the safest, newest model, don’t you? A great example of this is the LATCH system that was introduced in 2002. This is the Lower Anchor in Tethers for Children system. So having an expiration date on your car seat ensures you’re keeping things up to date.
- Degradation of Material: Over time, your car seat is going to suffer from wear and tear. The base seat may develop unnoticeable cracks, seatbelts can eventually lose their rigidity and become somewhat elastic, and more. All these things lessen the safety and security of a car seat.
- Safety Standards: Car seats go through some very rigorous testing. High standards need to be met. But testing only lasts for a certain period of time.
Generally speaking, the expiration date isn’t hard to find. They are typically stamped on the base of the car seat. If it has a manufacturer date instead of an expiration date, count six years from the manufacture date.
What about date of purchase?
If for some reason you can’t find a date on the seat itself, will the date on your receipt suffice? No. You really don’t know how long it sat on the shelf, or in a warehouse before you purchased it.
Remember, the bottom line is, this is about your child’s safety. Don’t cut corners. Make sure you keep your car seats up to date.