As a new parent, or even a longtime parent, you may be wondering, how long are infant car seats good for? After all, you'll spend about $284,750 just getting your little one from birth to adulthood. It would be great to save a few dollars reusing your car seat or reselling it, right?

Even more importantly, you want to make sure your little one is safe. Whether on the road or inside the house, you want what is best for your child. Read on for all the answers to your questions about car seat expiration.


Frequently Asked Questions About Car Seat Expiration


Understanding how long infant car seats are good for is crucial to keeping your family safe. You might also be wondering: how long are convertible car seats good for?

These are great questions to ask. It's also important to understand why car seats expire and how to dispose of an expired car seat safely.

Of course, this can feel overwhelming. Particularly when coupled with the other concerns you have as a new, or even as an experienced, parent. This guide can help answer your questions and help you to secure your newest addition safely in the car.


Do Car Seats Expire?


Let's cut right to the chase; an infant car seat DOES expire and its shelf life is somewhere between 6 and 10 years. This usability time frame begins at the date of manufacture.


Can I Reuse My Current Car Seat for a Second Child?

After the usability period has ended, car seats should not be reused for your other children. They should not be given away, donated, or resold.

Why Do Car Seats Expire?

Car seats expire, like other products, because of the daily wear and tear caused by use. Exposure to changing seasonal temperatures, sunlight, and substances (whether it is apple juice or wet diapers!) all contribute to the lifespan of the car seat.

Even regular, daily use as simple as buckling and unbuckling, can cause car seats to break down over time.

And as we're all too well aware, technology changes. What was safe a few years ago, is not always the safest today. In this case, progress is a great thing; since 1975, deaths of children under 3 in car accidents have declined 66%!

Car seats expire because our knowledge of the best safety features changes too. While staying up to date on other tech might not be top of your priority list, we know that safety trends in infant car seat expiration are ones you will want to follow!


How Do I Find Out When My Car Seat Expires?


How to find out when your car seat expires? (Maybe you lost the instruction manual?) There are online resources available for helping to locate that elusive expiration date. Some models print the date directly on the plastic. Others have a sticker that tells you when the car seat has reached the end of its life.



How Do I Find Out When My Car Seat Expires?


How to find out when your car seat expires? (Maybe you lost the instruction manual?) There are online resources available for helping to locate that elusive expiration date. Some models print the date directly on the plastic. Others have a sticker that tells you when the car seat has reached the end of its life.


How to Dispose of an Expired Car Seat


If you can't donate an expired car seat or give it away, what can you do? You also don't want someone else to use an expired car seat. For this reason, you can't necessarily leave it at the end of the driveway with your other trash.

Thankfully, there are other options. Some retailers offer occasional Car Seat Trade-In programs. This can offset the cost of a new car seat for you and your family, usually through a company discount. These retailers break down car seats and use the parts and materials for other products.

Recycling may also be an option. To do this, reach out to your local recycling center and find out if this type of program is offered. In some cases, you might need to do some do-it-yourself car seat breakdown at home. This is because some centers have recycling guidelines you must meet before they can accept materials.

The same is true if you do ultimately decide to throw out your expired infant car seat. If you are throwing away an expired car seat, you must first remove all of the padding. Cut the harness straps. Remove and separately dispose of metal hinges and pieces associated with the seat. Finally, make it clear that the car seat is no longer fit for use by writing on the bare plastic case. "EXPIRED," or "DO NOT USE," should get your point across. 


Can You Reuse Infant Car Seats?

In some very specific cases, you may be able to donate an expired rear facing car seat, not for reuse, but for repurposing. Child Passenger Safety Technicians are professionals. They work at hospitals, community fitting stations, and community centers to teach new parents how to install car seats safely in vehicles. Sometimes these organizations can accept an old infant seat for teaching or demonstration purposes.

Another similar option may be your local middle or high school. Life management or parenting classes sometimes require students to care for pretend infants. This can simulate the demands of parenting. In some curricula, this includes carrying car seats to all of a student's classes!

In each case, do reach out to your local organizations and community groups. They'll be your best resources for determining what options are available to you, and how to access them.


How Long Are Infant Car Seats Good For?


So how do the top-rated car seats compare, when it comes to longevity? This is an important question; especially now that you have a better understanding of car seat expiration, its causes, and your options for safe disposal.

Car seat ratings can be a confusing subject for parents to understand. Car seats can be rated on their safety, affordability, ease of use, compatibility with stroller adapters, and special features.

While this may be overwhelming, know that you're not alone, and you're not without resources. Many reputable websites and organizations offer their take on the best car seats on the market.


How Long Can You Use an Infant Car Seat?

When it comes to the length of use, car seat brands definitely vary. Here's a general guide below. Remember: always check the specific car seat you're considering to get the most up-to-date information for your family.

  • Britax Car Seat: 6-9 years, depending on whether the car seat is infant or booster

  • Chicco: 6 years

  • Diono: 8-10 years, depending on whether the car seat is an infant harness or a booster seat

  • Evenflo: varies; most are 8-10 years, with a few maxing out at 6

    • Symphony and Safemax have a longer lifespan

  • Graco: 7-10 years, depending on the car seat

  • Maxi-Cosi: 10 years

  • Nuna: 6 to 7 years, depending on the car seat

  • Recaro: 6 years

  • Safety 1st: 6-8 years, depending on the car seat


How Long Is a Graco Infant Car Seat Good For?

Depending on the model, Graco recommends using their car seats for 7-10 years. Graco refers to this time period as the car seat's "useful life." By adding the Date of Manufacture to the useful life, you can calculate the expiration date of your Graco Infant car seat.


How Long is a Convertible Car Seat Good For?

Convertible car seats are just like other car seats: the length of time that you can use them will vary. This is, of course, brand-specific, so make sure you know the life expectancy of the one that you own.




Car Seat Safety Tips


Beyond understanding when and how to dispose of an older car safety seat, there are some key car seat tips and tricks to keep your youngster safe.

First of all, it is vital that you, as well as all caregivers for your child, understand how the car seat works. What brand of child car seat are you using; what are the height and weight limits? Does it meet safety standards? Is it installed correctly?

Being informed about the types of car seats on the market, and the appropriate time to use each one is important for your child's comfort and safety.

Check-in with babysitters, as well as grandma and grandpa. Make sure that they understand installation, buckling, and best practices for keeping your baby safe.

Another important consideration is performing frequent visual inspections of the car seat. Are the pieces intact? Is the plastic wearing or the buckles frayed? This can help identify cases where the car seat seems to be growing old before its time.

This brings us to another important point: in some cases, your child's car seat may not be expired, but it might need to be replaced anyway. After accidents, the structural integrity of the car seat may become compromised. Parts of the seat built to absorb the force of the collision may become damaged and no longer fit for further use.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends registering your car seat. This will keep you informed about the latest recalls and safety information related to the infant car seat that you use.

As a parent, you have more than enough to worry about. You want the best for your child, and for your family. You want to make sure their car seat is safe and your road trips are worry-free.


Beyond Car Seats: More Protection, Greater Peace of Mind


Hopefully, this article has answered that all-important question "how long are infant car seats good for?"

With these tips, we feel confident that you'll feel comfortable using and disposing of your expired infant car seat safely.

But here at ADT, we know car seat safety isn't the only thing on your mind. We know you also crave home and neighborhood security. We're here to help answer all your home security questions to ease your parental worries; on or off the open road.

We have more information on how to keep your kids safe. Check out our safety tips to learn more.

We're here for you and your little one, as you navigate a growing and changing world.



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