Whether you are buying a car seat for the first time, or consider yourself a car safety veteran, you should always research the available options thoroughly before you buy. With a little help from experts and a practical guide you will make the best choice.
Updated findings on child passenger safety are published every year, and many car seats are deemed outdated, and even recalled because they are unsafe. Additionally, new car seat models come out that are healthier in an overall sense, and more comfortable and practical.
So how do you decide which seat is most suited for you and your child? To give you a head start I asked some of my favorite family car experts to share the most important features to look for.
At the end of this article you can claim an easy checklist to use when you review and choose the best car seat for your child.
My advice when choosing a car seat is for parents to pick one that will best suit their lifestyle.
Will they be traveling a lot and needing to switch between cars?
If they are hoping to explore with a baby in tow, it might be worth it to consider purchasing a second car seat specifically for travel. There are a number of affordable and lightweight convertible seats that travel much more easily than the more bulky and heavily padded models.
When you're not off seeing the world, the additional car seat often comes in handy for Grandma's car, etc.
I found the infant car seat with a snap-in base and stroller to be really helpful.
My babies often fall asleep in the car and it's a huge convenience to keep them sleeping by not moving them to a stroller. I didn't have this system for my first two kids but I learned with my third.
I could snap the infant car seat from the base in the car to a stroller (the one I had was a universal one that I borrowed from a friend: it did not come with the car seat) and it made taking the baby out to a restaurant or errands much easier.
One feature parents should look for when buying a car seat: Always look for a car seat that's easy to install in various cars. When traveling, the last thing you want to do is struggle with moving car seats from your car to a rental car, or from your car to a plane seat. Pick a model that's versatile!
You need to make sure the car seat actually fits in your car! I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to help someone install a car seat only to find it does not fit in their vehicle!
Skye is a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, feel free to reach out to her for car seat advice!
With regards to car seats, I think it depends on whether you need to travel with it or it just stays in the house.
In the first case, I would look for something reliable, light, and portable. If it is to stay in the same place, I would look at safety, size, and price in that order.
Safety always comes first, so checking car seat ratings on Consumer Reports is a must-do. After that, searching for car seats with wide twist-free straps can save time while fastening and unfastening baby. It will be more comfortable for baby and most importantly, keep the little one secure in a crash.
I would say that the number one feature to look for in a car seat is an awesome safety rating. I also think that longevity is important for the expense. So a convertible car seat that will safely last for a couple of years.
Since I do not have babies the only thing I could think of is making sure the car seat has good cushion for comfort and also make sure the padding is easily removable so you can take it off and wash it.
Comfort! This is the key ingredient for use when we looked for car seats. My son gets headaches in the car when we drive. It usually happens when his head isn't supported properly and comfortably. some car seats have more padding for the head area than others.
Lastly, my wife Deirde asked to chime in (how could I refuse) with her own top requirement for a car seat:
Does a car seat fulfill the most current safety regulations?
" Proper car seat use reduces the risk for death to babies (under age 1) by 71 percent and toddlers (under age 4) by 54 percent. "
This is an excerpt out an interview TODAY.com conducted with “Car Seat Cop” Holly Wagner, who dedicated her life to informing parents about car seat safety after losing her 11-month old son Cameron. You can read her heart breaking story on her Facebook page.
In her interview she gave these 7 simple steps, which I wholeheartedly and urgently advise you to follow:
1. Don’t buy a used car seat.
2. Research one that’s right for your car and read the manual.
3. Find a certified child passenger safety technician to help install it and show you how to use it.
4. If you cannot find a tech in your area, go to http://cert.safekids.org.
5. Make sure the seat is rear-facing until the child is 2.
6. Adjust the chest clip to armpit level; at abdomen level, organs can be injured in a crash.
7. Make sure straps are snug and straight.
For the safest use of your car seat, please visit thecarseatlady.org - they offer the most complete and up-to-date information that goes beyond the instructions supplied by the government, manufacturers and consumer reports.
I hope these suggestions by experienced parents have helped you on your way to the right car seat for you. There are however some other features you can check when you look at available seats. I have compiled them in a handy to-go checklist, so you can be sure you do not come home with a mismatch.
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