When deciding on a car seat, Selecting a car seat is a major life choice. Do you need clarification? If you plan on doing any kind of traveling with your baby, even if it's only to the grocery store, a car seat is an absolute must-have on your registry. You'll need a car seat, but what kind? Is there a safer seat in the house? How do you choose which seat is best for your family?
Car Seat Buying Guide, Picking a car seat is a major life choice. Do you need clarification? and you may find the solutions in this book.
Types of Car Seats
Types of Car Seats There are three types
- Infant car seats
- Convertible car seats
- Booster seats
Baby seats for cars
For the youngest of newborns, there is the infant car seat. Babies may ride in a rear-facing infant seat for as long as a year, or until they reach the seat's maximum height or weight limitations.
Baby car seats have bases that they snap onto. Rather than having to remove the base from your vehicle each time you need to remove the seat, you can simply click it in and out.
Convertible car seats
A convertible car seat may be switched from a rear-facing to a front-facing position, making it suitable for children of varying heights and weights. Convertible car seats have two seating positions: rear-facing for infants and young children, and forward-facing after your child reaches the seat's height or weight restrictions for the rear-facing position. A convertible car seat may be used from birth through the early years of a child's development.
When compared to baby car seats, convertible car seats are bigger and heavier. Convertible car seats don't need a separate base for installation since they may be secured in place using the vehicle's existing seat belt or LATCH system. The acronym "LATCH" refers to the child safety system. Using the vehicle's anchors and the car seat's own built-in straps and hooks, this technique ensures a secure and hassle-free installation. Convertible car seats are too bulky and heavy to be attached to a stroller or to be often transferred between cars.
The purpose of a booster seat is to raise a child's seating position in a vehicle. This will make sure that your youngster is safely restrained in the vehicle using the usual lap and shoulder straps. Booster seats should only be used by kids who are at least 40 pounds and four years old.
Booster seats come in two varieties: those with a high back and those without. Like car seats, high-back boosters include a base, a back, and a seat for the child to sit on. They have a threading guide for the shoulder belt of your car, allowing you to get the perfect fit for your kid. Booster seats without backs just consist of a seat. They're made to raise the seat up to the proper height for a child to be properly restrained.
Choose Age-Appropriate Car Seats
Which car seat is best for your kid depends on their age, weight, and height. There is mounting evidence that youngsters are safer in a rear-facing than a front-facing car seat. To keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible, it's best to choose a convertible seat with a high rear-facing weight restriction.
Which Kind of Car Seat, a Convertible or an Infant Seat, Is Best?
Several convertible car seats are suitable for use with a newborn, but the vast majority of parents still choose an infant car seat from the outset. (Around 80% of Babylist users sign up for a car seat for their newborn.) If so, why?
There are a number of benefits to using an infant seat instead of a convertible seat right from the start.
- Some strollers don't feature a flat recline position for babies less than six months old. It's common practice to use a car seat attachment if you wish to take a walk with a baby.
- Infant car seats are designed to be used in a variety of vehicles, so although they do click into bases, they may also be installed with only a seat belt.
- Never disturb a sleeping baby again with the convenience of infant car seats that can be removed from the vehicle and carried or clipped straight into a stroller.
- Rather than leaving an infant car seat in a hot or cold vehicle, you may bring it inside and keep it there until you need it.
Some parents choose to start their children off in a convertible seat rather than an infant car seat. Consider these reasons before making your final decision.
- Instead of bringing a stroller or using a car seat, you want to wear your kid.
- You're looking to save cash, so you've decided to forego the baby seat.
- Maybe out of a commitment to minimalism or a desire to save costs, you're trying to reduce the number of things in your shopping cart.
Car Seat Safety
While shopping for a car seat, it's important to prioritize your child's safety. You should investigate the seat's safety features, such as side impact protection and harness fit, as well as the seat's compatibility with your vehicle.
Which car seat is the safest?
This is one of the most common (and crucial) inquiries we get from Babylist parents looking to purchase a car seat.
The United States has uniformly high standards for child safety seats. The fit and installation of a car seat is the single most important factor in ensuring the safety of a child in that seat, regardless of how much money was spent on the seat. You should only use a car seat if it: - Is the suitable size for your kid (according to their age, weight, and height); - Fits your vehicle; and - Can be placed correctly by you every time.
The safest car seat is also a top-rated product:
- WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat with Premium Carrying Bag- Lightweight, Portable, Foldable
- WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat with Premium Carrying Bag- Lightweight, Portable, Foldable
- Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat, Ride Rear Facing Longer with Extend2Fit
- Ride Safer Travel Vest with Zipped Backpack-Wearable, Lightweight, Compact
- Bubble Bum Inflatable Booster Seat for Car, Travel Car Seat for Kids 40-100 lbs
Car seat safety features
While looking for a car seat, keep these safety elements in mind.
A five-point harness: - The five-point harness has two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and an additional strap that goes between the legs, all of which connect at the center clasp. As compared to three-point harnesses, five-point harnesses are safer because they distribute impact forces more evenly throughout the body in the event of a collision. They also prevent your infant from shifting into a potentially harmful position as they maintain them in place.
Easy harness adjustment:- The effectiveness of a harness depends on it being correctly fitted, and the likelihood that you will get it right increases if the harness is simple to modify. If you can, try to get a car seat with shoulder straps that don't need rethreading when you adjust the height of the back of the seat.
Increased rear-facing weight limits: - As we discussed earlier, it is safer for your child to ride in the back of a car seat rather than in the front. For prolonged usage, look for a seat with a high rear-facing weight restriction.
Safety from lateral impacts: - Around a quarter of collisions involve a side impact as opposed to a head-on collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) is looking at how to test side-impact protection and what rules should be implemented since it is currently uncontrolled. You should get anything that boasts side-impact protection, but you should be wary of claims that one model provides "greater" protection than another since there is currently no objective testing standard.
Safest placement in your car
Some car seats don't fit. Use a retailer that accepts returns or lets you test-install the car seat before buying.
Avoid large-base seats for compact cars. If in doubt, measure your car's rear seat and compare it to the base's specifications.
The seat angle and seat belt positioning might also affect whether a car seat fits your automobile. The safest place in most automobiles is the center of the back seat, but if you have two car seats, it may not fit. LATCH or middle seat? Some cars only have latched-on outside seats.
Special instructions are in your car's handbook. Check your work with a Child Passenger Safety Technician (a professional car seat specialist).
Car seat safety tips
Remember to install and use your car seat in accordance with these safety guidelines.
Make sure your car seat is installed tightly. Seats should not shift more than one inch side-to-side or front-to-back.
Correct harness slots. A rear-facing seat's harness straps should be below your baby's shoulders while forward-facing seats should be above. They should also pass the pinch test: if the harness is tight enough, your fingers will slip off, but if it's too slack, you may squeeze the webbing.
Correctly recline. For safety, the vehicle seat should be reclined. (Vehicle seats adapt for weight, height, and age.)
Winter clothing and car seats don't go together. Never put a child in a car seat who is wearing a bulky coat or many layers of clothing. (The harness straps won't be able to be tightened sufficiently to keep your child safe in the case of a collision.) Put a blanket over the car seat straps or clothe the child in a few thin layers instead.
Most Convenient Infant Car Seats Easiest-to-Use
There is no silver bullet when it comes to selecting an easy-to-use car seat; nonetheless, there are elements to look for when shopping for a car seat that may make some parts of both installation and usage of your seat a little more manageable.
The answer to "What's the simplest way to install a car seat?" depends on how you'll install it regularly. Baby car seats may be mounted with or without a base using your vehicle's seat belts or LATCH system.
Several baby car seats have good NHTSA ratings for LATCH installation. Each brand should have an easy-to-reach LATCH tightener and bubble-level indicators to verify seat level. If the seat doesn't have a bubble level indication, use the line on the base to check whether it's level. The bubble level indication is more handy and accurate.
If you'll mostly use your seat in taxis, rideshares, and friends' vehicles, seek a taxi-safe belt path and a lock-off system that keeps the seat belt tight.
Usability and adaptability
Every ride, make sure your baby's harness fits properly. As the baby develops, adjust harness settings. Make sure safety seat harnesses are easy to adjust. Parents prefer no-rethread harnesses over manual ones.
The harness button and buckles should be too stiff for a baby or toddler to undo but not so stiff that you struggle to get your child in and out of the seat. If the button hurts your thumbs but is manageable, it's probably OK.
Ease of cleaning
It will be easier to clean a seat that is made of a smooth and/or water-resistant fabric than one made of a textured and/or absorbent fabric. It's convenient to be able to remove and wash the cover in the washing machine if a major mess occurs but bear in mind that doing so might be difficult at times. To avoid jeopardizing the safety features of your car seat, just clean it in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
Prices of Child Safety Seats
You may spend as little as $50 or as much as $1,000 on a car seat, but just because it costs more doesn't guarantee your child will be any safer in it.
For example, a no-rethread harness, many reclining positions, and extra shock absorption or a stability leg to protect the child in the case of an accident are all features often seen on more costly car seats. But, there are several options in the middle to the lower price range that performs as well as, if not better than, more expensive versions; finding the right one for your budget and automobile is all about trial and error.
Stroller-Car Seat Compatibility
You may have heard the phrase "travel system" when researching car seats. Travel systems combine an infant car seat and a stroller. It solves two common problems: strolling with your newborn in a stroller made for babies six months and up (just clip the car seat right in) and getting your sleeping baby from the car seat to the stroller without waking them (just pop your infant seat out of its base in your car and directly into your stroller and you're on your way).
Most companies market car seats and strollers as travel systems. What if you adore a car seat and stroller from different brands?
You can generally construct a travel system using a stroller and car seat that isn't sold together. First, check sure your car seat and stroller are compatible, then purchase adapters. Babylist's comprehensive Infant Car Seat and Stroller Compatibility Guide lists all our strollers and the baby car seats that suit them.
The best baby car seat brands
After getting your bearings, it's time to check out available seats. The most well-known brands of car seats and their features are briefly described here.
Graco car seats.
Graco manufactures a variety of baby and convertible car seats that are both secure and affordable. The SnugRide series of baby car seats are well-liked since they are lightweight and affordable. The Extend2Fit and the 4Ever are two of Graco's most popular convertible car seats among parents.
Britax automobile seats.
Due to its superior defense against side impacts, the B-Safe Baby Car Seat is highly recommended. (But, due to the high edges, it may be difficult to get your kid in and out of it.) The One4Life is a well-liked option for parents looking for a convertible car seat that will last from birth through the primary school years.
NUNA car seats.
NUNA car seats are among the lightest (and most aesthetically pleasing) on the market, and the firm is based out of the Netherlands. You should look at the NUNA Pipa, the NUNA Pipa Lite, and the NUNA Rava, which is a convertible car seat.
Chicco automobile seats.
Chicco's KeyFit series, in particular, has been quite successful because of its high-quality safety features and straightforward LATCH installation. Stroller adapters for Chicco seats are plentiful because of the brand's success.
UPPAbaby car seats.
In addition to their popular Vista and Cruz strollers, UppaBaby now makes an excellent and simple-to-install infant car seat called the Mesa. The fact that it may be used with UppaBaby strollers without an adaptor is one of its main advantages.
FAQs on How To Choose a Car Seat For a Toddler
Q. What are the main criteria for choosing the appropriate type of child car seat?
Weight and height are the two most important factors to consider when choosing a car seat. The child restraint system must support the child's weight, as well as offer maximum safety and ergonomics.
Q. Why are car seats important for toddlers?
Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented. Always buckling children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts reduces serious injuries and death by up to 80%.
Q. What is important information when choosing a car seat?
The best car seat is the one that fits your child's weight, size, and age, as well as your vehicle. Here are some things to know so you can pick a seat that's right for your child: Choose a seat that meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. The seat's label will say so.