So, you’re going to have a baby? Or you know someone who is expecting? Hooray and congratulations! No doubt you are anxious to start shopping for all the oh-so-cute goodies.
Amidst the adorable booties and pint sized clothing, there is one baby purchase that is not so cute and definitely not so fun. The dreaded car seat! Both new and experienced parents alike can be frazzled as they stare down the car seat aisle.
With the plethora of brands, safety features, and model types, it can be overwhelming when trying to select the correct car seat for your precious little bundle. Do a little research before heading into the store, and take these things into consideration.
First step, decide on the type of car seat you plan to purchase: infant only, convertible, 3-in-1, or booster.
An infant only carrier type is intended for babies from birth up to 20 pounds. It is intended to be rear-facing only and is adored by many parents for its convenient mobility factors. This type of seat is designed with a stay-in-car base allowing you to click the carrier part of the seat in and out of your vehicle with ease. Another plus of the infant only seat is the ability to purchase multiple bases; this means baby can be clicked into mom, dad, or even grandma’s car using the one carrier. Most are also compatible with stroller bases.
A convertible car seat is a good bang for your buck. It can be used in the rear or forward- facing position and is designed to accommodate little passengers from birth up to 40 pounds. Its five-point harness system can be adjusted as baby grows taller, allowing a perfect fit for many years. These seats are often wide, so measure your vehicle to make sure it will fit.
3-in-1 car seats are made to transition your toddler from the time they are able to be forward facing (20 pounds or 26 inches) until the age they graduate out of a booster (80 pounds or 57 inches). It can be used as a forward-facing five-point harness seat, high-back booster, or just a seat booster.
A booster seat is the last leg of your child’s car seat journey; this easy-to-use seat is made to boost the height of a child so that it can safely use your vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt. Children 40-80 pounds and 40-57 inches are eligible to use a booster seat. If you have an older child and wonder if you are using your car seat safely, see Child Safety Tips for more information on strapping the car seat in securely.
The next step is to consider which brand to buy. A higher price may not necessarily be a superior product. All new car seats meet the U.S. safety standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, regardless of their brand or price. The extra dollar signs simply come from the extra features offered: cup holders, larger canopy, padding, or aesthetics all raise the price. Pick the features most important to you and don’t place too much emphasis on the brand name.
Well, we hope this gives you a helpful start to your car seat purchasing task. Good luck and happy shopping.