Our Quick Guide Takes the Stress out of this Important Parental Responsibility
For many people, car seats are something that they never think about until the last few weeks before their child is born. Then it becomes a mad scramble to figure everything out when they are already very busy. We are here to take the stress out of picking a car seat, whether you start thinking about it 6 months or 6 days before your due date.
You will need a car seat before your child is born to safely transport your newborn home from the hospital. Car seats will then be a way of life until your child is ready for an adult seat belt, typically starting around 8. There are many different types of car seats but first, let’s talk about car seats and why they are important.
Why do I need a car seat?
Seat belts in passenger vehicles were designed for adults. When used with a child, seat belts without car seats could cause more injuries to the child in the event of a crash for several reasons:
- Shoulder belt is too high and, therefore, it might rest on a child’s neck.
- Children are small and underdeveloped; an improperly placed belt across the hips could cause a spinal injury.
- The child might be too small all together to fit in the seat with the belt attached.
Do car seats work?
Yes! Car seats address the issues above so that the seat belt can do its job. When used properly, a car seat can reduce the risk for death for infants by 71%, for toddlers by 54% and for children ages 4-8 by 45%. Despite how important these seats are at saving your child’s life in the even of a crash, some people do not use them, and it has been estimated that up to 80% of them could be improperly installed.
How do I install it properly?
In addition to the manufacturer’s instructions (which can vary in helpfulness), check out online sources for help! We highly recommend sticking with trusted online resources as opposed to random YouTube videos. Also, your local police and/or fire department may have certified installation experts who can help you install your car seat properly.
There are so many types of car seats! Help!
There are in fact many different types of car seats, but they fall within five major categories:
- Infant Car Seats
- Best for babies from 4-40 lbs and the height limits of the particular seat.
- Convertible Seats
- Rear-facing: best for children under age 1 and less than 20 lbs
- Forward-facing: best for children at least 1 year old and up to 65 lbs
- Booster Seats
- Best for children that have outgrown the convertible seat and used until your child is tall/heavy enough for adult seat belts (typically 8-10 years old and at least 4ft 9in tall)
- All-in-One Seats
- Jack of all trades but master of none
- Toddler Booster Seats
- Best for children weighing between 20 to 90 lbs harnessed and 30 to 120 lbs in booster
- This setup is a 2-in-1 setup combining both a convertible seat along with a boost seat
Okay, great! Which one do I want?
Remember that all car seats sold in the market MUST meet the government crash test standards so they will adequately protect your child in the event of a crash. Therefore, the difference between the car seats are ease of installation, convenience features, extra safety measures and fit.
If possible, we would strongly recommend avoiding using used or old car seats unless you know the history of the seat and know that it is still up to standards. Car seats that are old or that have been involved in an accident are likely not safe and definitely not worth risking your child’s life over.
To narrow down the candidates for our recommendations (and to save you time), we searched through the highest rated car seats of Amazon (by user reviews) as well as the highest rated seats by Consumer Reports, The Spruce, and Baby Center.
If you do not have a huge budget to spend on a car seat or if you do not want to deal with additional hassle of switching car seats, we would recommend getting a highly rated all-in-one seat such as Graco’s 4ever 4-in-1 convertible seat. This seat will serve you and your child well from infancy all the way to when he/she stops needing the seat.
If you have a larger budget, then getting a seat for each stage may provide better protection and comfort as it may be a better fit. For infants, many reviews and experts agree that Chicco’s KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat is one of the safest and easiest to install car seats. Once your infant grows, switch them over to Britax’s Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat. This bulky and heavy car seat is not to be lugged from car-to-car but it does provide very high protection for your child with a steel frame and an impact absorbing base that will dampen the force of a crash. When he/she is ready for the booster seat, check out Britax’s G1.1 Frontier ClickTight Booster Seat – it will serve your child well from 25 lbs all the way to 120 lbs, providing excellent comfort and protection. (Note: Our founder used Britax seats when his children were growing up).
Buying and properly installing a car seat meeting government standards is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to keep your child safe. Sadly, dozens of young children who are not restrained in car seats die in car accidents each year. To save you time and reduce your stress, we’ve written this Guide to make the process of picking the right car seat as quick and easy as possible. Please find and use on that’s right for you.
Questions? Please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you!