What to consider when buying a car seat: a detailed guide

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If you travel by your car a lot and you have to take kids with you, it is important to choose the correct car seats that will meet all the age and size requirements and will provide safety for your little ones.

From the moment you collect your precious one from the hospital, he is going to be using a car seat when riding in a car. The infant car seat has to be comfortable and meet all the safety laws and regulations.

How to choose a car seat that will suit your kids best? What to look at when choosing one? We will give the answers to all the questions in our article.

Why is it essential to find the ideal car seat?

To avoid or minimize injuries in the event of a crash, the baby car seat must be chosen according to the child’s age and weight. Then only it can guarantee optimal performance and the perfect fit for a child.

The car seat must also be suitable for your vehicle. That is why we recommend reading about different car seats before heading to the baby store. Your child’s life will depend on the car seat you choose. Make a wise choice and our guide will help you.

What information to consider before buying a car seat?

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There are a lot of things to keep in mind when you are choosing the right car seat for your child. Your car and child seat must be compatible. Let’s look at the most important points.

1. Inspect your car before shopping for a new car seat

There are different types of car seats that have different ways of attaching. Read about the system called latch, and whether you will be able to attach a car seat to your vehicle using this method or not.

If you are going to choose the car seat with a latch system, you need to find the spots you are gonna hook it onto. Some vehicles might not have the ability to support such car seats, so you will have to opt for other types of car seats that attach to the car with a seat belt itself.

Bulky car seats are not an option for small vehicles. Measuring the width of your back seat before making a choice is advisable.

2. The age of your child

If it is a car seat for your newborn baby, it has to be an infant car seat. The hospitals will not discharge you and your little one unless you have a properly installed car seat in your vehicle.

Infant car seats are all rear-facing. It is more comfortable for a baby and safer. In the event of an accident, the impact of the force will not affect the undeveloped spine and neck muscles and will not cause serious injuries to your child.

Most infant car seats come with a base, making them easy to deal with. You just place the infant car seat on top of the base so it clicks. When you need to take your baby out, just press the release button. That way a sleeping baby will not be disturbed.

If you are planning to use a car seat for a few years, it is wise to get a convertible car seat. Such a car seat will suit a newborn and a toddler.

Convertible car seats transform into forward-facing seats once your baby reaches toddler age. Convertible car seats must have a five-point harness system to meet the car seat safety standards.

Buying a convertible car seat will save you money as it will last a few years converting from an infant car seat into a toddler car seat.

The downside of the convertible seats is their size of them and that it is more difficult to attach them.

3. How many car seats do you need?

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Many parents believe that you have to purchase a car seat for every vehicle in your household. That is not always the case.

If you are the one taking care of the child the most, it is wise to get a baby car seat just for your vehicle. In case when you have to travel in your partner’s car, the car seat can be moved to another vehicle. That is why look at the lightweight models of car seats, so you don’t struggle.

For the rear-facing infant seat that comes with a base, it is advisable to get another base for your partner’s car. So the infant seat can be carried easily between the vehicles depending on your traveling plans.

What your state law says about car seats click here.

4. Online or in-store shopping

We recommend starting your search online. You can get more useful information, watch educational videos and read trustworthy reviews so the choice of car seat will be made based on many aspects.

After you have conducted an online search you can then head to the nearest baby store and actually test the car seats you have chosen to make the final decision.

Some baby stores or online shops can offer attractive discounts. It is worth spending some time searching for the best deal.

There are also trade-in programs running in some shops. If you or your relatives or friends have an old car seat that has already expired, you can take this opportunity to exchange it for a coupon or a substantial discount for a new car seat.

5. Comfortability for a child

As you are buying a car seat for your small passenger it is important to think about his comfort rather than yours.

If you travel a lot and your baby is going to spend a lot of time in a car seat, it has to be the one he is not going to get tired of. Occasionally he is going to sleep in it, so the car seat safety has to be performed and the safety seat must be positioned according to the instructions.

Poorly installed seat leaves your kid unprotected in a vehicle. In the event of a crash, the car seat will not perform as it should if you neglect all the required steps of installing it correctly in a vehicle.

The fabric that car seats are made out of also plays a major role in making car rides pleasant for children. Soft materials make your child relaxed and snuggled.

6. Stroller compatibility

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It is a very useful feature to have an infant car seat that is fully compatible with your current stroller. This makes it easier to take your baby out of the car and place it on top of the stroller frame in just a few seconds. You do not have to wake your baby up if she is sleeping, which is also a good point.

We advise you get a car seat of the same brand as your stroller to ensure compatibility. If your child seat incompatible with your car seat stroller, look into getting an adapter. An adapter will allow you to use the baby gear of different brands.

This question is not an easy one and you have to know a lot of different tricks. You should ask a consultant in any baby store to help you to choose the car seat and the stroller that will be a perfect match.

When can baby sit in stroller without car seat find out here.

7. Portability of a car seat

When you are looking for a car seat, its weight mustn’t be the deciding factor. Though you can’t completely avoid considering this characteristic.

If you are getting an infant car seat with a base and you are going to be using it on your stroller as well, you should go to the store and test it out to see how are you going to cope with it.

A convertible car seat is another story. It is a bulky and quite heavy car seat that will be very difficult to move. If you have decided to get only one car seat but intend to use it in different vehicles, be prepared to carry such weight from vehicle to vehicle.

A convertible seat that attaches to the car with either the seat belt or the system called latch, will require a few steps conducted before taking it out of the vehicle.

A child passenger safety obliges you to correctly position the rear-facing seat every time you are about to use it.

8. Easy installation of a car seat

Whether you are buying an infant car seat or a convertible seat, the installation process varies and can be quite difficult. It definitely has to be considered when choosing the perfect car seat.

We recommend getting an infant car seat that has a base so you don’t suffer and can just grab your child out of the car without an issue. It is convenient because you do not disturb your child’s sleep.

Some infant car seats have an anti-rebound bar that restricts them from moving during car rides. If you have the option to purchase such an infant seat, you should opt for it.

Unlike infant car seats a convertible seat usually uses a latch system with anchors for attaching to your vehicle. It is convenient as you don’t always have the right seat belt placement in your car.

If you are buying an infant car seat from the physical store, ask consultants to show you the right installation process. It is important to use the rear-facing seat correctly so your baby can be safe and sound in the car.

If you purchase an infant car seat from an online start, start by reading the manual carefully. Follow the instructions to attach the seat properly. If you encounter some problems, there are a lot of educational videos online that you can watch.

If nothing has helped and you are still fighting with your infant car seat installation, head to the child safety technician. They know everything about infant car seats and will help you straight away.

9. Check whether your car seat is safe and legal in your country

All the infant car seats purchased in America from reputable sellers are legal and allowed to be used in your vehicle. They also meet all the necessary safety requirements. Infant car seats undergo crash tests and receive a safety score upon finishing one.

If you are bringing your infant car seat over from another country, make sure it meets all the safety laws and regulations and can be safely used in the U.S.

10. Consider getting a convertible car seat that grows with your child

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To save money you should look into getting a convertible seat that will fit your child from the newborn stage up to the age of six. The downside of getting such a seat is that you have to take extra care of it, otherwise it is not going to last a few years.

Clean it regularly and put it away for storage when it is not in use.

11. How much space do you have in your vehicle?

If your vehicle is small, you have a limited number of car seats that will fit. Measure the length and width of the back seat of your car. It is a good idea to take a measuring tape with you to the car seat aisle in the store, so you can make sure the size of the chosen safety seat is going to fit.

12. Consider the budget you allocate for buying a car seat

Obviously, you have to consider the car seat models that suit your budget. There are decent car seats that are reasonably priced. This buying guide navigates you through the most important points you have to look at when choosing a new infant car seat.

The budget models will have the basic features and a plain design, but they all have been crash-tested and are safe to be used.

Once again it is wise to invest in buying convertible seats as they will last you longer.

13. Additional features of the car seat

If you aren’t limited in money you can spend buying a safety seat, there are a lot of car seats that come with all sorts of extra features and new technologies.

The basic features that must be present in the ideal safety seats are:

  • The safety harness with five points
  • Extra padding for your infant’s head
  • The base the safety seat clips onto for easy placing and removal
  • The anchor system call latch
  • Soft fabric made out of natural materials
  • Adjustable harness straps

What other features car seats might come with:

  • Side impact protection
  • Reclining angle
  • Support for your baby’s legs
  • Safety seat sunshade or canopy
  • Safety seat cover

Helpful notes

Now that you know what to look at when choosing a perfect safety seat for your child, it is time to give you some tips that will also help you to make the right decision.

  • Always check the expiration date on the safety seat you are about to purchase. It is important as you do not want to compromise your child’s life. Do not buy second-hand safety seats as you don’t know their history of them and whether they have been in any accidents.
  • The correct installation of a safety seat is the key to the top level of safety for your child. Make sure you understand how the safety seat is going to fit in your car. If you have any issues, ask the safety technicians to help you.A high percentage of child injuries are caused by incorrect placement of the seat. To ensure its optimal performance do not neglect reading the instructions in the manual.
  • The best seat is not the one that costs a lot of money. Read our guide to know the basic features that the safety seat must have. You do not need to look at all the extra features as often it is just marketing.
  • Buying a suitable safety seat for your kid’s age is crucial. Often parents think that their kids are old enough for a safety seat in the next age group. It can be dangerous for your baby as it is not going to protect her the way it is supposed to.All the safety seats get tested with the correct age group of the dummy mannequin to ensure all of the weak spots of the baby’s body are protected.Follow the age guidance of the safety seats to ensure your baby is safe and protected the way he must be in the event of a car accident.

FAQ

What are the 3 types of car seats?

Depending on the age of your kid, there are different types of child seats. For newborn babies look for a newborn car seat that faces the rear. For the kids in the toddler age group, you have to find a convertible seat that faces forward.

Once your child reaches the age of six years old it is possible to use a booster seat that usually does not attach to the car itself and is held in place along with a child strapped with an adult seat belt.

What is the most common problem involving car seats?

The mistake parents make the most is the incorrect installation of a car seat. Poorly installed seat leaves your baby exposed to serious injuries in the event of a crash. It is crucial to follow the instruction that all car seat manufacturers include with every baby car seat.

If you can find infant car seats with an extra safety feature such as an anti-rebound bar, it will lead to a reduction of the car seat movement which is what you need in the event of a car accident.

What is the best car seat for infants?

The best car seat is the one, that will keep your little one safe and comfortable. There are a lot of different brands on the market. If you afford the premium car seat that comes with extra helpful features and attachments, go for it. Otherwise, settle with the infant car seat that faces the rear, comes with a base, and has a reputable reliable name.

At the end

It is important to choose child seats that will meet all the safety standard requirements to provide a high level of child passenger safety. We hope our guide has given you all the information needed to make the right choice.

Please share this guide with other parents who are about to buy a car seat so they can learn all the useful information we have provided here. If you still have any questions left, do not hesitate to let us know in the comment section below.

Alice Brooks

Hi!!!My name is Alice Brooks. Here I share my observations and conclusions from my experience and the experience of my friends. First of all, I pay attention to safety and only then to trends. I want to help other parents to choose the right product.

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