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One of the most crucial things you need to buy for your child is a good car safety seat. You may find yourself a bit confused when shopping around for the best one, especially if you’re a new parent. Even if you’re merely searching for a new seat to replace the infant car seat your child has outgrown, it will still feel like there are plenty of things you need to know. You also need to learn about car seat laws and which ones have been recalled. Fortunately, you can check and compare car seats at the car seat finder.

Every car seat on the market has to meet the safety standards set by the government and has undergone several crash tests. So you can be assured that they are all safe, the difference lies in the materials used, additional features, performance, comfort, and price. When looking for the best for your child, keep in mind that a higher price tag does not always mean superb quality. There are those in the mid-price range that performs even better than the more expensive seats.

What You Need To Consider Before Purchasing A Car Seat

There are three things you need to take into consideration before making any purchase:

  • Age of your baby.
  • Height and weight of your child.
  • Safety standards met by the car seat.

Based on your baby’s age, height, and weight, here’s how to get the best seat for little one:

  • Birth to 2 years old. The law requires for a child to rear-face as long as he possibly can or for up to 2 years old, or until your baby has reached the weight and height limitation of the infant seat.
  • 2 to 4 years old. Your child should use a front-facing seat at this age but make sure he is not over 40 lbs.
  • 4 to 8 years old. Children at this age or with a height of at least 4 ft. and 9 in. should be in a booster seat or until he is old and tall enough to use your own vehicle’s seat belt. He is ready for your car’s seat belt when its lap belt is positioned on his upper thighs and not his stomach, and when the shoulder belt is positioned on his chest and not his neck. 

It is also recommended for children 13 years old and below to ride at the back seat of the vehicle. The reason for this is because they will not be able to endure the impact of the airbag, and it can potentially kill them. Each state has different car seat laws, and you can be fined a few hundred dollars for not complying. 

Different Car Seat Models

Your child will need to switch from one safety seat to another as he grows. Here are the different car seat models and their information to ensure you’ll end up with the right one.

  • Infant car seat. As required by law, you will need this car seat from the moment you step out of the hospital. It can only be used rear-facing and usually comes with a carrier that you can attach to its base. It’s suitable for newborns and smaller babies. Depending on the model, it can be used by kids weighing between 4-40 lbs.
  • Convertible seat. When your baby outgrows the baby car seat, it’s time to switch to a convertible seat. It can be used as both rear- and front-facing. Its harness system is just like that with an infant seat but has a higher weight restriction so your baby can use its rear-face mode longer. Depending on the model, it can be used for child weighing between 40-50 lbs. However, it does not have a detachable carrier and not ideal for smaller babies. 
  • Booster. Once your kid outgrows the restrictions in height and weight of a forward-facing seat, you can now start looking for the finest booster seats around. This seat utilizes your vehicle’s seat belt. As the name suggests, it boosts or raises your kid up in your vehicle so that its seat belt fits suitably. It also comes in two types: backless and high-back. Although the backless type is easier to install and more convenient, high-backs are more recommended since it’s more comfortable and can provide greater side-impact protection. 
  • All-in-one car seat. If you’re on a budget, you may want to consider an all-in-one car seat which you can utilize from an infant seat to booster. This seat normally accommodates kids weighing between 4-50 lbs. at rear-face, 20-65 lbs. at forward-face, and 30-120 lbs. at booster mode. Although you can save some money on it, it can be bulky, does not have a detachable carrier, and may not offer the best fit to smaller infants. Also, it may not provide you with the best performance on a single task. 

Tips On How To Get The Right Safety Seat

  • Before looking for a car seat, make sure you’ve carefully read the owner’s manual of your vehicle to learn where specifically the car seat should go and how you can install it in there.
  • Make sure to purchase a seat suitable for your child’s age, height, and weight. Aesthetics should not be your priority.
  • Check the space of your car’s back seat. If you have a small vehicle, it will not make sense to get a car seat with a big base. Look for models with a narrower base. You also need to consider other passengers, so it is ideal to measure the back seat of your car as well as the base of the car seat you’re eyeing to ensure everyone will be comfortable.
  • Look for a seat that’s easy to install and comes with clear instructions. There are also car seats with guidelines and diagrams for easy installation. Consider having the seat installed by a CPS technician before taking it home with you to ensure proper installation. 
  • Car seats with a pair of retainer clips are harder for kids to unfasten. It will take some ingenuity and dexterity from them to unlock it.
  • Choose a quick and simple to clean seat. Choose those with smooth fabrics which you can wipe clean easily instead of seats with textured fabrics. 
Victoria Brewood

Although very much British, Victoria always felt like she was meant to be living the 'American Dream'. She loves the US and has travelled to over 14 states.

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