Are you looking for tips on how to choose a safe baby car seat? Great, you’ve come to the right page!
If you are about to become a parent anytime soon and you don’t already have one, you will need to buy a baby car seat before the birth.
This is because US law dictates that babies have to be restrained in a car seat when they are traveling in a car. So unless you are going to walk home from the hospital, a baby car seat is a must.
While comfort, appearance, and price will no doubt be considerations, the thing that should be uppermost on your mind is finding the best baby car seat for keeping the new addition to your family safe.
This means that rather than just buying the first baby car seat you come across, you will need to do some research and read consumer reviews.
The good news is that all current model car seats sold in the US undergo extensive testing. By law, they must meet strict crash and fire-safety standards. If a seat JPMA-certified, it will be safe. If, however, the car seat is installed incorrectly, it will be useless in the event of a crash. Likewise, if it is misused or it doesn’t fit well.
Following is an overview of the three main types of baby car seat, along with some tips on choosing the best car seat for keeping your precious cargo safe.
The 3 Main Types of Baby Car Seat
Infant Car Seats:
Rear-facing, the infant car seat is suitable for newborns and young babies. Used in this position, the upper weight limit is usually between 22 and 35 pounds.
When your baby reaches the maximum user weight recommended by the manufacturer, he or she will need to travel in a convertible car seat in the rear-facing position.
Convertible Car Seats:
Convertible car seats are generally used rear-facing for newborns and young infants and forward-facing for older children. Some newer model convertible car seats are usable rear-facing until the child weighs 40 pounds.
They can then sit facing forward until they are 4 foot 9 inches tall and/or weigh 100 pounds. This being the case, your child should be able to use the seat until he or she is 8 to 12 years old.
To maximize their safety, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends young children use rear-facing car seats until they are 2, or until they have reached the stipulated upper height and weight limit.
This will vary with the make, but as a guideline, your child should be able to sit rear-facing until they reach 35 to 45 pounds, as long as their head is below the top of the seat’s back.
Booster seats are suitable for children who are four years and older, weighing 40 pounds or more. Some booster seats have buckles or harnesses. Others secure by way of a car’s seat belt and a shoulder belt.
Backless boosters seats are also available. These are perfectly safe to use when the car’s seatback has head support.
Tips for Buying a Safe Baby Car Seat
An excellent way to find out about what to look for in a safe baby car seat is to log onto the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. There, you will find tips and advice on the most important and useful features the car seat should have. The site also has a list of recalled models, information on how to install a car seat correctly, and more.
Be sure to register your baby car seat. This way, if it is recalled, or if the manufacturer issues additional safety information, you will be notified.
The registration process for this service is quick and easy. Just fill in the form and mail the registration card that comes with the seat. If preferred, fill in the form on the manufacturer’s website and send it electronically. Do this immediately you unbox the car seat, as your little one’s safety could depend upon it.
If you delay registering it, you may forget. This could give you a false sense of security that your baby’s car seat is safe to use, when it may not be.
Some of the most appealing baby car seats come with accessories. While the model you are thinking of buying may look good, it’s crucial to make sure it is safe. For example, some baby car seats have a retractable awning to shade the baby from the heat and sun. While this seems like a good idea, it can, in fact, be dangerous.
If your baby is riding in the car seat with the awning down and you are in an accident, the metal support that holds the awning in place could cause a severe injury. For this reason, if you purchase a car seat with a canopy, fold it up before you start driving.
It’s also important to make sure the baby car seat you buy is suitable for your car. If it’s too big or too small for your car’s seat, it will not keep your baby safe.
It may be tempting to save some money by purchasing a second-hand car seat. This should be fine if the model is current and you know that it hasn’t been in a car crash. If you are in any doubt about either of these things, don’t buy it.
Baby car seats that have been in an accident may have sustained damage that is not apparent to the eye. For example, a latch or a strap may have weakened and no longer be safe to use.
Don’t assume that a car seat is safe because it is still in the box it came in. Before you buy it, go online and check that it meets current safety standards and that the model hasn’t been recalled.
Never underestimate the importance of choosing a safe baby car seat. A little effort and forethought will ensure you find one that is attractive and affordable and most importantly of all, comfortable and safe.