What Car Seat Should I Buy?
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What’s the best car seat?
OK guys - I get a TON of questions about car seats - mainly which is the best one? (*Hint: read through to find out a few of my faves!) And I wish there was a universal answer but it really depends on a number of factors. There are a handful of questions that I like to ask clients as we determine the best car seat for them that I thought I would share - but before that, READ YOUR CAR MANUAL. This little book holds a ton of important information about how to install a car seat in your particular vehicle and can inform the type or brand of car seat that you ultimately go with.
1. How many vehicles will your child be riding in on a regular basis?
2. When you arrive at your destination: do you plan to use the infant car seat as a way to transport your child?
3. How often do you plan to travel as a family? Can you secure your car seat with a seatbelt only or does it require a base?
4. How important is limiting exposure to chemicals typically found in car seats?
5. Is the car seat cover easy to wash?
Types of Car Seats
With so many car seats on the market, many parents find shopping for this particular product overwhelming so I thought I’d break it down for you. There are 3 types of car seats that offer varying benefits and are appropriate for different phases of your child’s life based on age, size and developmental needs.
Infant Car Seats
Used from newborn until your baby reaches the seat’s height or weight limit (usually 22 to 35 pounds), these seats always face the rear of the car. Perhaps the most convenient pick of the bunch, click your car seat directly into your stroller without having to unstrap or wake a sleeping baby. One your baby outgrows their infant car seat, you’ll upgrade to a convertible car seat.
Convertible Car Seats
These car seats have two modes: These seats transform from rear-facing seats for babies and toddlers to forward-facing seats for older children. These seats are generally heavier and bulkier than infant car seats and can’t easily be transferred out of the car and carried. Some models can technically take you from day one through the preschool years and beyond. After this phase comes the booster seat.
These seats serve to bridge the gap between the the car seat and when they can start using the regular, adult-sized seat belt. They help children sit higher up so your car’s regular lap and shoulder belt cross your child’s body at the correct points and hold them securely. Boosters are geared for kids at least four years of age and at least 40 pounds.
New research has led to a big change in child car seat guidelines that the American Academy of Pediatrics believes will save lives. The updated guidelines say that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they reach the height or weight limit for the seat. Previous guidance said that children should ride in rear-facing seats until at least age 2. The change means that most children will remain in rear-facing seats well after their second birthdays.
Car Seat Safety
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children remain in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. Previously, the AAP specified children should remain rear-facing at least to age 2; the new recommendation removes the specific age milestone. You can read more about it here.
Car seats work best when they are installed correctly. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car seats helps keep children safe and the type of seat your child needs depends on a number of factors including age, size and developmental needs.
While I always advise that you’re able to install your car seat correctly, it’s worth working with an expert car seat technician or go to your or find a free event/agency to have your questions answered and check your car seat to make sure it’s right.