Picking the right car seat, seams easy enough. How hard can it be? Well, this is definitely something you should do your research on. Depending upon a few factors there are some things you should be aware of.
First of all, you need to decide if you want to go with a infant seat also known as the “bucket seat” or a convertible car seat which starts out facing the rear but converts to front facing, once your baby gets older. Most parents decide to go with the infant seat because it is much more portable than the convertible option. Infant seats allow you to transfer the seat from the car directly to the stroller without ever waking the baby. Plus you can transfer them from multiple cars with only purchasing a base for each car. The convertible car seat needs to be moved as a complete unit which is cumbersome and tricky every time you need to attach it in a different car it also can not be snapped into a stroller which is a major plus for the infant seat.
What’s your budget? In the long list of items you’ll need for your little one it’s best to be smart about your purchases. Decide what you are willing to spend and stick to that number. Ultimately, newborn car seats will only last you about 12 months so you’ll eventually have to purchase a new seat once your baby gets older. Another option is going with a used car seat. This can save you money but there are some things parents should remember. Most used car seats do not come with a manual, this may cause you to install it improperly which could be very dangerous. You also might not know its history. If it was involved in any accidents, minor or not, most manufacturers recommend a full replacement of the seat. It would be best to get it from a reliable and trusted source such as a friend or family member so you know the history of its use.
How big or small should it be? This may be a tricky question if it’s your first child because you’ll want to get a seat that accommodates your baby’s stature. However, you also want to think about your vehicle and its daily uses for your family. Will you be having multiple children in car seats? If so, a less bulky seat is a better way to go. Keep in mind, attachments such as cup holders or thick upholstery can make car seats take up more space.
Car seats expire. Yes, they expire. Manufactures can only guarantee their parts for so long (usually around 5-10 years). This is especially important, if you decide to go the used route, make sure you know when it was originally purchased.
Installation issues. Proper installation is one of the most common yet avoidable mistakes parents make. Thoroughly understand how your specific model is supposed to be installed in your vehicle and check it every time you put your child in their seat. Infants especially have specific requirements for safely sitting in their seat.
Register your car seat! This is crucial. By registering your car seat with the manufacturer you will be input into a database, so if there is ever a recall you will be notified. It’s also helpful if you lose or damage a part, this gives you easy access to receive a replacement.
Here are a few great options:
Chicco KeyFit 30 - $199
The KeyFit high quality, designed great, and affordable.
Cybex Aton 2 - $299
The Cybex is ingeniously designed with safety features other seats lack and has a beautiful design.
Convertible Car Seats:
Britax Marathon 70-G3 - $250
The Britax is easy to use and provides top comfort for your baby.
Safety 1st OnSide Air - $80The OnSide is a top performer when it comes to safety and won’t break your bank.