One of the most terrifying yet satisfying experiences is buying your first baby’s car seat, or even buying a new one after it has been awhile since you have had a baby in the car. You think it would be simple…just go into the store or online, and the perfect car seat would be staring back at you in a moment of pure bliss…but it’s not. With so many different styles, rules, and considerations, it can be hard to choose which car seat will be the best for you and your baby’s safety.
The basic principle is that the more expensive car seat you buy, the more bells and whistles it has to keep your child safe, but what if you can’t afford an expensive car seat? Have no fear. Let’s break down four points that you need to think about before purchasing one of the most important items that you will buy for your child’s safety.
- Infant rear-facing car seat vs. Convertible. Both are safe. Convertible will save you money in the long run since babies can sit in it from birth to about age 5 depending on their growth. Rear-facing will only last you about a year, but will allow you to take the seat out with you when the baby is sleeping. You can also buy different bases for different cars which allows for easy transfer of baby if you own more than one car.
- Safety is the number one concern when purchasing a car seat. However, 80 percent of child seats are installed incorrectly. That’s why I recommend choosing a seat which instructions for installation make sense to you. If you are nervous even after practising installing the seat, you can call your local firehouse or check out this website www.seatcheck.org and they will give you a free demonstration when available.
- No matter what price you are budgeting for your car seat, make sure that the seat has an adjustable 5-point harness that you can calibrate as the baby grows. A 5-point harness includes two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and one strap between the legs. They can be a little tricky to figure out how to buckle together at first, but they are the best way to prevent your little one from flying out the seat. Many models have a pull cord located between the feet that helps tighten the harness’ slack.
- Basic reminders. The rules for car seat safety evolve as we evolve in our understanding, but we have been evolving so fast lately that it can be hard to keep up! Here are some basic reminders when considering car seats: keep your baby rear-facing until 2 years old; replace a seat that has been damaged in any way; look for the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) stamp on the box for safety certification; seats do expire, so no matter how much you reuse them without incident please check for the expiration date.
Congratulations on entering a wonderful new phase in life with your little one. Take these points with you as you look through different models, and happy shopping!