Car seats are a safety requirement for babies and young children in the U.S. It is probably one of the most important things you will ever invest in for your baby’s safety. It is so important that many hospitals in the US will not let you leave with your baby if they are not in a car seat.
Some hospitals go as far as providing a staff that will help you install the seat properly in your car.
There are so many car seats in the market the choosing one is a challenge but before you purchase a car seat for your baby, there are certain things you should consider.
Safety is so important when choosing a car seat and shloud come first before style and design. Safety is the primary reason behind having a child in a car seat.
- A safe car seat should have a five point safety harness (two that cross over the shoulders, two that cross over the thighs and one that pass between the legs). This type of harness secures the baby better than t-type harnesses and it is harder for babies to wiggle out of them.
- A car seat with a latch system is great if you have a car with the appropriate accommodations. Many cars on the road today have a latch system the allow the latch on the car seat to fit securely. It is safer than using a seat belt to secure the seat.
- Another great safety feature for a car seat is a head and side impact protection. The head area and the side of the seat should come fitted with foam to protect your baby from the force generated during an accident or just any unpredictable motion that occurs in the course of driving. This foam adsorbs a lot of the force that is generated during an accident, therefore protecting your babies head from serious injury.
- The harness of your car seat should be easy to adjust such that it can fit around your baby properly.
- Avoid hand me on as much as possible, especially those that have been involved in an accident (even if they show no visible sign of damage). The padding in car seats wear with time and become less effective.
- A car seat that is JPMA certified is safe, has high quality and good performance. Always check on the product’s box to see if there is a JPMA stamp on it.
Ease of use
If installing and uninstalling a car seat in a car is a hassel, then it might not be worth buying because this might lead to short cuts (improper installation) being taken by an impatient person and can put your baby in danger.
- Many infant seats weigh around 5lbs. However, there are some that weigh up to 9lbs or more; when you add the weight of a baby to this it becomes very heavy to carry around. If you are a parent who plans on carrying your baby around in the car seat a lot, go for a light weight design.
- Many car seats come with bases that can be installed in the car along with the car seat. This allows for easy installation and removal of the seat during errands. Some car seats even come with two or more bases that can be installed in other cars that the baby is regularly driven in ( parents do not have to transfer the base from one car to the other every time they change a car.)
- Some car seats are too big and do not fit well in smaller cars. Choose your car seat according to the space available in your car. The seat should fit well with room for adjusting harnesses if the need arises.
- A car seat that is easy to clean is great because it can over come a lot of the things kids will put it through. Removable, machine washable covers are a great addition to any car seat.
Height and weight limit
A regular infant car seats can hold a child of up to about 30lbs and 32inches tall. This type of seat has a handle and can be carried around easily. However, when the baby gets bigger, it needs to be replaced.
Convertible car seats as the name suggest can be positioned in both the rear and front facing position. When in the rear position, it can carry babies with weight ranging from 5lbs to 45lbs and in the forward facing position, it can carry a child up to 65lbs.
The down side to convertible car seats is that it cannot be taking out of the car like the infant car seat (the baby have to be taken out of the seat every time you get out of the car). This means you will need a regular infant car seat or stroller when you take the baby out of the car or have to carry the baby by hand.
Style and Price
After a car seat has met safety requirements, you can have fun personalizing your purchase. Many car seats covers come in a variety of colors ranging from gray to hot pink or even rainbow. Some even come in animal prints and polka dots.
It is a fun idea to let older kids pick out what colors they like for themself and they could also help pick out a color for their baby sibling (makes them feel proud and responsible).
For parents who are looking to trim price, a travel system can be a great choice because many stores offer discounts when you buy the combination.
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