I have a confession to make. I’ve been driving for over 20 years, and until recently I never knew the difference between a seat belt and a child’s car seat. And while I’m not proud of that fact, it does mean that when my daughter made me a happy grandma this year, all of the sudden I found myself in the market for an essential piece of safety equipment: A car seat! But which one? There are so many different types available on the market today (some costing as much as $500!) that it was hard to know where to start. That is, until we met with our local Safe Kids representative who helped us select just the right seat at just the right price. And thankfully she passed along these tips for choosing your child’s next car seat.
How to choose the right Car Seat to protect your child:
Choosing the right car seat for your vehicle and child can be an overwhelming task at first. Now let’s break this decision process down to a few essential thoughts:
1. Make sure it fits your vehicle – To prevent injury, the seat must fit securely in your car and be level with the back of the seat. There should be no more than one inch (2.54 cm) space between the top of the child’s head and the top edge of the restraint system when using a rear-facing seat.
2. It must be appropriate for your child – Restraint systems are classified according to the child’s weight, height, and age. When purchasing a restraint system, check that it is approved by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or Transport Canada’s Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Cushions Safety Regulations. You can also ask a trained child passenger safety technician or health care professional to assist you in choosing the best seat for your needs.
3. It must fit your child properly – To work correctly, it is important that the restraint system fits tightly against the child’s body and that it isn’t twisted or tangled with other straps. In order to do this you’ll need to make sure the child sits all the way back against the seat and lies down if it is a forward-facing restraint system. It should also be correctly adjusted as per manufacturer’s instructions.
4. The harness must fit snugly – Properly fitted harnesses sit level on the child’s shoulders and fasten securely at or below the child’s shoulder level. The harness must be snug enough to prevent it from slipping off of the child’s shoulders when they are in their seat, but not so tight that it causes discomfort.
5. It should have a label attached with instructions for its proper use – This label will include information on installation, age range, weight limit, date of manufacture, instructions for use, warnings, recalls etc.
6. It should have a label with the date of manufacture – This information is helpful in determining if your child restraint has been recalled. If it hasn’t expired, you can still use it until your child reaches the maximum weight limit or falls within that age range (whichever comes first).
7. It should not be used beyond its expiry date – It’s a good idea to keep the seat and documentation in a safe place so that they’re easily accessible if you need them, but it is important to remember that your child restraint system has an expiration date, usually displayed on the label with the instructions for use. If it has expired or is less than six years old, do not use it.
It is also a good idea to keep your car seat’s instruction manual and registration card in a safe place that you can easily find them if you ever need them again. This will help out with any future replacement parts or recalls on the product as well as helpful information to know about your car seat and child.
When to buy a car seat during pregnancy
Some parents find it easier to purchase everything for their new baby or child before delivery, while others prefer to keep some items a secret. If you are planning on buying your car seat during pregnancy, I recommend talking with your local Safe Kids representative who can help you choose the best type of car seat that will suit the needs of both you and your child. If you are planning on buying the car seat after delivery, wait until your baby is at least six months old and you have had them checked by a professional to determine their weight, height and age before choosing a seat that best fits your child.
Take the Time to Find a Good Deal
In the excitement of choosing a new car seat for your child, it can be tempting to just buy whatever is on sale. Although this may seem like a great deal, these types of seats are usually not as safe as those that have been approved by Transport Canada or the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If you do choose to purchase one of these types of seats, make sure that you are familiar with all the features so that you know how to use it properly.
It is important not only what type of car seat you buy, but also who sells it to you. Before buying a car seat, I would recommend calling your local police station or hospital and ask if they can recommend a retailer that sells only car seats that meet the appropriate safety standards. These retailers are usually more knowledgeable about their products and will be able to give you any information you need before purchasing your new car seat.
By taking the time to find a good deal, asking for help choosing which type of car seat is best for your child, and buying a car seat from a reputable car seat retailer, you will be able to choose a safe, reliable and affordable seat that your child will love.
Another route that oftentimes leads to the desired car seat is by speaking with other parents who have kids that are at the same age as yours. Ask them how they chose their current car seat and if they’re happy with it. You’ll find out the pros and cons about their model and you can quickly identify if it suits your needs.
Buying a car seat online or from a secondary retailer may be a good way to get a less expensive model compared to retailers, but it is very important that you examine the car seat thoroughly before taking it home. Do not buy used seats! You never know if there has been damage done to the product and how it will affect your child’s safety in the future.
Examine the car seat carefully before purchasing it
As with any baby product, there are many varieties of car seats on the market today that can be overwhelming to a new parent or guardian. When looking for your child’s first car seat, my advice is to start by doing some research online about all of your options. Once you have a good idea of the specs on the different types, make a list of your top choices and visit a local retailer to try them out for yourself. Ask as many questions as you feel necessary and read all the material supplied with each seat to help you make an educated buying decision later on down the road.
Although some say that it is easier to choose a car seat before the baby is born so you can get used to having them around, I always recommend choosing your new car seat after delivery. During pregnancy, you won’t know exactly how big your child will be once they are born and what type of car seat will work best for them. After your baby’s birth, visit your doctor and they will be the best resource to assist you in choosing which type of car seat is most appropriate for them.
What Car Seat Will Best Fit Your Child?
Once you’ve determined the correct type of car seat for your child, it’s time to look at what models actually fit them. This may sound like a simple task, but it can be quite confusing when you are visualizing which seat will fit in your chosen vehicle. After consulting with your doctor and reading up on all of the information about car seats that is supplied to you, make a list of brands that are compatible with your child’s height and weight (if they’re still growing).
If you’re looking for the most convenient option, then seat belts are your best bet. Seat belts will fit most types of child restraints and there is no need to worry about trying to strap a seat belt around a bulky car seat that occupies an entire backseat. On the other hand, seat belts might not be a good idea if you have a larger car seat that will fit two children across the backseat. In this case, you may want to consider investing in a second car seat if your baby is going to need their own seat soon.
Do I Need a Latch System?
Have you ever seen those yellow latches on the backs of passengers seats and wondered what they were for? They’re called Latch Safety Systems, and they are the most popular way of securing your child’s car seat in place. Although you can purchase Latch systems separately, latch-compatible car seats will come with them preinstalled. When purchasing a new car seat or when replacing worn-out belts, make sure they fit together properly before taking it home.
What are the Differences?
The safest way to secure your child’s car seat is by using a 5-point harness system that clips on either side of their body and between their legs instead of just around their waist like regular seat belts. If this sounds complicated, don’t worry; you’ll soon get the hang of it with a little practice. To make things easier on you, some models will even come preassembled in the box when you purchase them.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also recommends that all infants are placed in rear-facing car seats until they turn two years of age or reach the maximum height and weight limit for their specific model. This is why it’s important to do your homework and research all of the styles available before you make a decision.
As long as you take my advice into consideration, your search for the perfect car seat will be a breeze instead of a burden. The most important thing to remember is that it is absolutely necessary to buy one with adequate safety protections built in for those long and short trips with your child.
Check Safety Ratings Before Buying
Before making a final decision, you should check the safety ratings and reviews for each seat that caught your eye. A website like http://www.consumerreports.org is constantly updated with the latest information on car seats, so this is an easy way to narrow down your options.
It’s important to remember that buying a car seat isn’t the only thing you’ll need for your child. If they’re under two, make sure that they are restrained in either strollers or baby carriers to avoid serious injuries in the event of an accident. All it takes is one little loose thread on their clothing to get caught around a car seat, and they could end up in serious danger.
As long as you follow the tips in this article and use your common sense, you won’t have to worry about choosing a safe car seat for your child. You don’t want them to be hurt when out of your control so it’s best for you to take extra precautions whenever possible.
Consider What Kinds of Trips You’ll Be Making With Your Child
If you’re on the go a lot with your child, then you should make sure that their car seat has adequate protection and easy installation capabilities. I would recommend choosing one that is designed to fit on airplanes or in taxis since these are high-risk situations for accidents to occur. On the other hand, if most of your trip involve long commutes through the suburbs, then a simple 5-point harness system should do the trick.
What Size is your Car
If you have a larger car or SUV, then you’ll need one that doesn’t take up too much of your trunk space and fits two children across the backseat with ease. If you’re driving a smaller sedan or sport vehicle, then you can choose one that is more compact and lightweight if necessary.
Think About Where You Will Store It When Not in Use
One major inconvenience about car seats is that they don’t fold up to a smaller size when not in use. If your house isn’t big enough to store a bulky seat, then you should find one that can easily fit into a closet or behind a door without taking up too much space. It’s better to purchase an extra one for inside the home rather than constantly take it in and out of the car.
What are You Willing to Spend?
One last thing that you should consider is how much money you’re willing to spend on your child’s car seat. While safety features are the most important, don’t waste your life savings in order to get something with all of the bells and whistles.
An infant model is usually the cheapest, ranging from $30-$100 depending on your style and choice of brand. On the other end of the scale, a convertible seat can cost as much as $500 or more for one with extra safety capabilities like side impact protection and noise control.
Hopefully this article has given you some helpful tips when it comes to choosing a car seat for your child. As long as you take the time to consider what kinds of trips they’ll be taking and how often, then making a decision will be easy. I hope that my advice was useful in helping you make an informed choice about which one is best for your family’s needs. If not, feel free to comment below with any questions or experiences relating to car seats!