Sorry to start with a horrid fact, but if you are a new parent, you should know that car crashes are one of the leading causes of the death and grave injury of minors all over the world.
According to a report by CDC, car seats can reduce the risk of death by 28% and the risk of injury by 71-82%. So it makes absolute sense to take our time to do deep research before buying a car seat for the tiniest member of your family.
In this post, I will round up and break down the key attributes that separate great car seats from the not-so-great ones. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Different Car Seats Types Based on Age and Height
Your baby’s age, height, and weight are the three key determining factors to keep note of when choosing a car seat.
Below, I’ve broken down CDC’s guideline on how to pick the safest car seat on the three above-mentioned factors:
Infant Car Seat
This kind of car seats are always rear-facing and can recline back a fair bit. These are designed to accommodate children from birth- 2 years of age and can handle up to 40 pounds. The rear-facing design helps to protect the infant’s ultra-delicate head, neck, and spinal cord.
Nine-month-olds will depend on the strength of their spinal column to withstand the impact of a vehicle crash. That’s why you should always choose a rear-facing seat for babies below 2 years, no room for oversight here.
Most babies exceed the height limit of infant seats by the time they are one year old.
Forward-facing Car Seat for Toddlers
Most forward-facing seats can handle 40-65 pounds and are appropriate for babies of 2-4 years. A 5-point harness system and tether limit the child’s head and body movement to uniformly distribute the stress of the crash.
Pay a great deal of attention to the fitting of the straps. They should be adequately snug to restrict movement, not suffocatingly tight.
Belt-positioning Booster Seat
Your child might outgrow the forward-facing seat before or right after their 5th birthday. And when that happens, you will need a booster to raise the height of the kid on the car to fit the adult seat belts.
The 3-point harness system will restrain the shoulder and hip. Continue using the booster seat as long as it fits comfortably. As a general rule of thumb, children taller than 5-inches are fit to put on the seat belts without the booster seat.
Types of Car Seat Based on Design
Children grow faster than we can comprehend and therefore, it makes financial sense to invest in a car seat that will grow with your baby. Buying a convertible, combination, or all-in-one car seat will accompany your child from infancy to preschool age.
For those who are not familiar with the terms, let me summarize their functions for you –
A convertible car seat can change its position from rear-facing to front-facing and will make a perfect birthday gift to a one-year-old.
Combination seats are basically front-facing seats that can be transformed into a booster seat by detaching the strap system. Some of the safest car seats for 6-year-olds incorporate combination seats to keep them protected through toddlerhood to preschool age.
Finally, we have the best of the lot – the all-in-one car seats. These car seats convert from a rear-facing infant seat to a heavy-duty booster seat with just a few minor adjustments.
Even though they are considerably costlier than regular car seats, they pay for themselves in the long run. Plus, it saves you the trouble of having to look for a new car seat every two or three years until they are old enough to use the adult seat belt on their own.
Apart from the standard 5-point harness system and side-impact protection, you should also thoroughly check the latch system and shell material quality before purchasing a car seat for your junior.
If you can fork out a few extra bucks, you should be getting plushier fabric, multiple strap height adjustment options, and an anti-rebound bar that restricts the movement of the car seat during a collision to minimize the impact on the baby’s body.
How you install the car seats can also make a world of difference, so make sure to check this guideline thoroughly for correct car seat installation tips.
Ease of Cleaning
Car seats inevitably get dirty. Make sure you don’t spend half of your trip’s duration scrubbing the poo and vomit off the seat pads and straps. Invest in an easy-to-clean model.
Ideally, all the parts that can potentially get dirty, e.g the seat pad and straps, should be easily detachable for cleanup. The quality of the fabric also plays a pivotal role here. Smooth fabrics are easy to wipe clean and deodorize, compared to textured fabrics.
Car seats or child safety seats are one of the first things you need to start looking for when you’re expecting a baby. Inferior quality car seats are not only uncomfortable but also frighteningly unsafe.
You need to thoroughly inspect all the essential elements such as the harness system and quality of the shell before securing the baby in it.
Periodically check the seat for damage because you can never be too safe when it comes to taking care of your child. Finally, make sure the car seat you’re aiming for is compatible with your vehicle. Every car is different and so is every car seat.
I wish you all the luck finding the best possible car seat for your little one!