There are so many things you need to buy when you are expecting a child. None are more important from a safety point of view if you are looking to travel anywhere with your bundle of joy, than a baby car seat. With so many to choose from, though, what should be an easy enough task can turn into a stressful nightmare. There are a lot of things you need to take into consideration and a whole new vocabulary of terminology and jargon you need to familiarize yourself with, especially if it’s your first-ever baby car seat.
If you are finding it a struggle, don’t worry as we are here to help. Below you will find some helpful tips and advice that will make finding the best car seat for your baby easier and less stressful.
Price Is Not the Most Important Factor
Obviously, you will have a budget in mind. As car seats are designed with one main purpose – keeping your baby safe while you travel with them – it should not be the focus when buying this vital piece of safety equipment. While it’s true you will want to avoid a product that is incredibly cheap because it might suggest that it’s of inferior quality compared to a pricier model, expensive does not always equal best or safest.
Pay Close Attention to Safety Test Results
With any car seat, you look at, beyond the price and even the latches and belts it features, you should be most concerned about the safety tests it has been put through and whether it passed them or not. Look out for reference to testing organizations such as ADAC, the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (which translates as the General German Automobile Club). There will be other tests and standards that are necessary, but many of these will be dependent on local laws and regulations.
Figure Out What’s Best For Your Car
Before you start looking at different brands and models, you need to first look at your car’s documentation to find out which kind of car seat you need. Car seats can be installed in two basic ways – using the seat belt (normally found in older models) and what is known as the LATCH system (or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, which all new cars tend to have).
Decide which you intend to use and if you are wanting to use a car seat that is installed via the LATCH system make sure you familiarize yourself with where the attachments are. Although these are often found in the rear-seating, middle position, the safest place for a child to be seated, it can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model.
A further point to keep in mind is that it is a good idea to measure the back seat of your vehicle, so you know how much available room you have for a car seat. If you have a smaller car, you may not have room for a car chair with a big base. Further to that point, you need to think about who else is going to be sat in the back of the car at the same time as your baby.
Consider a Convertible Car Seat
One of the most common car seat options you will come across is the convertible. Although many of these models tend to be a bit pricier than one age group-specific chairs, they are often a better investment in the long run. They are designed to suit your child at various stages in his or her young life.
In the beginning, when they are babies and infants, these seats can be installed rear-facing, and then switched around to be installed forward-facing when babies become toddlers.
Consider A Travel System
The most economic and best investment, in the long run, maybe a baby car chair that can be easily converted. However, there is something to be said for being able to move your child, especially if they have nodded off to sleep, without disturbing them, from the car to their stroller. A travel system is a great option for those kinds of situations.
It may mean that you have a car seat for your baby that is only suitable for a year or so, but any parent will tell you that when things are silent, it can be glorious.
Never Buy Second Hand or Refurbished
There are times in life when it is good to invest in secondhand products and those that have been renewed or refurbished. When you are buying a car seat to keep your newest family member safe on all journeys, it is not one of them. Remember, you are buying it to keep him or her safe. Is it worth saving a few dollars, if it puts them at risk?
Concentrate on the Models With the Most Important Features
Like anything in this world today, there will always be models with an insane number of features. However, many of them, for your own setup and preference, may not be as important as others. Which could mean you end up paying more money for components, capabilities, and functionality you don’t need.
Concentrate on important features, such as a 5-point harness (comprising of one strap that runs between the legs and meets in the middle, two straps across the waist and two shoulder straps), compatibility with LATCH (if applicable) and side-impact protection (such as air pads or additional foam at either side of your baby’s head).
Choose One That’s Easy to Clean
Okay, so cleanliness is not exactly important to the safety of your child. However, if there is one thing that babies are – it’s messy and dirty. If you take any degree of pride in your car, you will want to make sure you invest in a car seat that is easy to clean. Many come with covers that can be wiped down with a wet cloth or can be stuck in the washing machine (a godsend for when there are those accidental diaper leakages and baby vomit stains you need to tackle).