How to Choose a Car Seat
That Meets The Needs of Your Baby
There are many types of car seats available on the market
today. In order to be able to make an informed decision it is best to
check out car seat manufacturers. You can also check any consumer guide
for information on recalls, seats that have been crash tested, the best
type of restraint systems for your child. Before that even starts be aware
of the fact that there are many types of car seats. The choice you make
will be based on your prior research and your child's needs. A note of
caution: before you purchase a car seat check the manufacture's
recommendations and be sure the seat is compatible with your vehicle.
One type of car seat is the infant only car seat. This
seat comes with a detachable base, comes with higher weight and height
limits, harness slots that will help to change the seat from rear facing
to front facing. The multiple slots can be adjusted to fit your baby. They
also have handles that can be folded down while the child is in the car.
They can be raised to make carrying your baby easier.
Convertible car seats are bigger and heavier and may not
be appropriate for some newborns. The reclining position and ease of
adjusting the harness are important assets. A convertible seat can be used
rear facing for most newborns and front facing for older babies over
twenty pounds. The American Pediatric Association recommends a child stay
rear facing until s/he reaches the maximum weight and height listed by the
manufacturer. The straps and are adjustable to a child's size, the seat
should be moved to the proper position for the weight and height of your
baby. The seat belt should be threaded through the seat belt path.
Forward facing seats cannot be used in the rear facing
position. They are only for children over a year old and over twenty
pounds. They can be used with either a lap only or lap/shoulder belt
Combination seats also cannot be used in the rear facing
position and are also only for babies over a year and over twenty pounds.
It has an internal harness for children whose weight is between forty and
fifty pounds. It can convert to a belt position booster seat by removing
the harness for larger children. They can be used with lap only or
Booster seats come in different types. Some come with
shield boosters that are padded bars that lock into position much like the
handlebars on carnival rides. There are booster seats that come with a
high back to support your child as s/he rides in a car. Some booster car
seats are built into vans and some cars. Check with your vehicle
manufacturer to be sure the seat will accommodate your child's size. There
are travel vests that attach to the seats with lap only belts.
Now that you know the types of car seats, there are things
that must be considered in order to ensure the safety of your baby. Is the
seat safe? How did it fare in crash testing? Is the restraint system easy
to manipulate? If they are difficult to buckle your child in or remove him
from the seat your child's safety could be compromised. In an accident, a
sudden stop, or quick swerve will the seat hold your child? If the seat
moves in any way in these situations your baby could be at risk. The car
seat should attach snugly to the seat if properly installed. With seats
that have multiple belt slots to accommodate your child be sure you use
the right one. The belt should be at your child's shoulder level or just
Most newer car seats come with the LATCH (lower anchor and
tethers for children) system. Installation is supposed to be easier but
they are difficult to use and are not always safe. Parents complain that
upon installing seats with this system there is too much slack, the seats
have a tendency to move or slide out of position. In an emergency
situation this could have seriously disastrous results. A company has
created a tool called Mighty Tite that is used to pull in the slack and it
has been safety tested and is recommended.
As previously stated check consumer guides and online
sites for recalls. This is especially important if you have a used car
seat. If you purchase your seat second-hand you need to inspect it
thoroughly. Check that all belts and buckles are in good shape and working
as recommended. Make sure the belts aren't frayed or the buckles cracked.
Check the frame for any breaks or gaps that your little one could get
fingers stuck in or that are sharp. If you find such things don't use the
seat until you can get it repaired or replaced. If the seat comes with
removable covers it is suggested that you remove them and wash them well.
If it doesn't have cloth covering you might want to buy some. A vinyl
seat, could in the summer, burn your little one's tender skin. In a
desperate attempt to remedy this when my own child was an infant, I found
a large towel and cut holes in it and place it on the seat so that
anywhere my son's skin would meet the seat, it was protected at least with
the towel. If you are really creative you could make your own.
Be practical in purchasing your car seat. If you have an
infant buy a seat that will convert to a front facing seat as your child
grows. Infant seats also come with a base that remains installed while you
are able to remove a sleeping child from the car without disturbing him
too much. Some such infant seats can also attach to a stroller frame. This
multi-use seat is practical and will save all the bending and unbuckling
and buckling of seat belts and then stroller belts. The internal harness
keeps your child appropriately restrained.
Let's go over some important considerations in purchasing
car seats. Keep in mind compatibility with your vehicle's specifications.
Check for recalls and safety testing- how did the seat fare in these
situations? Is it the proper seat for the size of your child? Can the seat
be converted from a rear and front facing seat - it is more economical to
buy a convertible seat. Is the installation easy or does the seat seem to
move around in the belt system? There is a tool called Mighty Tite that
can take up any slack and make the seat secure in its position, thus
enhancing your baby's safety. Choose carefully and choose wisely, you are
carrying very precious cargo.
About the Author
Declan Tobin is a successful freelance writer providing advice for
parents and consumers on purchasing a variety of
baby crib bedding,
strollers, and more! His numerous articles provide a wonderfully
researched resource of interesting and relevant information.