Car seats keep babies and young kids safe while riding a car. In the United States, you are required by law to use one when you drive your baby home from the hospital. Needless to say, car seats are big business in the USA, and there is a plethora of options. How do you choose which is the best for your baby?
Baby’s age. Newborns fare best in a small, snug infant seat, but these seats are easy to outgrow. If you want to give your baby’s car seat more mileage, choose a convertible seat that can be used not just by infants but also by toddlers. Infant car seats should always be rear facing.
Safety features. Car seats are there to keep your child safe. Make sure the seat is designed to protect your child adequately. Look for good, strong, sturdy materials in the car seat’s body. The side panels should be as high and perpendicular with the backrest and seat as possible. Look for LATCH installation and five-point harnesses. Make sure the harness’ lock is easy for you to buckle in and release, but not so easy that your toddler can do it himself!
For newborns, look for car seats that recline as far back as possible. If you can find one that will let your infant lie flat, that is a good one to get, because a flat lying position reduce the risk of your baby’s chin pushing down too much into his/her neck and impeding the airway.
Before you buy the car seat, press your hands all over it to make sure there are no sharp spots or painful bumps or scratchy material that will make the seat uncomfortable for your child.
Ease of use. Look for harnesses that are easy to adjust, for the perfect fit. Car seat covers should be easy to remove from the seat and wash and dry. If you can find a car seat cover that is actually machine washable, that would be great. Cup holders are very convenient to have, for those drive-through drinks with your toddler.