If you are about to become a parent, you have probably started to look into car seats. You are likely overwhelmed and a bit nervous. Often, when it comes to babies and kids, there are such a wide range of options and products that it can be very difficult to know what to choose. When it comes to your child’s safety, you are likely to be even more worried and want to be sure to make the right decision. So, let’s go over some car seat basics. Then, armed with the right knowledge, you will hopefully feel ready to make the right purchase.
1. Choose a Type of Seat
First things first: newborns can sit in two kinds of car seats. You have choices. Both have benefits, but they also have drawbacks. You will have to choose based on your family’s particular needs. When you leave the hospital, they can either be an infant seat (often, you see mothers carrying these by the handle). They are very convenient for carrying infants and when babies are sleeping they can be easily transported. It may even be a spot to set your baby for nap while you are out.
Your other option is to buy convertible car seat. This type of seat will grow with your child. This saves money because it can be used all the way through their toddlerhood. They will go from rear-facing, to front-facing, to a booster. They are also every bit as safe for your infant as an infant seat. But, they are not as convenient and portable.
2. Make Sure that you are Aware of the Condition and Safety of Your Seat
It is important that you understand that ALL car seats in the store have been tested and approved against stringent safety standards. It is extremely important, however, that you do not use an older, used seat. The sun can break down the plastic, the safety standards change, and if they have been an accident they may be damaged in ways that you can see. BUY YOUR CAR SEAT BRAND NEW!
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is the preeminent organization for vehicle safety standards. They rate cars and other vehicles and they also have car seat resources for parents. The ratings measure how well a seat works in a typical SUV or minivan because the correct fit will go a long way in keeping your child safe. Check out their website for more guidance and tips for keeping your bundle of joy safe on the road.
3. Decide on Price Range
At the lesser end of the price range for seats, you will have everything that you need to keep your baby safe. But, the more that you spend, you can assume that the seat will have extra features, such as cushier fabric, cuter designs, a larger canopy, etc.
4. Think About How to Avoid Hassle
To save trouble, check to see if belts of the car seat are adjustable and will expand easily as your baby grows (he or she will grow fast!). Ideally, you want straps that will not have to be rethreaded, because those are a huge pain. Many brands now have features that make it easier and you should consider whether you are up to rethreading or not, then check your seat to make sure it meets your needs.
You will also want to give some thought to how the seat will fit in your car. They are not all the same size and shape, so you will want to find one that will fit into your car without too much trouble. For example, a convertible seat will take up MUCH more room, so it may be wise to choose an infant carrier seat if you have a small vehicle.
5. Get the Seat Installed, and Checked
After you set up the car seat, you should have your work checked by a professional. Many fire stations, hospitals, and police stations will be more than glad to help you. When you go to leave the hospital with your baby, they will likely send a nurse to help you make sure that it is installed properly.
Common Car Seat Mistakes:
- The seat may be too loose in the car. In a collision, a kid in a loose seat could smash into the back of the front seat. This can cause serious injury to their face, head and brain. Be sure it is tightly secured with enough space between the front row of seats.
- The harness may not be tightly fastened enough. If the harness is not tight enough, a baby can easily come out of his or seat in the event of an accident.
- Do not turn your infant toward the front of the car too soon. When a child is rear-facing, his back–the most resilient part of their body which can better absorb the impact. A baby’s head is heavy in relation to the rest of its tiny body. If his head jolts forward during an accident, paralysis is possible.
- Always avoid using a seat that’s been recalled: Car-seat recalls happen for a variety of reasons, and some recalled seats don’t pose a fatal danger, but some do. They can be recalled for flammable fabric, faulty latches, and more.
6. Keep up to Date
Car seat companies will release information, recalls and additional instructions. Be on the lookout for important information so that the recalls and other issues can be addresses before your child is injured, or even killed.
Well, you are still probably feeling a bit anxious. This feels like a pretty important choice. But, while it is important, it is also important to realize that as long as you buy a new and up-to-date seat and install it properly, all you have to do is be sure to buckle your baby in well. They will be safe. Now that you have basic knowledge of car seats and know how to make a good choice, you should feel confident. You know how to keep your child safe and you are going to be just fine!