Car seats are an important piece of safety equipment for your child, shielding them from whiplash and a host of other injuries that might occur in an accident. They are also a necessary investment, so it’s essential to choose one that fits your needs and vehicle.
Choosing a seat can be overwhelming, with an array of weight limits, bells and whistles, and more. Thankfully, we’ve put together some tips to help you find the safest option for your family.
First and foremost, remember that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest height or weight limit allowed by their seat’s manufacturer. For most of the models we tested, this means until age 2.
Rear-facing seats are the most common and safest way for your baby to ride in a car. They offer greater protection in the event of a crash because they protect a child’s head, neck, and chest from impact.
Once your child outgrows a rear-facing seat, you can transition them to a forward-facing one. These seats generally fit kids from 40 to 60 pounds, but it’s important to install the top tether correctly and angle the seat so that your child’s head doesn’t lean too far forward or get too reclined.
If you have more than one child, a convertible seat that can be used for both babies and kids is a great choice. These seats are often more durable, easier to wash and less likely to break down or rust.
They may also feature extras like extra shock absorption, padding or materials that are more high-quality than standard car seats. Some also come with safety features like a side-impact crumple zone or load leg, which can help reduce the likelihood of injury to your child in a crash.
All-in-one seats are a popular choice among parents for a number of reasons. They can be used in a variety of ways and are usually more affordable than rear-facing or forward-facing seats. They’re also available in a range of colors and fabrics, making it easy to find one that matches your style.
Convertible seats are also more convenient for traveling since they can be taken off and stored in a stroller or car seat holder when not in use. Many of these seats also have higher rear-facing weight and height limits than rear-facing-only models, so it’s a good idea to check them out if your child will be using them for longer than expected.
Another big reason they’re a favorite of a lot of parents is that they often come with easy-to-follow instructions for installation. That’s especially helpful for newer parents, who might not know how to install a seat correctly and might be nervous about their kid getting into trouble on the road.
Booster seats are another popular choice among parents. These seats help a child grow into the appropriate size for the seat belt, typically by securing the child in a rear-facing position with a harness and then putting the seat belt over the shoulder and lap areas of the vehicle. They’re often available in a few different styles, including high-back and backless models.