Baby Safety Month: How to Choose a Car Seat
Since September is Baby Safety Month, it seems like the perfect time for us to explore some of the issues parents face when transporting their infants by car. If you have a baby and a car, it’s absolutely imperative that you own a car seat. In fact, most hospitals won’t discharge you unless you have one. As the one piece of equipment that helps keep your baby safe and secure on the road, a car seat is one of the most important things you’ll buy for your newborn. Read on to learn how to choose a car seat to fit your needs and budget.
- Look for a rear-facing car seat for an infant under the age of 2. Unless your child is a fast grower, chances are he will need it for at least the first two years, or at least until he reaches the seat’s maximum height and weight limits. When facing forward, your baby has a higher risk of spinal injury from stress on his neck when involved in a collision. To save having to buy a second car seat once your child is two years old, look for a convertible car seat that can hold children up to 35 pounds when placed in a rear-facing position, and children up to 60 or more pounds in a front-facing position.
- Check that the car seat you’re buying fits your vehicle. If you’re driving a subcompact car, such as a Toyota Yaris, chances are you’ll be a bit challenged for space once you add baby and baby-related paraphernalia. If you have friends with children, ask if you can test their car seats in your car to see which one fits best and is the easiest to install.
- Install your car seat before you bring baby home. In your last month or so of pregnancy, go ahead and install your car seat so it’s ready to go. Practice getting it in and out of the car so that by the time your little one is born, you’ll be a car seat pro.
- Stay within your budget without scrimping on safety. It might sound tempting to get a second-hand car seat, but it’s not a good idea. When buying a pre-owned car seat, you can never be sure if the history. A used car seat could be missing vital parts, might not come with the manufacturer’s instructions, might not meet today’s safety standards, or could have been recalled due to faulty design. Also, older plastic tends to be more brittle, which would be bad news in a crash. Look for other baby items second-hand, but never purchase a used car seat.
- Choose a car seat that fits your stroller. When your baby is small, a regular stroller is not necessarily the safest or most comfortable option when out and about. Most stroller brands come with car seat adapters, or offer them for sale separately, so you can easily install your car seat into the stroller. If you’re fairly unrestricted for space or brand of car seat, choose your stroller first and then pick out your car seat. While the car seat is vital for the first couple of years, a good stroller will be utilized for 3-4 years.