Car Seat Buying Guide: How To Choose The Best One For Your Family

A car seat is one of the first essential safety investments for every parent. Whether long or short distance, it is our number one job as a parent to keep our little ones safe and secure during the entire ride.

Numerous young kids get severely injured or killed during a car crash every year. That’s why it is of utmost importance to choose the right car safety seat for your baby as well use it properly to keep him protected in the event of an accident. But where do you start?Car seats come in different types which include infant car seat, convertible car seat, and toddler car seat. There are also things you need to consider such as your family’s requirements and budget. For this reason, the process of purchasing the best one is quite overwhelming.

When shopping around for a safety seat, it is necessary to read customer feedback and reviews online. Knowing the experiences of other parents and the reviews of experts on several models and brands will help narrow down your choices. Jump to ratings 2018 to know the best convertible and all-in-one car seats this year.

Car Seat Laws In The United States

USA laws on car seats vary from state to state. However, one thing is clear all kids are required by law to be in a car seat until they reach the proper age or height requirement for your vehicle’s seat belt, whichever will come first.

Most states require your child to be in the rear-facing position whenever possible, while there are several states permit the use of an adult seat belt when they reach a particular height, weight or age. Moreover, your child is required in 49 states to be in a booster seat or other suitable equipment once he has outgrown his safety seat.

Fines for not complying with the law can set you back as much as $500. Noncompliance on some states can also use the points of your driver’s license as added penalty.

Different Types Of Car Seats You Need To Be Aware Of

Rear-Facing Car Seats for Infants and Toddlers

It is now recommended by the AAP for infants to be in the rear-face position for as long as they can, or have reached the seat manufacturer’s weight and height limitations. It is also essential to choose a car seat with a 5-point harness, which is pretty standard these days.

Once your child outgrows his rear-facing infant car seat, you can switch to a more suitable convertible car seat. Most of these car seat options have a rear-facing mode for up to two years old or more.

Rear-facing car seats come in the following types:

1. Rear-facing only

These car seats are portable, and most can be used with strollers. There are strollers you can purchase that comes with it, or you can choose from any of the ones recommended by its manufacturer.

  • Small and have carrying handles.
  • Can accommodate babies ranging from 22 to 35 pounds.
  • The majority of models come with a base which you can leave in your vehicle.
  • You should only use it for traveling purposes and not for feeding and sleeping when it’s outside of your car.

2. Convertible car seat as rear-facing

You can use this seat in rear-facing and switch it to forward-facing when your child is older or have outgrown the restrictions of the rear-face mode. You can use this seat longer than the rear-facing only infant car seat.

  • The rear-facing weight restriction is between 40 to 50 pounds, and its height limit is usually higher as well.
  • Ideal for toddlers or bigger babies.
  • It comes with a 5-point harness that you can attach between your child’s legs, as well as his hips and shoulders.
  • Bulkier and does not have carrying handles compared to the latter.
  • It doesn’t come with a base and is designed to stay in your vehicle.
  • You should only use it for traveling purposes and not for feeding and sleeping when it’s outside of your car.

3. 3-in-1 seats as rear facing

These seats also stay in your vehicle. You can use it in rear-face and forward-face modes, and also as a booster seat, hence its name.

  • Your child can grow with it.
  • They are mostly on the bigger side, so it’s crucial to check its fit to your vehicle.
  • It doesn’t have a separate base or carrying handle.
  • They also have higher height and weight restrictions, which is between 40 and 50 pounds as well.
  • It’s a good choice if you have a toddler or a bigger infant.

Forward-Facing Car Seat for your Toddler or Preschooler

Once your kid outgrows the limitations of the rear-facing seat, it’s time to use the forward-facing restraint.

When shopping around for one, look for those with the standard 5-point harness and a top tether that can provide your child with room to grow for numerous years. Make sure to read the car seat and your vehicle’s manuals to ensure a suitable fit.

Forward-facing seats come in the following options:

  1. Forward-facing only. You can only use it as is and comes with a top tether and a 5-point harness.
  2. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seat seats. You can convert it to its forward-face mode from rear-face when your child is old enough for it.
  3. Combination seat with a harness. It’s a forward-facing restraint with the standard 5-point harness and tether which you can convert into a belt-positioning booster by removing its harness.
  4. Built-in car seat. There are some car models that come with a built-in forward-face safety seat that varies in weight and height restrictions. Keep in mind to only use it when your kid is at least two years of age.

Belt-Positioning Booster Seats

You need a booster seat once your child outgrows his forward-facing seat. This type of car safety seat boosts your child so that he will be more comfortable and safer when strapped with the adult seat belt.

They are normally used between the ages of 8 to 12 or until your child has reached 4ft and 9in tall. It is recommended to use it until your child is old enough to fit in your car’s seat belt correctly.

Booster seats come in the following types:

  1. High-back booster. Choose this type if your car has a low back seat or doesn’t have a headrest. Like us adults, our children’s need the proper support behind their neck and head. It also works great for kids who fall asleep a lot during rides since they’ll have an extra comforting place to lean their heads.
  2. Backless booster. This kind cost less than the high-back option and ideal for traveling and carpooling. However, it is necessary that your vehicle has a high back seat that can provide ample support to your kid’s neck and head. Make sure that the ears of your child are below your car’s headrest or back seat.

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