Confused about car seats?

Who knew choosing a car seat could be so complicated? Brittany B. makes sense of it in her pregnancy journal blog post.

Infant car seat?
Convertible car seat?
All-in-one car seat?
Travel system?

What’s the difference? Why does it matter? Is one brand really better or safer than another?

These were some of the questions I asked myself as we started down the path of making our first major baby purchase. Because, let’s face, I really had no idea about any of the names for car seats or what those names actually meant.

If you’ve never walked down the car seat aisle at Babies “R” Us or Target … don’t. Unless you have to, of course. Then maybe what I learned will help you avoid the confusion.

We had no idea what we were looking at the first time we walked down the endless aisle of car seats. In an overwhelmed panic, we quickly walked our way out of the aisle and decided to do a bit of research and talk to friends before tempting the car seat aisle again.

Two top items came out of my research that I wanted to focus on as we narrowed down our choices: car seat safety and ease of use.

Consumer Reports and SaferCar.gov are two resources I used once we had narrowed our choices down.

Consumer Reports provided a considerable amount of information around car seat safety. While most of the rating information requires a subscription to Consumer Reports, some reports are available, including one on the top-rated convertible car seats.

Safercar.gov is managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and provides insight into car seat ease-of-use. All NHTSA-rated car seats meet federal safety standards and strict crash performance standards.

According to the NHTSA, the safest car seat is one that:

 

  • Is appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight
  • Fits in your vehicle correctly
  • Is easy to use

 

My friends had mixed opinions about purchasing an infant car seat versus a convertible car seat. We had a few friends recommend borrowing an infant seat or purchasing a used one. We decided against this recommendation because we would have no history on the car seat. According to the Norton Children’s Hospital Office of Child Advocacy, if a car seat has been in an auto accident, it cannot be used again. Without knowing the history of a used seat, we didn’t want to take that chance.

There are a lot of great resources and articles available outside of Consumer Reports and the NHTSA that break down car seat safety information and provide tips for purchasing your car seat. We read a lot and learned a lot before making our final decision.

For whatever car seat you choose, be sure to take advantage of a free car seat check by a certified passenger safety technician in your area. Find a car seat inspection location near you.

As we get closer to Baby B.’s arrival, we will take advantage of the free car seat check offered by Norton Children’s Hospital.


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