How To Pick A Car Seat For Newborn

Infant Car Seat Benefits

How to choose and fit a baby car seat

Parents like the ease of using a rear-facing infant car seat with a snap-on base. It tends to be much easier to secure the baby in the car seat before placing it in the car, where it can be hard to get a good angle. This is also helpful in bad weather or at night when it’s more difficult to see buckles and belts.

Another pro with infant car seats is additional bases can be installed in other vehicles, making it easier to switch between them. This is great for grandparents and other caregivers who travel with the baby.

Many infant-only car seats are sold as part of a travel system that comes with a stroller. The car seat has a handle parents use to carry the seat between the vehicle base and the stroller base while the baby remains safely strapped in. Because the units all fit together, travel systems take the guesswork out of trying to find the right combination of equipment.

Should I Use A Convertible Seat

Convertible seats are designed to protect kids:

  • from birth up to at least 40 pounds facing backward
  • up to 65 pounds or even 80 pounds facing forward, depending on the model

Convertible seats are placed in different positions depending on a child’s age and size:

  • They face toward the rear until a baby is ready to face forward .
  • Then, they can be turned around and “converted” to a forward-facing seat.

Some car seats are known as “all-in-one” or “3-in-one” because they convert from rear-facing to front-facing to booster with the harness removed.

Convertible seats:

  • are heavy and not very portable
  • should be used only for travel
  • can be economical because you might not need to buy a separate infant-only seat
  • are a good option for larger babies who outgrow their infant-only seat and still need to be rear-facing

If you use a convertible seat:

  • Make sure it fits your child correctly. A small child in a large seat may not be the best option.
  • Don’t use a model with a tray shield for newborns. The shield comes up too high on them. In a crash, the baby’s face could hit the tray.

Choosing A Car Seat For Your Newborn

If your car seat budget allows the purchase of two car seats within a year or so, an infant-only car seat is likely to provide a better fit for most newborns. The measure of convenience these seats provide is invaluable for some parents.

Check the car seat’s labels to ensure your baby fits within the weight and height guidelines for the seat you intend to buy. Once purchased, take the time to learn how to install the car seat tightly and properly. You’ll need to use the manufacturer’s instructions for the seat as well as your vehicle owner’s manual.

Keep your child rear-facing when riding in the car until they are at least 2 years old. Most kids will become too tall for their infant seats around their first birthday, at which time they can move to a convertible seat. However, authorities like the AAP advise that kids should continue riding in rear-facing for at least another year before turning forward-facing.

All infant car seats should only be used for traveling and never for eating, sleeping, or playing outside of the vehicle.

Whether you start with an infant-only car seat or a convertible car seat, the most important thing is to choose a car seat that fits your baby and your vehicle.

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Know Where You Can Safely Use An Infant Seat

Car seats are for cars, though in the US we have turned infant seats into an all-purpose baby carrier with the option to attach them to strollers and carry them with their handles. The ability to remove the infant seat carrier from the base with baby still inside the seat makes for a portable vessel to move both around your busy life seamlessly. But this ease of portability comes with its own set of risks as there are safe places to use or place a carrier, and then there are not.

Safe places for infant seats:
  • In the car The safest place to use your infant seat, and the main reason it exists, is in the car properly installed, whether with or without the base. Car seats are designed to keep protect children in the car in the event of a collision.
  • On the ground When you remove your baby and carrier from the car and need to set them down, do so on the ground. There is a caveat to this however. In the car infant seats are designed to sit at a certain angle. When placed on flat ground you lose the ability to adjust to the angle, and this could put your child at risk for cutting off their airway should the angle of the seat be too upright. Bottom line: Best practice is if out of the car, take baby out of the seat.
  • Connected to a compatible stroller Infant car seats are able to attach to a variety of strollers, but not all. Well cover this in more detail in the next section.
  • Unsafe places for infant seats:

    Current Car Seat Guidelines

    Choosing a Convertible Car Seat for a Newborn

    The American Academy of Pediatrics makes annual recommendations for car seat safety . These recommendations are summarized in the following image, which is extracted from the NHTSA Child Car Safety guidance.

    As you can see in the chart, your baby will always begin in the rear-facing position, and maintain that position until they reach the car seat manufacturer’s height or weight limit. This applies for both infant car seats and convertible car seats.

    Most infant car seats max out at 35 pounds. Some new convertible car seats car support children in the rear-facing position all the way up to 50 pounds! For example, the Nuna Rava, Graco Extend2Fit, Maxi Cosi Magellan, and a few others . Then your child will transition to a forward-facing car seat with a 5-point harness until they are about 7 years of age. Then they should transition to a booster seat until they are about 10-12 years old, and then finally to using the vehicle’s seat belts. Of course, these are very general guidelines and will change if your child is shorter or taller, or smaller or larger than most children. They are also only roughly summarized here for a more thorough explanation, see our AAP policy article here. Also, just because the government makes a recommendation for car seat usage, be sure to check your local laws and also double-check the car seat manufacturer’s guidelines!

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    Register Your Car Seat

    Congratulationsyou chose the right car seat and installed it correctly. Now its time to register your car seat with the manufacturer to receive recalls and safety notices so your child can remain safe. Also, you can sign up with NHTSA to receive e-mail alerts about car seat and booster seat recalls.

    Focus On The Most Important Features

    At the lower end of the price range , whether you’re purchasing an infant car seat or a convertible car seat, look for a model that has a 5-point harness , side-impact protection , and compatibility with the LATCH system .

    If you can afford to buy a premium car seat, priced above $200, expect additional features, such as an anti-rebound bar at the foot of the seat that limits the amount of movement during a crash. Other features that bump up the price include cushier fabric, accessories such as a little “boot” around baby’s feet, and a larger canopy.

    Another feature to size up are the straps: To save trouble, check to see if straps of the car seat you’re buying will be easy to adjust as your baby grows. Ideally, you want straps that will not have to be rethreaded. Many brands now have adjustment handles in the back of the seat, or a pull cord between baby’s legs, that make rethreading a thing of the past.

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    How To Buy An Infant Car Seat Online Versus In

    When it comes to buying your car seat, you can go to a store or look for your preferred model online. While we like to see and touch new seats to make our decision, we often find that there are a lot more options available online and for a better price.

    If you live near a store that has a good range of options, go there and see the seats for yourself. Note down the prices for your preferred brands and compare them online.

    If you dont have such a store near you, take a look at our in-depth car seat reviews. We test each seat that we review with our own kids for several months before writing down our thoughts. That way, you can get practical and real-life feedback from parents like you. We also include detailed scores for each of the essentials aspects to keep in mind when choosing your car seat.

    Whatever you do, make sure to buy from a trusty online store with clear and convenient return policies, , to avoid unpleasant surprises.

    Dont Buy Used Car Seats

    How To Choose Car Seat for Your Baby. Stokke Nuna

    Never buy a used car seat from garage sales, flea markets, second-hand stores, or online when you dont know the previous owner or the complete history of the car seat. Avoid borrowing one from someone you dont know.

    A used car seat is unsafe if it has been in a crash or if it is missing parts, labels, or instructions. A car seat is also unsafe if the manufacturer has issued a safety recall and the seat has not been fixed. Theres just no way to be sure that a used car seat is safe.

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    Choosing A Baby Car Seat

    It’s recommended to buy a baby car seat before your baby is born if possible. It’s important to buy a seat that fits your car and is suitable for a newborn.

    If you have your baby in hospital or a birth centre, you will need the car seat to drive your newborn home safely. It’s a good idea to practise fitting the seat before your baby is born.

    Infant Car Seat Vs Convertible Car Seat

    Designed specifically for infants and young babies, infant car seats face the rear of the vehicle. They click in and out of a base that stays in your car, and can also attach to compatible strollers.

    Convertible car seats are made to be rear-facing to begin, then can convert to a forward-facing seat. You should be able to use a convertible car seat from the time your child is a newborn until they outgrow a front-facing car seat.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children should stay in a front-facing car seat until at least 5 years of age.

    Sometimes convertible car seats also convert into a booster seat, which is the next phase in your childs car seat progression. Booster seats should be used until your child can safely wear a seatbelt .

    With loads of infant car seat options on the market today, its helpful to narrow down your search. When deciding which type of infant car seat is best for you, there are a few things to think about:

    • size and shape of your vehicle
    • size and weight of the seat
    • how many car seats youll have
    • how often youll use it
    • stroller compatibility

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    Spring For A New Seat To Be Safe

    Understandably, you want to know which car seat is safest. But all car seats that are on the market have been tested and approved for the current safety standards .

    Because the safety technology improves so frequently, the most important thing you can do is buy a new car seat and not accept a hand-me-down.

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    Best Baby And Child Car Seats

    Types of Car Seats: A Buyers Comprehensive Guide

    The Child Restraint Evaluation Program independently tests for car seats above and beyond minimum standards. These are some of the best baby capsule car seats and child car seats from their test still available, with protection ratings out of 5.

    As CREP regularly updates its testing protocols, results from 2021 cannot be compared with previous years.

    Best forward-facing car seats

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    Installation: How Easy Is It To Install The Seat

    Youll be regularly taking your babys seat in and out of your car, so ease of installation is a critical factor to take into account when choosing a seat. It starts by making sure that the seat will fit your car in the first place. Some extra-large infant car seat might not fit in a small car. If youre unsure, just measure the space available at the back of your car before looking at the dimension of each seat in our ranking of the best infant car seats available today.

    Most infant car seats now come with a dedicated installation base. You can install the base once in your car and just plug the seat in and out when needed. Every car seat base has the option to connect with a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children to make the installation easier.

    Helpful note

    46% of child seats and boosters are installed incorrectly. A poorly installed seat leaves a child vulnerable in a crash. Read our guide to see How to securely install your baby in a car seat.

    Baby Or Child Car Seat Fitting

    • It is dangerous and illegal to carry a baby in a rear-facing baby seat in a front passenger seat that has an active airbag. Forward-facing seats in the same position, while not illegal, are not ideal. It’s always safer for children to travel in the back of the car.
    • Make sure the seat is fitted properly in the car, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Look out for safety days where experts demonstrate how to fit baby and child car seats safely. These often take place in supermarket or shopping mall car parks.

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    The Essentials You Need To Consider In Choosing

    What are your must-haves? Whats your budget? What kind of satisfaction do you desire from that seat? These are just some of the questions you need to answer sincerely in order not to have the buyers remorse afterwards. Our guide will help you in making this decision. After you read it, I hope choosing the right baby car seat for you and your child will be a walk in the park.

    I remember when my nephew was eight months old and my sister got a job which forced her to keep on travelling. She didnt have a nanny, so she was obliged to carry her child to all the places she had to visit. So, we decided we had to purchase an babies car seat that would serve her and the child well.

    A position that would keep the infant snug in the seat at all times and whose straps wouldnt snap even in the roughest of roads. Some of the roads here can be a bit rocky and damaged, so she needed the best of the best. Well, saying you can get one is easy but choosing the right one was a headache.

    We did our research and still couldnt get the one we wanted with the amount of cash we had set aside. I think it had taken two whole weeks of window and online shopping before we decided on one fantastic product. All you need is to get your priorities right first then you can purchase the perfect one for you.

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