This is a sponsored guest post.
From clothes to blankets to pacifiers and beyond, there are several essentials that you’ll need to equip your baby with to keep them safe and satisfied in the first few years. One of the most important purchases is a car seat. According to the CDC, they reduce the risk of injury in road accidents by 71 percent.
The only problem is that they can be a headache to buy. With latches to anchor, belts to buckle, and straps to secure, it can feel a lot like you’re fitting your car for a race. Before you leave your patience at the local baby supercenter, use the following guidelines to pick out the best option.
Check Your Car
First, take a moment to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Car seats can be attached in different ways, including the seat belt or, with more modern cars, the LATCH system. It stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children and all new vehicles are mandated to have them. If that includes your own, make sure that you know where the attachments are.
Another useful step is to measure your back seat to check how much space there is. Smaller cars may not have enough room for seats with a larger base. Don’t forget to consider the number of car seats that you’ll need if you have more than one child. From here, make these considerations before heading to the store:
- Your child’s age
- Their weight and height
- Whether the seat meets safety standards
Suffice it to say that car seats aren’t cheap. The last thing you want to deal with is having to pay for another one in a few years’ time. There are two kinds of car seats for newborns: Rear-facing infant seats and convertibles, which initially face the seat before being turned towards the front.
Buying the latter will ensure that it lasts through toddlerhood. The only drawback is that convertible car seats aren’t as portable. If you want to save more money, then opt for an infant seat and stroller, which are sold as a bundle. You’ll likely find them in the stroller aisle as opposed to the car seat section.
Here are some features to look for when deciding if a car seat is worth picking up:
- Safety Label: Ensure that it meets or surpasses the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
- Five-Point Harness: These offer better protection than their three-point counterparts
- Ratings: It should have four or five stars as per the NHTSA rating system
- Stamps: The seat must be approved by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
It’s best to avoid buying secondhand car seats at all costs unless you know for certain that they haven’t been involved in an accident. Regardless, go for a new seat when possible. Additionally, choose a seat that’s made with a smooth fabric. These are easier to clean than those covered in textured materials like corduroy.
Finally, opt for one with clear and comprehensive installation diagrams. You can get some help from YouTube if you’re unsure about how to insert your car seat properly.