In order to get discharged from the hospital and come home with the baby from the hospital, you must have a toddler car seat. The sheer variety of models in the market often makes the choice pretty difficult. It is overwhelming to go through manufacturer instructions and choose something that fits the need perfectly.
The stress associated with choosing a baby car seat is majorly because it is one of the most important items concerning the safety of the child. It is also one of the most expensive buys and hence the decision needs to be taken wisely.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right car seat right from deciding between the infant models and convertible seats to personalized features based on your individual needs.
Know your car first: The baby car seat is still a decision that you are yet to make, the vehicle, however, is with you. Read the owner’s manual thoroughly before investing in a seat. The baby car seats can be attached to the car using 2 mechanisms- seat belt of the car or LATCH system. The LATCH system refers to Lower Anchors and Tethers for children system and most new cars have this. Based on the allowance of your car make a decision, how you want to secure the seat, using a belt or LATCH.
Decide on LATCH only after ensuring you know where the LATCH attachments are available in the vehicle. The safest spot for a newborn is the rear-seating position and there may not be any attachment in the middle or the rear position.
Another thing to ascertain beforehand is if the back seat of the car can accommodate the seat. For instance, a large base may not be suitable for a small car and hence you need to choose a seat with a narrow base. You must also keep in mind the adults that will sit in the back seat and the number of children in the house to make proper measurements.
Consider a convertible car seat: The good thing about convertible car seats is that they grow with your child. The first few years of your child’s life will wreak havoc on your bank balance. A convertible seat will ensure that you do not need an upgrade in the first 2 years of your baby’s life. Two types of car seats are ideal for infants: rear-facing infant car seat and convertible car seat that transitions from the rear-facing position to the front-facing position as the baby grows. A convertible car seat will be a constant companion through toddler years and hence a good value for money. As far as the safety parameters are concerned, it is an absolutely safe choice. The disadvantage, however, is that they are not as portable as the infant seats.
A car seat stroller can help you save money: For the bigger picture, a convertible car seat saves quite some money. However, it cannot be denied that the ability to move the sleeping infant undisturbed by moving the infant seat out of the car is blissful. It is a good idea to buy an infant seat of some peace of mind is precious for you. A travel system will help you save money if you make this decision. An infant seat and stroller that are compatible often come at pocket-friendly prices. Look for them in the stroller aisle of the store.
Make sure the new car seat is safe: The only reason you spend all this money and energy on a baby car seat is safe for the child. Before investing in a brand, make sure that the seat is tested and approved based on the car seat safety standards in the country. Do not opt for the cheapest product but pay attention to its harness and other attachments. Also, accept a hand me down only if you are completely sure of the way the family handles the seat. Picking up from thrift stores or online sales may not be a good idea.
Pay attention to the important features: Whether you are looking for an infant car seat or a convertible seat, if your budget is towards the lower side, make sure that the model has a 5-point-harness. A 5-point harness includes two straps on the shoulders, two on the waist, one between the legs. These straps meet in the middle. Make sure that the seat is adequately padded on the sides to prevent impact and is compatible with the latch system.
If you choose to invest in a more expensive model, it will come with additional features including an anti-rebound bar at the foot. This bar ensures only minimum movement during a crash. It also comes with other premium features such as cosier fabric, large canopy etc.
Before buying a baby car seat, check if the straps are convenient to use day in and day out. Also, look at how adjustable they are. It is a good idea to opt for a seat that doesn’t require rethreading. Adjustment handles if available at the back of the sear will ensure that you do not have to go through the hassle of rethreading.
Opt for a seat that is easy to clean seat: Using the seat for a longer time will get it dirty quicker than you think. It is a good idea to opt for smooth finished and dark coloured fabrics over textured ones. These are easy to clean and keep the stains concealed.
A seat that comes with clear visual instructions is very easy to install: Just paying for a seat doesn’t characterize your car-seat purchase. A seat the comes with a descriptive instruction manual with diagrams is ideal to ease the installation. If the diagrams are stickered on to the seat, it is even better. This will make it as a ready reckoner to whoever installs the seat even if they are doing it for the first time.
The safety of your newborn is of prime importance, make sure you focus on all aspects before making the big investment.