There’s a lot to know about car seats, but they are vital to the safety of your child. Whether you’re bringing home a new baby or your child has passed the 65 pound mark and can now sit in a booster seat, you’re likely to find yourself overwhelmed with all of the choices out there. How do you know which car seat is the right one for you and your child?
Before you shell out $100 or more on a seat, make sure you consider these tips while you’re shopping:
- Check out your car first
- Don’t buy used
- Go look at car seats in person
- Consider a convertible car seat
- Know the expiration date
- Think about how easy it will be to clean
- More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean safer
Check Out Your Car First
Installing a car seat is no easy feat. It’s important to do it the right way, but no two cars accommodate car seats in the exact same way. LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, can be found in most cars manufactured after 2002. However, if you have an older car or one of the few that doesn’t use the LATCH system, you’ll have to install the car seat without it, which could affect which car seat you decide to buy.
Do you have a two-door car? You also have to consider whether you will be installing the seat in the center of the back seat, or if the seat will be located next to one of the back doors. Depending on your particular car and how much space you have in the backseat, you may want to consider a seat that isn’t bulky.
Buying a car cushion online can be extremely convenient. It can help you save money too!
Don’t Buy Used
If you’re looking for a good deal, you may be tempted to buy a used car seat. That’s a bad idea.
Many car seats are no longer protected under warranty if they have been in a car accident. Not to mention, the accident itself can compromise the seat, making it less safe for your little one should it be in an accident again.
Other things can compromise the effectiveness of a car seat. For example, if the straps have been washed, they may have shrunk or have started fraying, which can make a car seat unsafe.
Just because you shouldn’t buy a used car seat doesn’t mean you can’t go with a used one! If you have another child or you have a close family member who has a car seat you can use, it’s not a problem, as long as you know without a shadow of a doubt that it hasn’t been in an accident and it hasn’t expired.
Know the Expiration Date
Car seats have expiration dates? Yes, they do!
Make sure you know the expiration date of the car seat you’re considering. It won’t expire before your child has the chance to use it if it’s brand-new, but if you plan on using the car seat with more than one child, you may want to find a car seat that has an expiration date that’s further in the future.
Go Look at Car Seats in Person
Buying a car seat online can be extremely convenient. It can help you save money too! However, it can still be helpful to go and look at car seats in person.
There are many different types of car seats, and dozens of different styles and features available for each type. How those styles and features are executed can be difficult to determine online. It can be even more difficult to understand the size of the car seat unless you see it in person.
Depending on where you shop, you may even be able to take a test car seat out to your car to see how it would fit! That way you know you’re spending your money on something that will really work.
Consider a Convertible Car Seat
Car seats aren’t cheap, so it can be frustrating to have to buy a new one every few years for your child. It’s even more frustrating if you have more than one child!
Instead of spending more than $100 every time your child grows out of their car seat, consider purchasing a convertible car seat. They may cost a little bit more upfront, but as long as you save the directions, you can modify the seat throughout your child’s life instead of having to buy new ones.
Think About How Easy It Will Be to Clean
Make sure you consider how easy the seat will be to clean, because you’ll likely have to do it often! For example, corduroy may look nice, but spilled juice and Cheeto dust is a lot harder to clean out of corduroy grooves than smooth fabric.
Also look to see how easy it will be to take the cover off and throw it in the washing machine. You’ll be glad you did the first time your little one gets carsick in the backseat!
More Expensive Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Safer
Most of the time, you probably look for ways to save money. When your child’s safety is on the line, you may want to splurge on a more expensive seat. There’s nothing wrong with that, but more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean safer.
All child safety seats have to meet the same U.S. Federal safety standards. That means they are all more or less equally as safe, although some may have a few features that make the seat just a smidge safer. Chances are, if you’re paying more for a car seat, what you’re really paying for is extra features that make the seat nicer, but not safer.
Shopping for a car seat can be very overwhelming. You can make your trip to the store and your research online a little easier if you have an idea what you’re looking for. With the tips on this list, you can feel confident that you have a plan so you end up buying the seat that’s right for your child, your car, and your wallet.