Dayton Children’s Soon-to-Be-Mommy Blogger, Jessica Saunders
Typically a car seat is something that new dads are responsible for – it goes with the car and is therefore in “guy’s” territory?
Not in my house! My husband lucked out because I just happen to be a child passenger safety (CPS) technician and install car seats for a living. While many of our father-to-be friends typically spend a lot of time researching car seats and getting them installed – it’s going to be an easy job for us.
Many of our friends ask me to recommend seats – and because I am a CPS tech I really can’t recommend a seat – but I can give friends some guidelines when choosing car seats.
So my cyber friends – here are my top five tips for choosing an infant car seat:
1. Harness them in! When your little one comes you want to make sure he or she isn’t too small for the seat. Look for a seat that has lower harness slots so if your little one is tinier he or she will fit with the harness slots at or below the shoulders – a must for a child who is rear-facing!
2. Weight lifting. Most car seats start at 5 pounds and go up to 20 or 22 pounds – some even go up to 30 or 35 pounds. You can use your seat longer if you get one that goes to a higher weight – but you should think about carrying your little one in the “pumpkin” seat at that weight. Think about what is going to work best for you. (If you have a preemie you can find seats that start at birth or 4 pounds but work with your hospital to make sure your seat fits your little one correctly before you go home.)
3. Who’s taking me for a ride? There may be multiple people driving your child around. You may consider getting a second (or third) base to go with your infant seat for a second car or other caregiver. Make sure that a second base is available for the seat you choose. Another option may be to get a convertible seat for a second (or third) car. This is a seat that also starts at 5 pounds and goes until 35 pounds rear-facing and then can be “converted” to forward facing until 40 pounds or higher. It does not have a carrier. For someone that might not be transporting your child right away or very often this is a great option to save some money and have a seat that your child can use for quite some time.
4. A perfect match. Is your car seat compatible with your car? Many stores will let you take the infant seat into your car to make sure it fits before you purchase.
- Make sure your seat fits in the back seat of your car without pushing the front seats too close to the dashboard.
- Double check the angle of the car seat (many seats have an indicator to help you get the 45 degree anger needed for a rear-facing seat). To achieve the right angle your safety seat may have a “foot” on it that you can adjust. Some cars have very deep and angled seats that sometimes make achieving this angle challenging.
- Does your seat fit in the back seat without touching the front seats (check the car seat manual for guidelines).
- Will your infant seat fit with other car seats that may be in your car
5. Easy installation. Installation is probably the biggest challenge of car seats – roughly 90% of car seats are installed incorrectly. While I always recommend getting your car seat officially checked by a CPS technician, there are some things you can look for to make your installation a little easier. You will install the car seat either using the LATCH system or your seat belt system (not both). Does your car have the LATCH system (check your owner’s manual) that would be compatible with the car seat? If you don’t have LATCH, do you know how your seat belts lock? These are all items to review in the car seat manual before purchase.
I get a lot of questions – and the biggest is – what is the safest seat? The answer – there is no answer. All car seat manufacturers need to meet the same safety standards (unless you order online from another country) regardless of how much the seat costs. The best car seat is the seat that you can use correctly each and every time your child rides!
So much for the all things in the car being “guy’s” territory!
If you would like more information about car seats please visit our website. If you would like to get your car seat checked Dayton Children’s offers monthly car seat checks free of charge – just call our Family Resource Center at (937) 641-3700.