Babies come with a lot of gear. From bottles and pacifiers to wipe warmers and swings, you could spend thousands of dollars on baby products. Some of it is necessary while other things are just too cute to pass up. However, if you plan on taking your baby home from the hospital at some point, one item that is an absolute non-negotiable is an infant car seat. Buying a car seat is a not as simple as running into the store and grabbing the first thing you see. There are laws and regulations that you must follow in order to ensure the comfort and safety of your little one. It is best to do your homework on brands and restrictions early, so you can be ready the moment your baby arrives. Here are some tips to help you choose the right car seat for your growing family!
As we said before, it is best to make your selection well before your expected due date. That way, you can install the car seat in your vehicle and make sure it is what you are looking for. It is a good idea to have a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (often times fire fighters and law enforcement officers are certified) either install your car seat or double check your installation to make sure everything is properly done. Installing car seats can be more complicated than you would expect, so don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your child’s life might depend on it.
Make it Age Appropriate
When selecting your car seat, make sure you select the one that is designed for your child’s age, weight and height. Don’t just assume your car seat has the same regulations as another brand- be sure to read the owner’s manual to make certain your child meets the specific weight and height requirements. Here are some general guidelines to get you started in the right direction:
- Rear-facing seats – These seats are intended specifically for newborns and infants. Experts recommend children ride in rear-facing seats as long as possible for their safety. Many removable infant carriers have a weight capacity of 20 pounds. This does not mean your child is ready for forward facing, rather you need to invest in a larger rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years of age.
- Forward Facing Seats – Keep your child in a forward facing seat until they have outgrown the weight/height limits of their seat. Typically this happens between the ages of 3-4.
- Booster Seat – Your child should remain in a booster seat until they are at like 57 inches tall and are about 8-12 years old. At this point your vehicle’s best should fit your child correctly. However, your child should remain in a back seat until they are at least 13 years of age.
Know Your Car
Finally, take things like the size of the car seat and the amount of space available in your car into consideration. If you have a small car, you may need to find a car seat with a narrower base. Or if you have multiple children in car seats, you will need to make sure there will be enough space for each seat. Take measurements to prevent having to return a car seat that is too large for your vehicle.