When you're preparing for your baby's arrival, one of the most important purchases you'll make is their car seat. The car seat is what they'll spend a significant amount of time in while riding in the car and will influence their level of safety and protection while getting around. They should have enough support and comfort to allow them to feel at ease while riding in the vehicle. It's important to learn about car seats and which ones are the best products to use to have peace of mind as you travel with your little one. Although there are a variety of brands and models available, doing a bit of research can allow you to find the best option due to the construction, features, and your child's age.
Types of Car Seats
Infant car seats are what the hospital requires you to have installed in your car when you're discharged from the hospital after delivering your baby. Infant car seats are designed to accommodate children up to two years old and have a rear-facing design for increased safety. This type of car seat is convenient because it doubles as a carrier.
Convertible car seats are more versatile with their design because they allow the child to face forward or towards the rear of the car. They don't come with a base and have a larger size than infant car seats for added protection and security. Your child can move up to a 3-In-1 seat, which doubles as a booster seat. It can be used until your child weighs enough to use a seat belt.
Booster seats are the final type of seat you have to buy for your child before they can graduate to sitting directly in their seat. They're made to be used for forward-facing positions for kids weighing 30 to 40 pounds. This type of car seat is often built with its own harness or buckles. The child can stop using the booster seat when they're 80 pounds or eight years of age.
How Long Should My Child Be in a Car Seat?
Children need to be in car seats up until the age of eight or when they weigh 80 pounds. However, the law varies depending on the state where you live. Most states have higher weight requirements for kids in car seats.
Infants and toddlers use rear-facing or rear-facing convertible seat belts. Toddlers and preschoolers are required to sit in forward-facing convertible car seats or forward-facing car seats with harnesses. School-aged children can move on to sitting in a booster seat.
Children are ready to sit on their own with only a car seat when the shoulder strap fits across the center of their chest and shoulder without having contact with their neck. The lap belt should also fit lower on their hips without resting on their thighs. The child's knees should be capable of being bent without their legs sticking straight out.
Best Car Seats Available
The Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat is one of the highest-rated car seats because it's created to be used for up to 10 years, which allows it to be passed down to siblings. You can position it in four different ways, and it's easy to secure.
The Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat is another top product to consider because of its removable cover, which makes it easy to throw in the wash. It's easy to install in seconds because of its SafeCenter Latch, and the SafeCell Impact Protection offers added safety if a collision occurs.
The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is an ideal car seat to select if you drive a smaller vehicle and can grow with the child from five to 100 pounds. It comes with convenient cupholders to have their drinks within reach. One of the main highlights is the adjustable harness system.
If you want something easy to install, the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 XT Infant Car Seat is a top pick. It comes with four reclining positions and is lightweight, making it easier to carry and transport. It's even constructed with SnugLock technology for securing it in the vehicle.