Choosing a car seat for your child is one of the most important things you can do. You want to make sure your child is safe for the entire time that he or she is in the car. You also want to make sure that your child is comfortable. Lack of comfort can lead to an unhappy child and this is the last thing you want, especially on a long road trip.
At the end of the day, some of the choice comes down to personal preference. However, there are certain factors that you need to take into account, when you are making your decision.
How to Choose the Right Car Seat
1. Consult the Owner’s Manual for Your Vehicle
Doing this helps you to see how car seats should be installed. It’s a good way of helping you to decide whether you should opt for a seat that uses the traditional method of attachment using a seat belt or whether you should choose a seat that uses the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system that is installed in most modern vehicles.
2. Choose the Right Seat for Age, Weight and Height of Child
Not all child car seats are the same, so you need to make sure that you buy a seat which is suited to your child.
- Rear facing car seats should be used for babies and until the head of the child comes within one inch of the top of the seat. This should be around the time when the child reaches the age of two.
- Forward facing car seats should be used for children from two-years-of age to around four-years-of-age. Children using this type of car seat should not be more than forty pounds in weight.
- Booster car seats should be used once a child reaches forty pounds in weight or four-years-of age.
- Convertible car seats are the most versatile option in that many of them offer protection from birth through 80+ pounds. They start in the rear-facing position and then can be switched to the forward-facing position when your child is old enough.
Once your child reaches the age of eight, they may be able to travel in your car using just a seatbelt, as long as the seat belt is a snug fit.
3. Check How Much Room You Have
This may sound obvious, but it can be easy to overestimate the amount of room you have in the back seat of your car. Measure the seat space you have before you go shopping for a car seat for your child. If you do not have a lot of space, check out the best compact car seats available.
4. Choose a Seat Where Installation is Easy
When you are trying to decide which car seat to invest in, take a look at the installation diagrams on the box, and at the instruction manual. If the instructions are clear and simple, there is a good chance that you will easily be able to manage the installation of the seat.
If you are choosing a seat for a new arrival, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to make the decision, and install the seat, before your baby is due to come home from hospital, so that your child is well protected right from the start.