With all the fussing over nursery colors and plastic vs. glass bottles, car seats are often overlooked. Yet the car seat is one of the most important products you can buy for the safety and well-being of your baby. Before your baby is even born you should purchase a car seat and take the time to have it properly installed in your car. By the time baby is here, you should be a pro on working the car seat (practice makes perfect!). Plus, hospitals won’t let you bring baby home without one. Now, with regard to what car seat to buy, there are many factors to consider. To make it easier on you, we’ve compiled an easy checklist to help you when shopping for your precious cargo carrier.
There are three basic types of car seats: rear-facing, forward-facing and convertibles that you can switch from rear to forward-facing. It’s recommended that infants should ride in a rear-faced until they reach about 2 years old or meet the car seat’s maximum height and/or weight specifications. After this, they can be forward-facing, with a harness. This should be used until they reach about 4 years old, at which point they can be in a booster seat.
When looking into rear-facing car seats, infant-only seats tend to be lighter in weight and designed to be portable. They usually lack the convertible option, because infants should only be rear-facing. Infant carriers also have the convenience of being removed from the car without having to unstrap the baby. This is important for many parents as they don’t want to potentially wake a sleeping baby. The car seat base remains strapped into the vehicle while the carrier can be continuously locked in and out of the base. For parents on-the-go, some infant-only seats can click onto a stroller base. This is important to consider when purchasing a stroller.
Convertible seats are a great option if you want a product that will last throughout your child’s growth and stages. You can look into the car seat’s height and weight limits, which tend to be more on convertible car seats. This allows your child to stay rear-facing for a longer period of time. The downside is that most convertible seats are not designed to be portable, and do not have the ability to be removed from the car with ease.
Forward Facing and Booster Seats
You should only consider a forward-facing seat if your child is a toddler, or if your front-facing is a convertible. Some forward-facing car seats have the option to be convertible or combination seats that can be forward-facing, as well as a booster seat.
When your child reaches the appropriate age or height and weight, you should continue to strap them into a harnessed forward-facing seat. When your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat, a booster seat is recommended until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly.
With a baby on the way, money is likely to be tight. But that doesn’t mean you should skimp on a car seat or purchase one used. Some seats may have been subject to a recall, while others might have cracks or have been involved in an accident. When purchasing a new car seat, be sure to register the seat at time of purchase and note any serial numbers or warranty information.
If you are planning on using a sibling’s car seat or one from a close friend or family member and you are sure it has been used properly and there are no concerns, it’s still best that you continually check recall websites, to include the manufacturer’s as well as updates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
With regard to placement of your car seat, be mindful of airbags. Never place baby in the front seat, and be aware if your car has side airbags to place the car seat in the middle of the rear seats. You will notice there is a tether feature; use it. If you need assistance securing the base of your car seat to your vehicle, seek out a car seat clinic at your local police or fire station well before the day you bring baby home.
We know safety and health is incredibly important to you as a parent, and we feel the same way. At Children’s Health Care, we’ll help you navigate your child’s various health care needs. Call us today to set up a consultation at (978) 465-7121 or (978) 388-9880 (Newburyport, lower and upper levels) or (978) 373-6557 (Haverhill). We look forward to providing your child the healthiest childhood possible.