My kids were in a roll over car accident a few years ago. It was terrifying to have to test out the effectiveness of our car seats first hand. All my kids were in the right car seat for their age and size (including my 8-year-old who was still riding in a booster) and each seat was properly installed. Taking those precautions before the accident saved them from being seriously injured or worse.
After that experience, I’m more convinced than ever that I won’t cut corners when it comes to safety. My children’s health and safety is priceless.
So how do you go about choosing a car seat? Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
Look at Safety Features
Forget about the bells and whistles when it comes to your car seat. It doesn’t matter what kind of pattern your car seat comes in or how many cup holders it has if it doesn’t have a good safety record. Most car seat companies won’t publish their crash test results but you can look at the material they use, whether there have been any recalls on the seat (and how the company reacted to that), and what kind of impact protection the seat provides.
That being said, the safest car seat is always the one that is used correctly every time. If you child is more willing to ride in a seat that has a fun pattern, by all means take that into consideration.
Make sure your child is in the right car seat
Before you begin your search for a car seat, you need to first make sure you know what type of seat your child needs to be in. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2 and in boosters until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall. My 10-year-old actually still rides in a booster because he just isn’t safe without one.
Look for a car seat that fits your car
Different car seats fit better in different cars. You want to make sure that you find a car seat that can be installed securely in your car and is functional for your needs. If you visit a Right Start store, you can test out each car seat in your own car. Each manager is also a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician so they can help you out with any installation or fit questions you have.
I’m a huge fan of buying gently used baby items, but NOT when it comes to car seats. When buying used, you have no idea whether the car seat has ever been in an accident, how it has been maintained, and what kind of use it has had. Cut costs in other areas but when it comes to your car seats, buy new and look for the safest seat you can find.
What tips do you have for choosing the right car seat?