Car Seat Buying Guide

Quick Navigation: Getting Started - Types - Features - Brands - Preemies and Special Needs

One of the very first things you should purchase for your newborn is a car seat. Unfortunately, this can be a difficult task because there are several different types of car seats available on the market. Due to the many options, it can be hard the safest car seat with the most comfortable fit for your child.

Getting Started

The very first thing you should do is make a list of the types of car seats that are compatible with your car. There's nothing more frustrating than putting a lot of research and time into finding the perfect product for your needs, only for it to prove absolutely useless to you.

You should also choose the places where you want to shop for your car seat. One can find a large selection of car seats at discount stores like Kmart and Target. Department stores and baby superstores are also excellent sources for car seats. If you want a higher-end car seat, you'll most likely have to visit specialty boutique stores.

Types

When it comes to the type of car seat, you can choose from the following: infant car seats and convertible car seats.

The advantage of infant car seats is that it keeps the infant rear-facing, which is the safest position for a young child. It also allows you to take your baby out of the car without disturbing him or her. The disadvantage of an infant car seat is that you'll have to switch to a rear-facing convertible model soon after birth, so you won't get much use out of the infant seat.

The advantage of the convertible model is that it can become forward-facing once your child becomes a toddler. Therefore, you won't have to purchase a new car seat. The disadvantage of the convertible model is that they don't fit newborns as well as infant seats.

Features

There are many features you should consider when it comes to purchasing a car seat. Some features are actually important when it comes to convenience and safety, while others are less important.

The LATCH connections is what secures the car seat to the vehicle's metal anchors. Ideally, you should go for a car seat with "push-on" style LATCH connectors, as they are easier to use than the hook-style LATCH connectors.

When it comes to the harness, a five-point system is much more safer for your child. It is also ideal that you purchase a car seat with an external harness adjustment. There should be multiple recline adjustments instead of just a single "foot." While definitely not as important to your child's safety, you should also consider fabric, covers, padding, and cushioning.

Brands

Some of the best brands of car seats are Clek, Harmony, Dorel, Orbit Baby, and The First Years. You should definitely consider brand when it comes to your car seat, because some brands of car seats are of greater quality than others.

Preemies and Special Needs

Parents of preemies and children with special needs tend to have to seek out a special car seat for their children. There are infant car seats for babies who weigh less than five pounds, and there are also car beds for infants who must lay down while being transported due to a medical condition. There are also car seats that specially designed for children who happen to have hip casts, breathing problems, neurological disorders, and other disabilities.