What to look for when buying a new car seat?
Every year in the US alone, more than 600 children under 13 are killed in motor vehicle accidents, and more than 120,000 are injured. According to the latest statistics provided by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 600,000 children under 12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat at least some of the time. What is also worrying is the fact that many parents don’t know how to properly install and use children car seats – where the belts are often too loose or not properly adjusted, or the actual seat is unsuitable for the youngster’s size or age.
Before we dig any deeper into what qualities you need to look for when choosing a car seat, let’s first take a look at some of the federal laws concerning this topic. All children up to age 13 must ride in the back seat and must be restrained either in a car seat or booster seat or by a seat belt. Infants up to age 1 must ride in rear-facing car seats, which are also appropriate for children up to age 3. Children ages 1 to 7 may also ride in forward-facing seats. Children ages 4 to 7, who outgrow the forward-facing seat, may move to booster seats and continue using those seats up to age 12. Children who are large enough to properly fit into a seat belt may do so as early as age 8. However, note that all states have child restraint laws, where some are more rigorous than the others.
Now that we know what the law says, let’s take a closer look at different qualities of car seats. By knowing this, you will be prepared to do your own research and find the best possible (and the most secure) car seat for your child.
Weight and Height Limitations
Not many people are willing to buy a new child safety seat on a yearly basis, which is why many manufacturers have come up with different kinds of convertible models. In addition, you need to pay close attention to each car seat’s maximum weight threshold. Car seats made for infants, aside from featuring handles for easy mobility, typically last until a child is around 25 to 30 pounds and 32 inches tall. On the other hand, convertible models can be used by infants, toddlers, and even older children. They are typically designed to accommodate children from 5 to 45 pounds in a rear-facing position and then convert to a front-facing position for children who weigh up to 65 pounds.
Child Car Seat Restraints
Even though you can find different types of car seat restraints, numerous tests have shown that the most secure one is the five-point harness system. This system includes a chest clip, two straps, and a crotch strap. Manufacturers are well aware of this, which is why five-point harness systems are the standard for the majority of convertible car seats. Still, it is always a good idea to check if a car seat comes with this feature since it provides the highest level of security.
It is believed that three out of four car seats in the US are not properly installed. As you can imagine, having the most advanced car seat doesn’t mean much if you don’t take the time to do some research and double-check if the seat is properly set up.
As a response to this problem, many car manufacturers have a standard LATCH (Lowering Anchors and Tethers for Children) systems in the backseat, making it simpler to install a child car seat. This system consists of metal bars that have a special connection with the car seat. If your vehicle supports this kind of connection, there is no reason to look for a car seat without the LATCH system compatibility.
Another important thing to consider is the available space in your car. After all, car seats come in different sizes and a few inches can make a tremendous difference. This is why you need to be aware of how large a car seat needs to be prior to buying and installing one.
Investing a bit more when buying a new car seat can go a long way. If you can afford to buy a premium-priced car seat (usually priced above $250), you can expect to have some innovative features. This can be an anti-rebound bar at the foot of the seat, designed to limit the amount of movement during a crash.
There are also other kinds of additional gear that can be of great help when it comes to keeping an eye on your child and making sure that it has the highest level of comfort. An additional rear-view mirror angled so that you can check on the children’s seat can be of high value. Invest some time into research and make sure that you’re ready before driving with your child for the very first time.