Car Seat Buying Guide
Having a child means that the parent consumer would have to invest in products that will help them take care of their child, one such product is a car seat. Modern day living means that a parent consumer would be travelling a lot and depending on their lifestyle this would entail bringing their child along with them, whether it is running an errand or taking their baby on a trip to the mall, playground or daycare.
This guide aims to inform the parent consumer on the different kinds of car seats and features they should look for when buying a car seat.
Before procuring a baby car seat the parent consumer should first consider the age, height and weight of their child. There are different types of car seats available in the market and it is important for the parent consumer to be well aware of the proper car seat for their child.
Types of car seats:
Special seats are designed for newborns that cannot fit in infant car seats and require to be laid down for proper breathing. Other special seats are available for children with special needs. For children with special needs it is advised that parent consumers consult their children’s pediatrician.
Depending on the car or minivan that the parent consumer procures a feature of built-in car seats for children are available. These car seats are forward facing seats for toddler and are convenient for parent consumers due their integration in their cars. Although these seats are convenient they are positioned in the sides rather than in the safer center position, in addition these seats don’t offer adequate side impact protection.
Infant Car Seats:
Infant car seats are rear facing car seats that are suitable for children up to one year old and weighing twenty pounds. These types of car seat generally have a weight limit of twenty two pounds while others have extended the weight limit to accommodate heavier children. This type of car seat is built in with a safety harness and at an incline which protects the child in the event of a crash while ensuring that the breathing of the child is not interfered with.
This type of car seat provides children up to one year old with the best protection due to its compact design which gives your child the best possible all-round protection. This car seat is also built with a carrying handle which makes it easy to carry around with your child in tow without disturbing them.
Safety note: This car seat is only designed for children up to one year old and twenty pounds. Due to its compact nature a larger child would have difficulty in this seat. This seat should not be placed on high surfaces and it is recommended that there is an incline so as to prevent the child doesn’t fall forward and obstruct their airway passage.
Travel systems are multi-functional car seats that are produced with flexibility in mind. Travel systems are designed with a car seat, mounting base for the car and separate stroller. This makes it very convenient for parent consumers as they can attach the carrier on the wheels and this transforms the carrier into a rear facing stroller. The disadvantage of this system is that it is quite bulky and if the parent consumer is living in a metropolitan city or is taking the public transportation system then they might find it quite difficult to navigate around. In this situation a separate car seat and stroller may be a better option. If the parent is however living in an area with ample space to navigate, use private transportation and doesn’t mind the bulky design in favor of the convenience then a travel system would be a good option.
These car seats are adjustable for front facing or rear facing seating positions. If the child one year old and up to thirty five pounds then the seat should be rear facing. If the child is beyond this then the seat should be positioned as front facing. Convertible seats have a built in harness and can accommodate a child up to forty pounds. Newer models have an extended weight limit of eighty pounds.
This kind of car seat is highly flexible and depending on the child, can eliminate the need to switch seats when the infant becomes a toddler. The disadvantage of this car seat is that it does not come with a separate carrier and are not compatible with strollers. The parent consumer would have to transfer their child to a carriage stroller when they leave their car. The constant shifting may be tiresome for some parents who engage in an active lifestyle or out on multiple errands.
Toddler Booster Seats:
These car seats are designed as front facing seats for children who reach forty pounds in weight. Toddler booster seats come in with a built in harness and booster and have a weight capacity of up to one hundred pounds.
This kind of car seat is ideal for toddlers and once the child has reached fifty-seven inches tall the harness can be discarded for the use of the seatbelts of the car. Due to the weight limit of this type of car seat and its features of booster and harness, parent consumers would be using this car seat for a long time. The disadvantage of this car seat is that some models that feature high back designs could interfere with head restraints of cars.
Belt-Positioning Booster Seats:
These car seats are designed to have no safety harness and they instead make use of the safety belt built in the car for protection. Belt-positioning booster seats lift the child so that the safety belt may be positioned correctly to secure the child while in the car. These types of car seats have built in belt guides so that the safety belt will not ride across a child’s face or neck. Parent consumers should be aware that the safety belt should fit around the child properly. This means that the shoulder strap should wrap around the shoulders while the lap strap should wrap around the child’s upper thighs. Additional features of this kind of car seats are the high-back, low-back and no back variants. The no back variant is just a booster and essentially just an elevation that uses the back rests of the car as back support for the child.
The belt-positioning feature of this type of car seat is very helpful for parents as they are relatively sure that the car safety belt is not positioned wrongly on their child. Although this car seat can help parents with using the safety belt of their car for their children, it is advisable to actually use the built in harness of a car seat for the child as long as possible before shifting them to the safety belt of the car.
In addition to different types of car seats that are designed for particular age groups and needs of children, these car seats come in with a variety of features.
LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) are child car seat connections that attach to anchor connections in vehicles. The advantage of this feature is the compatibility that it offers in installing a child over using care safety belts to install a car seat. There are two types of LATCH connections, the hook style and push-on style. While hooks are easy to attach, they are hard to remove due to the twisting motion required. Push-on style is easier to use due to not needing the twisting motion.
There are two main types of harnesses. A three point system and a five point system, the three point system consists of two shoulder straps that meets a crotch strap in the center. A five point system is similar to a three point system with the addition of two leg straps. A five point system is much safer as it provides two safety advantages. First it distributes the force of the crash and secondly it prevents the child from sliding out of the harness in the event of a crash.
Harness slots allow the parent consumer to adjust the height of the harness based on the size of their child. There are two methods for adjustment, a car seat with harness slots and a car seat with an external adjustment. Harness slots are cumbersome due to the continuous shifting of the harness through the different harness slots. External harness adjustment allows the parent consumer to adjust the height of the harness through a knob or slide. In any situation the parent should inspect the car seat and make sure that there are several adjustable settings so that they may adjust the harness to properly secure their child.
Car seats, and convertible seats in particular offer a recline feature. A recline feature allows the seat to be converted from rear facing to front facing and vice versa, additionally recline option allows the parent consumer to position their child properly to allow proper breathing for their child. There are two main reclining features. The first is the single foot. The single foot option is a basic option that allows the car seat to be switched between front facing and rear facing. The second is multiple adjustments, this option does not only allow for the switching between front facing and rear facing but allows more flexibility in adjusting recline of the car seat for the optimum comfort of their child.
Recline Level Indicators:
Recline level indicators are posted on either side of the car seat and allows the parent consumer to determine the proper recline level for the proper comfort of the child. It is recommended to procure a car seat that has a ball or bubble indicator. This indicator allows the parent consumer to determine the proper recline level for proper comfort and breathing for their child.
Parent consumers should not only be aware of the types and features of car seats. Proper handling and installation is also crucial. Parent consumers should study the guidelines for their car seats and consult other parents, salespeople and their child’s pediatricians on proper installation. A premium car seat is not useful if the installation and handling is wrong.
In choosing a car seat, the parent consumer should take the above-mentioned descriptions in mind and also determine their kind of lifestyle and the special needs of their child. It is not necessary to spend a fortune on a car seat, other economical varieties are available that can perform the basic functions that are desired by parent consumers. Always make sure to consult with your child’s pediatrician to ensure that you are meeting the special needs of your child before procuring a car seat. It is also recommended for parent consumers to register their car seats with manufacturers in instances of defects or product recalls.