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car-seatAs a new mom, you will have tons of questions about which products on the market is the best for my child. And one of the top questions asked is, “How do I know which Car seat to buy?”, and this article comes from some research I’ve done when I considered the same thing myself. The first thing you have to know is that when you leave the hospital with your baby,  your car must have a car seat installed properly so that you’ll have a safe ride home. So what type of car seat should you buy?

Some rule of thumb is that the safest car seat is one that fits your child appropriately and it’s installed into your vehicle properly. Note that all car seats on the market “must” past the standard crash tests, so they are all in essence safe for use. However, parents whether the car seat is user-friendly as the buckles, weight of the car seat and additional safety features on the car seat all play a role on how the day-to-day use of this car seat will be for you.

Car Seat Recommendations for Children

Children should always sit in the back seats of the car is possible and the middle passenger position if most ideal if you only have one child.

Birth – 12 months: Children under 1 year must always ride rear-facing. Infant car seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible car seats that have a range of weight and belt adjustments can be rear-facing for a longer period of time.

1-3 Years old: Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible as studies show that rear facing position has a higher chance of keeping your child from fatal injuries. The rear-facing days ended for our child when his feet got too long and he didn’t fit anymore, so usually after 1 to 1.5 years old depending on the size of your child, you’ll know when it’s time to switch him around.

4-7 Years old: Your child will be in the forward-facing position in their car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the height or weight limit of the car seat specified by the car seat manufacturer. We are in that stage right now with my 4 year old and though the bottom buckle is starting to be a little tight, it is highly recommended that you keep your child in a harness belt because it’s the safest belt system because of its even distribution over your child. My recommendation is to purchase a car seat that has a high height or weight limit so you can keep your child in that car seat as long as possible.

8-12 Years old: Booster seat time because they’ve outgrown the car seat with harness. Make sure the shoulder belt is secured in perfect fit across the shoulder and chest and not across neck and face. The lap portion of the belt should be secured across the thighs and not the tummy.

Safety Features to consider when purchasing a car seat:

  • 5-point harnessThe snug fit of the 5-point harness is by far the best for children’s small bodies. It also reduces the chances that the child would come out of the seat if there was a crash. Make sure that the straps on the harness are twist free and lay perfectly on your child to avoid burns or injuries. Having a snug fit is very important so be sure that your car seat has the ability to adjust the tightness of the straps.
  • Infant Car Seat with Bases. When purchasing an infant car seat, don’t forget to buy the bases. The infant car seat can be carried in and out of the car, while the bases stay in the car as an anchor you snap the car seat into. Another precaution is that the infant car seat usually has a handle that while the car is in motion, the best thing is to leave the handle down. Some car seat may allow for the handle to be up, but if handle is left up during a crash, it could break off and hurt the child.
  • LATCH. Since 2002, the LATCH system has been implemented where the car seat can be installed without seat belts. In our SUV, it’s been easy to put on and remove the car seat using the latch system, so if you are purchasing a newer vehicle, this will be an option for you.
  • Height and weight limits. Sitting your child rear-facing is the safest because the child is protected by the fullest of the seat if there was a crash. While the child is forward facing, there is more force on the child and harness and the child’s head will be impacted by a back and forward motion.  Make sure you check out the car seat manufacturer’s heigh and weight limits when purchasing the car seats.

When it comes down to making the purchase, the best thing to do is to first go to a store and test out the car seats. Touching, carrying and feeling the actual product can help you make a decision about it. When ready, shop online for the best prices for the product. Many online retailers offer free shipping, so it makes it very easy for you to get the lowest price and without the hassle of having to carry it home.

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