Buying a new car seat for your child can be a daunting task if you’ve never gone through this experience, and it requires some research beforehand. However, if you lack the patience to read all those long articles and studies, here are the three most important things you should keep in mind when you’re shopping for a children’s car seat.
Specific weight and height limits determine the right type of car seat
There are three main types of car seats and each of them can be used during a certain interval of the child’s growth, defined by weight and height limits. An infant car seat is meant for children that weigh under 40 pounds and can only be installed rear-facing. A convertible car seat is one that makes the transition from rear-facing to a booster seat, and can be theoretically used both for infants and for toddlers under around 80 pounds and 57 inches – accordingly to this article. While it has a versatile construction, some experts advise to use an infant car seat for newborns, as they can ensure the right amount of body support. A booster seat is the last category, and is meant for forward-facing only, and is meant for children that exceed the limits of a convertible.
The LATCH system is mandatory
The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children refers to a top tether and two anchor points at the base of the vehicle’s seats, that allow a car seat to be fixed to the car’s frame without the need to secure it with the seat belt. Ever since 2002, all cars in the USA have been made compatible with this system, so a proper car seat should have the top tether strap and two anchor connectors in the the lower back that need to be tethered to the compatible pieces of the car. However, there is a weight limit of the seat past which the seat must be secured using the seat belt. This is also available for booster seats.
The 5-point harness is the best protection
Any respectable car seat manufacturer need to make sure its seats have a 5-point harness meant to keep the child comfortably fixed into the chair. It is a system that consists of five straps, four for each shoulder and hip, and a fifth one that goes between the legs, all coming together in a front buckle. The 5-point harness is common to all types of car seats, from infant car seats to boosters.
All being said, we ask that you take all my advice into consideration and take your time to assess the different models you come across.