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Car Seat Safety Ratings: How to Make the Right Choice

Soon you’re going to be bringing a child into the world. One of the first things that you should pick up isn’t a crib or diapers. You need a car seat. It should be comfortable for the baby to sit in, but that’s not all. 

It’s important that you pay attention to car seat safety ratings when you go shopping. When it comes to the life of your child, safety always comes first. 

If you cut corners and pick up something cheap, it might not keep them secure during an accident. Don’t let that happen to your kid! Keep reading to learn what you should look for in a car seat. 

Infant 

Before we get into the car seat safety features that you should be looking at, let’s talk about the different types that you have to choose from.

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The first one is infant car seats. This is the one that you’ll be bringing your little one home from the hospital in. When you’re shopping, you’ll notice that all your options are rear-facing. 

This model works best for babies ranging anywhere between four to forty pounds. Your child will outgrow it once the crown of their head extends an inch over the top of the seat. 

Convertable 

You should start looking around for convertible car seats right before your little one’s first birthday. Unlike the infant car seats, most of these are both forward and rear-facing. 

The harnesses are made with the latter in mind, however. The reason for this is that you’re supposed to have your child rear-facing until they’re about two years old. Once they reach this age, you can upgrade them to a booster seat. 

Booster Seat 

Booster seats function as the name suggests. They boost the child up so that your car’s seat belt fits safely across their sternum rather than their neck. 

As far as the different models go, you can choose between a back and backless one. The backless ones are simple to install, but the ones with a back are a bit safer and more comfortable for the child.

All-in-One

As you can imagine, your child will go through car seats about as fast as they go through clothes. It can get expensive after a while. To save money, many people go with an all-in-one seat

There’s a problem with that. While they’ll last your child from infancy all the way to the booster stage, they’re not that safe. They have so many features crammed into them that they don’t do any one specific thing that well. They’re also kind of heavy to carry around. 

Toddler Booster 

Once your child is at the age where they can ride forward-facing, you can pick them up a toddler booster. They can swap between being a booster seat and not. 

So if your child can sit forward-facing but is still a little too short, you can put it in booster seat mode. Think of them as a much more affordable solution to convertible seats. 

Harness

Now that you know about the different car seat models available to you, let’s talk about the features that you should be looking out for.  

When in doubt, always go with a 5-point harness. If you go for more information here, you’ll know that one of the first things you should do if you get into a fender bender is to check everyone’s physical condition. It will be hard to do that if you struggle to unlatch the buckle on your child’s car seat.

The straps need to be easy for you to adjust. If it’s a rear-facing car seat, make sure that the shoulder harnesses sit below your little one’s shoulder level. The opposite is true if you’re buying them a forward-facing seat. 

Head Support

It will be a while before your newborn can hold their head up by themselves. So, you need to invest in a car seat with good head support.

Don’t buy a separate insert unless it comes from the same manufacturer as the seat because it might not fit properly. If this is the case, it won’t protect them in the event of a crash. 

Side Protection 

Look for a car seat that has side walls around your baby’s head and neck. This will protect the little one if you’re side-swiped by another vehicle. 

Expiration Date 

While it might be cheaper to buy a car seat from a second-hand store or a family member, it’s not safe. You have no idea when the seat was manufactured. You see, the average life span of a car seat is about 6 years. 

After that time, the plastic will become so brittle that it might not protect your baby during a car accident. If you have no other choice but to accept a hand-me-down, make sure that it’s from an individual that you trust. 

Energy-Absorbing Foam

When you get into an accident, it will jostle the baby around. To help prevent this, you might want to opt for a seat that has energy-absorbant foam. 

Pay Attention to Car Seat Safety Ratings 

One of the first things that you need to buy when you’re expecting a baby is a car seat. From the time you bring them home to after their second birthday, this will be a tool that will keep them secure. 

When you go shopping, don’t neglect to pay attention to car seat safety ratings. If you do, you’ll be putting your little one’s life in danger. 

Are you looking for more ways to keep your child safe during a car ride? Check out our blog daily for all the latest automotive advice.