Top 10 Best Infant Car Seats

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Your Guide To Buying A Car Seat

Your Guide To Buying A Car Seat

A quality car seat is one of the most important things you’ll ever need to buy for your child. Safety is definitely a top priority, so here are some helpful points to assist you in selecting the right car seat, for your needs.

  • Your child’s age From the moment you take your baby home from the hospital until about the age of 8 or later (depending on your child’s size), you will need a car seat. Get used to tracking your baby’s height and weight; it will help determine when it’s time to move up to the next level.
  • Your price range Infant car seats can range in price from about $50 to $250. If you are looking to buy an infant car seat but would like to keep costs down, consider shopping for a travel system -- an infant seat and stroller sold together. However, it's important to buy the travel system based on the car seat and not on the stroller.
  • Know your car Read the child safety section of your vehicle's owner manual and check to make sure the car seat will fit safely in your back seat. If your baby will ride in more than one car, buy additional bases and move the seat from car to car, or you can buy an extra car seat and base for each car.
  • Ease of use Check that the car seat straps will be easy to adjust as your baby grows. Plenty of brands now have adjustment handles attached to the back of the seat, or a pull cord between the legs, which makes rethreading easy.
  • Which car seat is safest Of course you will want to know which seat is safest but keep in mind, every car seat on the market has been tested and approved for current safety standards.

Because safety technology improves so frequently, the most important thing you can do is, buy a new car seat and not purchase second hand. As well, make sure to fill out the product registration card for your car seat, so you get notified about any recalls right away.

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Types Of Infant Car Seats

Here are some great tips on selecting the right type of car seat for your needs:

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Infant Car Seats:

The most favored first seat for new parents is an infant car seat, as it provides the safest fit for newborns and smaller babies. It can be used for children, 4 lbs. to 40, depending on the make or model.

Pros:

Infant car seats are compact and much lighter than convertible car seats and typically come with a handle for easy carrying. They connect in and out of a base installed in the car, as well as in and out of your stroller with a car seat adapter, so you can easily transfer your baby without waking him.

Cons:

Larger babies may outgrow an infant car seat long before age one whereas smaller children could potentially fit in the seat well beyond their first birthday. Note: Many children exceed the height limit for an infant car seat before the weight limit. A child is too tall when the top of the head is less than one inch from the top of the frame, or they exceed the height limit specified by the model.

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Convertible Car Seats:

This is likely the next step after outgrowing an infant seat, and you can expect to need it sometime around your child’s first birthday. A convertible car seat can be installed as rear- or forward-facing. Keep your little one rear-facing for as long as possible, or at least until the age of 2.

Pros:

The harness system is similar to those in infant seats, but convertible car seats have a greater rear-facing weight limit. Meaning, kids can ride rear-facing longer, which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends as the safest option.

Cons:

This is a heavy item and not easily transferred in and out of the car.

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Booster Seats:

By the time your child outgrows the weight and height limit for a forward-facing harnessed seat, you will be ready to move to a booster seat that uses the car’s seatbelt. These are the simplest of all the car seats and is useful for the longest amount of time. Many states have booster laws, so you will want to do some research into your state laws as some require children as old as eight and as heavy as 80 lbs to use a booster seat. A Booster Seat will elevate your child in the car, ensuring the seat belt fits properly. Ideally, the seat belt should sit over the sternum and the center of the collarbone and low across the upper thighs. There are two styles of booster seats, high-back and backless.

Pros:

Backless versions are quite portable and easy to install, whereas high-back models better position the shoulder belt and can provide some side impact protection in a crash.

Cons:

Some backless boosters may have less leg support and do not provide as much protection for your child in a collision.

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Parents Say

Parents have a lot to say when it comes to car seats and rightfully so! A car seat is one of the most important items you will buy for your child's safety.

Used Car Seats:

Do a lot of research when deciding whether or not to use a borrowed or hand-me-down car seat. You should refrain from buying a used car seat online; you do not know the condition it is currently in or if it was involved in a collision. However, if you do plan on sharing a car seat with friends or using it for more than one child, infant seats are much better candidates than convertible car seats or boosters. Convertible car seats have been used for longer and experience more wear and tear.

Expiration Dates:

As well, keep in mind car seats expire. These seats are made of hard plastic, which is a material that becomes brittle with age. You want to ensure that the seat will be robust enough to withstand a crash. Different car seats have different expiration dates. However, you will find that most typically last between 6 to 8 years. Make sure you know when yours needs replacing, especially if you will be using it with more than one child.

Here are a few more important car seat buying tips from knowledgeable parents:

Easy cleaning:

Where children go a mess will surely follow, and the car seat is no exception. However, you’ll find a surprising number of car seats have non-detachable covers you can't take off. A good tip is, buy a detachable, machine-washable cover to make cleanup simple.

Car seat base:

Most infant car seats come with a base you install in your vehicle. You will be able to take the car seat with you wherever you go, snapping it onto your stroller or carrying it with you. When you are ready to go, buckle up your child, snap the car seat into the base, and you are ready to go. If you have multiple cars, instead of buying two car seats, buy an extra base to keep in other vehicles.

Comfort:

Keep in mind a well-padded seat with plenty of head support gives your baby a better ride. Hopefully, it will keep him comfortable enough to nap on your journey. Since newborns aren’t able to hold their heads up, look for a seat that has an insert to support his head. Don’t use a neck pillow as it can be dangerous in an accident.

Keep the straps snug:

Remove bulky clothing, like winter coats to make sure your baby is safe and secure. You can find car seat friendly sleep sacks designed to keep your little one warm in the car.

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Experts Say

Experts in child safety and development suggest you follow these important tips when it comes to car seat safety

Installation:

Installation can be tricky, so we recommend that after you install your car seat, have it checked by a professional. Find an inspector near you by logging onto www.seatcheck.org

Five-point safety harness:

Make sure your car seat comes with a five-point safety harness. They are adjustable and safer than older designs.

LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children):

Since 2002, car seats and vehicles have been manufactured to be compatible with the LATCH system. The LATCH system allows you to attach your car seat directly to your vehicle instead of securing it with the seat belt.

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Rear-facing:

Experts say that the safest way to have your child in the car, is rear-facing. The recommendation is to keep your child rear-facing until the age of 2 or until your child reaches the factory limitations for maximum rear-facing height and weight.

Backseat:

Install all car seats in the backseat only. Be sure when buying your car seat, to check that you car seat will fit comfortably and safely in your vehicle.

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Top Brands

Graco

Graco is considered some of the most affordable baby products on the market, offering sturdy and affordable strollers for all types of families. Graco is best known for their Pack ‘n Play and their Click Connect Stroller, Car seat, and accessories.

Evenflo

For almost 100 years, Evenflo has been a leader in developing infant care and juvenile products. Evenflo started by producing quality feeding products and have branched out, into strollers, car seats, and gear. Evenflo tops our lists in multiple categories, such as The Top 10 Best Breast Pumps and The Top 10 Best Infant Car Seats

UPPAbaby

UPPAbaby is all about pushing the edge. They deliver high standards of innovation and style that modern parents appreciate. They have an urban aesthetic but can do all terrain, no problem. UPPAbaby has the best customer service in the industry and owes a large part of their success to unmatched customer service, providing the ultimate in personalized care and attention. UPPAbaby Vista stroller and the UPPAbaby Mesa Car seat are two of their most sought after products.

Baby Trend

Baby Trend strives to provide the safest, most reliable products available at an affordable price. Making products tailored to tackle the challenges facing families' and helping them to change and grow. Baby Trend was the original creator the Snap-N-Go™ and Sit N' Stand™ strollers, both winning numerous awards.

Peg Perego

Peg Perego, is an Italian company founded in 1949. It is a family company that prides themselves on their family traditions and lovingly makes products that become part of your family’s tradition. Peg Perego products are some of the finest displays of quality Italian manufacturing on the market today. You will find their products topping many of our “Best” lists, such as the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35

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