As a parent, you know that child safety seats can vary widely in their design. With all of the options on the market, it can be difficult to make choice for you and your child. You may be overwhelmed with features, such as extra padding or a cup-holder built into the seat. Eventually, you may purchase a seat that you like only to find it doesn't sit in your car the way you imagined it would or your child simply does not like it. Below are the basics that you should know about selecting a safety seat in order to make a purchase you can be happy with.
Not everyone uses a child safety seat the same way. For example, some families leave their safety seat installed in the car the majority of the time while others regularly remove the car seat to use it in two cars or make room for other passengers in their primary vehicle. How you intend to use your safety seat will help limit your choices.
- If you intend to remove your seat often, you should look for a single-piece car seat that is lightweight.
- For seats that will stay in the car, you may want to find a seat that reclines without adjusting the anchors or safety belt, to ensure maximum comfort without major adjustments.
- If you will have multiple children with safety seats or booster seats in the car, you will want to shop for narrow seats or seats that fit well next to each other.
- If you often travel long distances, you will want to look for seats that offer extra padding as well as a safe place to hold snacks and games for your little one.
- If you travel without an adult companion in the backseat with your child, you should consider seats that come with the ability to safely attach games so your child can retrieve them on their own if they fall.
Most newer vehicles come with what is known as the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) for installing safety seats. However, not all LATCH systems are built with the same spacing, and safety seats have several different designs for attaching to a LATCH system. For seats that do not use a LATCH system, a safety belt can still be used to secure your safety seat, but you should know how to install a top tether from your specific seat to your specific car.
Some companies, such as Nissan, offer advice for how specific car seats fit in each vehicle model they offer. These seats have been tested and are known to fit the contours of the seats as well as the attachment points in the vehicle. If you're considering a new car to go along with a new car seat, read more about Nissans or other cars and contact a dealership in your area to see in person what will work best for your family.
To make sure your seat will fit comfortably in your vehicle, you should bring your vehicle with you to the store and try the seat in your vehicle. Make sure you practice installing the seat so you will know how to install it when you no longer have store personnel assisting you.
Every child has different preferences for their car seat and, unfortunately, you will not know what your child's preferences are until they are old enough to express them. This may mean that you will have to purchase a new seat for your child as they age, so you may want to think twice about purchasing a birth-to-12 years convertible car seat. Instead, consider a comfortable infant car seat and then purchase a front facing seat that you can test with your child in the store after they are one year old.
Getting the right car seat for you, your child, and your car is not always an easy task. However, having a seat that you love can make your life as a parent much easier.