How to pick the best car seat

All children under the height of 57 inches tall should be in a car seat or booster seat, depending on their size and age.¹ Picking the right car seat is essential for the protection of your young child, and with so many options to choose from, finding the right one can be overwhelming. Here are some suggestions to help you navigate this important decision:


Decide what your non-negotiables are

Whether you need a car seat that will click easily into a stroller or one that your child can grow with, consider the features that will work best for you given your lifestyle. If you travel, make sure the car seat is an appropriate size for airplane travel. If you spend a lot of time in the car, consider one with additional bulk for added impact protection.

Do your homework

Take the time to do some research. Many websites have information about different car seat options, including parental feedback that you should review before making the decision that is right for you and your family. Also, consider asking your family and friends with children for advice about what car seat is best for them.

Ask the experts

Once you have narrowed down the car seat options to ones that might fit your needs, go to a store that sells the car seats you are interested in. The experts there can answer any questions you might have as well as help you get a feel for how the car seats work so that you can familiarize yourself with the differences. Visit a store to practice buckling and unbuckling the car seat, as well as taking it in and out of the base and the stroller. Testing your car seat options in person allows you to get familiar with each one to help you make a decision.

Visit the police department

Many local police stations offer to inspect your car seat after you’ve installed it to ensure that it is secure and installed correctly. To locate a participating police station or inspector in your area, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website at www.nhtsa.gov.

Be careful with accessories

Nothing should be placed between your child and the car seat or its straps. Do your research before purchasing any accessories, such as blankets or bundlers, to make sure that the car seat can still function properly and keep your child safe.

A car seat is your child’s best protection if you were to get into a car accident. Taking the time to do your homework can help ensure that you have made the best car seat choice.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Child Passenger Safety," accessed January 21, 2016, http://www.cdc.gov/features/passengersafety.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Child Passenger Safety," accessed January 21, 2016, http://www.cdc.gov/features/passengersafety.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator," accessed January 21, 2016, http://www.nhtsa.gov/apps/cps/index.htm.

Today, "Warning for parents: Why bulky winter coats and car seats don't mix," accessed January 21, 2016, http://www.today.com/moms/warning-parents-why-bulky-winter-coats-car-seats-dont-mix-2D11585035.

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