Children, especially newborns, are the most important and precious people in our lives. We do all we can to prepare for them, and, once they arrive, it is our responsibility to care for and protect them. One place that can be extra intimidating for new parents is the road. Driving safer and slower can help, but sometimes, despite your best efforts, you end up in a crash. This is why it’s important for you to have a car seat and know how to install it correctly.
Are There Guidelines or Rules?
SaferCar.gov provides us with the main guidelines that should be followed. Though they provide guidelines for older children, I am going to focus more on infants.
Birth – 12 months old
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.
Once you have decided if your child should be in a rear-facing car seat, which all infants should be in, a convertible car seat, or front facing car seat, then you have to make sure you find a car seat that meets your child’s height and weight requirements. Do not risk getting a car seat that doesn’t fit your child. There are enough brands and types that you should be able to find one that will provide your child with the proper safety and comfort. If you have any questions, ask the provider or manufacturer for their suggestions.
Five of the Top Infant Car Seats
Here are five car seats that will get you started on your search for a car seat that will keep your baby safe.
5. Cybex Aton
This seat is rated for up to 32 pounds and it is the first offered by this company. It is easy to use, thanks to the push on latch connectors. The best part about it, though, is a tensioning plate that helps to ensure that it is properly installed.
4. Chicco KeyFit 30
Acclaimed as the “number 1 infant car seat in America,” this car seat is considered to be the best available car seat for ensuring that an infant remains balanced during a crash. As one of the easiest car seats to install, it quickly locks into place and the handle can be adjusted to any position to ensure that the sun stays off of your infants face. The Chicco KeyFit 30 also comes with an integrated 5 point safety harness that can be adjusted with one hand. Rated for babies from 4 to 30 lbs, this car seat will carry you through infancy. One safety feature is the bubble level indication meter that tells you if the seat is installed on a level base. Keeping it at the proper angle plays a key role in ensuring your baby is safe in the unfortunate event of a car crash.
3. Graco SnugRide 30
With a name that is highly trusted, this car seat will snugly hold and protect an infant weighing up to 30 lbs. Easy to install, the latch strap and harness adjustments will fit taller infants and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. However, being inexpensive does not mean that the car seat lacks anything in safety. Graco has rigorously tested the SnugRide 30 to meet and exceed national safety standards by equipping it with super-duty EPS energy absorbing foam that disperses energy from crashes and reduces impact.
2. Britax B-Safe
With “safe” in the name, this car seat is one that you can sit your baby in and feel comfortable. Due to its less bulky frame, this car seat is ideal for those of you who have smaller cars and since it can be installed without the base, you can quickly transfer the seat from one car to another.
More importantly, the side impact protection in this car seat will shield your child from almost all crash forces and vehicle intrusions. Along with this, the five point safety harness allows the force of impact to be evenly distributed to the strongest points of your child’s body. The Britax B-Safe also adjusts to 4 different heights and 2 different buckle positions, and if you own a Britax B-Series stroller, then this car seat will perfectly integrate into it.
Last of all, the Britax B-Safe is considered to be the Lightest & Easiest for airplane travel coming in at 9.8 lbs and having a width of only 17.5 inches.
1. Evenflo Triumph LX
Since this is a convertible car seat (meaning it can convert from rear to front facing) this car seat is perfect for parents who only want to purchase one car seat as their child moves from an infant and on into their toddler years. The latches are a little difficult because you have to reach around the seat and they are hard to open, but once installed, the Evenflo Triumph LX is extremely safe and secure for your little one. The shoulder straps are easily adjusted by turning the knobs on the side of the seat and the harness is easily fastened. Overall, this is one of the best car seats on the market.
Remember: Choosing the proper car seat is very important, so spend plenty of time researching and reading all the reviews you can on different products before you decide what will best protect your child.
And Finally, Installing the Car Seat Correctly
Every car seat comes with different instructions, which can be frustrating, but if you want your child to be safe, you have to make sure the seat is correctly installed. Here are some installation suggestions from SafeCar.gov.
- Read the car seat instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner’s manual on car seat installation. Every car seat needs to be installed using either the lower anchors of the LATCH system or the seat belt to secure it in place. If you choose to use a seat belt to install your car seat, pay close attention to how to lock your seat belt in the vehicle owner’s manual. Because every car seat and vehicle is different, it’s important to follow all instructions carefully.
- Place the car seat in the back seat of your vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s installation directions.
- The car seat must be secured tightly in the vehicle. It should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path.
- If it is a forward-facing seat and has a top tether strap, connect it to the tether anchor and tighten. This step is very important as it limits forward head movement in a crash.
- If it is a rear-facing seat, make sure the car seat is installed at the correct recline angle. Most car seats have built in angle indicators or adjusters that help with this step.
At Christensen & Hymas, we know the responsibilities and pressures that come along with looking after and protecting your children and we want to do everything we can to help you. If you have been involved in a crash with your child in the car, please contact us and let us help you work to receive the assistance you deserve.
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