During the time spanning from 2010 to 2014, a total of 2,885 children lost their precious lives in motor vehicle-related accidents. This is according to a Fatality Analysis Report released by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
This number translates to 11 children deaths every week. Astonishingly, 15% of these children were seated in the front seat at the time of the accident. Such statistics speak of why you should get a good car seat for your baby. Here are 10 tips that will help you choose the best.
1. Start with the owner’s manual of your vehicle
This will help you narrow down to which seat you need, and where you will install it. Since most new car models have the LATCH system, it will be pretty easy to install the seat. Just make sure you can locate your car’s LATCH attachments. If yours does not come with the LATCH system, the alternative way of installing the car seat will be using the vehicle’s seat belt.
2. Has the seat been safety tested?
It should be. Australians know this better because all car seats need to adhere to the Australian/NewZealand Standard 1754 for them to be legally sold to consumers. Car seats that have been safety tested are the best option because they have a guarantee to protect your child in case you find yourself in a crash. Ask the manufacturer if the seat has been tested for safety. They should be able to provide some proof to ascertain to you that testing has been done.
3. New vs. used seat
When it comes to your child’s safety, old is NOT gold. Strive to get a brand new car seat because its benefits cannot be matched with the potential failures of a used one. If you cannot get a new seat or if you are bent on acquiring a used one, then make sure it is in excellent condition and has not been recalled from the market. Avoid like the plague, any used seat that is worn out, loose or has ever been involved in an accident.
4. Check the safety harness and side protection
Do not settle for a product that has less than 3 waist harnesses and 2 shoulder straps. These restraints keep the child from being thrown out of the seat on impact or in the event of emergency braking. Adjustable harnesses and belts keep the child fastened safely onto the bench. The sides of the seat should be well cushioned to protect the child’s head from getting hit during sideways movement. The best car seats will have their sides reinforced with extra foam or air pads.
5. It should fit well in your car
You might not know this, but some car seats are made for specific car brands and models. It is, therefore, a good thing to check if the product you are eyeing will fit perfectly in your car. Consult the manufacturer of the car seat or the executive at the store from which you are buying to know if the seat is the perfect fit for your car. Some seats come with specifications that help car owners know if they will match with the requirements of their vehicles.
6. Check the ratings and reviews
It could be a safety rating, a standards rating or a few consumer ratings. Manufacturers who know what they are doing always endeavor to have their products meet all necessary standardization measures. To check for standardization ratings, go to the product’s website. Most of them are usually placed right there on the home/landing page. For customer reviews, search for the particular car seat on the internet and randomly pick any two online stores that stock the item. Read through what other buyers have to say about the car seat and judge for yourself whether you are going to buy it or not.
7. Your child’s height
Gone are the days when children were moved to a forward facing seat because they finally attained 12 months of age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you should only move your child from a rear facing seat if his/her head is within 1 inch of the seat’s top. If you are buying a car seat for your first kid, you should choose a rear-facing seat. Only change to a forward facing seat if the child is tall enough.
8. Your child’s weight
Not many parents or guardians will have a problem here. Most babies will comfortably use a toddler car seat because it is made to hold the weight of the average child. As your child grows, you will notice he/she no longer needs to be on the rear-facing seat. When your child has attained the maximum height and weight for the rear-facing seat, you can comfortably advance to a forward facing seat.
9. Your child’s age
From what we have observed and learned from expert opinion if your child is already 8 years or older, you don’t have to buy a car seat for them. For children aged between 4 and 8 years old, get a good booster seat. It uses the vehicle’s seat belts which also work for adults. Some parents go for a 3 in 1 car seat because it is more flexible.
10. Cost should not be your primary concern
It is almost a universal rule that good quality costs more than low quality, and that cheap is expensive. That is why this tip comes last. After you have gone through all the rest, now look at the price. It is perfectly okay to spend more on a good quality toddler car seat. We are discussing your child’s safety here, so let the money issue not influence your choice. Brands like safety first car seat are pricey options but very safe. The same applies to a 3 in 1 seat for baby.
Always keep in mind that the safety of your kids comes before anything else. As such, stop at nothing to get your child the best car seats available in the market. You should be able to land an excellent model if you consider each other tips included in this guide. Please Feel free to share this with a friend.
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