Traveling with your infant or toddler can be a nerve-wracking experience if you aren’t sure that you have the right car seat. With so many on the market, all with a myriad of different features and designs to choose from, it can get confusing, especially when it comes to classifications for different ages.
Buying the best car seat is an important decision to make, so knowing the ins and outs of all the features offered by different brands can help you make the best decision for your child to keep them safe in the car.
How to Choose the Best Car Seat
Before you start shopping for an infant car seat, you need to know what laws apply in your state so that you’re fully compliant. Each state sets its own laws, which can make it more complicated if you’re a family that travels between states often, or if you move to another state. Even while on vacation, your car seat still needs to meet the requirements of the state you’re in at the time. They tend to change occasionally as well, so doing your research and staying on top of the requirements is a good idea before you purchase one.
One of the most important aspects to remember is to follow the guidelines and instructions on the car seat that you buy. It’s common for states to specify that children must be seated in a properly used car seat, meaning the car seat must be installed and used exactly as the instructions state. Failure to do so means you’re using the car seat illegally, and in the event of an accident, your child is at a higher risk of injury.
By understanding both the laws in your state and how to install and use your new car seat properly, you can ensure your child is safe and that you’re following the legal requirements.
Car Seat Features
With the new year comes new innovation and safety features. If you have just had a baby or are having a baby in 2020, choosing the right travel car seat means considering the different features each one has to offer.
Here is a list of the best car seat features to help you get started on your search for the right one.
Mesh seats and ventilation panels
Having an overheating baby while you’re driving is something you want to avoid. Choosing a car seat with airy mesh seats can help with the flow of air, so the actual seat doesn’t get too toasty for your toddler. Seat ventilation panels at the bottom and sides of the seat can also help improve airflow during warmer months so the seat stays cool and your baby stays comfortable.
True lock™ base
Car seat brand Nuna has nailed the base installation technology with its trademarked True lock™ base installation system. Installing your toddler car seat is easier and quicker than ever, so if you’ve ever struggled to install a car seat, this is the solution for you.
Nuna car seats include a steel stability leg that helps keep the base securely in place so there are no wobbles at all. The car seat also includes green indicators that tell you when the stability leg is secured and the connectors are all fixed. If all the indicators are green, it means your car seat is firmly connected to the base and everything is ready to be used.
An all-in-one car seat takes care of it all. Car seats are not cheap, and as your child grows, you need to get a car seat that properly fits them. This could mean shelling out roughly $300 every year or two for newer, bigger car seats or booster seats. With an all-in-one car seat, you don’t need to worry about that. While the initial price may be higher than a regular car seat, an all-in-one can go from an infant car seat to a booster seat and can change from rear-facing to forward-facing to a high-back booster. As your child’s needs change, your car seat changes with them.
Side impact protection
No parent wants to think about his or her infant or toddler in a car accident, but being prepared for anything can ensure your child’s safety. Having side impact protection built into your car seat can make all the difference in the event of a car crash. It can help absorb the force in a side impact by deforming, much like a car’s crumple zone. Cushion inserts, soft foam, and extra protection made of shock-absorbing material create a buffer zone. Most importantly, car seats with side impact protection not only meet U.S. safety regulations but also exceed them, so you know your baby or toddler is protected quite well.