As expecting parents, you will already understand that preparing for the arrival of your new born is not only time consuming, but ultimately necessary! There are many things you need to prepare for the arrival of your little bundle of joy; pushchairs, cribs, clothing and strollers to name a few but also the safe transportation of your baby in a vehicle, which means buying an infant car seat. As soon as you leave the hospital, all the way to the age of 11 or 12, you need to be prepared to transport your child safely and securely in your car. With the vast variety of brands, different types of seat and various different safety features and other jargon, this often leaves parents to be a little lost as to what will best suit their requirements.
As your child grows and gets older, you may need to change your baby’s car seat so your very first purchase should bear this in mind. Some manufacturers and brands produce products that cater for new born up to around 4 years old, others specifically cater for just the new born market and then most will provide booster or highback booster seats for when your child gets a little older and bigger!
Choosing The Right Infant Car Seat For Your Child
Here´s a quick guide on the basics of buying a Baby Car Seat for the first time.
Rear-Facing Seats – These are designed for new born babies and can be placed rear-facing in the front or rear of the vehicle. It’s very important to remember that ALL new born infants MUST be placed in a REAR-FACING ONLY car seat until they are of a specific weight and safe to move to a standard Front-Facing seat. Rear-facing seats are designed with safety in mind and will keep your baby safe in the event of an impact. Because they are rear facing, this protects their tiny organs and weaker neck/head at a time in their life when they are most fragile and vulnerable.
The main advantages of new born rear facing seats are not only your child’s safety, but also the fact that they are lighter and easier to move between different vehicles. Due to the size, they are easier to get in and out of the car and of course carry and most of these types of seats come with a fixed base that allows you to remove the actual seat from the car with your baby still in it. Trust us, you won’t want to wake your sleeping baby to remove them from the car!
Do bear in mind that rear-facing infant car seats will need to be replaced with a forward facing seat once your child out grows it, at about 1 years old so if you’re looking to save a little, perhaps look for a convertible seat.
Convertible Baby Seats – If you are on a budget or after a seat that will last you a little longer (up to around age 4+), you may wish to purchase what’s known as a combination or convertible baby car seat. These types of seat allow for both rear and forward-facing modes allowing you to use it when your baby is a new born and then switching it around once they reach a suitable age and weight. Convertible infant car seats are usually heavier and much harder to get in and out the car so bear this in mind if considering for a new born. Once your child is a little older, removing the seat becomes unnecessary as they gradually get used to getting in and out the car by themselves. There is a fantastic range of convertible car seats on the market today but our choice would be to go for one with good side impact protection, easily adjustable straps and one with good head padding and protection.
Child Booster Seat – Once your child reaches age 3-4, you will want to transfer them over to a child booster seat. Booster seats come in 2 main forms. For younger children, a highback booster seat is what’s commonly used, moving over to a smaller, removable booster seat for infants of age 8+.
Booster seats allow your child to be raised high enough to allow full use of the cars own seat belts, without having the need for additional straps. The height advantage makes sure the seat belt is comfortable and wont tangle around the child if the vehicle comes to a sudden stop or is involved in a collision. High back booster seats are usually left in place in the car as they can be much bigger and heavier than their predecessors. Child booster seats are usually much smaller, lighter, don’t require permanent fixings and can be removed or switched between vehicles with ease.
Nearly all baby and infant car seats come with side impact protection but not all have the same level of quality. You should check this with each seat you look at and if unsure, ask a professional. Safety is the key in the decision making process and trying to save a couple of bucks shouldn’t be your aim here. Make sure you purchase a good quality seat from a brand and retailer you trust. We don’t recommend buying a 2nd hand seat as you don’t know whether it’s in tip top condition or not.
Just to finish……
Making an informed decision on the best car seat for your baby can be tricky but with the knowledge above and the various review sites that can be found online, making the correct decision should be easier and less daunting. We hope that you enjoyed this article and hope this little buyers guide was useful and gives you a better understanding of your options.