Spring is in the air and we are all beginning to put the sweat pants back in the closet and come out of our hibernation. Getting ready for a new travel season is exciting but it also brings craziness, mayhem, madness….March Madness! The last decision you want to rush is one regarding the safety of your child. There is no contest when it comes to the most important child safety product you should purchase; the car seat.
Here are 10 things to consider before buying a car seat:
#1. Save Up Now
Start a Car Seat Fund Jar as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Drop your spare change in and ask friends and family to do the same when they come to visit. You’ll be surprised how fast it adds up over the next nine months and everyone can feel good about contributing to the safety of your future child. Another option is adding your preferred car seat to a baby gift registry.
#2. Invest in the Best
Think of a car seat the same way you think about insurance. You buy the best coverage you can afford that will provide the best benefits for you and your family, and then hope you never need it. Your child’s car seat is an investment in their safety so get the best one you can afford.
#3. Child Passenger Safety Laws
There are different laws in every state regarding child passenger safety. To make sure you don’t wind up in the Big House, you can check your state’s laws by visiting the Governors Highway Safety Association’s website.
#4. Car Seat Safety Ratings & Reviews
Take a look at safety ratings and consumer reviews for all the car seats you’re considering. Does the number of recalled products from one manufacturer matter to you? You can find a list of child-related recalls on the Safe Kids Worldwide website. Registering your car seat will also ensure you receive any safety or recall notices directly from the manufacturer.
#5. Prioritize Baby Expenses
Invest more money in a car seat than a crib. Yes, your child will spend more time in their crib, but driving is the most dangerous thing we do every day. And besides, a quick search on YouTube will prove that kids fall asleep anywhere, anytime, in any position, so you can probably just skip the crib altogether. JK! ☺
#6. Space Saving Car Seats
Take the size of your car into consideration before purchasing a car seat. All car seats won’t fit into every car. Diono Radian car seats are only 17” in width – one of the narrowest car seats on the market. However, this doesn’t mean it will fit in every car. Some retailers will allow you to “test drive” car seats to make sure they fit and can be installed in your vehicle correctly.
#7. Steel Reinforced Frame
What’s inside the car seat? Only plastic? Or does it have a full steel frame? Race car drivers are surrounded by a steel roll cage and their seats are made of steel. The steel frame inside every Diono convertible car seat surrounds the child providing an extra level of protection, just like a race car driver. Suffice it to say, steel is a good thing!
#8. Ease of Use
Ease of use? Yes! Most manufacturers make their instruction manuals available online. Read it and familiarize yourself with it before you buy the car seat. Read your vehicle manual too! They both have important information and warnings that you must pay attention to. Once you get your car seat, but before your baby is born, install it per the instructions and have a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician check your seat. You can find a car seat check event or a certified CPST in your area on the Safe Kids website. http://www.safekids.org/in-your-area/
#9. Flame Retardant Requirements
Organic fabric and materials? As it stands today, all car seats have to meet federal standards regarding flame retardants. Some car seats have less chemical retardants than others but they all have to pass the same federal test and must contain some type of retardant. You can read more here: http://thecarseatlady.com/chemicals-in-the-car-seat/
#10. Infant Carrier, Convertible, or Birth to Booster?
Infant carriers are very convenient and fit smaller babies very well, and the ability to attach them to a stroller as part of a Travel System is a great feature. But babies can outgrow them within 5-12 months, meaning you’re going to have to buy another car seat much sooner than you think. Convertibles fit newborns too and can be used for a longer period of time so you’ll actually save money in the long run. Birth to Booster seats fit babies, toddlers and older children and can be used even longer than convertibles.
There are many more things to consider and everyone’s lifestyle and needs are unique. You have lots of options when it comes to purchasing a car seat, but the best option is the car seat that correctly fits your child, the car seat that can be correctly installed in your vehicle, and the car seat that you’ll use correctly every time you travel.