Buying a car seat can be overwhelming and confusing. Here are some things you need to know! Looking to buy used? Read the Used Seat Checklist!
car seats are life saving devices
It is hard not to get caught up in colors, patterns, bells & whistles, as well as all the other “extras” that car seats have to offer these days. This can sometimes detract from the fact that the are a life saving device that we trust to keep our children safe in the vehicle and to help prevent serious injury or death in the event of a collision. In order for a car seat to do it’s job, it needs to fit your child, your vehicle, be installed properly – according your car seat and vehicle manual, and be used according to the manufacturers instructions – including how to properly secure your child’s harness.
more expensive does not mean more safe
All car seats on the market go through the exact.same.testing. This testing is extensive and is done over, and over, and over again to ensure accurate results and to make sure they pass all of our regulations per CMVSS 213. Read more about our testing and regulations here.
Price is usually dependent on branding (thank you marketing!), fabric options and colors/prints, “bells & whistles”, ease of use, higher limits, premium options etc. Car seat manufacturers also market certain safety features that go beyond what is needed through our regulations, claiming to be “first” or “only”. While we commend them for going above and beyond what is required and these features may be beneficial in some collisions, we do not have access to crash results and cannot claim that they are indeed “safer”. For all we know, the $70 seats perform better than the $500 seats…. What we DO know, is that a properly fitted and used seat will help keep your child extremely safe in the vehicle. Choose the best one for you!
not all car seats fit all children or vehicles
We LOVE getting reviews and recommendations from our friends, co-workers and mom’s groups. Who doesn’t! They can be such invaluable resources. Keep in mind that children are all built differently, so are vehicles and car seats and this can lead to many incompatibilities. People are well meaning and love to help, but what might work GREAT for their family, might be not so great for yours.
Knowing your child’s height and weight will be helpful to help gauge their growth which helps narrow down which seats will last you the longest. Looking for information about car seats like their lowest and highest harness positions is very important when looking for fit to child. Once you have a list of a few seats you think will work for you situation, don’t be afraid to go to the store and TRY THEM! Yes! Place your child in it, play with the harness, make adjustments and see if they will let you try it in your vehicle! See how it fits and how you like it.
you are not alone!
This here is why I became a CPST. I was SO lost, wandering around looking at car seats with no clue what anything meant, what things were, why I needed them and why prices varied so much. There are resources available to help you! You can contact me for one on one help or visit my resources page to help find a tech near you and for links to some very helpful facebook groups and pages. Here are a couple recommended seat lists to get you started: