A baby car seat is going to be one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make in your life. A car seat can be the difference between life and death for your little one, and if this doesn’t make you put a lot more consideration into looking for a car seat, we don’t know what will. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children and can be easily prevented by using a properly-fitted car seat. Most legislations around the world now require children under 12 years of age to be properly buckled up in a back car seat to prevent them from being a part of dire statistics.

As a parent, your child’s safety is your ultimate responsibility and you need to make sure you make the correct decision when buying a car seat. Here are some of the qualities you should look for in a baby car seat when shopping.


The Car Seat Must Be First-Hand

Being frugal can be a good thing, but being stingy when your child’s safety is at stake isn’t something we would recommend. The problem with hand-me-downs when it comes to baby car seats is that you don’t know exactly what situations that particular car seat might have been through. It’s very much likely for it to have survived a car crash, and in the process, suffered internal damages that can compromise the safety of its occupant. NHS England also recommends against buying second-hand car seats because of the safety hazards involved. 

Moreover, since most second-hand baby car seats are outdated, they don’t meet the current safety guideline. Also, they often don’t come with a safety manual which can make the entire process of installing a car seat very cumbersome. Older seats have gone through the wear and tear of time, and you should let them retire in peace instead of using them to jeopardize your child’s safety. 

Spending an extra couple of bucks on the most important equipment you’ll ever buy for your child isn’t excessive spending. Plus you don’t need to break the bank and can browse through several affordable options available.


It Must Meet Safety Requirements 

This is a no-brainer. If a baby car seat doesn’t meet the required safety requirements, it defeats the entire purpose of installing a car seat. You should consult with the manufacturer and check the label to see if the car seat meets the required standards for your country.

In the United States, the seat should meet or exceed the requirements set by “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213”. The i-Size is the new EU standard requirement for car seats. If you’re in the UK or the European Union, you’d want to make sure your baby’s car seat meets the new i-Size criteria. It’s based on your child’s height rather than weight. As mentioned on www.babyandco.com, weight can be an unreliable indicator of true size, and using height provides a more accurate fit for the baby. This standard also includes a side-impact test to make sure the seat is able to withstand a side-impact collision.

A baby car seat must also pass the “crash test” for it to be legally available to be in the market. A crash test basically involves testing a car seat’s durability after sustaining a 30mph frontal collision. 


Rear-Facing Car Seats Are Better

All infants and children up to the age of two should ride in a rear-facing car seat according to the guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This recommendation is based on studies that suggested a lower mortality rate and decreased injuries for children using a rear-facing car seat. Several other studies also back the superiority of rear-facing car seats, and it’s suggested that children should be placed in them for as long as they stay within the maximum weight and height limits of the car seat. 

Rear-facing car seats provide better support to your baby’s head and neck and reduce the impact of a collision by absorbing most of the energy. This dramatically reduces the number of injuries sustained as compared to a traditional “forward-facing seat”. It also better protects the baby’s spinal cord so getting a forward-facing seat should be delayed as much as possible. 

There are a number of options available: you can either get a “rear-facing only” infant car seat or a “rear-facing convertible”. The benefit of a convertible is that it can be used as a forward-facing car seat when your child is old enough so you wouldn’t need to purchase another car seat. 


It Should Fit In Your Car

Before buying a baby car seat, you should ensure that the seat fits well inside your car. Even the best baby car seat that meets all the federal standards would be rendered unsafe if it’s not properly fitted. 

A study conducted by Ohio State Research found that baby car seats and vehicle seats aren’t properly aligned in more than 40% of cars, and that can put a child’s life at risk. To ensure the best protection for your child, make sure the car seat fits properly in your vehicle. Read the instruction manual carefully, and learn how to properly install the car seat. You can also consider getting the car seat professionally fitted. If for some reason, it’s still not a good fit, toss it out and get the one that closely aligns with your car. 

A snug fit is an absolute must for your baby’s car seat and is one parameter that you should never overlook. 


It Should be Fit According to Your Baby’s Size 

With all things considered, you shouldn’t forget your baby’s size and weight when buying a car seat. It should be able to support your child’s weight. Also, the car seat should be cozy for the child but not padded enough to interfere with secure fastening. The baby should be able to have a comfortable, smooth and safe ride. 

Baby car seats are your child’s safety shield when on the road, and hopefully, these tips will help you choose the best car seat for your baby. It’s important that you always prioritize this and make it a habit for every member of your family to always use the baby car seat, no matter how short the car ride might be.