What to Look for in a Car Seat

Five-Point Harness
A five-point harness secures your child in the seat with straps that buckle across the chest and at the hips. A three-point harness only offers protection across the chest.

Infant Car Seat Base
As mentioned above, many infant car seats include a base and a seat. The base is attached to the car with a seat belt, and the seat snaps into the base. The base makes taking Baby in and out of the car very convenient, but according to a July 2001 article in Consumer Reports, car seats without a base performed slightly better in crash safety tests.

Travel Systems
If you were hoping to purchase a travel system stroller, you will want to look into which car seat comes with the stroller and whether or not it fits your needs. Conversely, you might want to research whether an individual seat is compatible with various strollers.

Comfort and Design
While all car seats are designed with the same intention, your individual needs will impact which seat is right for you. If you're looking for a portable option (infant car seat with a base), pick up the seat to make sure it isn't too heavy and experiment with taking the seat in and out of its base. If you're looking at a convertible seat, make sure you're comfortable with the buckles, clips, and other features that will need to be adjusted.

Aesthetics and Features
Once you've decided on the type of seat you need, you can start looking into the fun stuff, like fabrics and colors!

Some features in infant car seats include:

  • Adjustable canopy
  • Removable head pillow
  • Built-in toys
  • Pockets for storage
  • Level indicator for proper installation

Some features in convertible car seats include:

  • Padded, movable arm rests
  • Padded head rests
  • Pockets
  • Cup holders
  • Level indicator for proper installation

While these added features can seem wonderful in the store showroom, they might not fit in your car; additional features can increase the width of the seat, so choose carefully.

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