When shopping for the best car seat for your baby, the vast number of types and models out there can be a little bit overwhelming! Which one is the best value for the money? What company is the safest? Which seat is going to be the most durable? How long will the seat be able to be used? These are all questions that parents ask themselves throughout the car seat shopping process. Today I’m sharing the top seats available this year and 10 tips to help you along the way during the shopping process.
My younger sister had a little boy last summer, and got a traditional baby carrier with a handle like I had when my kids were small. While great for transporting a tiny sleeping babe from place to place, they really aren’t very practical a few months later when your baby’s legs are hanging out the end! She ended up having to start looking for a bigger seat by Christmas time. In the process of helping her look for seats, I realized just how many there were to choose from now. My “baby” is five, I haven’t bought a seat in a while! One of the most popular styles by far with all of the seats I came across was the convertible car seat. Convertible car seats can be used both rear and forward facing, for infants and older children. Some of the most popular models can accommodate children up to 70 pounds, which means you can literally use the seat for years! Check out my list below for the most popular models of 2013:
This model is so popular that it’s actually on Amazon’s
top seller list 5 times, once for each color it comes in!
This model is considerably less than the Marathon,
but only goes up to 55 lbs. Still a great choice!
The next step up from a the Marathon model, this seat
offers even more safety with True Side Impact Protection.
A lesser known model, this seat goes up to 120 pounds,
folds flat for storage, and has a 10 year life span!
Britax’s premium seat is equipped with a Click & Safe
Snug Harness Indicator and Side Impact Cushion Technology.
An economy seat without all the frills, can hold children
up to 39.7 lbs. You’ll need another booster seat after that.
Don’t forget to check out my other list of popular rear facing convertible car seats that offer higher height and weight limits and my super-ultra-favorite-must-have car seat accessories!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a convertible car seat:
10. Weight limit – Choosing a seat that goes up to at least 70 pounds means you won’t have to replace it for several years, if you even need to replace it at all. On average, most children are around 10 years old when they hit the 70 lb mark, so they’ll probably be too tall for the seat before they become too heavy. The CDC recommends children use a booster seat of some sort until they reach age 9 or grow to 4’9″ tall, whichever comes first. If necessary, there are seats that do go up much higher, like the Diono Radian RXT which has a 120 pound weight limit.
9. Rear facing vs. forward facing – According to a 2008 article in the professional journal Pediatrics, children under the age of two are a whopping 75% less likely to be killed or suffer severe injuries in a crash if they are in a rear facing seat. It is actually five times safer for children ages 1-2 to be in the rear facing position. Check the limits for the seat you are looking to purchase, and make sure it can accommodate your child up to age 2.
8. Ease of use - Unless you are a one-car household, or you purchase two seats, you’re probably going to be moving your child’s seat from one car to another on a frequent basis. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a great page with ease of use ratings for pretty much every seat out there. It’s not just about how easy it is to install, it’s about how easy it is to install properly and safely.
7. Reviews - This one is obvious, but sometimes we get distracted by fancy words and superficial features and forget to see what other people that have actually owned that particular seat have to say. Just because something sounds like a great feature doesn’t mean it always works out that way.
6. Comfort - This may not be a safety issue, but getting a seat with good padding for a snoozing little one is something you should consider. When they doze off and there is no where to rest their head, they just end up with their chin on their chest and their little head bobbing all around as they try to sleep. You wouldn’t want to try to sleep like that, would you?
5. How easy it is to clean - While this isn’t a safety feature either, after you deal with diaper explosions, upset tummies and messy toddler snacks, you need to know you can easily clean the cover of your seat. Make sure the seat you choose has a cover and straps that are easy to remove (and reassemble) for those times when you need to get it clean. Because let’s face it, car seat funk is gross!
4. Strap adjustment - Though you may not have to adjust the straps on your seat that often, it can be a real pain if the adjustment process is difficult or confusing. No one wants to have to disassemble the whole seat just to move the strap up a few inches! If it’s a chore to adjust the straps and you don’t do it when you should because of that, your child could be less safe due to ill-fitting straps.
3. Price - Obviously this is a big factor for many families. Make a list of the features you cannot do without, and then compare the prices for the seats that fit those standards. You may find that everything you need is available in a lower priced seat, especially if you aren’t dead set on having a car seat with all the newest bells and whistles.
2. How well it fits in your car – If you have a smaller car, you want to be sure the seat you are considering will fit properly in the back seat space you have to work with. If the seat is too wide, the buckle may end up being underneath it when you try to install it. This is an even more important factor to consider if you are placing multiple car seats in one car.
1. Expiration date - Many people don’t realize that car seats have an expiration date due to the deterioration of seat materials over time. This is a very important thing to check because while some seats may be good for up to 9 years from the date of manufacture, others are only good for a few years. You don’t want to buy a seat only to realize later you’ll need to replace it sooner than you thought.
In case you didn’t notice from the best seller list above, Britax is one of the most popular convertible seat manufacturers in the marketplace this year, and with good reason. Their seats are some of the safest, most durable, and most versatile available. Britax has actually been the leader in mobile safety for 70 years.
One of their most popular models, the Britax Boulevard 70 G-3 Car Seat, offers features like HUGS Chest Pads with SafeCell Technology, a tangle-free, five-point harness, and an anti-slip, contoured base. They also offer features that are for your convenience like their quick-adjust, no-rethread harness that lets you adjust the belt without having to take out the straps (because we ALL know how much of a pain that is!). While their seats may cost more up front than some of the other brands out there, Britax’s reputation precedes them, and everyone I know with one of their seats swears by them.
What’s your favorite car seat model? What feature is most important to you? Have you ever heard of Britax before?
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