6 Tips for Buying a Car Seat

Whether it’s hearing their first words from the back seat, or seeing their sleepy yawns through the rearview mirror, some of your favorite memories with your little one are made while they’re in their car seat. So when it comes to buying one, it’s only natural to want to find the best, safest, most comfortable car seat in which to share these moments.

But where to start? While ratings and reviews can be helpful places to start, here’s six key tips to keep in mind when shopping for the safest car seat for your kid(s).

Focus on fit. As you probably already guessed — car seats are not one-size-fits-all. And if you’re just starting your search your first step is to determine which type of car seat (rear-facing, front-facing, booster seat, seat belt, etc.) is safest for the age, weight and height of your kiddo. You can find a handy tool for that here.

Consider the growth factor. To keep costs more affordable, you might want to think about getting a convertible car seat model that can evolve to fit your child as they grow. While they sometimes cost more up front, they can make it easier to keep your kiddo safe for several years. Win!

Price check. Hands down, the car seat is one of the most important purchases you’ll make when you have a new baby. But it’s key not to be swayed by price. A higher price tag (or a model with lots of cool features) doesn’t necessarily mean the seat is safer than another.

Get a history lesson. Thinking of buying or borrowing a used car seat? It’s vitally important to know the background of what you’re getting. While it might look new, car seats can have hidden issues from their previous lives — like being weakened or broken from an accident, or featuring outdated or recalled technology. If you’re looking into a used car seat, make sure you:

  • Know the date it was manufactured/model number. (Important for checking for safety defects or recalls.)
  • Have access to the original installation instructions.
  • Check that the model has not been recalled.
  • Don’t use it if it’s missing parts, if you see cracks or signs of wear, or if it was in a previous car crash.

Not sure whether to choose used or new? When in doubt, go new. Experts agree that buying a brand new car seat is best since safety technology changes so rapidly.

Befriend an installation expert. Did you find ‘the one’? Hurrah! Before you head out on any adventures with your bundle of joy you’ll want to practice installing the car seat in your vehicle, and have your handiwork checked by a nearby professional.

Stay in touch. Registering your car seat is one of the smartest ways to make sure you’ll hear about any safety defects or recalls right away. Nice work!

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