Picking an infant car seat is one of the most important purchases-- you can’t bring your baby home from the hospital without it! When it comes to baby gear, all of the details and specifications can make shopping for essentials overwhelming. At the end of the day, the right choice is the one that works best for your family. We gathered some tips from our friends at Clek, so you can take the driver’s seat when shopping for an infant car seat.
What is an infant car seat?
An infant car seat is designed for infants. They can accommodate your child from birth until about two years old, depending on the growth rate of your baby. Once your child reaches the maximum weight or height limit for the seat, you will need to switch to another car seat for older babies and toddlers. Infant car seats are designed to ride in the car rear-facing only. Infant car seats can also double as a carrier.
What is a convertible car seat?
A convertible car seat is a car seat that can accommodate a child for a longer time than an infant car seat. Convertible car seats have more capabilities and larger weight and height limits allowing your child to grow with it as they get older! If you plan on carrying your baby, and not using a car seat carrier, a convertible car seat may be a great match. Without the car seat carrier feature that infant car seats often provide, you'll need to find a stroller with an appropriate seating area. Some strollers have a 6-month age minimum, while others like the BABYZEN YOYO 0+, have seats that can adjust to a flat position to be used from birth.
How long should your child stay rear-facing?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a child should sit rear-facing as long as possible, preferably until he or she reaches the limit of the convertible seat in rear-facing mode. Rear-facing protects the most fragile parts of a young child’s body: their head, neck, and backs. Positioning the car seat to face the back of the vehicle gives a child the best possible protection in a crash. Some car seats allow your child to remain rear-facing for a longer time than two years.
How long will your car seat last?
Infant car seats are designed to keep your infant snug and safe in the back seat, but the catch is that your child won’t be an infant forever. On average, infant car seats can accommodate a child until they are two years old.
Some convertible car seats can accommodate your child from 5 pounds all the way to 50 pounds. Convertible car seats tend to not fit newborns as snugly as infant car seats, so you may need to buy a special insert.
If you are purchasing a car seat to pass on to future kids, here is a tidbit to keep in mind: car seats typically expire after six years from the date of manufacture.
Which car seat is best for your lifestyle?
If you are a parent who is constantly on the go, you may want to look for a lightweight car seat, similar to the Clek Liing or the Clek Liingo. Clek’s lightweight-design and one-handed quick-release make it easy to remove the car seat from the car seat base or stroller. This will make it easier to transport your car seat from the car seat base to the stroller. Many stroller brands sell car seat adapters, that allow you to attach 3rd party car seats to the frame. The BABYZEN YOYO is one of the few lightweight strollers that allow you to attach a car seat. See the compatible car seats for BABYZEN’s car seat adapters here.
If you constantly travel by car, you want to inspect your car and read the owner's manual before searching for car seats. Car seat bases range in size, so you want to make sure the base will fit in the back seat. Bring a ruler and measure the seat to see if you need to shop for a large base or a narrower base.
What safety features should you look for?
When searching for a car seat, keep these safety features in mind:
- Ensure the car seat is equipped with motion-limiting safety features, such as a load leg, an anti-rebound bar, or a rear-facing tether.
- Verify that the car seat allows for extended rear-facing. Children should remain rear-facing until they reach the maximum height or weight allowance for their car seat.
- Provides a tight, secure installation to the vehicle seat. The less play there is between the car seat and the vehicle seat, the less the car seat moves in a collision. Features like rigid LATCH and built-in lock-offs help provide a secure installation.
- Are designed for side impact protection – lined with EPP foam (instead of EPS foam), has a protective headrest, and has features, like rigid LATCH or anti-rebound bars, that prevent the seat from twisting towards the side impact.
Where can I seek experts advice?
You should contact a local Child Passenger Safety Technician. They are experts who are certified to give you personalized one-on-one instruction on how to properly use your child’s car seat. They will be able to tell you if your seat properly fits your child or your vehicle. Click this link to find a child passenger safety technician near you.
We highly recommend when searching for a car seat that you go to your local retailer and speak to their staff about car seats available. It is also extremely helpful to see the car seat in person, although if you know what you want you can purchase one online.
Some brands, like Clek, offer virtual car seat checks. Their experts will be able to quickly troubleshoot any questions you may have and rule out any installation issues. They are not meant to replace the services of a child passenger safety technician but will be able to give you some extra help if you need it.
After all, picking a car seat is unique to every family's different needs. We hope these tips helped you in your car seat search. For more information on how to pick the right car seat, head to the Safe Kids Worldwide to download their Ultimate Car Seat Guide.