Bringing a new life into this world comes with a tremendous amount of joy but it also comes with a burdensome amount of responsibility. It is natural to feel the pressure of being a new parent and often trying to find the right car seat can be an agonizing experience. You want something that will offer the best protection for your child, but you also want something that they will love to ride in. If you have budgetary concerns then you may even be feeling some guilt for trying to save money on something so important.
Then there are the different types of car seats from which to choose. It can get overwhelming rather quickly. Take a deep breath, it will all be alright. We put together a little guide to help you find the right type of seat for your family and hopefully it will make the entire process a little less stressful.
Types Of Child Seats
This is usually the first stumbling block. The three main types of seats are infant, convertible, and booster seats. They each have a specific function when it comes to the height and weight of your child. Here is a quick breakdown.
These are obviously for infants, usually recommended limits of between 5 and 30 lbs, but each one may be different.
These types of seats are usually lighter since they only need to protect smaller babies. They are easy to carry, and they typically are compatible with a wide range of strollers. This means that you do not have to lift your child out of the seat and place into a stroller, you can simply lift the entire seat out of your car and snap it into the stroller. This adds a level of convenience that appeals to a number of parents. The lighter weight also makes it easy to move between different vehicles. This is a huge plus for multi-car families.
While convenience is nice, there are some drawbacks to starting with a dedicated infant seat. The biggest one is that you can only use it for a short time before you child outgrows it and will need to be switched to a convertible car seat. You might get a year and half out of your infant seat before having to invest in another seat. For parents with tight budgets, this is not an ideal choice.
There are several high quality infant safety seats that get excellent reviews from owners. We have chose a few from different price points that are worth looking into.
Budget Seats (Under $100)
- Baby Trend Flex Loc
- Graco Snugride Click Connect
- EvenFlo Embrace LX
Mid-Range Seats ($100 – $200)
- Graco SnugRide 30
- Britax B-Safe
- Chicco KeyFit 30
High End (Above $200)
- Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Infant Seat
- UppaBaby Mesa
- Maxi Costa Mico AP
Convertible Child Seats
These types of safety seats offer greater flexibility for parents as they can be used for longer. They are typically rated for children from 5 to 65 lbs, but again each seat has their own recommendations. For small babies, you place them facing the rear of your car. They have special inserts and padding that need to be added to keep infants necks and heads secure. Once they are big enough, you then can turn, or convert, the seat to face forward. The inserts can be removed and your child can ride in this configuration until they out grow it.
The biggest and most popular advantage is that you can buy just one seat and it will suit your little one for many years to come. This means that you will end up saving money in the long run.
There are some drawbacks, most noticeably with convenience, that can detract from starting out with this seat. They are a lot heavier than infant seats. It can be a hassle to move this from one car to another. Also, convertible car seats typically do not have any type of stroller compatibility. They weigh to much to make this feasible. You really need to weigh the cost savings against the ability to easily move the seat.
Fortunately, because of their popularity, it is not hard to find detailed reviews on the most recommended convertible car seats. There are plenty of superb options available to parents no matter what their money constraints may be so you should not feel an ounce of guilt should you look to save. Just make sure to buy a known name brand, from a reputable store, and do not buy a used seat from anywhere else.
Budget Seats (Under $100)
- EvenFlo Tribute Sport
- Disney APT
- Cosco APT 50
Mid-Range Seats ($100 – $200)
- Graco Contender 65 LX
- Britax Roundabout
- EvenFlo Symphony LX
High End Models (Above $200)
- Britax Marathon ClickTight
- Diono Radian RXT
- Chicco NextFit
You can kind of guess from their name that they give your child a boost when they get too big to ride in a convertible safety seat. This is an important car seat as it is needed as a transition until they are big enough to use your cars own seatbelt. There are a number of parents that make the mistake of not making use of a booster seat, and if the child is not big enough then the seat belt can pose an added danger if it does not rest properly. Since you will not need one of these seats for a few years we will go into detail on booster seats in a later article.
Keeping Things Simple
Buying a new car seat is only as hard as you make it. The first thing that you should always do is think about your need for an infant seat. If you do not plan on using a stroller or you can’t afford to buy multiple seats in the first couple of years then it makes sense to get a convertible car seat. From there it is all about finding a model that you are comfortable with. Reading reviews and finding models that parents rate highly is a great place to start. Taking things step by step and keeping them as simple as you can will help remove a lot of the stress and pressure associated with this big decision. Welcome to parenthood, isn’t it fun?