If you’re in the market for a new car seat — whether it’s for an infant, a soon-to-be toddler, or a young kid — I put the newest, highest-rated car seats to the test. And while I’m not a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST), I consulted with local experts, did endless research, and tested seats on a variety of ages.
Read on for my favorite car seats for every age, lifestyle, and budget — PLUS sneak peeks at car seats soon to hit shelves:
In my extensive car seat research, I also came across these important tips:
- It’s always best to buy car seats new, because it’s impossible to know whether a seat has been in an accident (which compromises its safety), and there’s a chance that it could have been recalled. (Read on for 4 more Car Seat Buying Tips.)
- Car seats are not one-size-fits-all — it can depend on the size of your back seat. Always keep your receipt.
- The AAP now recommends that toddlers stay in a rear-facing car seat for the first 2 years, or as long as possible. Luckily car seat manufacturers have stepped up by making rear-facing car seats with higher weight and height capacities.
- Parents might be tempted to turn the car seat around because their baby’s legs seem squished. You actually don’t have to turn the seat around until your baby’s head is 1 inch from the top of the car seat — and leg space hasn’t been shown to have any bearing on comfort or safety. Remember: The safest position for your child is facing the rear, so it’s important to keep it that way for as long as you can. (See the Top 10 Car Seat Mistakes.)
- Always, always, always have your car seat installation checked by a local child passenger safety technician (CPST), which you can typically find by calling your local fire station.
- For expert advice on installation, check out The Car Seat Lady.
Read more of Michelle’s writing at Early Mama.
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