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Home > Family and Kids > Child Car Seat Buying Guide

Child Car Seat Buying Guide

The first thing to consider when deciding which child car seat to buy is which type: infant, convertible, booster/youth or special needs. There are many good brands to choose from, some of the better ones include Britax, Graco and Peg-Perego.

Infant car seats - for babies up to around 20 to 22 pounds, depending upon the specific model.

Convertible child car seats - for babies or somewhat older children, may not be able to be used for smaller sized babies as weight limits for rear facing may be higher.

Booster and youth seats - for children a bit older who are either too tall or weigh too much for a car seat for younger children.

Infant Car Seats

Young babies are supposed to ride facing the rear of the car until they weigh 20 pounds and are one year old. Infant car seats are reat facing and so are many convertible seats.

- Convenience Features:
Infant seats tend to be smaller and weigh less which can be very helpful for some people. Some of them also have a base which is detachable and can be left in the car. These make it easier to get the car seat in and out of the car much easier. Some also have handles to make them easier to carry.

- Harnesses and buckles:
Harnesses are either three or five point harnesses on infant seats. Some seats have more than one set of slots for the harnesses which helps to have as your child gets older and bigger.

- Reclining:
Being able to adjust the angle of the recline is very important and is something to look for in a car seat.

Convertible Child Car Seats

- Convenience Features:
These seats tend to be bigger, so they are not as convenient to carry around, but since they can also be used by older children they can be used for a longer time.

- Harnesses and buckles:
These have a 5 point harness with 5 straps - two for the shoulders and two for the hips and one for the crotch. They also have a T-shield which is a padded shield that is attached to the shoulder straps. They also have overhead shields that goes down around the child.

- Other:
Make sure to check the instructions when changing a convertible seat from rear to front facing.

Booster Seats

Booster seats are used by children a bit older and bigger, but still too small for regular seat belts. Basically, they raise the child up so that they can use the seat belts. They are too big when they weigh more or are too tall for what is allowed on the particular seat they are using, or when the childs shoulder go above where the slots for the harness are.

Another thing to look for is a LATCH - Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children - these make the installation of a child car seat easier. With LATCH you don't need to use the regular seat belt of the car - but - both your car and the child seat need to have LATCH.

Tethers also another important safety feature - all new cars come with them.

See also: An Introduction to Child Car Seats

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