Originally published on 8/26/2019.
In the search for the perfect car seat, parents want something safe, comfortable, and stylish. Whether you’re looking for an infant car seat to carry your new arrival home from the hospital or upgrading your toddler to a convertible car seat, there are many factors that you should consider when car seat shopping. From car seat sing-a-longs to road trip snacking, precious memories are ahead. Here are five tips for buying the perfect car seat:
1. Always Buy New
When it comes to shopping for your children, fill the closet with hand-me-down clothes and toys (it’s good for the environment!). However, you should draw the line at using a secondhand car seat. A reused car seat has lived a whole life before making its way to your car, so you have no way of knowing it’s still safe to use. Car seats are complex, and it could have been in an accident or lost some internal pieces along the way. Believe it or not, all car seats have an expiration date, after which they’re considered unsafe to use. Buying a new seat for your little one gives you the peace of mind they’re in a seat that can protect them from bumps in the road.
2. Make Sure the Size is Right
As your children grow, so should their car seats. Make sure the seat you choose is appropriate for their age, height, and weight, according to the manufacturer. Infant car seats are exactly what the name implies – car seats designed specifically for infants. Convertible car seats, on the other hand, can fit little ones from infancy well into childhood. Don’t forget to look up the car seat laws for your state – some states have stricter laws around the type of car seat you can use.
3. Prioritize Your Features
Different seats come with different features, so knowing what you want helps narrow down your initial search. If you’re worried about spills and stains, look for a seat with easily removable fabric to make cleaning a breeze. If you live an eco-friendly lifestyle, look for fabrics without fire-retardants, like our PureCosi collection. If your toddler loves snacking on the go, many seats have two cupholders. There’s a car a seat out there that has everything you’re looking for, you just have to research.
4. Think About How Long You'll Use It For
The length of time you’re envisioning this car seat working for your little one will change which seats you consider. Some parents want an infant seat they can attach to a stroller and a separate forward-facing seat when their tot can walk on their own. Others want one car seat that lasts as long as possible. If you’d rather avoid unbuckling baby from their seat every time you get out of the car, try a travel system with an infant car seat. If you prefer a one-time purchase, explore convertible car seats that grow with your child. Convertible seats can be rear-facing as well as forward-facing, and in some cases, can stay rear-facing longer. All-in-one seats, like the Pria All-in-One, will cover you from birth well into childhood. The choice is all yours.
5. Keep Your Lifestyle in Mind
Does your car seat need to move in and out of the car easily or are you planning on installing it once and leaving it? Traditional infant car seats lock into a base that stays installed in the vehicle seat, while the car seat itself comes out. They also come with a carry handle to make moving in and out of the car hassle-free. If you're always on the run, check out the Coral XP Infant Car Seat. It has four modes of carry, including a crossbody strap (!), giving you an extra hand when you’re out and about. If you’re planning on leaving the seat in the car and toting baby other ways, then a convertible car seat is the way to go.