Infant Car Seats

What To Look For When Buying Infant Car Seats

mother putting baby in car seatBuying car seats for your infant children can be a bit of an ordeal. Ensuring the safety of your offspring is the common goal; it’s the goal of most of human civilization, really. However, the market for infant car seats isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to deal with. As a matter of fact, it’s kind of awful; new parents are a captive audience, and the manufacturers know it. You’ve got a huge number of different products from different manufacturers out there, and most of them aren’t very good. A bad car seat isn’t just insufficient protection – it can actually increase the risk your child will face in the event of an accident. So, then, it’s critical that you know what to look for – and that’s the purpose of this article.

For an infant, your goal in a child safety seat should be a Group 0 seat of some sort. Group 0 refers to seats designed for ages from birth to one year, approximately; that’s an important distinction to make. A seat that’s too large won’t effectively secure your child – it won’t be any better than just having them sit in the back seat of the car. As a matter of fact, since introducing an extra seat is introducing an extra point of failure… it may well be worse. No matter how compelling the other arguments for a seat are, if it’s the wrong size… it’s the wrong size. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole; not when it’s your child’s life that’s on the line. It’s also important to understand the environment that the seat is going into – ie. your car. Where are the hooks? Are there side door airbags? This is all relevant information; you need to be able to form a good idea of how you’ll install the car seat before you make your purchase.

Once that’s out of the way, let’s break down what you’re looking for. Standard standing child safety seats lock in a rear-facing position – in a four-door sedan, they’ll be approximately opposite to the front seats in location and orientation. These are what you think of when you think of a car seat, generally. Well – unless you’re of sufficient age to be familiar with the use of front-facing infant seats. Never, ever use a front-facing seat for young children. The majority of accidents are frontal in nature – and the car’s occupants continue moving forward even when the car itself comes to a sudden stop. If you’re facing forward, this means that you’ll move into open air. The safety belt will of course serve its role well enough, stopping you from flying into the windshield – but the sudden halt is a massive problem in its own right. This motion can cause serious neck and spinal injury even in adults; in the soft, malleable skeletons of young children it’s often fatal.

Rear-facing seats help to prevent this from happening by providing a cushion that absorbs and distributes force – instead of the whiplash motion of a front-facing seat, the rear-facing seat will allow a far more even distribution of the forces being placed on the body. That can save lives – indeed, EMTs often call rear-facing car seats “orphan seats,” because in serious collisions the child is often the only survivor. That may be morbid, but it speaks to the effectiveness of this variety of car seat. And, at the end of the day… As a parent, you’re sure to agree with the statement that it’s better for your child to survive as an orphan than for your entire family to perish. In many parts of the United States, there’s even a legal mandate to use rear-facing car seats for the reasons outlined here. Regardless of whether or not you can use front-facing seats, though – you’re better off with rear-facing ones. Indeed, you’re best served by keeping your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as it’s an option; even once a child is older and, consequently, no longer at the same risk in a front-facing seat, a rear-facing one is still a generally safer option.

But all of this doesn’t amount to all that much of the market eliminated. You know what product you want, but there are still an incredible number of manufacturers trying to sell that same product to you; it can be quite hard to cope with. So, let’s bring up the first thing you need to have in order to justify the purchase of a car seat: a solid return policy.

infant car seat pictureThat might not immediately strike you as all that important. However – a quality car seat can run you quite the pretty penny. As mentioned, new parents are a captive audience; it’s an unfortunate truth that you’re going to be gouged if you want the performance that you need. So, it’s vital that you can get a full refund if something goes wrong with the seat you purchase. This is the life of your child, remember; a small flaw can have grave consequences. So, you want to be able to get the money you put into the seat back if needed, and put that into a new one. If you can’t do that, the purchase is too risky.

The other important thing is to check the existing consumer reviews for the seat of your choice. If there’s any common thread of complaint between reviews – anything at all – this should make you very, very cautious. Take your time and do your research before the purchase; this is one product that should not be an impulse buy. And keep your priorities in order – a seat that’s hard for you to work with is an annoyance, but one that’s not securely anchored puts your baby at risk.

Finding the right choice among the vast selection of infant car seats is hard; there’s no denying that. Hard or not, though, it is absolutely necessary. So, take your time, do your research, and don’t order until you’ve found a seat that suits all of your needs. You’ll only use this seat for a year, but it’s going to safeguard a lifetime.

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