Car Seat Lowdown

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This is a sponsored post.

With the recent addition of Bean came the addition of a fourth car seat in our van.

A lot of time and research went into choosing the perfect vehicle for our family, so it’s no surprise we have put just as much time into insuring our littles are as safe as they can be when riding in said vehicle.

Let’s face it; car seats can be daunting and tricky. We hear so much from all sides about what is best, and what’s best isn’t always what the law is. And then we wonder if we can even afford “best” (some car seats are pricey!) or if the car seat will fit properly in our vehicle etc., etc.

So let’s break it down to some pretty basic tips to be sure you’re choosing the right seat for your child at every age.

1.) All car seats pass the same tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That’s right. A bigger price tag or extra appealing accessories like cup holders don’t make the car seat any more or less safe than another. Some third party testers may have reviews on different tests and safety ratings, but any seat you can purchase at a store for your kiddo is safe and has been tested rigorously.

2.) Not all car seats are created equally. What? I just said they all pass the same tests from the NHTSA. Yes, they’re all equally safe, but based on your own personal preferences and needs, not all seats may work for your specific kiddo or vehicle. Car seats with higher rear facing weight limits may be needed for children who are at the top of the percentiles, while only a few specific seats may fit in a particular seat in your vehicle (i.e., the middle “jump seat” in the second row of my Honda Odyssey can only have a few seats properly installed on it). Some car seats have cupholder, others do not, etc. It is important to make sure that your vehicle, child, and car seat are all compatible with one another.

3.) Proper installation is pivotal. At the end of the day it does not matter what car seat you have if it is not installed correctly. Read the manual. Cars.com talks about the latch system, which makes installing many car seats easily. Once the child and car seat have a combined weight of 40 pounds most cars disallow the use of the latch system (not to be confused with the tether, which should always be used with a forward facing harnessed seat). So it’s important to also get familiar with seat belt installations. Some seats, such as the Britax clicktights, make seat belt installations a breeze. Whether with the latch system or the vehicle’s seat belt, be sure the installation is correct.

4.) State laws regarding car seats and “best use” of car seats do not always line up. Although many states have all ready or are in the process of rewriting the law so that rear facing is to age 2 or 40 pounds, not all states are there yet. Most convertible car seats recommend keeping the child in rear facing position until they reach the height or weight limit of the seat: age 4 is considered the most optimal, even though many states allow for a 4 year old to ride in a booster seat. Many children need a harness to ride safely until at least age 6, and aren’t ready to be without their booster until they are 4’9″ (often around age 10).

So when it comes time to add a car seat to your vehicle, or make the switch to a new car seat, research is pivotal in being sure the seat you choose is the best one for your child and the vehicle it’s being installed into.

And remember, all car seats are equally safe if being used properly and installed correctly.

***The Learning Momma was compensated to write this post on TheLearningMomma.org.

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