How to Find the Safest Car Seat for Your Toddler or Pre-Schooler
So, my baby is no longer of newborn size and she has now reached the 32 pound/40 inch height mark. This means as a diligent parent I must graduate her to a more appropriate forward facing car seat. The key thing to remember when trying to find a car seat is that it meets NHTSA standards and is tested by the safety/crash test gods. Here are some tips to help you hunt for the perfect car seat. Hopefully, I can make your journey easier with these tips.
*First note, in 2007, among children under 5, an estimated 358 lives were saved from the use of child safety seats and booster seats. This is why it's so important to find the safest car seat for your child. Itsabelly's recommendation is to use a car seat with a five point harness for as long as you can_. When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds). It is important to note that all car seats rated by NHTSA meet Federal Safety Standards and strict crash performance standards.
For my 3 year old daughter, I knew I wanted a combo booster seat that would grow with her for a few years. So, I narrowed the car seats down to the top few that ranked high on safety/crash tests, on parent's reviews and that I could find the most research on as listed below. These car seats are forward facing seats with at least a 20+ lb minimum weight limit and have a 5 pt. harness which will work up to 80 lbs. Ratings for these seats can be found on NHTSA:
These seats are also recommended by the Kyle David Miller Org, a valuable non-profit website which educates parents on the importance of car seat safety:
- Britax Frontier
- Graco Nautilus
- Sunshine Kids Radian80 & XLT
- Recaro Signo/Como
While all rated seats on NHTSA are safe, they do differ in their ease-of-use in four basic categories evaluated below. These categories are NHTSA's Ease-of-Use 5 Star Ratings. I found their evaluation criteria very helpful as I narrowed down my final choice in car seats.
- Evaluation of Instructions
- Vehicle Installation Features
- Evaluation of Labels
- Securing the Child
You should also determine if the car seat fits appropriately in your vehicle. To do this you must "try before you buy" so that you're not stuck with a car seat that doesn't fit your needs. Go to a BabiesRUs store and test the car seat out physically with your child and in your car before purchasing. Additionally, after purchase be certain you've installed your car seat correctly by having it checked at an inspection station or by a certified child passenger safety technician. You can find a certified child passenger safety technician in your area by using this website: http://www.safekids.org/certification/. Bottom line is to make sure can sleep soundly at night knowing you've chosen the safest car seat for your child that fits your needs. If you've done your research and due diligence then you get the good parent award!
*Other On-line Resources:*
*Note: This information is taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission