I spent hours and hours researching the best car seat options for my first born Reagan (the beauty of a second born is that you already have all the essential gear!). The problem with just searching for the top ranked car seat on shopping sites is that the best car seat for you depends on a few variable factors. For me, I felt very strongly about having my child rear face for an extended amount of time (I plan on turning her forward facing just before she leaves for college) so this narrowed my search considerably. Trust me, you want factors to help you narrow down the hundreds of car seat options.
Here are 4 factors I think you should consider when shopping for a car seat:
Your car situation:
- If you have a small car this will rule out some of the more bulky options.
- Will you be sharing the car seat between two cars? Consider a car seat that is easy to install. Will you be traveling with it often or moving it in and out of public transportation options? Then it should be lightweight.
- Many retailers will let you practice installing the seat in your vehicle PRIOR to purchasing. (Do this! It will save you time and angst in the long run.)
How many children are you going to have? If someone asked me this at the end of my first pregnancy I would have laughed. Yes, this is planning WAY into the future, but car seats are expensive and it could be an unnecessary expense if you bought one that won’t work if/when your family expands.
- If you have plans to have another in the future you can pass down the infant car seat.
- One and done? Consider a seat that converts from infant seat to toddler seat (also called convertible seat).
Rear vs. Forward Facing:
- Watch a crash test with a child sitting rear facing and forward facing (you too will never want to turn your child around).
- Where does your child sit on the growth chart? I failed to properly plan for my child’s height (she has consistently been above average in height) and had to purchase another convertible seat to extended her ability to be rear facing.
- Keep a look out for lightening Deals on Amazon.com (you can sign up to be notified of baby deals), or search for coupons from your local baby stores. I was able to save 20% at BuyBuyBaby.com on my last car seat purchase by waiting for a coupon. You can also sign up for emails from your retailer of choice and wait until there is a deal.
Here are some of my favorite resources to help you narrow down the plethora of car seat choices:
The Car Seat Lady: Best Seats for Extended Rear-facing
Lucie’s List: Infant Car Seats
As you are making your decision, keep in mind USAA customer service can provide information on car seat recalls. You can also use this site to find a local resource to ensure your car seat installation is installed properly.
How did you decide which car seat was right for your family? Please share your tips in the comments (or a picture of your little one in their favorite seat!)
About the Blogger: Briana Hartzell is a Navy spouse, mother to two beautiful girls (3 years and11 months), a former full time USAA employee and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys that military life and parenthood can bring.
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