Finding the Best Infant Car Seat

Before you bring your newborn home from the hospital, you’ll be required to confirm that you have a car seat and that it’s properly installed. It’s hospital policy. You need an infant car seat that’s been specifically designed for newborns to keep your baby safe. An infant car seat will be able to accommodate your baby usually until they’re about two years old. If your child grows more rapidly, you may need to change out your infant car seat earlier. Talk to your doctor and read the manufacturer’s instructions for the most accurate fit. Like many other baby products, there’s a nearly infinite array of options. This can make the buying process confusing and stressful. You want to ensure that your baby is as safe as possible, so browsing your options and making a mindful decision is important. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips on finding the best infant car seat, along with some of the most highly rated options on the market today.

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Things to Consider Before You Buy an Infant Car Seat

Before heading to the store, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself regarding infant car seats. You want to make sure that you’re researching options that will fit your car alongside your everyday life.

How Long Will You Use it?

The first thing you need to determine is how long you will use your seat for. The safest option for newborns is a rear-facing car seat, however this means that you will need to purchase other car seats as your child grows. If you’re on a budget, it might be better to look into long-term options. If you’re planning to use the same car seat as your child grows, a convertible seat is the better option.

What Size is Your Car?

Some cars are much smaller than others, making certain infant car seats difficult to safely install. Take the time to measure your car while the passenger seat is in a reasonable position. You don’t want to have the passenger seat too close to the dash. If you do, you can compromise the comfort and safety of the passenger. There are plenty of options of infant car seats that can fit all makes and models.

How Many do You Need?

If your family has more than one car and your schedules could make it difficult to share one infant car seat, it might be better to purchase two. However, if you’re able to coordinate, you can purchase a car seat to share. Just make sure that you choose something easy to install to make the switch easier. If you’re planning on growing your family later, save your car seat for your second baby.

Does Portability Matter?

If you’re going to share the car seat, consider portability. How easy it is to take the car seat out and go about your day will make a big difference on your daily routine. There are plenty great options for infant car seats that are easy to install. There are also options for the car seat to be carried or snapped into a compatible stroller. If you plan on being active with your newborn, this is a great way to make your daily transitions easier. As an added bonus, portable car seats won’t disrupt your baby.

Important Safety Standards to Understand

The next thing you need to consider in your search for finding the best infant car seat is safety. Keeping your baby safe is one of the most important aspects of purchasing and using an infant car seat. While all car seats sold from a manufacturer adhere to certain safety standards, you should still take everything into consideration.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends a few steps regarding how to find the right car seat, how to install it, and how to best keep your child safe. Read over them before you purchase an infant car seat to make sure you have a full understanding on how to use a car seat safely. They’ve also published federal safety standards that every new car seat needs to meet.

American Association of Pediatrics (AAP)

AAP updated their car safety seat recommendations for children in 2018. Make sure that you’re familiar with the new guidelines to ensure that you take every measure possible to protect your child.

Car Size

If you purchase an infant car seat that does not fit properly in your car, it won’t offer the optimal levels of safety. Poorly fitting seats, or ones that are too cramped, can be dangerous. Properly measure your car and double check the fit after installation.

Car Seat Inspections

There are hundreds of surprising places that offer a complete car seat safety inspection. We recommend doing this prior to your delivery date to ensure the safest options from delivery onward. Inspection stations are often found at car dealerships, police stations, fire houses, hospitals, and many other places. It’s a great way to give yourself confidence and peace of mind before bringing your baby home.

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Proper Buckling Technique

Each car seat will buckle slightly differently. Take the time to read all of the manufacturer’s instructions and fully understand the safest buckling technique. Sometimes, this can get confusing but improperly buckling your child can lead to serious consequences.

Seats Involved in Crashes

Read about the crash test results before you purchase an infant car seat. While every parent prays that this will never happen, driving can be unpredictable. If you happen to get in a car crash with your child in their car seat, purchase a new one. Even if it doesn’t look like it’s damaged, there could be structural problems and it isn’t worth the risk.

Some Helpful Tips

Once you understand what you’ll need and what to look for regarding safety, you can start the process of finding your infant car seat. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started.

  1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

    As soon as you get your new car seat, take out the instruction manual and read it thoroughly. All car seats are different and it’s important that you understand your make and model. They will have information regarding installation, buckling technique, and how to remove or convert it if applicable. Study the manual if you have to. According to a study conducted by the NHTSA, car seat, booster seat, and seat belt misuse rates vary from 75 to 90%.

  2. Choose a Convertible Seat

    Convertible seats are a great option for those who do not want to continue to upgrade their car seat. They’re perfectly safe and give you the option of changing orientation as your child grows. However, convertible car seats can’t be removed from your car as easily as an infant seat, so it might be unrealistic.

  3. Buy New for Safety

    As we mentioned, even if a car seat looks like it’s in perfect condition, it could be unsafe if it’s been involved in accident. It might also be older and not fit the current safety standards. Due to constant improvements in the market, it’s a good idea to buy a new infant car seat for the highest level of safety.

  4. Focus on Features

    What you need might be different than what another mom needs and that’s okay. Focus on the features that are the most important to you and your family. There are safe options that fit every budget and plenty of additional features that can increase convenience.

  5. Get Something Easy to Clean

While this seems like an irrelevant factor to consider, you’ll understand its importance soon enough. Children can be messy and having a car seat that’s easy to clean will help you stay sane.

The Best Infant Car Seats of 2020

Choosing the perfect infant car seat should be a fun part of your pregnancy checklist, not a stressful one. While there are plenty of options, choosing the best car seat can take time. Luckily, there are millions of new moms out there constantly purchasing and reviewing the latest products. To get you started on your search, here are a few of the best infant car seats of 2020.

  • Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat – this is the highest rated car seat of 2020 and boasts a 9.9 rating on popular review sites. It has great safety features, allows for personalization, and was designed for comfort.

  • Graco SnugRide 35 – Graco is a well-known name in the car seat industry for good reason. While some models have gotten negative feedback, this option has been rated highly across the board.

  • Maxi Cosi Mico Max Plus – this option is a little more expensive, but it exceeds standards in all other criteria. It comes equipped with a one-year warranty.

  • Chicco Fit2 – the Chicco Fit2 is designed with safety in mind and offers an adjustable base for a more personalized fit. While it’s a little heavier than other models, there are plenty of positive features.

While you’re shopping for a new car seat, don’t forget to order a breast pump, free of charge, through your insurance. Byram Healthcare has plenty of great options and is here to help you with the ordering process.