Buying the perfect car seat for your baby can be a real chore – it feels like running through a field of upturned Lego bricks. One thing that makes this task even heavier is the new governmental regulation that recently came into law, requiring you to keep the child in such a seat until he or she is 12 years old or reaches the height of 135cm – failing to do so results in a huge fine.
Of course, the law is the not the most important thing here – you want to keep your child as safe as possible, and you want to buy the best car seat that there is. Buying the most expensive model might be tempting, but we can assure you that there are plenty more options that are both affordable and completely safe – take a look at our reviews and find the right seat for your kid!
CATEGORIES TO CHOSE FROM
The infant car seats can be installed only in the rear-facing position, and are the best options for the babies that weigh between 4 to 40 pounds and are up to one year old. They usually have a convenient carrier that makes it easy to transport the baby when needed.
This type of an infant car seat accommodates kids weighing between 5 and 45 pounds in the rear-facing position and can be turned to the forward-facing position once the child turns 2 (the toddler years, weighing between 20 and 70 pounds). It is comfortable and completely safe.
This would be the last car seat before the kid outgrows the previously mentioned forward-facing model and starts using only the regular seat belt. It accommodates children weighing 30 to 120 pounds and allows you to place the vehicle’s seat belt across their bodies in a correct position.
TOP RATED CAR SEATS FROM EACH CATEGORY
Chicco KeyFit – Top Quality Infant Car Seat
• Easy to install
• Easy to wash
• Comfortable padding
• Longevity – can fit babes 4 to 30 pounds
• Takes two hands to move/unlock the handle
• On the heavy side
If you’re searching for a top quality car seat for your baby, it’s just impossible to miss the popular Chicco KeyFit. This is a well-designed, high-quality rear facing seat that’s owned by thousands of proud parents, and we think that it definitely deserves a more in-depth look. It has been designed for the infants that weigh between 4 and 30 pounds, and its base is very simple to install in many kinds of vehicles. This base has a special compartment where the installation instructions are stored, but you can also use it to store diapers or wipes.
Like all other models, the Chicco KeyFit has also been crash-tested and even offers some extra side-impact protection. With its sturdy design and lots of body and head support, it meets all safety requirements, and that’s always a huge plus in our book. One of the reasons behind this model’s high popularity is definitely the presence of the excellent cushion insert, which offers extra support and keeps the baby safe and secure. This comfortable insert can be easily removed once the kid comes close to outgrowing the seat.
Other good things about the Chicco KeyFit are that’s its airplane compliant (great if you’re doing a lot of traveling), easy to clean (use the washing machine for this), and it’s very easy to move around – the KeyFit carrier fits with the most Chicco strollers, like Cortina. The included canopy will protect your child from sunlight and rain, while the adjustable head support helps you ensure that your child has proper head support while growing. All of these features combined make the Chicco KeyFit an excellent choice if you’re looking for a quality baby car seat that has been tested and comes with some handy characteristics – it’s no wonder that it’s so popular!
Graco Extend2Fit – Safest Convertible Car Seat
• Very comfortable
• Harness adjusts easily
• Reasonable price
• Compact but sturdy
• It’s difficult to remove and reattach the cover
• The cup holders have to be attached
The thousands of worries that the parent goes through every single day can be truly overwhelming, but with this seat, at least you won’t have to worry about your child’s safety during the car trips. The Graco Extend2Fit is one of the safest models on the market right now, and certainly the best convertible baby car seat that the money can buy – you can use it in both the forward-facing and rear-facing position, which can come in very handy on certain occasions. It works all the way from infancy to the toddler age, and just might be the thing that you’ve been looking for!
One of the greatest things about the Graco Extend2Fit is its steel-reinforced frame, which makes the seat very sturdy and comfortable. There’s a lot of padding here, like the body and head inserts and the shoulder pads, allowing you to use the seat for all the different shapes and sizes. The parents are praising the overall comfort of this seat, and we can only join them in their praises. Another good thing about Graco Extend2Fit is the presence of the Safe Adjust Harness System, which is there to let you adjust the height of the headrest and the harness whenever needed.
This harness can easily be stored into the fuss-free harness storage space, and we can already assure you that you’ll appreciate this feature greatly – it will allow you to get your child out of the seat with one swift movement. There are also six reclining positions, the dual cup holders, as well as the 10-year expiration date (you’ll be able to use the Extend2Fit for more than one kid). This convertible baby car seat is truly a premium choice, and it’s definitely an option worth considering for purchase.
Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 – Best Car Seat for Toddlers
• DuoZone side-impact protection
• Very adjustable
• Double foam padding
• Easy to clean
• A little too lightweight
• The latch straps aren’t replaceable
Chicco is well-known for their baby car seats, and this time, they have decided to produce a booster seat that will be safe, comfortable, and affordable at the same time. Weighing some 10 pounds and being 32 inches high, the seat is pretty compact and will fit well inside most vehicles. It comes with loads of useful features, so let’s take a closer look at some of them:
One of the first things to notice about the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 is its so-called DuoZone side-impact protection, which is there to protect the kid’s head and the shoulders. The 10 different positions will let you easily do the adjustments as your child is growing, and it’s very easy to operate with it – you just have to move the handle in the back. There’s also the SuperCinch latch tightener – this feature will let you attach the latch connectors to your vehicle’s seat and then secure it with the included tightener. If you do this properly, the seat won’t move at all. The seat is, fortunately, contoured and comes with double foam padding, making every ride as smooth and comfortable as possible.
We should also mention that the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 has the 2-position backrest adjustment feature and two cup holders that can be folded when they’re not in use. And when it comes to cleaning, we have only words of praise – the seat pad and the armrest covers are removable and can be easily washed in the washing machine. All of these features make the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 one of the best booster baby car seats currently available on the market, and we’re predicting that it will become immensely popular in the coming months. It’s an excellent choice if you’re a parent of a toddler and travel often.
CHOOSING THE BEST CAR SEAT – BUYER’S GUIDE
Purchasing a baby car seat is one of the most important safety moves that you can make as a parent, and that’s exactly why actually choosing one often feels incredibly overwhelming. There are dozens of different models out there on the market, and picking just one can be a real chore, especially if you don’t know a lot about these things. The things that matter the most here are: the seat needs to be comfortable for your kid, needs to be easy to use in a correct way every time you’re using it, and needs to fit tightly inside your vehicle. Finding the perfect seat usually takes some trial and error, but we’re here to prevent that – read our buying guide and finding the model that suits you and your kid’s needs will be much easier!
REAR-FACING OR FORWARD-FACING SEAT?
The rear-facing seats are an excellent choice for the babies and toddlers since they can easily transition together with your kid as he or she is growing up. We advise you to install the rear-facing seat for as long as it is possible – installing a forward-facing seat is only safe once your child reaches 2 years of age, or reaches the minimum weight capacity of such a seat. If your kid is already meeting these requirements, you should definitely invest in an upright, forward-facing car seat.
When it comes to baby car seats, there are several different restraint types:
• The 5-point harness – this one consists of five straps, with one of them being at the crotch, two at the hips, and two at the shoulders. This type allows the parent to easily adjust the harness a bit closer to kid’s body, and is also quite easy to buckle and unbuckle. The 5-point harness would be the best choice if you have a small baby, as it provides the best kind of protection against various head injuries.
• The 3-point harness with a T-shield – as the name suggests, this type is using a T-shaped center part that’s supposed to draw the straps over the kid’s shoulders. The “T” will then buckle into the seat at the crotch area, which is easily done and very simple to use. This type of restraint isn’t appropriate for infants whose heads aren’t clearing the T-shield. It shouldn’t be more than chest-high when it is fastened.
• The 3-point harness with an overhead shield – This triangular or T-shaped shield is supposed to swing down over the baby’s head, thus drawing the straps over its shoulders. The third strap will buckle the shield at the crotch area, with some models being adjustable and allowing you to tighten them (for smaller children) or loosen them (if the clothing is bulky). This type fits properly once the shield is at the kid’s chest level.
THE TETHER ATTACHMENT
This is a must. The tether would be the strap that connects the car seat’s top to your vehicle’s anchor (all cars, light trucks, and minivans are required to install these anchors ever since 2000). If you already own an older baby car seat, it’s quite possible that you can still purchase a tether kit from its manufacturer, but buying a new model that already has this attachment is always the wiser decision. Your kid’s safety certainly shouldn’t be compromised by a seat that’s outdated or even damaged.
One thing is sure – your beloved child will have a much comfier experience if he or she is surrounded by the plush, soft pads around the head and the back. If there’s still too much space between the kid’s body and the chair, you should tuck some rolled-up blankets around the kid, for added support (be careful not to add blankets under or behind the child – just around).
A MACHINE-WASHABLE COVER
As we all know, the toddlers are messy – there’s simply no way around it. In order to save yourself from all the hassle and frustration, choose a baby car seat that has a cover that’s removable and can be washed in a washing machine. In that way, the little stains and spills won’t be a big deal anymore – you’ll be able to make short work of them.
SAFETY CAR SEATS – FEATURES TO LOOK FOR
One of the most frequently asked questions by worried parents is, “Which baby car seat is the safest?” In our opinion, the safest restraint system for your child is the one that fits your kid, your car, and your budget. We also think that the safest baby car seat is the one that you’ll use correctly every single time, without fail. There are plenty of features that can improve your child’s safety while he or she is in the car seat, and the models that come with these features are the excellent choices – in this article, we’ll try to illustrate some of these characteristics and help you get to know more about them.
The 5-point harness – Almost all experts agree that this type of the harness is the safest one – it gives the best fit and also reduces the chances of ejection. Some of the designs you’ll bump into will be easier to use than the others.
Size – Some models will be too big to fit inside the vehicles that have small seating areas, especially in the rear-facing position. This won’t be an issue for most of the baby car seats, and could even prove to be an advantage in the case of a car crash. Also, sometimes it’s necessary to select a model that’s narrower so that more passengers can sit in the car, side-by-side.
Front harness adjustments – Some baby car seats will have mechanisms on their frontal parts that allow the parents to adjust the harnesses’ tightness. In our opinion, a harness needs to be snug, preventing you to pinch the strap away from the shoulders. The harness that’s tight will increase the ride-down time and also reduce the forward movement of the kid’s head in a crash, decreasing the risk of an injury. Remember this – the easier it is to adjust the harness, the more likely it is that you’ll properly adjust it every single time. Some models will even allow you to adjust the harness height from the front.
Twist-free straps – Some types of harnesses will have straps that are easy to twist. You should know that a twisted strap greatly reduces the size of the section that will restrain the kid in a possible crash, and this can, unfortunately, result in severe injuries or burns
Included locking clips – Older vehicles often require the use of these metal locking clips in order to make sure that the seatbelt is holding the baby car seat in a proper way. The main problem here is that these clips are often used incorrectly and are easy to lose, which means that selecting a baby car seat that already has these clips is a much wiser decision.
The tether straps – The top tethers often vary in their mechanisms, and not every single one of them gives you the same amount of ease of use with connecting/disconnecting it from the anchor. You should look for the models that have push-button mechanisms, as they are the easiest to use.
Infant carriers with bases – Most of the infant carriers will come with bases which can be installed separately – the base will be left in the car, while the carrier is installed or removed from this base without the need to take the baby out of the restraint system. In most of the cases, the additional base can be bought separately for your other vehicle. Most of the carriers will allow you to install them without the base, but some models will require it – make sure to know which type you’re buying.
Head-impact protection – Most models have extra layers of special plastic or EPS foam that are similar to those used in protective gear and bicycle helmets. This material is usually recessed into the shell that’s around the head and definitely improves safety when it comes to rebounds, rear impacts, and side impacts in the case of a car crash. Some seats are even using the EPS grade foam as the primary construction material.
These features are certain to improve your kid’s safety in the event of a car crash – look for the models with some of the above-mentioned characteristics and remove the worries during the long drives!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT CAR SEATS
Q: Why should I use it?
A: The car accidents are responsible for the deaths of many children, and half of them happened because the kids were unrestrained in the vehicle – when you consider this, buying a good car seat will probably look like a very smart investment. Also, it’s the law.
Q: Is buying a previously used car seat safe?
A: Do this only if you have no other choice, and make sure that the seat has never been in a car accident before and that all of the parts are completely functional. It is always better to buy a new seat, as in that way you will know all the necessary information and know its condition, and you will even be able to return it if you get to have any problems with it.
Q: Will the car seat fit into my car?
A: The weight and the height limits differ from model to model, and in order to find the right one, you’ll have to take your kid’s weight, height, and the age into account. The installation procedures also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make sure to consult your model’s manual for the tips.
Q: Should I place it on the back seat or the front seat of my car?
A: The back seat. Also, there’s some evidence that the safest place is the center of the back seat.
Q: How should I position it?
A: Position the car seat into the rear-facing position, and use it like that until your child reaches at least two years of age or 40 pounds of weight. Also, remember that some models are specifically designed only for this position.
Q: When should I replace the car seat?
A: Replace it if it has been recalled, or if you’ve been using it for six years, or if it has been in a moderate car crash. You should also replace it if you notice that some of its parts aren’t functioning as well as they did when you first bought it.
Q: When can I introduce my kid to a standard seat belt?
A: Don’t do this before your child reaches the age of 12. He or she should be physically mature to use the seat belt – and that means having 12 years of age or being 4’9″ tall.
Q: The instructions are missing. What do I do?
A: The instructions are essential – without them, it can be very difficult to figure out how to install and use the seat in a correct way. You should check the manufacturer’s website and download the instructions if available, or contact the company and ask them to provide you with a copy.
Q: How can I keep my kid warm in the seat during cold weather?
A: Clothing worn by kids can usually make harness routing and compression problems, but that doesn’t mean that your kid has to freeze. Simply use a blanket once the harness has been buckled.
Q: What are the EPS and EPP foams?
A: The EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) foam is the material used in things such as picnic coolers and bicycle helmets, which is added to some car seat models to protect the kid’s head and the torso from the impact. The EPP (Expanded Polypropylene) foam, on the other hand, is very similar but a bit more elastic – nowadays, many companies are moving towards using it.
Q: Which car seats are the best for newborns?
A: Although many of the convertible seats have limits that are as low as 5lbs, a standard rear-facing infant model is probably a better choice – it provides a better fit and is more convenient.
A quality car seat is fundamental when it comes to the safety of your child during the car rides – without it, you’re risking serious injuries and even death. It’s also the law, and driving your kid around without a car seat can result in a huge penalty. That’s why it’s really important to find a model that will fit your child’s needs, your vehicle’s size, and your budget. Fortunately, these things aren’t as expensive as they once were, and you should also remember that investing a lot of money into a quality car seat is not throwing money away.
With so many different models on the market, it can be really hard to select just one car seat. But have no worries – that is why we’re here. Our reviews and articles are here to help you get to know more about the best baby car seats, telling you all about their features and functionalities. Our team consists of professionals who know a lot about these things, and we can assure you that the info that you’ll read on our website is straightforward, true, and unbiased. We hope that we’ve been helpful and that you’ll find a model that suits your kid the best!