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How to Choose a Car Seat

By: StaffPublished September 28, 2021

If it’s time to buy a car seat for your infant or toddler, you may be stressing out over all of the options you can choose from. What size? What are the height and weight limits? Which is highly rated? After all, you’re dealing with your child’s safety and want only the best. Relax. There are a few simple steps you can take when choosing a child car seat that can turn an overwhelming process into a workable one.

First, you have to decide what kind of car seat would work best for your child at his or her stage of development. You’ll be choosing among three basic types:

  1. Infant-only car seats. Built for your baby, this first option generally carries a weight limit between 20 and 35 pounds. It should always be positioned in the back seat and face the rear of the car.
  2. Infant-toddler car seats. Older children between 40 and 70 pounds would use this second option. If your child is small, these car seats should still face the back, but there are also forward-facing models for older children.
  3. Booster seats. These car seats usually come with belt-positioners and are made for children who are at least three years old and weigh a minimum of 40 pounds.

Now that you’ve determined which car seat category your child falls under, it’s time to start researching brands, models, and safety features. Your search will already be narrowed significantly since you’re only dealing with one type of car seat, so now you have time to really dig in. Check for safety ratings online and be sure to read the reviews that online shoppers leave once you find a few seats you’re interested in. But don’t just rely on strangers; ask your family members, friends, and even your child’s caregiver if they have any suggestions. If you ask people you know, they might also be able to tell you which local stores carry child car seats.

Take your child with you to stores to try out different seats. Place them in different models to eliminate guesswork as you can. You’ll be able to see whether your child fits properly, whether there’s enough head support in the right spots and where any seat belt straps rest. Testing car seats with your child is a good idea even if you are planning to buy online. Ultimately, choosing a car seat for your child might take a lot of leg work, but by researching and getting organized ahead of time, you can take a lot of confusion out of the process and find the perfect fit much sooner.

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