To stick right to the subject, if you have a baby, or a toddler, and you want to travel with them safely on your car, then you will surely need a toddler car seat. Being a parent is a highly responsible task and when it comes to little children every, at first sight, minute thing should be taken into consideration.
Convertible car seats are an important part of the guaranteed safety of your child and we greatly recommend you not to wait till your baby is born and buy a car seat right away. It should be there when you take the child home from hospital on your car.
However, with the wide variety of toddler car seats available on the market that come with a number of different features and prices, it becomes hard to choose a toddler car seat that will fit both your child and your car perfectly. There are many things that should be taken into consideration, starting from the weight and height of your child to the model of the car and its design.
A great way to choose the perfect car seat for your baby is to check car seat review websites online.
In the article below we will give you deep insights of the ways according to which you should choose a convertible seat by as well as of the main important features and options your car seat should possess.
And if you are still wondering whether a convertible car seat is of that much an importance and think that it might not really be worth the purchase then here is some statistics with officially estimated numbers that will prove you the opposite:
- As of 2005, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that as a result of vehicle crashes there have been about 2000 deaths and over 230.000 injuries of children under 14.
- When chosen wisely and installed properly, toddler car seats will decrease the risk of death by 71%.
The problem is that nearly 73% of toddler car seats are installed incorrectly thus becoming the cause of injuries and deaths during crashes. But once learning the right ways of installation, you can be sure of your child’s safety. Keep reading to find out the steps of right installation.
So let’s dive in into a more detailed description of toddler car seats and discuss their must-have features, structure and other requirements.
Tip 1: Types of Toddler Car Seats
There are different models of toddler car seats that are meant to fit different age as well as different weight groups. Here is a short table introducing you to the main types of car seats and their features:
|Infant Car Seats||The right models for newborn babies are infant car seats. They are installed rear-facing and come with removable carriers that are to be installed in the car with their special base. You can use an infant car seat for children weighing from 4 to 40 lbs and 29-32 inches tall.
Note: Babies normally get too tall before they become too heavy for these car seats. If the crown of your baby’s head is less than one inch from the top of the carrier shell, then it’s high time to buy a new car seat as your child has outgrown the old one.
|Convertible Car Seats||This car seat is what you will need next, when your child will not fit in the infant car seat. This usually is to be bought when your child is already 1-year old. Convertible car seats can be installed both ways – rear- or forward-facing. They have a higher rear facing weight limit.
The studies have proved that children of ages 1-2 should be in a rear-facing position as long as possible because it will reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in car crashes 5.3 times, which won’t be the case with forward facing position.
Convertible car seats can carry children from 40-80 pounds and up to 50 inches tall. Rear-facing is possible for toddlers up to 40-50 lbs.
|Booster Seats||The time for you to buy a booster seat comes when your child has outgrown the weight and height limits of forward-facing seats’ harness. Booster seats use the car’s seat belt raising the child up so that the belt fit perfectly. There are high-back and backless models of boosters and in spite of the latter being more portable, the former is more recommended due to its safety and side impact protection features.
Note: A good age and weight for using a booster seat are 9 and a minimum of 80 lbs respectively.
Tip 2: Car Seat Safety Features
To start with, it is to be mentioned that there are two different regulations in car seats:
- i-Size/ UN R129: This is a new standard for toddler car seats that takes into consideration the height of children for car seat classification. The height is a better determiner of the right car seat than the age or weight.
- ECE R44/ 04: These are based on the weight of the child and have certain subgroups:
- Baby Group 0+ – from birth to 13 kg/ up to 12 months
- Toddler Group 1 – 9-18kg/ 9 months to 3.5 years
- Child Group 2/3 – 15-36kg/ 3.5 years to 12
Height and weight are far more important factors to consider when choosing a car seat than age because children of same can be of different heights and weights.
Note: The proper category, i.e. either i-Size or ECE R44/04 is shown on the ECE approval that can be found at the bottom of the car seat.
Here are a few things to consider for buying the best car seats:
- Crash Test Qualified
- Extended-Rear Facing: The age does not matter – keep your child rear facing as long as his weight and height will allow.
- Extended Front Facing: The same case with front-facing – don’t change to booster until the child has outgrown this one too.
- Don’t forget to check the expiration date: The best variant would be those with 8, 10-12 year of lifespan.
- Never buy used car seats.
- Price: Pay as much as needed for a high-quality car seat. However, expensive car seats don’t necessarily mean provision of quality.
Tip 3: Installing Your Car Seat
Here are a few steps we recommend you to take during the toddler car seat installation process:
Step 1: First of all, you are required to carefully read the manual of your vehicle so as to know where exactly you are going to install the car seat. Car seats are installed in two ways:
- Using the seat belt of the car
- Using the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). For this there should be certain attachments in your car.
Step 2: Choose the right car seat model for your kid.
Step 3: Make sure the space in your back seat matches the size of the car seat.
Step 4: Thoroughly examine the installation instructions of your car seat, use all the minute details of the instruction.
Step 5: Keep in mind to check the belt path. It should be easily accessed and securely fastened. There should be no more than an inch of side-to-side motion at the belt path when pushing the seat from the point where the belt enters the belt path.
Step 6: A car seat with two-piece retainer clips will interfere with your child unfastening the seat themselves.
Step 7: Make sure the harnesses are flexible and easy adjustable.
Step 8: Choose a car seat that comes with a smooth fabric. This will make the cleaning much easier.
Step 9: And last but not least, when done with the installation, check out the car seat safety by following our easy tips listed below:
- If your car seat is rear-facing, the harness straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders. In forward-facing car seats the straps are to be at or above the kid’s shoulders, as for the chest clip, it should always be at armpit level.
- A safely and tightly installed car seat implies that you won’t be able to pinch any fabric on the straps at the baby’s shoulders.
- Finally, check the recline angle for rear-facing seats to make sure the child’s head won’t fall forward. For forward-facing seats tighten the top tether to avoid the falling forward of the head.
However, we highly recommend you to find a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician to make sure you have done the car seat installation properly or let him do it for you for 100 % safety of your child.
To sum up, we can simply add that buying a toddler car seat that meets all the requirements mentioned above and is the best fit for your child will ensure you the highest possible safety of your baby thus helping him/her avoid any serious injuries in case of car crashes.
Choosing a car seat according to our instructions as well as according to your child’s requirements will make traveling with children as easy as ever. Make your trip with babies, toddlers and children safe and enjoyable by buying a high-quality, efficient and highly secured car seat.
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