LSDF Guide To Choosing The Best Car Seats And Booster Seats

Here at Life Sciences Discovery Fund, we believe that it is crucial that your baby travels with you in a proper car safety seat. They are specifically designed to protect your child safer in your vehicle during the drive. They provide protection to infants and young children in case of a crash.

According to studies, the main cause of death for kids between the age of one and thirteen is car crashes. For this reason, it is vital to select and use the proper safety seat correctly each time your precious baby is in the car with you.

Happy family in car with baby

Why It’s Essential To Choose The Proper Seat

Child safety seats are necessary for the safety and protection of your children. They can save the life of your baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, the chances of babies dying in vehicular accidents who are strapped in a child safety seat goes down by more than 70%.

However, with so many brands, models, and types available out there, purchasing one may seem like a daunting task. You don't need to get intimidated though. You are not required to buy the most expensive seat or those with a lot of features. You simply have to consider your child's weight, height, and age, and ensure that the seat meets the federal safety standards.

Car Seat Review: Safety Seat Types By Age-Group

Here's a quick guide from to help with your search for the best car seat for your baby:

Infants/newborns and toddlers

Infant car seat

Seat type: Rear-facing infant car seat and convertible car seat in rear-face position

General guidelines: All infants or newborns and toddlers are required by law to be in a rear-facing position safety seat until they have reached the maximum height and weight restrictions set forth by its manufacturer. The majority of convertible car seats have restrictions which let kids ride for up to 2 years old or more.

Toddlers and preschoolers

Seat type: Forward-facing convertible seat and forward-face seat with a harness

General guidelines: Once your child has outgrown the weight and height restrictions of his convertible car seat, you can now transition him in a forward-facing type with a harness. He should remain using it for as long as he can or up until he has reached its weight and height limitations. Most of these child seats can accommodate kids for up to 65 lbs and up.

School-aged kids

Seat type: Belt-positioning booster seat

General guidelines: When your child exceeds the limitations of a forward-facing, he should transition to a booster seat until he is old enough to properly fit into your vehicle's own lap and should belt. This is usually when he is around 4 ft and 9in tall 12 years old. Keep in mind that the law requires children under 13 to ride in the back seat of your car.

How To Evaluate The Quality

How To Evaluate The Quality Car Seat

Once you know which car seat type your child needs, you have to know which features will be more beneficial for him. A lot of brands jam-packed their seats with features, but here are the most essential ones that you should lookout for:

  • Safety label. Check that the safety seat has a label stating that it has met or exceeded the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
  • Ratings. Visit the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA and check the seat's rating at their ease-of-use rating system. If the car seat of your choice has earned a four or five-star rating, it means that it will be easy to use and comes with clear instructions.
  • Five-point harness. This type of harness will provide your child with the best possible protection compared to a seatbelt or a three-point harness.
  • New vs used. It is highly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics to purchase a new seat instead of secondhand. If you have budget restraints, only buy used from a person you know personally and make sure that the car seat has not been a part of a recall or accident.

Proper Installation

It is crucial that the safety seat of your baby is installed and secured correctly in your car. Properly installing a seat is not as easy as it seems. Even if it looks secure and stable, there are times that it is not. According to NHTSA, the most common mistakes parents make are the following:

  • Threading the seat belt into the wrong slots.
  • Not utilizing the locking clip even when it's needed.
  • Not buckling in children.
  • Installing the car seat loosely.

To avoid risking the life of your baby, here's a guide to installing an infant car seat or convertible seat:

  • Before installing the seat, the first thing you need to do is to read both your vehicle's owner's manual and the car seat's manufacturer's installation manual.
  • Car seats should only be installed at the back seat of your vehicle.
  • Carefully follow car seat's instructions as you thread the seat belt through the belt path of the safety seat and tighten it.
  • Buckle and lock the seatbelt.
  • Firmly press down on the seat to tighten it. Check that it's not moving more than an inch from forward or backward and side to side once you've installed it.
  • Make sure the seat in the right angle by checking the manufacturer's manual.