Photo by Kona Gallagher
When shopping for baby supplies, almost every purchase parents make is an easy and exciting one. That is, until their next item on the list is the car seat. Of course safety is a number one consideration, but with the number of products, hybrids and variations out there, it can be quite confusing. So let’s trim it down to the basics – six essential questions to ask yourself before going for the best seat in the house.
1. Is portability a priority to me?
If you want to be able to carry your baby from car to house, your sister or parent’s home, or a supermarket trolley, an infant seat (or carrier) is a preferable choice. These things are normally lightweight and are suited for newborns and those less than a year old. You have to understand though that your infant won’t be an infant for long. So the drawback is once he or she gets heavier (around 13 kg, which is about 12 months old), you won’t be able to maneuver it easily. And once the baby is heavier than the seat’s weight limit, or the top of your baby’s head is within an inch of the seat, it’s time for another purchase.
That’s why other parents choose a convertible car seat instead, as it saves money (normally lasts through toddler-hood) and provides more safety features. However, it cannot be taken in and out of the car that easy, and its fit may be a bit less secure for the newborn (rolled-up blankets and padded head bumpers are often used to keep the baby from wobbling).
Some parents still opt to make two separate purchases as the ability to move a sleeping baby in the infant car seat is just priceless – even if it’s only for a year.
2. Can i settle for a second hand car seat?
As a strict rule, no! While it may be tempting to do so, especially in bargain stores where car seats sell for less and still look their best, you have no guarantee that it hasn’t been in an accident and may have incurred invisible damages. And even if you know the seat’s history, when you factor in the wear and tear of the seat, the belts may not be as tight as they should be. These may appear to be minor changes at first, but can prove to be costly when life is at stake.
Best move? Save up for it! Car seats, regardless of their type, normally range at the lower end between $80 to $200. Premium seats priced above $200 offer additional features and safety measures.
3. Does my vehicle have a passenger airbag?
While passenger airbags can save lives for adults, they can be lethal to babies. If you can disable the airbags, be sure to double-check every time before you leave just to be sure (check with your car manufacturer if you prefer this option). Otherwise, it’s better to have your infant go in the back seat.