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Infant Car Seat Buying Guide



How to Choose a Carrier Car Restraint for a Baby

The journey to select an infant car seat carrier for a newborn will likely lead parents to that long aisle of car seats at the local Babies R Us. With numerous options, it can be difficult for parents to know exactly which seat is the right choice for their growing family. However, with a little bit of guidance, parents can purchase a child car seat restraint with confidence.

There Is No “Best” Child Restraint

The most important tidbit parents need to understand is that the best car safety seat is one that is installed correctly according to the manufacturer’s unique instructions and used properly every single time. All car seats currently being marketed in the United States have been reviewed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA) and meet guidelines for crash test performance.

“Better” Infant Safety Seats

Because motor vehicle accidents remain the number one cause of death for children age 14 and under in the United States, many parents are selective about which seat they choose. Car seats can differ greatly in their ease of ease of use, added safety features, and the cost. Parents should carefully consider the following points when selecting an infant car seat.

Higher Height and Weight Limits

Higher height and weight limits are perhaps one of the most important added safety features for which parents should look. It is well-established that babies should stay rear-facing as long as possible to substantially reduce the risk of death and other injuries (American Academy of Pediatrics). Though parents in the United States can turn a child forward-facing as early as 20 pounds and one year of age (note child must meet both requirements), many parents are following the AAP’s urgency to stay rear-facing for as long as the car seat allows.

The unfortunate thing is that some children outgrow the seat in height before they even reach the 20-pound weight limit. Some infant carrier car seats are now being marketed that accommodate babies up to 30 pounds and 32 inches.

5-Point Harness, Chest Clips, and Straps

Parents should look for a car seat that has a 5-point harness, two-piece chest clips, and wide twist-free straps. The 5-point harness is the safest type of harness available. Two-piece chest clips are less likely to twist, easier to use, and children are less likely to unbuckle themselves. Wide straps are less likely to become twisted. A twisted strap performs less efficiently and is more likely to cause skin burns in a crash. (Car-Safety)

Head Impact Protection and EPS Foam

Some seats have added head impact protection. The addition of EPS Foam recessed into the plastic at the head can offer added protection during side impacts, rear impacts, and rebounds in frontal crashes. Some newer models also have side impact protection measures. This may include wide, padded wings that cradle the head area.

Weight of the Carrier and Width of the Base

For parents who intend on using the carrier to transport their infant while not in the car, the weight of the carrier is something to consider. Some carriers weigh upwards of 10 pounds. Add an infant in the seat, and the carrier can be heavy to lug around. The width of the base may be important for families who have smaller vehicles or families with more than one installed car seats. Models generally range from 16.5 to 19 inches wide. (Fields, 2008)

Ease of Use

Parents need to be certain that they purchase a seat that can be installed properly and used correctly every single time. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has developed a five-star rating system that evaluates instructions, labels, installation features, and ease of securing the child. For access to this “Ease-of-Use” brochure, call 1-888-327-4236 or visit their website.

Added safety features and ease of use are important aspects to consider when purchasing a car seat. With the knowledge of points to look for an infant car seat carriers, parents can make an informed choice of which car seat is best for their child, their vehicle, and their budget.


Best Combination Car Seats



Recommendations for Harnessing and Belt-Positioning Booster Seats

Combination car seats are seats that harness children up to 40 lbs. Once children reach the weight limit, the harness must no longer be used. At this point, the seat converts to a belt-positioning booster seat. Here is a summary of some of the top recommended combination of child passenger restraints.

Important Points to Consider

Car seat safety experts encourage parents to consider harnessing their child beyond 40 pounds if the child is too immature to sit properly in the belt positioning booster or for families who want the added safety of harnessing seats. There are youth and specialty child passenger restraints that can suit children up to 80 pounds.

Some combination seats advertise a lower weight limit of 18 lbs. However, in the United States children must be a minimum of 20 lbs. before they can be turned forward-facing. Further, it is a clear and undeniable fact that children are far safer sitting rear-facing for as long as possible (American Academy of Pediatrics, National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, Some convertible seats accommodate children up to 35 lbs.

Recaro Young Sport

The Recaro Young Sport has a 40 lb. harnessed weight limit and 17 inch top slots. The belt positioning booster can be used to 80 lbs. It has added safety features of EPS foam, side impact protection, and a tether that can be used with the belt-positioning booster. Knob adjustment for harness and headrest, shoulder belt guide, and a carrying handle enhance the seat’s ease of use. Children may find this well-padded, plush seat comfortable. The Recaro Young Sport converts to a very good highback booster that will suit families for an extended period.

The drawback to this combination seat is the cost. It retails for around $250.

Evenflo Generations

Evenflo manufactured the Generations seat to suit 40 lbs. harnessed and as a belt positioning booster to 100 lbs. The top harnessing slots are 16.5 inches. Ease of use features includes an adjustable headrest, 2 crotch strap positions, shoulder belt guide, knob harness adjuster, and harness strap covers. Additional comfort aspects include a pivoting armrest and a cup holder. The Evenflo Generations comes in at the mid-price range, retailing for around $100. It converts to a good quality belt positioning booster.

Parents of taller children may need to consider that the Generations seat has slightly shorter top harnessing limits.

Graco Cargo

The Graco Cargo is similar to the Recaro Young Sport in that is has a 40 lb harnessed weight limit, 17 inch top harness slots, and EPS foam. However, it can be used as a belt position to 100 lbs. Added features are a cup holder and mesh toy pocket. Depending on the model, it sells for between $80-$100.

The big downfall to all models of the Graco Cargo is that it does not make a good long-term belt positioning booster. Parents should skip the lowest model, the Treasured Cargo, with its rear harness adjustment. Seats with rear harness adjustment are difficult to get a secure fit each time.

Other Noteworthy Combination Car Seats

In addition to these seats, several other models have been acknowledged for their ease of use and safety features. Parents should scrutinize these seats to see if the restraints fit their family’s needs and address safety concerns. Evenflo Chase ($60-$70); Evenflo Generations ($100); Cosco Apex/Safety 1st Biltmore ($100-$130); and Graco Nautilus ($150) may be worth considering.

The above seats were chosen based upon added safety features, ease of use, and ease of installation. The price range was considered in order to offer suggestions that suit various budgets. Specifications refer to models currently being manufactured, older models may have different requirements.

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