Let’s Talk….Car Seats

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First and foremost, I AM NOT AN EXPERT. I am just a mom who did some online research and thought it would be helpful to put it all together. And give a real, not perfect in any way, working a full time job and have a 9 month old and 14 year old mother’s view. Please keep in mind that what I’m blogging are things I’ve learned and what works for my family. Also, keep in mind my research was done online and what that means.

Secondly, CONSULT YOUR pediatrician. They are most familiar with you and your baby. They went to school for many, many years to answer questions like this and to advise parents like you. If you trust your pediatrician to care for your child’s health, then you trust their judgment on this issue (the only exception, possibly, being car seat safety). {{I say this because I’ve read that a lot of doctors don’t advocate extended rear facing (extended rear facing is rear facing beyond the recommended 2 years). I have not discussed this with my pediatrician, so I have no first hand knowledge of this fact. I have also read on the Facebook group Car Seats for the Littles that police officers and flight attendents have been unsupportive of extended rear facing. Again, I have no first hand knowledge of this, just what I’ve read of others experiences.}}

While it’s not true that all car seats are created equal, it IS true that all car seats must pass the same exact safety tests and standards. Any extra safety features a car seat has are just that…extra. A $400 car seat is not any safer than a $40, but it seems to me that the more you spend the higher the height limits for that seat (most seats will be outgrown by height before weight)…in my opinion, unless you have a 90th percentile baby, you can get by with buying a cheaper seat.

The very best car seat for your child is the one that:

A) Fits your car correctly (read your car manual!) Some places, like Babies “R” Us will let you take a seat out to your car to try out,

B) Is correctly installed in your car (read your car and the car seat manuals), and

C) Is correct for the orientation (forward facing  – or rear facing) and size (height and weight) for your child. Oh, and

D) Fits your budget! Don’t break your budget for a car seat.

There is no one size fits all for car seats. Some seats are better for tall thin kids and some are more suited to shorter chunkier kids (no judgment for having a chunky baby…I love me some baby chub!). In my opinion, your main goal in choosing a car seat is one that will rear face your baby love for as long as possible….as close to age 4 as you can get. Take a minute and read this and this. When you’re done, read this.  Yes, for real….I’ll wait here.

OK, now that we know that rear facing is THE safest (5 times safer for a 12-23 month old) orientation in a moving vehicle, without exception. But until they make cars that you can drive while rear facing; we, as adults, will have to take our chances forward facing. That’s no reason, however, to take any chances with our children’s lives.

Most states are ‘proper use’ states, meaning the law is to use the car seat the way the manufacturer says (read your car seat manual! and check your state laws). Also, this means that if you forward face your child in a car seat that your child hasn’t outgrown rear facing, you’re breaking the law.

So…how to pick the best car seat for you? Here is a great place to start nd then check out their recommended car seats. This is how I chose our car seat, the Chicco Nextfit (pronounced Key-co) which I got on sale (what what) at target.com. They go over Infant Seats, Convertible Seats, Forward Facing Only Seats and Boosters – High Back and Backless. They go over Features, Drawbacks and their Comments on each seat. They don’t list every single seat you could possible buy, but they do list the major players in the car seat world. I found it to be a VERY helpful resource; in fact the most helpful resource.

Another place you should check out is Car Seats for the Littles. Join the group. In my opinion, some of the techs and commenters are a little harsh, but their goal is car seat education and I get behind that 150%. If you can look past the harshness and can see the valuable educational information, this is a great resource for not only choosing a car seat but for correctly using that car seat. I mean, who knew that Rear facing straps should come out of the car seat AT or BELOW baby’s shoulders…or that Forward facing straps should come out of the car seat AT or ABOVE the shoulders.  Or that you could use a tongue depressor to determine where the straps are at in relations to your littles shoulders.

One last note on car seats, the best way to get a correct install is to read both your car manual and the car seat manual. However, either or both of these may be confusing and/or you may want a professional second opinion. Yes, there are professionals. They’re called CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technicians) and they are trained to properly install car seats. You can sometimes find one at a fire or police station, but don’t count on it. My advice is read your manuals, then read them again and give it a try by yourself. If you still have questions, see if you can find a local CPST. If you can’t find one locally, Car Seats for the Littles will help you if you post pictures of your install and of your squishy buckled in.

No, I didn’t tell what car seat you should get. And I won’t…that’s a decision that you (and your partner) have to make based on A, B, C and D above.

If you’re interested in a review of my Chicco Nextfit, stay tuned. And check out the video on installing the Nextfit using LATCH (scroll down to Installing Using LATCH). *LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren.

**All opinions are my own. I’m not paid in any way for anything I say here. Any mistakes, misspellings, misrepresented or misremembered facts are entirely my own. **

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About LemonMarengue

I’m a 30-something year old mother of a teenage boy, Lee. It had just been the two of us since he was 4 months old. Until September 25, 2009, I went on a first date with the man that we decided to add to our little family…Christopher. We married on September 10, 2011! On April 2, 2013, our little family of three became a family of four when I gave birth to our daughter, Cora. Anyway, I’m a genius in my head and am constantly composing great works of literature….but getting it to sound genius on paper, different story. Anyway, here goes nothing….

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