Since before Baby Boo was born I have been consistently baffled by car seats. From height and weight limits to installation and comfort, there’s so much to consider when it comes to purchasing one of those little padded thrones. As regular readers of this blog will know, when I was pregnant I wrote a list of tips to help parents choose the perfect car seat. I love a good list, and now that Baby Boo is moving up to a Group 1 car seat, I thought it was about time I revisited this topic. With this in mind I decided to call in the big guns and tracked down JustKidding operations manager and mum-of-two, Jacqueline Schrama, to get her top tips for choosing a car seat.
Tips for choosing a car seat #1: Try out different seats
When shopping for a car seat, I always recommend bringing your child along with you to try them out. Not only will seeing your little one in the seat give you a better perspective on how comfortable it’s going to be and how good a fit it is, it’s a also a good way to get your tot used to the seat before it goes in the car.
Tips for choosing a car seat #2: Remember, age is just a guideline
Car seats are often divided into groups by age, but each child is different, so it’s vital that you know your child’s weight and height before you make a purchase. As a general rule, Group 0 car seats (baby) are usually suitable for use from 40cm to 85cm, Group 1 car seats (toddler) are best for use from 40cm to 85cm, and Group2/3 (child) are best for use from 100cm to 135cm. Ultimately the best time to move up to the next category of car seat is when your baby’s head extends past the top of the car seat, or the shoulder straps become too low when the headrest is placed in the highest position.
Tips for choosing a car seat #3: Consider developmental needs
Driving with toddlers is challenging and at some point most little ones will try to maneuver themselves out from under their seat straps. All seats sold at JustKidding are designed to be secure, but if you have a very determined little escape artist you can take the added precaution of investing in the Houdini Stop Chest Strap. This device is made up of two clips joined by a length of material and it attaches over the existing harness straps to hold them firmly in position, thus preventing your little wriggler from fidgeting out from under their straps.
Tips for choosing a car seat #4: Weigh up your options
If you’re a parent-to be, you have two choices: a rear-facing infant car seat, or a convertible car seat, which faces the rear of the car initially, and can later be turned to face the front. The benefits of buying a convertible car seat is that they are more cost effective because you can use them for longer and they cover multiple age groups. However, the disadvantage is that, unlike an infant car seat, a convertible car seat is not designed to fit onto your stroller, so you cannot easily transport your baby in and out of the car when they are sleeping.
Tips for choosing a car seat #5: Determine the best installation for your car
When it comes to installation, you have two options: seatbelt or an Isofix base. If you have a fairly new car, the chances are you will have Isofix mounting points and a tether. You will find the two anchor points in the padding at the bottom of the car’s seat, while the tether is located behind the rear seat and acts as a harness to stop the seat from tilting forward in an accident. The major advantage of Isofix is that the system makes a permanent connection between the child car seat and the car body. It also prevents the car seat from being wrongly installed or coming loose, which is one of the major problems with child car seats that are secured with seat belts.
Tips for choosing a car seat #6: Get installation right
Installing your car seat correctly is vital. However, if you’re a first-time parent-to-be buying a car seat ahead of your little one’s arrival, the chances are that a few weeks or months may pass in between purchasing the seat and fitting it. In this case it is imperative that you refresh your memory, either by reading the manual or watching a brand installation video on YouTube. Alternatively, pass by the store so the team can demonstrate the car seat installation for you.
And now for some car seat inspiration…