If you're expecting, or provide care for an infant, you will need an infant car seat installed in your vehicle. You can't bring baby home from the hospital without a properly installed infant safety seat in your car, so when it comes to shopping for baby gear, an infant seat should be at the top of your list. Laws and regulations can be different regarding child safety seats from state to state, but infant seat regulations are fairly standard.
There are many different brands of infant seats on the market today, and knowing which one to choose can be extremely overwhelming. Just staring at car seats online, and trying to determine which one will be best based on style and price doesn't always cut it. There are many other factors to consider when making this very important purchase.
Shop in store, if you can.
Even if you're not going to be the one actually purchasing the seat (you may be selecting one to add to a baby registry), you still need to make sure that you choose the seat that you feel is safe and comfortable for your precious little one. Visit a store that carries a lot of options for car seats- don't limit yourself to just one brand based off of someone else's experiences. Browse and touch the seats that are on display in store. Actually pick them up, take notes, and look for things like latch hook placement, etc.
Other things to consider...
Will the seat fit in your car? Keep in mind that the base is only one component of the infant seat. While the base may fit, you will need to check to make sure that the entire car seat fits (rear-facing) behind the driver or passenger seat, and that there will be room for baby as they grow. Many states now recommend that children stay rear-facing until they are two years of age.
Will baby fit in the car seat? Make sure that the seat adjusts to grow with your baby. Check the weight and height limit, and actually play with the harness straps. Are the straps secure enough for your peace of mind? Will your baby outgrow the seat before their first birthday? Don't spend an arm and a leg on a seat that can only be used for a short period of time.
Is the seat comfortable to carry around? If you'll be carrying the seat a lot, you'll want to make sure that it's comfortable to carry. Many car seats offer different handle designs. When shopping for a seat, pick the seat up and carry it in your hand. Imagine the seat 8-15 pounds heavier than it is without a baby in it. If you can't comfortably carry the seat in hand, or with your arm looped through, you may want to consider a different seat. Keep in mind that there are cushions that can be placed over the seat handle for added comfort when carrying.
Will the seat work with your stroller? If you plan on using a stroller, have you selected one that will work with your car seat? Many car seats come as a combo set with a stroller, which are called travel systems. The car seat can be easily attached to the stroller. Many parents are foregoing the travel systems, and taking up baby-wearing, instead. It can save you money, and keep baby close to you when you're not traveling.
Car seat shopping doesn't have to be stressful. Do your research and take your time making this important decision before you make your purchase.
Brought to you by Palmer Dodge