Baby Car Seats, the Dilemma for New Parents – Which One is the Safest for Your Child?

As a parent of five children myself, I know how difficult it can be to choose a baby car seat of the right type and size to fit both your child and your car. Over the years I have done a lot of research into the various types of baby car seats and want to share with you what I have found.

There are several basic types of car safety seats. The right type to use for your particular child depends upon several factors including the following:

  • The age of your child
  • The weight of your child
  • The height of your child
  • Any additional medical requirements

The Different Types of Car Seats

Premature Baby Crash-Tested Car Beds

Premature baby car beds are used for transporting small preemie babies who can typically weigh less than 5 pounds. They may also have medical problems that could prevent them being able to travel in the seated or reclining position in a normal infant car seat or carrier. These preemie car beds typically secure to the back seat of the car using the existing car seat belts, but the method of attachment can vary model by model, so check with the supplier or manufacturer.

There are not many makes of car beds on the market, but one possibility if you are looking for one, is the Angel Guard preemie car bed.

Rear-Facing Infant Carriers

An infant carrier or seat is usually the first type of seat that your new infant will need if he or she is born at a birth weight of 5 pounds and above, and has no medical problems preventing them from sitting up while travelling. Some examples of best in class infant seats are the Graco Snugride range, the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the Safety 1st Onboard 35 Air ranges. Many other manufacturer’s also produce very good seats and all seats currently on sale have to meet US standards for safety.

A few manufacturer’s also supply seats that can suit a baby as low as 4 pounds in weight such as the Britax B-Safe and the Graco Snugride 30. These seats can be used if your doctor says it is OK for your low birth weight infant to travel home in a seated or reclining position. Always check with your doctor to get advice on the best travelling position for a low birth weight infant.

It is recommended by experts that an infant car seat or premature baby car bed is only fitted in the rear of the car. Infant carriers must be used in a rear-facing position until your child either exceeds the manufacturers weight limit of the seat or reaches 2 years of age. Travelling in the rear of the car and also rearward facing reduces your child’s risk of serious injury in the event of a car crash by over 50% so this is advice that should be followed to ensure the maximum safety of your child.

Convertible Car Seats

Another type of seat that is suitable as an infant’s first car seat is the convertible car seat. This kind of seat can be used rear-facing from 5lbs to around 30lbs in most cases, and can then be converted into a front facing seat when your child has grown to the manufacturers limit, which is typically around 30lbs in weight or at approximately 2 years of age. Some of the best convertible child seats include the Britax Marathon 70 and the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite.

Both the infant carrier type of seat and convertible seat are suitable for most infants from birth. The convertible type though has a longer lifespan than the infant carrier and hence may be more cost-effective if you are looking for a best value for money solution. It’s also worth remembering that if you are looking for a convertible type of car seat, it can be worth spending a little extra to get a better quality seat with easily removable covers. Sometimes these covers can be fully replaced if they get too worn. All these factors should be considered when selecting the correct seat for your child.

Combination Car Seats

This is a type of seat suitable for toddlers and young children in the weight range of 30lbs to around 85lbs. The applicable weight range varies by manufacturer so always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before purchasing. These seats are designed to be used forward-facing and the better one’s are supplied with a 5-point harness. Once your child has outgrown the harness it can be removed and the seat can be converted into a belt-positioning booster seat that in some cases can accommodate a child up to the age of 12 years.

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