A first time mom securing her infant into a car seat

Choosing a Car Seat: A Guide for the First-Time Parent

Choosing a car seat is a weighty decision for new parents. Car seats keep your baby safe, and you carry them everywhere so the choice should not be taken lightly. Here is some information to help you pick the best car seat for your little one and you.

Infant Car Seats

Most parents choose an infant car seat for their child’s first car seat. An infant car seat consists of a base that attaches in the car and an infant carrier which clicks into the base. The infant carrier makes it easy to transport a sleeping baby in and out of a car. It also gives the baby somewhere to safely lay while you drive to your destination. One great option is the travel system. A travel system includes a car seat carrier and base and a stroller that the carrier can snap into. This set gives parents the option of having an interchangeable matching set.

Car seats are strictly regulated and when used correctly are considered very safe. There are some car seats that have scored better in consumer testing. The Chicco Keyfit, Safety 1st onBoard35 Air, and UPPAbaby Mesa are all highly rated infant car seats in safety and comfort. Most parents keep their children in infant car seats until they reach the seat’s weight limit or become difficult to carry.

Convertible Car Seats

You can also start with a convertible car seat for your newborn. Most convertible car seat weight minimums are only five pounds so it can be used from the start. It is not as convenient as an infant carrier because it cannot be carried in and out of the car with the baby. But a convertible car does last a child much longer if you are not wanting to purchase multiple seats. Convertible car seats can be used rear facing and forward facing. Most convertible car seats have a rear facing 40-45 pound maximum but it’s also important to check the maximum height limit as well. The Britax Marathon, Diano Radian, Graco Smart All in One Seat, and Chicco NextFit are all highly rated and recommended for extended rear facing as well as forward facing.

Consult with Others

Talk with friends or family members with small kids about their favorite car seats. They might have more insight about everyday car seat use and what would be best for you. You can also discuss it with your pediatrician to get a professional point of view and recommendations.

Last Updated: July 09, 2015