Baby on Board :: Selecting the Right Car Seat for Your Infant

It is no secret that selecting all the gear for your kiddo can be…overwhelming to say the least. 

When it comes to car seats, most new parents are completely oblivious to the number of car seats on the market until that first fateful shopping trip to the baby store. My goal in writing this is to make that process a bit less painful. When you begin your hunt for the perfect seat for your little one, you will hear a few terms being thrown around, mainly regarding the seat design.

There are three basic car seat options: infant, convertible, and booster. 

Luckily for you, you don’t need to even think about booster seats since children under two need to stay rear-facing and these seats do not rear-face. There are some other differences, but we will cover those at another time. Some convertible seats do convert into “booster mode”–bonus for you as long as you can get a good fit!  For the sake of this post, we will focus on choosing between an infant and convertible car seat. So what makes them different and how do you decide what will work best for your family? Here are some things to consider when choosing your infant’s car seat.

Portability

This is a huge reason why so many parents love the infant seat!  The infant seat can come out of the car while the convertible car seat does not. This means that you can also use the same infant seat in multiple cars. Many families choose to buy extra bases for their infant seat so they can simply strap their child in while in their house and pop the seat in the base in the car and go. Most infant car seats on the market can also be installed without a base which makes traveling a breeze. 

Many parents, however, may choose to go with a convertible from the get-go. Babywearing is a great option for these families. Once you reach your destination, pop them out of the seat and right into a carrier. My oldest preferred this method so our infant seat lived most of its life in our car.   

One important note–the APA does not recommend allowing infants to sleep in their car seat for extended periods of time.  The seat may not be at the proper recline angle and could potentially lead to a dangerous sleeping situation.   

Quick trip to our favorite place in our Nuna Pipa seat attached to our Bugaboo Donk

Travel System Capability

Going hand-in-hand with portability, many infant seats can be snapped right into your stroller. In fact, you can often purchase a car seat/stroller combination. This one is up to the parent’s discretion. As mentioned above, prolonged sleep in the car seat is not typically recommended, so you want to make sure your child’s airway is clear by preventing the chin-to-chest position, take them out regularly and make sure you have a clear view of them. 

I LOVED our car seat adapter for our stroller.  It made quick trips to the store possible without waking a sleeping baby!  If you don’t purchase the seat and stroller together, you may need an additional adapter.  Just something to keep in mind while registering or buying all that gear!

Longevity

Infant seats, while so convenient, will be outgrown more quickly than a convertible seat. Most infant seats have a 30-35 inch height maximum (or when the child’s head is less than one inch from the top of the shell). They also have a lower weight capacity than many convertible car seats but are typically outgrown by height before weight. Convertible car seats have a much larger weight capacity.  Many seats go upwards of 50 inches and 65 pounds. Again, always consult your manual to ensure that you know the specifics of your seat. The reason behind this? Convertible car seats do just that: convert to grow with your child. The seat will remain rear-facing for most until at least the age of two or the rear-face limits are surpassed and then can be placed in your car forward-facing until outgrown. Your car seat manual will contain all of the specifics on how to make the change from rear-facing to forward-facing.  Many children can use this convertible car seat until the age of four or even beyond!

Fit to Baby

Now this one is important and also impossible to know especially as a first-time parent.  All car seats have minimum size requirements.  When checking seats out, it is important to pay attention to these stats.  Some seats require a minimum height of 27 inches or weight of 14 pounds.  Unless you are birthing the hulk, these seats will not fit your kiddo from the beginning.  If you know you are having a smaller baby, pay extremely close attention to this! The best way to know if it fits?  The straps come from BELOW your baby’s shoulders.  When rear facing, the straps should always come from below. 

VIDEO :: Our Team’s Favorite Baby Products (ft. the Britax Boulevard ClickTight Cool Flow Car Seat!)

The MkeMB mamas teamed up with Dr. Lauren Zokan at Well Family Chiropractic to chat about our favorite baby products, including a fantastic car seat, and it was great to get Dr. Lauren’s take on the safety and health effects of each. Make sure to check out the demo of the ClickTight feature in that Britax car seat

 

Hopefully, the information above will help you select the right car seat for your little one! If you know me, then it is no surprise that I am big on car seat safety.  That being said, I am not a certified car seat tech. There are many great techs in the area that can help you make sure your child is as safe as they can be when you’re on the go. Follow this link to schedule your appointment with a Child Safety Passenger Technician today!

What things did you consider when buying your first car seat for your child?

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