Car Seat Choices
With so many different car seats out there, how do you choose the one that is right for your baby? Once you choose the kind that is right for your baby, then you have to decide how much you are going to spend on that car seat as there are as many price options as there are style choices.
5-Point Harness vs. 3-Point Harness
All car seat styles come with different choices on the harness that holds your baby in. Some are 5-point, which means that the straps come from five directions, meeting to buckle in the center. Straps go from between the legs, one on each side of the leg, and down from the shoulders to securely hold your baby in his seat. Others are 3-point harnesses which have straps down the shoulders and between the legs meeting in the middle. This is found very rarely on infant car seats, and more frequently on infant/toddler and convertible car seats which may include a bar that crosses over the baby’s lap.
Infant Car seats
Infant car seats are small car seats designed mainly to do double duty as a car seat and a way to carry your infant around before he is big enough to sit up in a stroller or grocery cart on his own. They have a base that you can strap in your car and the car seat itself will come out of the base making it easily movable. Most of these have a length weight limit of 26 inches and 22 pounds, although some will actually be 20 pounds. There are now a small number of infant car seats on the market however that will fit babies until they are 32 inches and 30 pounds. Since many babies are big babies and will see 22 pounds before their first birthday, these new car seats are a great way to save money while easily keeping your baby facing backwards in the car for the mandatory first year.
Convertible Car seats
Also known as infant/toddler car seat, this car seat is a way many parents save money and kill two birds with one stone. Convertible car seats are not removable from cars for the purpose of walking around, so when you get out of the car you have to un-strap your baby as well, leaving the car seat behind. However, some parents who choose to use slings, snuglis, buggies or other carriers for their babies, don’t mind this. If you start off with a convertible car seat when your baby is a newborn, it is one less expense you have to deal with during your baby’s first year of life, and one less baby item you have to store in your garage. Convertible car seats normally have a minimum weight of 5lbs, and have a maximum weight of anywhere between 40-100 pounds. Many states now have laws stating that your child must be in a car seat or booster seat till they are 60-80 pounds, so before you decide which convertible car seat to buy, you should check out your states laws on car seats.
Booster seats are great for older kids who may have outgrown their convertible car seat; however they are not good for infants and toddlers. You should always look at the minimum weight and height restrictions on booster seats before you put your child in them. Most of them are set for 40 pounds. You can also get convertible car seats that turn into a booster seat, making it that much easier on your budget down the road.
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