Protecting your child is one of the most important things that you can do as a parent.  The amount of products available makes it difficult to choose the best car seat for your child. However, there are various ways to ensure that you are transporting their child in the safest way possible. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 8,959 children’s lives were saved by child restraints.[604] Despite the number of lives that were saved, the failure to use car seats has still resulted in a horrific number of child deaths.  In fact, about twelve percent of children are riding in a car without any restraint.

What to Look for when Shopping For a Car Seat

When shopping for a car seat you need to look for one that is made by a brand that you trust.  Often, this will mean a big brand because of its notoriety and experience in the business.  Some top brands include Graco,  Britax, and Chicco.  Car seats range in price and often the most expensive car seat does not necessarily mean that it is the best one.  Spend time looking at the different types of car seats that each brand produces.   

A key to selecting the right car seat for your child is making sure that you know the age, weight and height of your child.  Each car seat will give certain guidelines for the age of child that should be in that particular seat.  However, each child is different.  If your child is premature and weighs less than the average child, it might make more sense to put them in a car seat designed for a younger child.  It is important to remember that a car seat for a one month old is very different from a car seat for a one year old.  Do not ignore the specifications of the manufacturer. 

Restraint Type

There are three types of restraints that children can use: a rear facing seat, a forward-facing seat, and a booster seat.  Each type of seat is recommended for a certain age.

Young children, ages birth to twelve months are safest in a rear-facing car seat.  Children from one to three years should also be in a rear-facing seat.[602] Children between the ages of four and seven can be in a front-facing car seat.  Children from eight to twelve years should be in a booster seat and should remain the back of the car.  Although it is tempting, even older children should not be removed from a booster seat until they can wear a seat belt.  The  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states, “a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face."[603]

Safety Rating

In the same manner that your car was tested to make sure that it would withstand certain things, your child’s car seat was likely tested to make sure that it could protect your child.  There are various places that do these tests.  A variety of websites provide information on the best car seats. 


Consider the fabric that is used to make the child’s car seat.  While certain materials may appear to be cute or trendy, try to remember that this car seat will experience an extremely destructible force: your child.  Believe me, you don’t want to buy a car seat that looks great only to find out that it is being ripped apart.  When buying a car seat, consider purchasing one that will allow you to remove the liner and wash it (or replace it) as necessary.


Of course choosing a car seat is not only about the technical side of it.  You want to choose a car seat that reflects your personality.  It is perfectly fine to consider the color of the car seat or the fabrics after ensuring that your child is safe.

Get Your Seat Checked

Additionally, you should make sure that your car seat is properly secured in your car.  Most local police stations and fire stations will check your car seat to make sure that it is installed properly. 

Although it may sound a little old fashioned, it is important to let a professional check your seat.  Often these professionals are called certified technicians.  The inspection does not take an extended period of time but can make sure that you feel safe while you are transporting your child.  Typically a certified technician will check your child safety seat to make sure that it has been installed properly.  If the seat is not installed properly, the certified technician will show you how to install the car seat.  Additionally, the technician will make sure that the car seat has not been recalled and that it is not damaged.  By obtaining information about your child, the technician will be able to tell you whether the car seat is the proper choice for the age and size of your child.

Final Thoughts

Always remember that you need to make sure that you use your car seat properly. Never use a car seat that is old.  It may seem like you are saving money but if you use an old car seat you do not know if it is still equipped to do its job.  For instance, if you buy an old car seat you do not know if it was ever in a car accident or if it has the proper pieces.  If you buy a new car seat you know that the seat meets the most current safety requirements.

As a parent always take the time to examine your car seat and make sure that you are transporting your child in the safest way possible.  It is a good idea to subscribe to the  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website because it will notify you if there is a recall or problem with your car seat. 

Car Seat(64647)Credit: TracybennCredit: Tracybenn