Driving around town is one of the most dangerous activities that we do each and every day. As parents, the peril weighs more on our minds when we are trying to protect our children. Having a dependable car seat can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to not only keep our kids safe, but also to having peace of mind. First time parents are often in for a shock when they become aware of all of the different options that have choose from when shopping for a new safety seat. For newborns, the two main choices are infant seats and convertible seats.
Unless you can afford to buy two seats within a year or two, we always suggest going the convertible route. These types of seats make the most financial sense. They will offer your child a safe and protected ride that they can use for the first few years until they are big enough to use a booster seat. While they may not offer the convenience of an infant seat, they give parents a seat that will last.
Small babies require extra care and attention from a car seat. Their head and neck area are not strong enough yet so special inserts are used with convertible car seats to provide this support. The seat should also be used in a rear facing position to give the proper protection. When they are finally big enough, you can remove the insert and “convert” the seat to a forward facing position. Each seat has their own weight and height recommendations, so this is something important to know before using. The ability to accommodate children of varying sizes is one of the main reasons why these types of safety seats are so popular with parents. They provide a way to use just one seat that will adjust to your growing child.
One of the best ways to ensure that you get a quality car seat that has been tested as safe for your child to ride in is to get a brand name unit from a reputable store. Never buy a used seat unless you are absolute sure that it has never been in an accident. And even then, you need to check the expiration date to make sure it is still viable. Yes, car seats have expiration dates.
Luckily there are numerous manufacturers to choose from no matter how big or small your budget may be. Below are our top three picks from different price ranges according to some of the latest convertible child car seat ratings.
Chicco Nextfit Zip
This is one of the better rated convertible seats that you can get. Parents rate it extremely favorably for its overall convenience and its ability to wash. You can simply unzip the seat cover and drop it in your washing machine to take care of those unavoidable spills and disastrous messes. This is not the most expensive seat out there but it is still a high end option that will run you around $350.
It has been tested and certified to meet and exceed safety regulations required of child seats so you can rest assured that your kids will be riding in something designed to offer maximum protection. It has extremely comfortable materials, and even that all important cup holder.
Britax Marathon ClickTight
Britax is another brand name with a trustworthy reputation. They have a complete line of convertible seats and the Marathon falls somewhere in the middle as far as features and price. It costs around $250 and gives parents excellent value for that price.
It is extremely safe, with patented safety technology engineered into each seat. It offers a nice level of comfort that is a hit with kids. Parents love to use this seat as it has a “ClickTight” function that makes installation a breeze.
There are a number of models in the Symphony line, but the LX offers a nice balance of features, comfort, and price. This particular model runs around $150 and it is a very solid option for parents, or grandparents, looking for something that won’t completely break the bank.
Solid safety record that is designed to meet and/or exceed current standards, this seat is built to protect your child from varying crash forces and flying debris. It is not extra fancy, it just gets the job done and it does it pretty well.
The hard part about buying a new child seat is all of the choices that are out there. The best place to start is to determine your overall budget, then you can narrow it down by features and user ratings. It may seem daunting at first, but finding a model that both you and your kids will enjoy using every day is something that is achievable. Once you find a convertible car seat, the next step is to make sure that you are using it properly. One of the advantages of getting a name brand is that the resources on their websites often include easy to follow instructional videos. It would be wise to invest some time to make sure you are installing the seat correctly and the straps are in the right position.