Travel systems and more
Rear-facing infant car seats are essential gear to keep your little one safe on the road, from the newborn days onward. A rear-facing car seat is designed for use in the back seat to protect babies from front seat and side airbags in the event of collision. If you plan to travel with your baby, consider a “baby bucket” car seat model that clicks into a secure base in your vehicle and can be removed to use with a stroller as part of a travel system – these elements are also easy to gate-check for airplane travel. Or you might choose a classic reclining baby car seat that stays in your vehicle: some luxury models are rotating car seats that swivel up to 360 degrees, making it easy to get baby in and out. Modern all-in-one car seats (also called 4-in-1 car seats or 3-in-1 car seats) are designed to adapt to the different stages of your child’s growth and development, offering years of use and great value.
Remember: buy NEW to be safe.
Though you might be tempted to buy a cheap, second-hand car seat at a yard sale or re-use a friend or family member’s baby car seat, there is no way to inspect or re-certify a car seat as safe. Most manufacturers recommend replacing a car seat following ANY crash – even a fender-bender or an instance where the car seat was dropped. Damage to a car seat from improper use, handling, storage, and even cleaning might be invisible – but it matters. The best way to be sure about a car seat’s condition and integrity is to buy new. Also keep in mind that safety experts recommend keeping kids in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible: until your child exceeds either the height or weight restrictions determined by the manufacturer. Seek out a car seat clinic in your area to make sure you have installed your car seat or booster seat properly: your local police or fire department should be able to point you in the right direction.
Best booster car seats for preschoolers and beyond
Shop Babies”R”Us for booster car seats for bigger kids who have outgrown their forward-facing car seat, but still need that added height, comfort, and safety. Some are convertible car seat models that retain that secure, five-point harness, but can be converted to a high-back booster car seat to use with the three-point vehicle seatbelt, and ultimately to a backless booster seat for those final months before your child is big enough to safely buckle up in the vehicle seat. Other, simpler models are backless boosters designed to elevate bigger kids to the right height to safely use the vehicle seatbelt: perfect, portable, and even some folding choices for use in a grandparent’s or other caregivers’ vehicles.