I think one of the most eye-opening things that my husband and I learned about car seats from a safety class at our hospital is that all car seats are equal in terms of safety.
Regardless of special safety rating/endorsements, all commercial car seats have passed rigorous safety standards.
Some may claim to have done added side-impact testing – which sounds great, right? – but they don’t actually have to disclose the results if they are not part of the standard testing. (This will likely change).
So, they’re all safe. After that, it’s really a matter of name brands, colors, features and price preferences.
Ultimately, we picked the Chicco Keyfit 30 infant car seat for ease-of-use and price (pronounced KEY-CO, for the new parents out there).
TIP: Stick to gender-neutral colors for future use with other children.
Expiration Dates? Really?!
Yes, car seats do have expiration dates. And, it is important to pay attention to them. I know, I thought it was some ridiculous sales ploy to ensure that I spend another $100+ in the next couple years. But, there are actually good reasons for the expiration dates and we do recommend that you NOT use an expired car seat for your little one. Sorry.
What about Convertible Seats?
If you’ve heard that you can go right to the convertible seat and not buy an infant seat, this is true, and might save you some money. But being able to remove the whole car seat (with infant in it) has some major advantages:
- Helps keep your infant safe from the elements when removing baby from car.
- Placing an infant seat in a grocery cart is much more convenient.
- Easier to not wake a newborn.
Also, infant car seats are more supportive and comfortable for newborns. But be sure you change over to a convertible seat or an all in one seat like the Graco 4Ever (Infant rear facing, convertible rear facing, forward facing convertible, high back booster and no back booster in one) when recommended. Here is a video about changing over earlier than previously recommended.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Infants need to be strapped tightly to the seat in order for the car seat to actually work if there is an accident. Do NOT dress your infant in bulky/puffy coats or clothes and keep blankets and other objects only over baby not behind.
JJ Cole makes an awesome car seat cover that doesn’t go behind the baby risking improper placement of baby in seat.
For further information on car seat reviews, check out Baby Gear Lab.
Final Note: We HIGHLY recommend attending a car-seat safety class. You will be surprised by what you learn. It’s worth it!