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Parenting is full of really confusing choices! One of those choices is choosing the best car seat for your growing baby. It pretty much ranks up there as just as confusing as creating a baby registry (wayyyy too many choices!). Before Avary was born, we chose to buy a travel system that included an infant car seat carrier that would attach to the stroller. I do not regret that decision at all because we got so much use out of it! However, as Avary has been creeping up on turning one, I began to realize that she was getting much too big for her infant seat and it was time to move up. I had no idea where to start in looking for a convertible carseat! So I did a bit of research, talked to other moms, and began formulating a list of potential seats.
The most important thing to remember when shopping around for car seats is that each car seat on the market has gone through the same rigorous crash testing and has met the federal safety standards. While some seats may perform better in tests, the difference in price comes into play for reasons like, comfort, convenience, ease-of-use, style, quality, and brand/name. Because of this, you will find that there are recommended car seats ranging in price from $39 up to $500!
What I recommend in helping you make a decision is to write out a list of your needs and must-haves for a seat. Include things like:
- Rear-facing and forward-facing: Do you want to do extended rear-facing? How long will your little one fit? What is the weight and height limit for forward-facing? Will you have to buy another convertible seat when they meet the limits?
- Size, dimensions & compatibility with your vehicle: Get the measurements of the car seat and the vehicle you will be placing it in. Will it fit comfortably? Does your vehicle have LATCH anchors or will you be using a seat belt? Will you have more than one car seat side by side and will they fit?
- Ease of use: Is the car seat easy for you to use? If you will be transferring it between vehicles, is it light enough for you to carry on your own? Do you prefer a “rapid-release” style? Is it easy to anchor? Are the straps easy to tighten and loosen?
- Durability and washable: Do you want a seat cover that can easily be taken off and thrown in the washer? Is the fabric durable if you can only spot-clean?
- Comfort for baby: Is the seat comfortable for your little one? Is there enough head support? How much padding do you want? What material is the padding made of (too hot, too thin, etc.)? Does the seat have different modes for recline? Will baby be able to sleep comfortably in it?
- Safety and construction of the seat: Is there adequate side-impact protection? What materials is the seat made of? How did it rank in crash tests?
- Cost: How much are you willing to spend? Is the seat within your price range? Will the seat last through toddlerhood or will you have to upgrade again?
Once you go through that list, you can better determine which seat is right for your little one and your family. I strongly encourage you to research on sites like Car Seats for the Littles (list of recommended seats, car seat safety laws, recalls, and resources), Consumer Reports (ratings, recommendations, crash test results and comparisons) and The Car Seat Blog (reviews, ratings, comparisons and information). You will be able to find all the information you could ever need!
After going through all the research and information, we decided to purchase the Graco MySize 65. It met all the criteria we were looking for, we found it on sale on Amazon, and we got Amazon Prime free shipping-so we paid just under $150! We are very happy with our choice, and I think Avary is too! 🙂
Here are a few popular, top-rated car seats:
Happy car seat shopping, friends!! And remember, do what’s best for your family!