Choosing the Right Car Seat for Your Baby

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,572
    Stephanie Tombrello with SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. provides tips on selecting the best car seat for your baby.

    Stephanie Tombrello: Hello, I am Stephanie Tombrello, Executive Director of SafetyBeltSafe U.


    A. and I am here to tell you about how to protect your child. Today, I am going to show you the possibilities of how to choose the right seat for your baby. Now as you can see we have a large number of seats here and this is only a small sampling. I am going to talk about some of the features of these seats. Most of the safety seats here are just used facing the rear of the vehicle, they're what's called, infant only seats, but they have a lot of different features that you can look at. Every one of the seats I will be showing you will meet the Federal Standard for crash protection. So they are all good seats. Some seats will fit better in one car than another and some seats will work better for your lifestyle than others.

    For example, the seat here does not have a separate base, so you put the safety belt or the latch through the car seat itself. The seat over here always must be used with the base, so for example, if you take it to somebody else's house, so that they can drive your baby. Be sure to take the base out and leave it, otherwise there is no place to connect either latch or the safety belt. Most of these safety seats take a baby up to about 22 pounds, that's about six to nine months, but there are in fact, some of the seats now that go as far as 30 pounds, such as this one. So you could use it from the time the baby weighs five pounds, till the baby weighs 30 pounds, which will be a lot longer than using some of the other infant seats.

    The seats have different ways of adjustment. They have different ways of threading the seat through or making it tied in the car. They have different kinds of attachment points for -- and adjustment points for the retainer clip. They have different kinds of buckles, but all of them meet the standard. All the seats here except for this one, use what's called a fabric or weaving for the latch. This one has rigid latch, so that you can click it right into the car. The others use fabric where you will need to tighten the material. Now, two of the seats here can be used both for infants and for toddlers later. So if you want to think ahead and perhaps you are on a very tight budget, you may want to look at a seat like this one. You can start with five pounds and you see it has nice low harness slots, but you can turn it around forward later on and it goes up to 40 pounds. So you can use it from birth, until the child is about four years old.

    The other convertible seat over here actually goes all the way to 65 pounds. So you can use it with the infant and then you can turn the seat forward facing. You can use it really up until five or six years old, depending on the child's height and weight. This seat has an interesting feature also. It has what's called a Tether Strap. We will be talking more about that, but this Tether Strap can be used when the seat is rear facing as well as forward facing. So it has this little piece that you fit around the leg of the front seat and then you hook the tether to it and it gives the seat a different kind of support. But again, remember, every one of these seats meets the Federal Standard and will protect the child.

    Some of the features are adjustments for the base. The way you can get the angle of the base to fit better in your car. For example, this one has just a little turn so that you can adjust the foot to be at the right angle in the car, to compensate if you have a sloped seat. Some of the others will have something behind it. There are different ways to adjust the car seat. So when you are making your choices, first take a look at the features, read the instruction book that comes with every seat. Make sure that you understand how to adjust the harnesses. How to change the harness heights if you need to do that and see if it's something that you would really like? Then if you have a very small car you may want to take measurements of how long the car seat is, just to be sure it will fit comfortably in the back seat and the more you know about the seats, the easier will it be for you to make the final choice for your baby.

    Next, I am going to take with you about how to install a safety seat in a car made before 1996.