UPDATED SEPTEMBER 1, 2021 This piece has been updated to reflect the emergence of new technology
Christian Mathews Security Writer
How do I decide on the best car seat for a newborn boy? What are the safety features to look in newborn baby girl car seats? Which car seat for a 3-year-old is best?
These are the common questions that every parent worries about right from the day their child is born. When you are bringing your newborn baby home from the hospital you need to have an appropriate car seat ready in your vehicle. And as your child grows, you must change the seats accordingly. That is why buying the correct one and then switching to better car seats with time is a stressful decision for parents.
If you are facing similar confusion regarding car seats for children, you have come to the right place. This post will guide you through different car seats, their features, and which type of car seats are best for each age group.
1What Car Seats Are Best For My Child?
Car seats for children come in different types, mainly based on the child’s age and height or weight. We have classified and explained the different types of car seats accordingly.
Ranges: Birth to 22 pounds
From the first day of your child’s birth until he reaches around a year of age an infant car seat is undoubtedly the best choice. Infant car seats have two main components, the base which is fixed to the car, and the main seat which can lock in and out of the base.
During the infant stage, toddler car seats are to be rear-facing only. Front-facing seats are not recommended or safe at this stage. The benefits of the infant car seat are:
- They are portable and can be fixed or detached from the base.
- You can detach and carry the whole seat along with your child if they fall asleep in the seat.
- They can also be attached to a baby stroller, making them multifunctional.
- They are designed specifically for infants so that they will be comfortable and spacious to them.
Remember to check the newborn car seat manual to know the maximum weight limit of the seat. Once your infant reaches that limit, you can switch to the next suitable model – a convertible car seat. Alternatively, you can also switch to a convertible seat once the child is one-year-old. You can do this even if they have not yet reached the weight limit.
Ranges: 20-40 pounds, but some models can handle up to 65 pounds
Your child goes through a lot of changes from one to three-year-olds. Many parents often wonder which car seat for a 3-year old is the best choice as that is typically the age when your child becomes fidgety and inquisitive. So, from one to five or six years of age, a convertible car seat is an excellent choice.
Convertible car seats are named so because they can function as both rear-facing and front-facing seats. The car seat manual will mention the weight or age requirements as to when your child can switch from rear to front-facing. Since it can face either way, you can use a convertible car seat for many years. That way it will save you the cost and hassle of having to buy new seats every one or two years. A small downside is that these seats are fixed to your car after installation and are not portable.
Forward-only Facing Car Seat
Ranges: 30 – 70 pounds
The forward-only facing car seat is regarded as the in-betweener car seat. Once your child has reached the weight limit of the convertible seat, the forward-only or ‘harness-to-booster’ seat is the way to go. This is especially true if your child is not yet big enough for the booster seat.
This has a 5 point harness system. Some of them can convert to a booster seat when your child is ready for the transition.
Ranges: This is more dependent on the child’s height (to fit correctly with the vehicle’s seat belt). Their maturity (ability to sit still within the seat and seatbelt) is also an important dependent.
Booster seats get their name because of the way they function. They lift or ‘boost’ your child upward to fit better in line with the car’s seat belts. You will place the seat belt across the body and over the lap of your child. This is similar to how an adult would use the seat belt.
Booster seats are to be used for toddlers within the age of five to ten years and upwards. Some even have an extendable back so you can use them even as your child grows taller. One initially starts with a high-back booster seat, then transitions to just the booster. A booster seat will be sufficient for your child until they can use the normal seats of your vehicle.
2Important Car Seat Safety Features and Factors to Consider
We’ve covered what type of seats are suitable for children of different age groups. Here are some other key features and factors you need to consider when deciding which car seat for a 3-year-old is best.
While safety is your utmost priority, you can’t compromise comfort over safety. If the seat is uncomfortable, it can spoil the child’s posture and even cause them to move and fidget a lot, which is definitely not something you’d want.
When you’re buying a car seat make sure to check what type of inserts they use and how soft and spacious the seat is. Car seat manuals also have instructions on when to add or remove the inserts, so read those very carefully.
Ease of Use
A complicated car seat harness and working mechanisms can be a hassle to put your child in and out of every time. When it comes to child car seats, the simpler, the better. Therefore, make sure that you get a car seat that has simple but secure harnesses. Avoid products that require too many locks and clicks.
Price and Cost
There is no price you can put on your child’s safety. Having said that, we understand budget limitations can narrow down your options. However, let the safety and comfort features be the deciding factor when buying a car seat. Not the price tag. Search for multiple products based on your budget and pick the one that is most secure and convenient.
Check for products that are slightly above your budget just to see if you can get better features. This is especially useful when buying convertible car seats because they will work for quite a few years and you will get good value for money in the long run.
While there is an inclination to opt for a second-hand seat, understand that they do have expiry dates. So make sure you know when do car seats expire and whether it is worth your while to buy a new one versus a second-hand one.
Before buying a baby car seat, read about the regulations and standards set by the respective authorities in your country or state. These standards are set in place to provide maximum comfort and security for children. So, you should only buy products that strictly adhere to the legal requirements and standards of your region.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
You will probably use any given car seat for at least a year. Knowing the nature of kids, there will be a lot of cleaning and maintenance involved. If you want a car seat that is easy to clean, check its specifications to know about the material. Additionally, read the car seat manuals on instructions for cleaning it.
3Car Seat Expiry
Knowing when do car seats expire, will ensure that you keep your child safe. It will also ensure that you have the most up-to-date safety options available to you. While second-hand seats may seem like an option, make sure you understand the risks associated with them.
Car seats are not just an accessory but a basic requirement for every parent. You can never know when your child’s life may depend on it. That is why you need to take it slow, do thorough research, and browse multiple products before you buy one.
We hope that this guide will assist you to find which car seat for 3 years old is the best and most secure car seat for your precious kids.