We’re so lucky to have access to so many options when buying car seats - local stores, online and baby fairs. While good deals are great for the wallet, is the price really the only decision-making point to make when buying a car seat?
Out of all the things you’ll be purchasing for your child, a car seat is one of the most important. You’ll be needing one from the moment you take your baby home from the hospital all the way up until they grow big enough to fit into an adult seat belt—which would typically be around the age of 10!
While it doesn’t have to be an expensive one to be quality, a car seat is definitely something to invest in. However, with all the recommendations out there, it’s difficult to know which seat to choose for each stage of your child’s life. There are also other factors to consider when buying a car seat, such as safety ratings, vehicle compatibility, and more. If all this is a little overwhelming, our car seat buying guide should take some of the guesswork out of it so you’ll save yourself some time (and money!) in finding the right car seat.
We've made it easier for you! Download our car seat buying guide that you can print out, fill out and bring to a retailer.
You can write down your child's measurements, age and weight so that it's easier when you're at the shop to ensure that your child fits all the requirements a car seat has.
If you don't have a car seat for your child yet, then it's simple - you need one.
However, if you already do and you're looking to move your child to the next stage, you need to first determine if your child is ready by checking the user manual that came with your existing car seat. Sometimes we think our child has outgrown their old car seat when they haven't - a common mistake that stems from how dearly we love our children. We always want to make sure they're ready for everything, so we move them onto the next stage of child restraints a little too soon sometimes.
The reason we don't hurry parents into letting their children graduate from one child restraint to the next is because with every 'downgrade', (from a car seat to a booster seat, for example) we offer our child less and less protection. It's ideal to have your child in their car seat for as long as possible before moving on to the next one.
The user manual that comes with your car seat will define the limit your child has to reach before they should be moving on to the next stage. If you have a baby, apart from checking the manual, one other way is to check if their heads are no longer held within the shell of the car seat. They will have to move up to a car seat at this point. The user manual is very important, we can't stress this enough! Always refer to it when deciding whether your child needs to move on to the next stage of child restraints.
Buying a car seat is often a big investment. As such, many parents look into buying cheaper car seats (secondhand or from an unofficial distributor, for example).
Buying a child restraint from an unofficial distributor or buying a used child restraint is very dangerous.
It is hard to determine whether a secondhand car seat has been in a crash before, especially if the seller is dishonest. Unofficial distributors may be carrying inauthentic or expired child restraints. Inauthentic child restraints would not have been put through the rigorous crash testing and quality assessments that make a new and certified child restraint that is safe for use. Any of these compromises in safety could render your child restraint completely ineffective. This can be extremely hazardous in the event of an accident! You can check that a car seat is safe for your child to use by purchasing from an official distributor and confirming that the car seat you buy is crash test-certified and approved to be used in the countries you plan to be in.
After confirming that you need one and making sure that you're getting a car seat from an official distributor, another thing you should consider is your most frequently used mode of travel.
If you travel in taxis a lot, it would be a good idea to look into car seats that are certified compatible with a stroller.
This makes taking a car seat around town a lot more convenient for you.
A big safety consideration is whether you want your child seated rear facing or forward facing. As long as your child needs a car seat, this will always be relevant.
It is five times safer for your child to travel rear facing in a car than it is for them to travel forward facing.
A rear facing car seat evenly distributes the crash forces across your child's body, whereas a forward facing car seat concentrates the impact on your child's head and neck, which are very vulnerable at their age. Younger children, however, feel more comfortable when they can see their parents while travelling. Think about your stance on this topic before going out to buy a car seat. Some car seats have to be installed forward facing only, some rear facing only, while others are convertible.
There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to car seats. Different families have their own methods of travel.
It would be helpful to strategise which car seat is most suitable for you in the long run based on your lifestyle.
You can do this by shortlisting your options based on whose car your child will travel in most frequently (think: how is my car different from my mom's for example, and does this car seat work with both cars?), how often you need to dismantle it from one car to install it into another (think: portability/convenience), whether you plan to travel overseas (think: is this car seat approved in the country you're going to?) and any other factors that could concern the use of a car seat.
If in doubt, feel free to reach out to one of our experts at Taxi Baby. Also, you can look at our car seat collection here