What should you consider when buying a car seat? Our Child Restraint Technicians break it down for us!
So many parents ask “what’s the best car seat?” and expect us to be able to shout out “This one! This brand!” Yes, we do have our preferences (you can find them on the shop wall), but the reality is the best car seat is:
- One that fits your child,
- One that fits your vehicle, and
- One that you can use correctly.
To help you in your journey to find the right car seat for your child, we recommend considering the following four factors before you hit the shops:
- The fit required (know your car and your child);
- Whether you need it rear or forward facing;
- Who else will be in the car when you travel;
- What (if any) limitations you have around installation - are you confident you can reinstall the seat if anyone takes it out?
Fit : How do you know if your car seat fits your vehicle?
Like we mentioned above, you want one that actually fits your child and your vehicle. It’s best if you bring your child and your car with you.
If you can’t bring your car (because that’s so often impractical), then make sure you know the make, model, and year, so you can talk to a shop assistant about it.
That said, at Baby Box we have a car park right outside our shop so that we can easily check your vehicle if we need to. We may need to look for things like (a) does it have isofix, (b) does it have anchor bolt points, (c) how many diagonal seat belts are there? So do bring the car ;-)
Likewise, know how heavy and tall your child is, so that when you look at car seats you have an idea of whether your child will fit and for how long.
Direction : Have you got your child rear facing or forward facing? And what's best?
You will need to be sure that the child restraint faces the correct direction in the car. For infant capsules, this means rear-facing. If you are shopping for a toddler seat, we also recommend considering a rear-facing seat until your child is at least two years old.
Location : How do you fit your car seat and your husband in the same vehicle?
It is a LOT safer for a child to be in the back seat of the car, or, if you have three rows of seats, in the second row. Try and keep your kid in the back seat until they are 15 years old if you can.
Sometimes you will have to carefully consider configurations. For example, when one of the parents is taller will the car seat go behind them or the shorter parent? Similarly, do you have three kids in the back? You want to be confident all your seats will fit safely into your vehicle and keep everyone as comfy as possible.
What we would do at Baby Box is work with you to make sure that you have everyone in the vehicle safely. There's no point having baby installed with their rear facing carseat and the perfect set up if you can't fit hubby in the car too. Maybe we need to look at where we all sit to find the best solution.
Ease of installation : Do you know how to install your car seat yourself? Can we help you get to that point?
At Baby Box we have Child Restraint Technicians to help ensure your car seat is installed properly. But, be aware that we don’t travel everywhere with your family.
Because it’s so common for people to move their seats we recommend that you go for an easy to install seat if you can. At Baby Box ease of install is one of our top priorities when deciding which seats to sell. And teaching you how to do it is our priority when you come to us for car seat installs.
You know there will be a day where you service the car, or allow your child to go on a daycare field trip, or ask a grandparent to take your child for an outing. Life is real, so get a car seat you can use in real life.
Does price matter when it comes to car seats?
Not exactly. At Baby Box we have really fantastic car seats for less than $400. But we also have a few that are more spendy.
In terms of safety, we do think that some brands are safer than others, because they spend more on testing, they have a better design, and the components are stronger. BUT we don't sell ANY seats which we don't consider safe.
Some things that more expensive car seats might have include:
- Exclusive colours (like the Maxi-Cosi premium range)
- Streamlined modern designs
- Patterned covers (like the Clek's Tokidoki print)
- Slim fit (like the Clek and Diono)
- i-size (like the Maxi-Cosi and Cybex premium European ranges)
- Extended rear facing capability
- Unique features, like
- the Axissfix has the ability to rotate around which makes it easy for those with back problems to put baby into the car seat,
- or the way the Pebble plus infant capsule smoothly fits with a whole bunch of strollers in such a stylish way (like the Quinny! oh my design!),
- or the alarm system that comes with a 2 way fix which tells you if you've installed your car seat incorrectly.
These things are all quite cool to have, and some parents and grandparents will pay more just for a specific feature because it will make every day life easier or better for them. But you don't have to unless you want to.
Ultimately remember it comes down to these 4 things:
- Fit - to your child and your vehicle
- Direction - rear or forward facing preferences
- Location - how it works inside the car and with other passengers
- Installation - can you install it right every time
Car seats are used almost every day so to make sure you feel comfortable with your choice, talk to one of our Child Restraint Technicians, and test seats with your child and in your vehicle. We are here to help and we love what we do.