We know that choosing a car seat is tricky (you want the safest car seat that’s easy to install and transport while looking great in your car!). No doubt, there are a lot of factors at play, but it needn’t overwhelm! There is a science to it. Guiding factors include the age, height and weight of each child, how many kids you have, your lifestyle and type of car you are most likely traveling in. Luckily most seats work with most models, but some work better or worse depending on your vehicle and the backseat configuration. “It’s like a puzzle,” says Dr. Alisa Baer, dubbed “The Car Seat Lady.” With thousands of car seat installations under her belt, she has created magic formulas of seats countless times.
There are a few things that you can look for or consider when making your purchase to ensure a good choice, including how long it remains rear-facing (the longer the better: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least two years) and how secure the seatbelt installation is. Even if you picked a great seat, proper installation is key. “What’s shocking,” says Baer, “is that an overwhelming number of car seats are not installed correctly.” Baer notes, “If you’re not sure how to do it, you can go to seatcheck.org or safekids.org and find a certified installer in your area.” In fact, considering the misuse rates, she’d recommend it.
Living in the city can add extra complication to the car seat question. “Although it’s legal to travel in the city in a cab without a car seat,” says Baer, “this doesn’t mean it’s safe.” The best solution depends on the baby’s age and stage she says.