by Patricia Hughes
One piece of baby gear that all new parents will need is a car seat. You will be asked if you have a seat at the hospital and a nurse may check before you are discharged from the hospital. A car seat will protect your baby in the event of an accident and in most places, using a car seat is the law. You have two basic choices in seats for your new baby, an infant only seat or a convertible car seat. There are pros and cons to each type of seat.
Infant Seats are made to fit rear facing and are used for young babies. The seat part can be removed from the base and carried by the handle. This feature can be useful for moving a sleeping baby into the house. Some are made as part of a travel system and can fit inside the stroller. The biggest benefit of these seats is that newborn babies just fit in them better. Newborns, especially smaller babies, flop around in many convertible seats and just don’t fit well.
There are a few cons to owning an infant only seat. One downside is these seats can only be used in the rear facing position. When your baby is ready to face forward, you will need a new seat. Some babies outgrow the seat before they are able to sit forward facing. It is likely that you will need a convertible seat eventually, when the baby outgrows the infant seat. This is an additional expense and not a small one. Infant seats are expensive.
Convertible Car Seats can be used both rear and forward facing. If you choose a convertible seat, you will only need to purchase one. This saves you money. Follow the directions for installing the seat in the rear facing position. The baby should remain rear facing for at least twelve months AND needs to weigh at least twenty pounds. This is to protect the baby’s head and neck in the event of a collision
A convertible seat isn’t made to come out of the car. You will need to take the baby out of the seat if she is sleeping when you get home. Another downside of the convertible is the fit for a newborn. Small babies tend to slump over in these seats. Large newborns may not have a problem. Babies grow fast and soon it will be a perfect fit.
Tips for Choosing a Car Seat
Whether you choose an infant seat or a convertible seat, installing the seat properly is very important. If the seat isn’t installed properly, your baby may not be protected in a crash. Your local police department may offer classes on car seat safety or safety inspections. An officer will inspect the seat to be sure it is installed properly. Call the non emergency number of your local police department to inquire about these services.
Some car seats fit certain vehicles better than others. You want to be sure the seat you are buying will fit easily and securely in your car. Some stores will allow you to try out the floor model in your car before you buy to check the fit. Ask if this is possible when you are shopping for seats.
At some point, a friend may offer a used car seat. Be very careful about using old seats for your baby. Check for recalls on the model of the seat. In addition, you need to know about the seat before you use it. Be absolutely sure it hasn’t been involved in a crash. This is easy to know if the seat belongs to your sister in law, but not so easy in a second hand store. When in doubt, it’s better to have a new seat for your baby.
Patricia Hughes is a freelance writer and mother of four. Patricia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Florida Atlantic University. She has written extensively on pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and breastfeeding. In addition, she has written about home décor and travel.
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