Newborns are delicate and fragile, so it’s not advised to bring them on trips during the first few months. However, with many young couples choosing a dual-income family structure, this simply means that baby has to buckle up and get traveling more often.

A car seat is pretty-much essential for a traveling baby, for safety reasons. The car seat has to be firmly secured to the cushion, with a sturdy enough, shock-absorbing frame and soft layering that will make it comfortable for your baby. With a slew of choices available in the market, making a choice can be a huge headache.

We do our own research into the different age categories for car seats, as well as what are the most important features to look out for. Let’s jump into it!

 

Get the Age-Appropriate Car Seat

Car seats are designed with height and weight limits. Additionally, for rear-facing seats, there should at least be one-inch of spacing between the top of your child’s head and the top of the car seat. To predict the growth of your child in height and weight increments, please refer to these charts, courtesy of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control.

Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Boys (Birth to 24 Months)

Length-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Girls (Birth to 24 Months)

Stature-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Boys (2 to 20 Years)

Stature-for-age and Weight-for-age percentiles: Girls (2 to 20 Years)

We’ve prepared a neat summary of the types of car seats and their corresponding age relevance.

 

Age

Type Remarks
< 2 years Rear Facing Baby (or Infant-only) Car seats – typically lightweight, portable and comes with a 3-point safety harness. According to American Association of Pediatricians (AAP), it is advisable to put your child in the rear-facing car seat as long as possible up till he is at least 2 years old. When your baby exceeds the weight or height specified by the manufacturer, move him to rear-facing convertible car seats.
2 - 4 years Rear Facing or Forward Facing Convertible Car Seats – typically secured with 5- point safety harness. Switching your baby from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing one is probably the biggest change you will make to your child's car seat. But you mustn't do it too soon. If you're using a weight-based seat, it must be rear-facing until your baby weighs more than 9kg.
4 - 7 years Belt-positioning Booster Seats

The safest place for most booster seats is in the center of the rear seat, where your child is best protected from a side-impact crash. However, this arrangement is open to flexibility depending on situations. Booster seats are typically secured by adult safety belts.

 

The rate of physical development varies from child-to-child; hence, the car seat weight categories will overlap. It’s advisable to wait for your child to reach a certain weight limit, before moving them up to the next category car seats, as children who fall into the lower range of the weight group are more ijury prone.

 

Installation as Easy as A-B-C

Car seats are not unlike a simple piece of baby furniture; they should be easy to install and dismantle. Each car seat will come with a set of detailed installation instructions and precautions, which will come in very handy. Ensure that the car seat fits into your car like a glove, and request any accredited car seat advisers to demonstrate the proper way of installation and remove.

For a great resource on how to install a standard car seat, here’s one.

 

Look for Desirable Traits

Once the basic safety features are taken care of, you could begin to inspect other features, such as comfort, adjustability, and ease of maintenance.

  • Comfort

Seats should be adequately padded to give your baby a comfortable ride, and reduce the likelihood of straps rubbing against your child’s skin. There should be enough leg room for your baby to wiggle her legs and to keep the blood circulation flowing, especially during a long ride.

  • Adjustability

Most rear-facing car seats have recline angle indicators, in the form of a bubble, line, sticker or color-dial. Ensure that the car seat is reclined to the recommended angle, as the crash tests using these seats are done at these particular angles. As your child grows, the straps for the car seat need to be adjusted to accommodate. For the sake of convenience, avoid car seats that need to be dismantled from the car in order to transport your child, or to make room for your growing one.

  • Ease of Maintenance

Children tend to be messy when it comes to food, so the car seat cushions should be easily removable and washable. In the event of spillage, or baby’s mess, being able to clean and wash the affected areas would ensure that your child is comfortable and clean during the ride. Proper levels of hygiene are important to ensure your child’s well-being.

So there you have it! The fundamentals of selecting a car seat which is suitable for you, your family, your child and the car. We hope you enjoy the ride!


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