Baby Car Safety

Baby car safety is one of the most important topics to learn about and will help ensure your child is safe when in a vehicle.  Car accidents are the leading cause of fatalities among children in the United States and it's estimated that 7 out of 10 car seats are fitted or installed incorrectly.  A good car seat that's installed properly will help make sure you get home safely from the hospital and anytime you are on the road.

baby car safety

If you are a new parent it might seem like a whole new world of unknowns and unanswered questions and the truth is that there is a lot you need to know about keeping your child safe while in a vehicle.  After you are finished reading this page you will have a good idea of what car seat is right for you as well as a few products that will make travelling safer and easier.  

All seats have a weight and height limit determined by rigorous testing standards and should never be exceeded as it renders the seat less effective in the event of an accident.  After you have decided which seat you want it's important that you install your baby car seat correctly in the safest location and position  

All newborns need to be kept in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 20 lbs and it's recommended (or required in some states and provinces) that they are kept that way until they are at least 2 years old because it's the safest position.  A rear-facing seat can seem inconvenient for parents because they can't see their precious bundle and baby can't see parents, but a good mirror or car baby monitor are both great options. 

Types of Baby Car Safety Seats

Let's take a look at the different car seat options starting with infant seats designed specifically for newborns.  As your baby grows they will need a larger, heavier and more permanent seat that supports their larger body.  There are disadvantages and advantages we'll discuss that are important to know and recognize so you can choose what is best for your child, lifestyle and personal preference. 

1.  Infant Car Seats and Travel Systems

Infant car seats are the first seats you will probably use because they are specifically designed for newborns and can be used until your baby is between 30 and 40 lbs or too tall as recommended by the manufacturer.  It's common to find extra cushioning, a canopy and handle for carrying your baby to and from the vehicle undisturbed. 

Infant car seats are often designed to be only rear-facing but there are other advantages that make them an excellent and safe choice for newborns including:

  • Easy installation
  • Small and Lightweight
  • Detaches from the base to be carried or used with a stroller (travel system)
  • 5 point safety harness

One of the best features of infant baby car safety seats is that they can be detached from the base and used with a compatible stroller.  These car seat and stroller combination's can also be referred to as travel systems. It's really convenient to be able to move your baby undisturbed from the vehicle to your home or stroller and vice versa.  A travel system includes an infant car seat, a base for your vehicle and a compatible stroller that the seat clips into to. 

We recommended that you purchase a matching travel system of the same brand or model as it can be tedious and frustrating finding compatible seats and strollers.  There are numerous car seat adapters available but they can be costly and it can be time consuming trying to find an adapter that works for your devices, if one available. 

Top Rated Infant Car Seats and Travel Systems

We recommend purchasing your infant stroller in a travel system combo package for the convenience and added safety they provide.  With the many different manufacturers and models on the market it can be extremely tricky to find a compatible system if you purchase the seat and stroller separately.  The best travel systems will ensure your car seat and stroller will function properly together without the need of an adapter. 

Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 Infant Car Seat

The Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30 Infant Car Seat makes the top of our list because it's affordable while providing safety for your baby.  It weighs only 7.5 lbs so it is easy to carry around or attach to a compatible stroller. 

It's designed for babies between 4 - 30 lbs and up to 30" long.  It's top rated in all aspects and meets or exceeds U.S Safety Standards with it's energy absorbing foam and impact management.  As your baby grows you can remove the infant head rest for added comfort and overall convenience. 

graco infant car seat

Orbit Baby G3 Infant Car Seat Plus Base

The Orbit Baby G3 Infant Car Seat and Base is the ultimate baby car safety seat.  It features a deep cradle for increased side-impact protection during a crash with added comfort for your baby. 

The most impressive feature is the side-face option that allows you to turn the car seat top so you can load your baby from the side.  This will alleviate awkward and sometimes painful loading especially when your seat is in the middle of your vehicle.  This seat is designed for babies 4 - 30 lbs and up to 32". 

orbit baby infant car seat

Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System

The Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Travel System is the ideal combo for infants from newborns up to 50 lbs.  The 5-point safety harness will keep your baby secure and safe while rear-facing in your vehicle. 

The 16" rear and 12" front bicycle tires means your baby will have a smooth ride while not in the vehicle and out for a walk.  The versatility of the stroller will allow you to go just about anywhere whether it's jogging or a leisurely walk.  This tandem is our top pick in baby car safety travel systems. 

baby trend travel system

Britax 2014 B-Agile and B-Safe Travel System

The Britax 2014 B-Agile and B-Safet Travel System combines the security and comfort of a top of the line infant car seat with a stroller that's built to last with quality and tons of features. 

Take your baby from newborn to 55 lbs on a walk in a comfortable ride anytime of year.  When you are done, the quick-fold design makes loading up your car exceptionally easy and hassle free.  This travel system not only looks good but it delivers on safety and overall comfort. 

britax travel system

2.  Convertible Infant Car Seats

A convertible car seat is the next seat your baby will probably transition to after an infant car seat.  As your baby outgrows the weight and height limitations of a smaller infant seat it's important not only for their comfort but that their larger bodies are supported in the event of a collision.  Studies have found that serious injury can occur to infants in speeds as low as 4 mph (6 kmh).

The advantages of a convertible car seat are that you only need one seat for your baby's first years because they can be used in both rear-facing and forward-facing position.  They are often rated to hold children up to 65 lbs which is great for convenience and affordability but they are often not ideal for small newborns because of the bigger size.  

Most convertible seats sit on a separate base so they are portable but are substantially heavier than infant car seats.  They also don't have the ability to be used with a stroller or travel system because of their size. 

Top Rated Convertible Infant Car Seats

Convertible car seats are available in an wide assortment of styles and come with a variety of features which make it confusing to pick the right seat for your child.  We've searched and put together a list of the best convertible car seats based on safety, convenience, versatility, size and the little features that make life a little bit easier for both you and your child. 

Diono Rainier Convertible plus Booster Car Seat

The Diono Rainier Convertible plus Booster Car Seat is designed to take up less space while providing comfort for your child.  It features a 12-postion head support that can be lowered or raised to suite the individual needs of your baby.

It's versatility allows for children from 5 - 120 lbs so you can use this car seat from newborn until only a regular seat belt is required.  You can count on a well built product that is designed to last 12 years or longer.  This seat has high safety rating including being FAA certified. 

diono rainier convertible car seat

Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat

The Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat is one of our favourites and features 9 reclining positions which is the most of any seat in this class.  The handy bubble level indicator will ensure that you have the right angle whether it's rear-facing or forward-facing.  

The integrated slide path makes this seat easy to re-position using the LATCH strap system or UAS.  A removable infant insert and 5-point harness make this seat suitable for newborns up to 40 lbs.  The 6 position headrest rounds out this versatile and highly recommended baby car safety seat.  

chicco convertible car seat

3.  3-In-1 Car Seats

If you are looking for your best value in baby car safety a 3-In-1 car seat will accommodate children from newborn up until they no longer need a seat at about the age of 12 or 120 lbs.  They are fitted with latches that will accommodate the seat sitting in rear-facing and forward-facing with weight and height limitations for each position. 

If affordability is important because this style is great as you will only need one seat for your child but they do lack in other areas including comfort and convenience.  They are ideal as a backup seat or for family members who take care of your baby occasionally.  A 3-In-1 car seat or all-in-one as they are sometimes referred are often bulky and can seem like they are swimming in the seat. 

Top Rated 3-In-1  Car Seats

A good 3-In-1 car seat will have some handy features while keeping baby car safety in mind.  If you are considering an all-in-one car seat there are some perks that will keep your baby comfortable through their first years as they grow and require a larger seat and higher head rest.  We like the following seats because they take these needs into consideration while still being affordable. 

Graco Nautilus 3-In-1 Car Seat 

The Graco Nautilus 3-In-1 Car Seat is a top pick for it's versatility and it's ability to fit a child from 20 - 100 lbs comfortably and safely.  It's steel-reenforced frame adds durability with comforting energy absorbing foam. 

In addition to it's affordability it features a 1-hand adjustable head rest great for when your child grows and open loops that allow for easy positioning of your vehicle's seatbelt.  The 5-point harness rounds out this excellent choice that takes baby car safety and comfort to the next level. 

graco 3-in-1 car seat

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-In-1 Car Seat 

The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-In-1 Car Seat has exceptional versatility and will fill your car seat needs from newborn up to 100 lbs.  It's difficult to find a seat that will fit a newborn while still being safe and comfortable for a larger child. 

This baby car safety seat can be used rear-facing for infants and easily transitions to forward-facing as your child grows beyond 2 years of age.  The added features include harness holders, 3 position recline and machine washable materials. The side impact protection rounds out this versatile and affordable baby car safety seat. 

safety 1st 3-in-1 car seat

4.  Booster Car Seats

A booster car seat is designed specifically to support children that range from about 20 - 100 lbs.  They are ideal for toddlers as they transition from a convertible or or 3-In-1 car seat before they are able to use a regular seat belt.  

Booster seats are equipped with harnesses and will sit in the forward-facing position only. As your child grows the seat can often be used separately along with the seat belt that is standard in all vehicles.  They are necessary for children under 12 because they lift the child up into a safe sitting position so the seat belts can be most effective in the event of a collision. 

Top Rated Booster Car Seats

The best rated booster car seats must have a few features to make our list and these ones even go beyond.  To ensure that your child is comfortable and safe for many years a booster seat must have an adjustable head rest.  In addition to ensuring that the seat fits you should look for side impact crash test ratings that meet or exceed federal safety standards.  Cup holders and removable covers add convenience and will keep it looking nice and clean over the years. 

Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat with Latch System

The Graco AFFIX Highback Booster Car Seat with Latch System is our top pick for a few reasons including it's easy self-buckling and secure connection that keeps the seat snuggly in place. 

The comfortable ride padding and rigorous crash testing makes this not only a comfortable seat for your child but it is top rated in safety in the event of a crash.  This baby car safety seat also features an adjustable headrest so you can be sure your child is comfortable on those long rides. 

graco booster car seat

Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat

The Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat features a removable back for when your child outgrows the initial set up.  The comfortable padding will help ensure a smooth ride while the adjustable 6-position height adjustment head rest will ensure it's a safe one.  

The energy absorbing liner is machine washable so you can keep it looking clean over the many years of use you will get out if this seat.  It also comes with two handy cup holders which will help prevent messes in the first place that will make life a lot easier. 

evenflo booster car seat

Baby Car Safety Regulations for Seats

All baby car safety seats manufactured today must meet or exceed strict federal safety regulations and standards.  Every car seat that is approved for sale in both the United States and Canada has been put through a series of tests including energy absorption and harness strength to ensure they are adequate at protecting a baby in an accident.  

The biggest and most common mistake is using a car seat that is not designed for the weight and height of your child.  A newborn should be rear-facing either in an infant car seat or convertible until they are at least 20 lbs and recommended up to 2 years of age.  The transition to forward-facing should happen at the 2 year mark until your child is old enough to sit in a booster seat.  The CDC has great information and guidelines for using the right size car seat. 

A properly fitted and sized car seat is required by law in both the United States and Canada so it's important to get education on what is required in your state or province.  If you want more information or want to ensure you are following safety regulations you should visit a safety checkpoint, or motor vehicles branch and speak with a certified technician. 

Car Seat Tips and Advice

We'll go over a few important things you should know when selecting you next baby car safety seat.  If you keep these in mind now you can save yourself a lot of time and headache in the long run and most importantly help ensure the safety of your child. 

  • Every car seat has an expiry date and once that date has passed, the seat should not be used and properly disposed of to prevent anyone from using it.  
  • If you purchase a used seat make sure that the manufacturers sticker is visible and that it hasn't expired or been recalled.  The NHTSA has a form you can fill out to check if your child restraint has been recalled and to receive notifications.
  • Not all car seats are compatible with all vehicles so it's a good idea to try the seat out in your car before purchasing. 
  • An expensive car seat does not necessarily mean it's a safer car seat. 
  • Try to find a car seat that is easy to use.
  • A car seat with multiple harness slots will ensure that the harness fits snug at all times as your child grows. 
  • Always fill out the Registration or Warranty form when you purchase a car seat so you receive any recall notices from the manufacturer. 
  • Never leave your baby alone in the vehicle even if it's for a few minutes. 
  • Install baby car safety signs to notify other drives that you have precious cargo in your vehicle. 

We hope you found this information informative and helps you find the right seat to ensure the overall safety for your child.  If you have any questions about what you have read please contact us with any questions or comments you might have about baby car safety and car seats. 

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