Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How to Find the Right Car Seat For Your Child

How to Find the Right Car Seat For Your Child

family smiling with child

Picking the right car seat is a weighty matter. The size and type of chair you buy will, in large part, be based on the weight of the chair, and the weight of your baby.

Debbi Baer, R.N., founder of The Car Seat Lady, a children’s safety advocacy organization, became involved in a grassroots movement in her home state of Maryland. As a result of her efforts, Maryland passed its first car seat law in the early 1980s. Today, all 50 U.S. states have laws requiring proper child safety seats by height, weight, and age.

These requirements vary by state, so you should check your state’s safety laws to ensure that your child is in the correct and safest car seat.

Part 1 of 3: Car seats for infants

rear facing car seat

Step 1: Buy your first car seat. The first car seat that a parent will purchase is a rear-facing infant seat.

According to Baer, this seat should hold your baby comfortably until they’re between 22-30 pounds or, depending on the baby’s development, up to two years.

hybrid car seat/baby carrior

Step 2: Decide if you want the seat to also be a baby carrier. Some manufacturers sell car seats that double as baby carriers.

Those are great and help insure that your baby doesn’t wake up when you’re moving him from the car to the stroller. The downside: the stroller and the carrier can get heavy.

baby carrier/stroller

Luckily, a few companies have recently released 3-in-1 stroller-carrier-car seat hybrid products (as pictured above), and the future for wide distribution of these products is looking bright! (Keep those Google alerts on!)

Part 2 of 3: Car seats for bigger babies and toddlers

Baer cautions not to let “big baby” syndrome lull you into a false sense of security. Babies in the 95th percentile for size have the same strengths, weaknesses, and frailties as those in the 5th percentile. So don’t be fooled by weight alone. Age plays a big part of picking the right seat.

“The rigidity of bones and the strength of ligaments in the spine is likely to be the same in children of the same age, no matter their size,” Baer writes.

convertible car seat

Step 1: Buy your second car seat. A convertible seat is the second seat you’ll buy for your baby.

A convertible seat can do triple duty. They take over the rear-facing responsibilities from the infant seat until your baby reaches about 45-50 pounds.

Step 2: Turn the seat around. When your child reaches the milestones outlined by your car seat manufacturer, you turn the child’s seat around to face forward.

  • Note: It’s important to make sure that there’s at least an inch between the back of your child’s head and the car seat, as this buffer will protect your child in the event of a crash.

Some convertibles also function as a carrier, but again, they get heavy.

Depending on the manufacturer, kids can ride in a convertible car seat until about 65 pounds or six years old.

Part 3 of 3: Car seats for preschoolers and older children

two different types of booster seats

Step 1: Buy your third car seat. The last seat parents will buy is a booster seat. These are designed for kids who are too big for a convertible, but too small to sit on the normal seat without a boost.

Generally, kids who are about 65 pounds or six years old are ready to graduate to a booster. It’s important that before graduating their kids to a booster seat, parents ensure that the car’s seat belt fits low and snug along the child’s lap, and that the shoulder harness drapes across the shoulder - not the neck.

States have specific rules outlining when kids can wiggle their way out of the booster seats. Most states allow freedom when a child reaches 4’9”.

infographic of age and weight restrictions for different seats

Once you have done your research on the car seat requirements for your state, and the seat manufacturer’s guidelines, you should be able to choose the best and safest car seat for your child. Make sure the car seat is properly installed, and drive safely!

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the...
How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...


Related questions

Q: How do I turn the trailer sway feature on or off?

The trailer sway is a safety feature that helps keep a trailer from swaying when you are towing. You can turn the feature on or off with just a few steps: 1. Press the Up/Down buttons on the steering wheel...

Q: There is trouble locking the left rear passenger door - 1995 Mercedes-Benz E320

Hello and thank you for contacting YourMechanic. Open the left passenger rear door and check to see what setting the child lock is on. If the lock is not on and it is set to unlock, then move the lever...

Q: If the airbag has a sensor responsible for turning off the passenger side airbag then is it safe to put a rear facing baby seat in

Hello, thank you for writing in. Typically putting rear facing child seats in the front seat is not allowed. In most vehicles, putting a child seat in the front middle position is absolutely illegal and unsafe. The passenger seat safety...