The Good Housekeeping Institute’s engineering and parenting experts have spent the past two years reviewing dozens of car seats, including infant car seats. They have collaborated with real parents to test car seats in different vehicle brands and sizes to ensure that they meet everyone’s needs and lifestyle.
First and foremost, the experts ensure that each car seat has passed the Federal Safety Standards. They conduct in-Lab and at-home tests to evaluate factors such as safety, ease of installation, stability, adjustment ease, and the process of getting babies in and out of the carrier. They also assess the removal of the carrier from the base and its installation into compatible strollers. The Lab sets up each car seat in various vehicles and strollers and uses an eight-pound baby “dummy” to simulate putting a child in the car seat and assess how easy it is to secure and install the car seats.
When shopping for an infant car seat, there are certain features to consider. While many convertible car seats are safe for newborns, infant car seats are specifically designed to provide additional support for the neck, head, and spinal cord. They are also typically smaller in size, allowing easier access to the baby when getting in and out of the car. Moreover, they are compatible with certain strollers, making it convenient to transfer the baby from the car to the stroller without having to remove the baby from the seat.
Here are some aspects to keep in mind when selecting an infant car seat:
1. Height and weight limits: Each car seat has its own height and weight limits that should be respected. If these limits are exceeded, it’s time to transition to a larger car seat.
2. Carrier weight: Most infant car seats come with a base that is secured in the vehicle, allowing you to easily transport the baby in and out of the car without disturbing them. It is important to ensure that the combined weight of the seat and the baby is light enough for comfortable lifting.
3. Stroller compatibility: Infant car seats are usually compatible with a range of strollers, allowing them to be used with strollers that may not be suitable for newborns. This enhances convenience when traveling with a newborn.
4. Ease of installation: The experts at GHI found that securing the car seat to the vehicle was the most challenging aspect of testing. Different car seats fit better in different-sized cars, so it is recommended to take note of the tight squeeze spots in your vehicle and measure the back-seat clearances. If needed, consult a certified car seat professional for assistance with installation.
5. Expiration: All car seats have an expiration date, typically between six and 10 years from the date of manufacture. If you plan to use the car seat for multiple children, be mindful of its expiration date. Additionally, never use a car seat that has been involved in an accident.
6. Harness type: There are two harness options to choose from – rethread and no-rethread. With a rethread harness, you will need to adjust the size by rerouting the straps through the back of the harness as your baby grows.
When selecting an infant car seat, consider these factors to ensure the safety and convenience of both you and your baby.