5 Mistakes to Avoid When You Buy a Car Seat

A new baby in the house changes your world completely. Everything that you thought would be straightforward just isn’t anymore. Parenthood is a game of trial and error. And when it comes to your child’s safety, you can’t allow any room for error.

Although choosing a car seat seems simple, you can make a mistake by choosing the wrong car seat. You don’t want to make a mistake that could injure your child, but as long as you know what mistakes to look for, you can avoid them. Here are the most common mistakes parents make when they buy a car seat and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1-Not Taking Time to Do Research

Before you ever set foot in that baby equipment store, do your homework. Get online and read about the types and uses of car seats available. Some seats are specifically for infants, and some are for older babies.

Alberta has laws about restraining children in vehicles:

  • Any child under the age of 6 and under 18 kg (40 lbs) must ride in a car seat according to manufacturers’ directions.
  • You should install car seats correctly according to vehicle and car seat manufacturer directions.
  • Each car seat must meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 and have a label stating this.

Get to know both styles of car seats and how to use them to keep your baby safe.

Mistake #2-Inheriting a Used Car Seat from a Friend

Your friends love to make the financial burden of a new baby easier on you by giving you all their hand-me-downs. However, this practice should never extend to car seats. Did you know there are expiration dates on car seats?

As new data and technology become available, car seat manufacturers redesign their products for improved safety. They also redesign as vehicle styles and models change. The newest model car seats offer a decreased risk of injury to your baby.

Do not reuse any car seat that has been in an accident. In fact, after a car accident, buy a new car seat as soon as possible. Accidents may compromise a seat, making it unsafe for any future accidents or sudden stops.

Mistake #3-Not Buying the Right Seat

You have a large selection of many car seats to choose from. The right seat often has little to do with colours and designs, or even price. Finding the proper seat includes the following:

  • Determine the right type of seat based on the age, size, and weight of your baby. Manufacturers list this in the seat’s manual.
  • Take a look at the type of harness on the seat. Even if a seat fits Canadian law, it may not provide the best safety. Currently, 5-point harnesses provide the safest restraint for your child.
  • Look for a good fit for your vehicle too. Some parents regret their choice when they have to add padding to get their child’s seat to fit in the car properly.

Don’t get sidetracked by the perks of a car seat before you determine if it’s a good fit.

Mistake #4-Not Thinking Ahead

Car seat manufacturers include all sorts of perks that you can take advantage of if you think ahead a little.

Some rear-facing infant seats come with a base that you can secure into the vehicle rather than the seat itself. This allows you to easily remove the seat without having to disturb your baby so he or she can continue a nap even though you’ve reached your destination.

Another great development in car seats is the combo seat. These seats combine a rear-facing and forward facing model into one, convert to a stroller, and have all sorts of other handy functions. It saves you money and means one less piece of baby equipment.

Don’t overlook the little things either. Check to make sure the fabric of the car seat is washable and removable. Pick seats with light-coloured hardware and straps to avoid burning your little one if the seat sits in the sun.

Mistake #5-Forgetting to Register the Seat

It might be a hassle to fill out that card and drop it in the mail while juggling a screaming baby and all your other daily tasks, but taking a minute to do it could mean a huge difference.

When you register your car seat, you put yourself on a mailing list that notifies you when any problems come up, like safety recalls. You may also receive coupons and other advertising as well.

The important part is that you’ll receive notification if your car seat has been found non-compliant or if it may pose a risk to your baby in some way.

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