How To Choose The Best Baby Car Seat: The Complete Guide
The arrival of a baby is a happy event that requires organization when it comes to putting together a list of essentials. One of the most essential items on this list will always be the baby car seat.
However, choosing the best baby car seat is far from being an easy task, especially when it is the first time. And contrary to popular opinion, the price of a car seat does not guarantee its quality. Hence the need to take into account effective comparative criteria to make the best choice.
WHAT IS A BABY CAR SEAT, AND HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?
The baby car seat is the ultimate safety accessory for the baby in a car. Its importance is matched only by the safety and comfort you wish to provide to your child during your travels.
Indeed, during road accidents, which have always been a real scourge, children under 10 years of age are the most exposed, often because of the use of an unsuitable or poorly installed baby car seat. Hence the need to select the right seat and to master its characteristics.
According to the European standard of approval for car seats (ECE R44/04), the standard models of baby car seats are grouped into the following categories:
- group 0/0+, which concerns baby seats that can also be fitted to a stroller and infant car seats, from 0 to 4 months.
- Group 0+/1, which is made up of car seats for babies from 4 months to 4 years or 18 kg. However, there are car seats that combine the first two categories, and therefore allow the use of the same car seat from birth until the child is 4 years old or 18 kilos (this is called group 0/1);
- Group 1/2, car seats suitable for children from 9 months to 6 years, from 9 to 25 kg. Their capacity to evolve with the child over several years gives them a certain economic and practical advantage (you don’t have to change the car seat several times);
- Group 2/3, for adjustable baby seats from the age of 3 years up to the maximum age (10 years). Like the previous category, group 2/3 car seats have the advantage of ensuring your child’s safety for many years without having to change them, provided that you have purchased a group 0/1 car seat to protect your baby during the first few months of life.
WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING THE BABY FIRST CAR SEAT ?
If you are making this purchase for the first time, then it is imperative to have comparative and objective criteria that will allow you to choose the best baby car seat for your child. Essentially, you will need to baby car seats reviews available to make the best choice in terms of comfort and safety.
CHOOSING AN APPROVED BUT RELIABLE CAR SEAT
A baby car seat is said to be approved when it has been tested and approved by an accredited inspection body in accordance with the standards in force. As a buyer, you can prove this by carefully reading the label(s) attached to the product.
In Europe, two labels, in addition to certifying compliance with the ECE R44/04 and “I-SIZE” standards (European safety standard for car seats), will inform you at the time of your choice on
- the weight and height of the child allowed,
- the stamp of the place of control (E1= Germany, E2= France, E3= Italy, etc…),
- the serial number: it will start with 03 or 04 for a current seat, and with 01 or 02 for an obsolete seat (prohibited since 2010),
- the control standard (I-SIZE or ECE R44/04 for Europe).
By choosing an approved car seat, you can be sure that this model has successfully undergone crash tests to guarantee its reliability (front or rear impact, on concrete or steel blocks, harness test, etc.).
However, this is only the bare minimum, although the homologation according to the above standards is a requirement to put models on sale, some independent associations such as the ADAC (the German professional association gathering all the car clubs of the country), the OAMTC (the most important Austrian car club), the TCS (Swiss car club), etc. carry out extensive additional crash tests on vehicles with on-board equipment and dummies (frontal and rear impact, concrete and steel block impact, harness test, etc., with measurement of body stress on dummies of different sizes). During these meticulous tests, it is not uncommon to find serious safety problems with approved car seats.
Much more than the minimum requirements, these additional tests have the advantage of also taking into account the toxicity of the components of the equipment (polluting materials), ease of use, comfort, ergonomics, etc…
Fortunately for you, these independent associations periodically publish the results of these crash tests for baby car seats, as well as all the characteristics and resistance defects of the baby car seat brands of car seats tested, and the related recommendations. It is therefore useful to review the published crash test for baby car seats comparisons in order to choose the best brand and the safest baby car seat.
CHOOSING AN ERGONOMIC CAR SEAT
In addition to the safety and reliability of the baby car seat in a car, it is imperative that your choice is for the most comfortable and ergonomic seat possible. To do this, it is therefore wiser to take into account the age, weight and size of your child, ease of use and comfort.
It is also common, for economic reasons, to favour the purchase of a baby car seat brand that is sufficiently adjustable to adapt as long as possible to the evolution of your baby’s measurements. This is not the safest baby car seat option for your baby.
In summary, the best baby car seat is the one that will guarantee your child the maximum safety and comfort possible.
However, neither the price nor the basic tests guarantee that it is reliable. That’s why it’s important to make additional comparisons, which will allow you to choose the best car seat brand for your child’s happiness.