Car seat safety is a priority for any new parent. The safety of a child supersedes all else; evidence shows an increased risk for children not in car seats during a crash. However, because every car seat on the market must pass government inspection, every one is considered “safe.” Several criteria are key to knowing the top 10 safest car seats for your infant.
Before purchasing a new car seat, ensure there are adequate harnesses in the back of the car seat. As your child grows, you will need to adjust the harness level to meet his height. In addition, check for a five-point harness; these are the safest for infants. A car seat should include a strap over each shoulder, two on each side of the hips and one between the legs. In addition, check the type of harness adjustment system for ease of use.
Although car seat systems without a base prove slightly safer in car accidents, the addition of a base can be better. A base requires adequate setup, but once the base is situated in the vehicle, the car seat simply has to be snapped into place. Without a base, the user must install the car seat correctly every single time. In the long run, a properly used car seat with a base is safer than an improperly installed car seat without a base.
There are several things to look for when buying a car seat. Check for level indicators, small bubbles that tell you when the base has been properly aligned. In addition, Expanded PolyStyrene foam in the car seat provides added protection for a baby’s head in the event of a crash. However, make sure this comes with the seat; any cushion sold separately was not crash-tested with the rest of the car seat.
The NHTSA Rating Systems
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has developed a rating system based on a car seat’s ease of use. It tests four categories: evaluation of instructions, vehicle installation features, evaluation of labels and securing the child. Although ease of use does not equal increased safety, if a system is easy to use, there is a greater likelihood that you will use the car seat correctly every time. A properly installed car seat is the safest car seat.
Top 10 NHTSA Infant Car Seats
The First Years Via is the only infant car seat to receive an NHTSA five-star rating in every category. Other systems highly rated by the NHTSA include Baby Trend Flex-Loc, Maxi-Cosi Mico, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30, Baby Trend Rigid Loc, Britax Chaperone, Chicco Keyfit, Britax Companion, Chicco Keyfit 30 and Combi Centre DX.