I am often asked the question ”How do I choose the right car seat for my child?” With so many seats to choose from the short answer is “the one that fits your vehicle, your lifestyle and your budget”. The long answer however, is that buying a child seat is a significant purchase for parents and we all want to get it right.
Children typically outgrow infant car seats between 4 and 7 months of age, so borrowing a seat from a trusted friend or family member is an option at this stage in a child’s life, as long as you confirm that the seat has not been recalled, has never been in a crash or has not expired.
A convertible seat is the seat that a child will ride in for 4-5 years, so I recommend purchasing this seat new. Look for a seat that gives the widest height and weight range possible, that way it is you who decides when it is time to move your child to the next stage, not the seat that your child outgrows, that makes the decision for you.
Booster seats are required for children until their 9th birthday or until they reach a height of 4’9” or 145cm, so ensure that you are buying a seat that gives you flexibility. Adjustable/detachable back booster seats adapt to any seating position in a vehicle equipped with a lap/shoulder belt, and are great for fostering independence in children who are going on field trips or play dates with their seats.
Colleen Blundell is a mother of two, a former teacher and a Certified Child Passenger Safety Educator who owns Kids in the Back, a Child Car Seat Inspection and Education Services company based in British Columbia. Since 2003, Colleen has inspected thousands of child car seats and has taught workshops to hundreds of parents, caregivers and service providers, with the goal of educating adults to correctly and confidently install a child car seat in their own vehicle. Contact Colleen at 604-617-0624 or at www.kidsintheback.org.