As a parent, selecting the right car seat – one that fits your child, your life and your style – is really important. To help with what can seem like an overwhelming decision, we’ve put together some helpful things to think about while you’re considering options and making that all-important choice.
Longevity. There are several categories of car seats. The four main ones are: infant car seats, convertible car seats, harness boosters and belt-positioning boosters. Here are their major defining features:
Infant Car Seats: These seats protect rear-facing infants and can be used in tandem with a stroller to create a travel system. They are only to be used rear-facing and will come with a stay-in-car base so that it’s easy to secure the seat to your vehicle without having to disturb baby. One great (new!) option is the SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40, which is built for newborn babies all the way up to two-year-olds (from 4 to 40 lbs.). Learn more about the SnugRide Click Connect 40 at gracosafety.com.
Convertible Seats: A convertible car seat will keep your child harnessed in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes. A great example of this is the Graco My Size™70, which keeps baby harnessed rear-facing from 4 lbs. to 40 lbs. and then keeps your bigger child harnessed in forward-facing mode from 20 lbs. to 70 lbs. This particular seat also offers Graco’s exclusive InRight LATCH system which provides an audio click cue to help insure secure installation and a one-second push button release for easy removal. It also offers other great convenience and safety features like the Simply Safe Adjust™ harness system (a no-rethread harness system that automatically adjusts the position to fit as your child grows).
- All-in-One Seats: All-in-one seats are great from a longevity perspective, just as their name suggests. If you choose to go with an all-in-one car seat, it’s the only seat you would ever need to buy for your child – from infant to “big kid.” Seats in this category can serve as an infant seat in rear-facing mode and then can be switched to forward facing, both with a five-point harness. Then, the seat becomes a belt-positioning booster for even older children. A shining example from Graco, the Smart Seat™ fits children from just 5 lbs., all the way up to 100 lbs. The stay-in-car base makes it simple to switch the seat from rear-facing to forward-facing—and you can purchase an additional base for another car (so mom and dad, or even grandparents, can install the seat in seconds in their own vehicle). The base adjusts to accommodate your growing child, and the no-rethread harness assures that you’ll always be able to adjust the headrest and harness to perfectly fit your child—with just one hand.
- Combination Seats: We support the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to keep your child in a 5 point harness until they exceed the height and weight limits of their seat – regardless of their age. Harness boosters are only used in forward-facing mode, with a built-in harness. The Graco Nautilus™ 3-in-1 Car Seat is a good example of a combination seat. As the “3-in-1” name suggests, it’s designed to transition as a child grows in forward facing mode. Our Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat helps keep your child secure in a 5-point harness, from 20-65 lbs. And as she continues to grow, the Nautilus grows with her, transitioning into both a Highback and Backless booster for a comfortable fit up to 100 lbs.
- Belt-Positioning Booster Seats: A Belt-Positioning Booster is a forward-facing seat that can be used with your vehicle’s seat belt, and they come in both highback and backless versions. It’s important for children to ride in a booster until they are able to fit a vehicle’s seat belt correctly. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this is until a child reaches at least a height of 4’9”—that’s typically when they’re between 8 and 12 years old. One great example of a belt-positioning booster is the brand new AFFIX™ Highback Booster Seat with LATCH System. The AFFIX is terrific because it has a front-adjust LATCH system, so it keeps the seat steady (for independent children who want to buckle themselves) and secure in the vehicle when it’s not being used. Plus, parents can adjust and tighten the seat down with just one hand, from the front of the seat. Kids love the handy integrated cup holder and hideaway storage for their favorite things (games, small toys, etc…). When your child gets a little bigger, this seat converts to a backless booster, so it’s really like having two products in one.
Features. Graco builds in lots of thoughtful details into our products, so take a moment to think about which ones are important to you. Do you want hideaway cup holders or a removable insert that goes right in the dishwasher? Is it important to have a no-rethread harness and headrest adjustment system? Perhaps a removable head and body support is important for a younger baby? These are all good things to keep in mind as you’re shopping – there are so many options!
Fashion. Finally, let’s talk about fashion! After all, you’re going to see your baby’s car seat just about every day, so you want to pick a pattern you really love. To get started, think about whether you’ll want something trendy or classic, gender-specific or gender-neutral. Then, think about where your seat will be used. Will it go in a travel system (for infant seats)? Will it be used with only one car or switched from mom’s to dad’s to grandma’s? The good news is that Graco has more than 75 fashionable patterns – you’re sure to find one that’s the perfect fit for your style.