Portable Car Seat Features To Consider Before You Buy

By: Philip West


Have you ever traveled with an infant and found that carrying around a heavy child seat was a real chore? Have you rented a car seat while vacationing, and been disappointed in the condition or cleanliness of it?

A portable car seat, also known as a travel car seat, may well be the ideal solution to your dilemma.

Due to the fact that it is widely recognized that car seats are a necessity for small children, many nations have passed laws that require children to be in a child seat suitable for their age and size. If you fail to comply with these laws, you risk having to pay considerable penalties for endangering the child. There are now some travel seats available that have been approved by the FAA for use on aircraft, which could be quite useful depending upon your travel arrangements.

So if you travel with your children a few times a year and are tired of trying to haul full-size car seats around, or renting and having to pay around $10 per day or more per child for one that may not be very clean, then you should absolutely consider buying a portable car seat. With the cost of rentals, it won't take long before the cost of the new portable car seat is recouped.

For a new parent or grandparent, buying a portable car seat may seem a bit confusing at first. The proper model car seat is critical to keeping an infant safe while traveling. If you are searching for a car seat, here are some tips on what to look for prior to making your purchase.

First, you will need a car seat for baby's first car ride, which will presumably be baby's trip home from the hospital, so be sure to plan ahead. For the best infant car seat, select a rear facing model. Rear facing seats provide the highest level of protection in case of an impact, considering that your baby will be unable to support the weight of her own head yet.

Look for a design that is sturdy, but light and easy to carry. Because infants sleep a lot, especially when riding in the car, you should select a model which is readily detachable. This way your infant can continue sleeping when being moved from the car to the house, instead of you needing to awaken them. Most conventional car seats have side protection with wings, so you should also look for this feature in a portable car seat.

After your baby reaches twenty pounds or the top of their head is up to the top edge of the seat, it will be time to graduate to a forward facing car seat. A forward facing car seat is more vertical and the better models adjust to allow toddlers a more horizontal position for a more comfortable sleeping position during longer drives. Be wary of any sizes based on age, as heights and weights of children can vary substantially. Instead look at models with sizes based on height and weight.

Don't forget, your toddler must be able to sit up on his own before he's ready to use a forward facing car seat. The forward facing seats are designed and built for longer term use and your child should be able to use this style seat until he is four to six years old.

Is it OK to buy a used car seat?

That can be a tough question. A portable car seat helps prevent serious injuries in a car accident, so you should learn if the seat has ever been in an accident or otherwise damaged. If so, the frame may not be properly aligned, which compromises the strength of the car seat and the safety of your child. Avoid any car seat that is more than two years old. Safety features change and improve all the time. Staying with a current model seat helps to ensure that your family is protected by the latest technology.

If you do decide on a second hand seat, only stick with accepting a used seat from family, friends, or someone you trust will give you a full disclosure of any car accidents or possible damage. Also, carefully inspect the belts, padding, and fasteners. Make sure they are all in good condition. Car seats don't have many parts but those that they do have are important. If a used seat has any missing or broken parts this can present a danger to your child and is something to be avoided. If the owner's manual is not available, look for a label on the car seat itself. This might provide details on the correct use of the seat.

If the passenger side of your vehicle has an airbag, the car seat should be placed in the back seat, not in the front seat. In case of an accident and the child seat is in the front seat, the inflating airbag may cause serious injuries to your baby. To ensure the correct installation of the seat, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

There's nothing more important to a parent than their child's safety. That's why you should give a lot of thought to selecting the best infant car seat for your child. It can be confusing when looking at the many products available in the marketplace. So when you are choosing your infant's first car seat, look at the various options available. Read baby car seat reviews. Talk to other parents about their experiences. Whichever portable car seat you decide on, a bit of research makes your choice much easier and most importantly, will protect your child.

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