Of all the things you’ll buy for your son or daughter, a good car seat is one of the very most important. You’ll need one as soon as you take your child home from the hospital until she or he grows enough to match into a grown-up seating belt, typically around the age of 10 or later. What’s scary is that nearly 46 percent of child seats and boosters are installed incorrectly. An improperly installed seat leaves a kid vulnerable in an accident.

All child car seats must meet national safety standards in a 30-mph crash test. CR has analyzed chairs for more than 30 years, and we go further today with a simulated 35-mph crash that better represents current vehicle surroundings. We also test for simplicity: How simple it is to check out instructions or manage buckles and straps; and exactly how well the car seating suits into five different vehicles with challenging interiors. Therefore the better a chair does in our lab tests, the better your likelihood of installing it accurately and properly securing your son or daughter.

Spending big money doesn’t necessarily imply you’ll get the best car seat. Many midpriced models are well as or better than pricier ones. Whatever the price, a certain chair may simply just not work with your car. This is why we strongly recommend preparing in advance. Use our guide to figure out the right seats for your son or daughter (and car), and know when you will have to move your child to another one.

1. Is it easy to use?

Every expectant father or mother asks the same question when shopping for infant car seats: Which seat is safest? Every car seat sold in America needs to meet the same strict safety standards, but the key question is if the seat’s design makes it easy to use. Misuse is a rampant problem with child car seats – by some quotes, up to 90% of seats are being used improperly. There’s an enormous range of factors that affect simplicity, from the ease of the assembly process to the structure of the instructions to the clarity of labels on the seats itself.

When you’re shopping, obtain a few different seating. Buckle and unbuckle the harness. Tighten the funnel and release it up again. Try modifying the harness elevation. Release the seats from the bottom and snap it back in. This will help you get to know how the seating work, and identify which chairs seem intuitive and provide nice, smooth technicians.

2. Does it fit in your car?

Contrary to popular belief, compatibility problems between child car seats and cars aren’t uncommon. Infant car seats, in particular, can be quite profound, and in smaller autos sometimes there’s just not enough room in the trunk seat for the car seat to fit unless one of the passengers in advance is riding along with his knees up to his upper body. Each seating has different sizes, so the most sensible thing is to try before you get. Ask the store if you can bring the ground model seats out to your vehicle to make sure it fits. There must be enough space between your car seat and the front seat that the automobile seat can rock along unimpeded.

Bonus tips: While you’re out there, try to install the bottom and see if you find the instructions and labeling to be straightforward (see #1).

3. Shall it fit your child?

This is actually the hardest one to fully answer since (at least most of enough time) parents are buying their seats prior to the baby is born. There’s a fairly wide range as it pertains to weight boundaries for infant child car seats. Some seating rise to 22 pounds, while some rise to 35. There’s less of a variety for height restrictions – about between 29-32″. When you have a preemie, the starting weight of a chair can be really important – some car seats start at 4 pounds while others start at 5. If bigger infants run in your loved ones, leave yourself some extra room. If you’re planning on twins, who will be blessed before they reach full term, make sure you get a seat with a lower starting weight.

One thing to keep in mind: While parents enjoy the capability of toting their infant car seat around, once a baby reach is more than 20-25 pounds the seat in addition to the baby will be extremely heavy. Also, many babies outgrow their infant seats by height a long time before they reach the weight limit.

4. How comfortable is it?

You want a seat which will be comfortable for both you as well as your baby. You’re heading to be schlepping this seating. A whole lot. Some car seats are heavier than others, and some holders are more comfortable than others. Put some weight on the couch and carry it surrounding the store for a few moments. Try keeping the seating in your palm, then slip it up to the crook of your arm. Which way feels best? Will the seat feel just like a manageable insert for you?

For the baby’s comfort, stay away from fabrics that aren’t breathable. Also, the perspective of the automobile chair is likely to be established inside a certain range when the seating installed in the automobile, but how about when you’re using it in your stroller? It’s smart to observe how upright the seating is when it’s in the automobile seating adapter for your stroller. It should still be pretty reclined to market good airflow and keep carefully the baby’s head from rolling down.

5. Can you use it with your stroller?

Personally, apart from the Orbit Baby, I do nothing like travel systems. Of all the reasons to choose a stroller or an automobile chair, coordinating fabrics should be at the bottom of the list. I made this mistake myself once I was pregnant the first time. These days, the majority of the fantastic stroller companies offer car seat adapters for typically the most popular car seat models, so parents have a whole lot of good options.

A whole lot of expectant parents choose their car seat first, and they choose a stroller that’s appropriate for that car seat. If your alternatives are limited for just about any reason (car compatibility, size of the baby, personal desire), or if you aren’t heading to purchase a good stroller until following the baby will come and settles in, this is an acceptable approach. But if you are considering a few different chairs, and you have a sense of which stroller (or type of stroller) you need to get, it’s wiser to choose the stroller first. You can expect to (preferably) use that stroller for 3-4 years, and you’ll only use your infant car seat per annum (or two at most).