Children of the 70s and 80s rode in the front seat of the car with their parents and sometimes in the back of a truck unrestrained. Nowadays, we know it’s safer to make sure our children are properly restrained. From the time a child is born until the child is between eight and ten, parents need to have a car seat.
Everyone agrees that children should be safe when riding in a vehicle but car seats can be pricey with some costing close to $1,000. Lucky parents may receive a car seat at a baby shower. But if you are not one of the lucky ones, you can find a great car seat that protects your children and still pay the rest of your bills. Here are some of our recommendations for finding the best car seat for your child.
Know the Requirements
All states require children to be properly restrained in a car seat from the time they are born until they are four. Past four, the laws vary, but some states require children to be in a proper car seat until they are 8-years-old, weigh 80 pounds, or are four feet, nine inches tall. You can find out your state’s requirements here.
What’s the Best Kind of Seat?
That depends on the age of your child and your budget. All car seats sold by retailers are required to meet federal safety standards. Infants must ride facing the back on the car. You can purchase a seat that accommodates your child until he or she is 20 pounds or so, or you can purchase a seat that converts to a toddler seat as your child grows. You may pay more upfront for a convertible seat, but in the long run, you’ll likely save some money. Many retailers sell car seat-stroller combinations.
Your child will eventually outgrow his or her infant seat and can graduate to a booster seat. These seats are less expensive with some priced at less than $25 at discount retailers.
Where to Find Deals and Where Not to Find Deals
Discount retailers often sell child safety seats at great prices. You can also try online coupon sites like Groupon for savings. But you may want to avoid garage sales and online yard sale sites unless you find one new in the box. Car seats do expire, on average in six years. The cheap car seat may not meet the safety requirements. Also, a damaged car seat could be unsafe.
Parents who are really strapped for cash can reach out to their community. Many organizations offer free car seats to low-income families.
A Final Word About Car Seats
Even the most expensive car seat is worthless if you don’t install it properly. The good news is, most communities offer help with installation. Some law enforcement agencies will install your car seat for free and inspect it to make sure it is safe. The hospital where you give birth may also offer free car seat installations. You can contact your local police department or other emergency management agency for more information.
Have you purchased a car seat recently? Share your experience with us in the comments below!