A Parent’s Guide to Picking a Safe Car Seat
Last updated Tuesday, March 14th, 2023
Picking a safe car seat for your child might be the most important buying choice you make in those early years. It’s what you hope is invincible to any crash no matter the severity. It’s like an insurance policy that you hope to never cash in but spend hours researching ensuring you’re picking wisely.
Thanks to the speed and growth of online shopping, there now seem to be endless options, styles, and brands to choose from – all of which are claiming to be the ‘Best’. On one hand, having all of those options is good as it allows you to pick from more than what’s in stock at your local store.
Here are a few tips that will help you make the best decision possible…
Shop for Safety over Price
Good car seats are on the expensive side. Look for the highest safety quality you can find within the price range you can handle. We went out into our Chicago neighborhood to find a local business that sells top-rated car seats. We proudly partnered with Sprout San Fransisco of Chicago which has car seat experts on staff to answer questions.
See our interview below for tips on how to pick the best car seat for your child, reminders of Illinois State car seat laws, and some tips for ensuring a good fit as your child grows.
Thankfully there are a series of State and National laws and regulations required in the manufacturing of car seats.
Here in Illinois, state-level regulations for car seats are governed by the 1983 Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act.
While all U.S. car seat regulations are governed on the National level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Getting up-to-date and accurate information on car seats:
The NHTSA’s rating system is a useful resource as an “indicator” of how different types and brands of car seats are faring in regard to safety.
It’s nice to have this all in one place when you are making your decisions about what a safe car seat means for your child.
The rating system for car seats is here. Fortunately, it lets you search by your favorite brand or by model.
The rating system considers the list of features below and each item can have a maximum of 25 stars:
- 5 Stars = Excellent features on this child restraint for this category
- 4 Stars = Above-average features on this child restraint for this category
- 3 Stars = Average features on this child restraint for this category
- 2 Stars = Below-average features on this child restraint for this category
- 1 Star = Poor features on this child restraint for this category
N/A = Does not contain any features that require a rating
If you want to search for your current model or one that has been handed down from an older child, you can do that here. This database provides all the ratings for car seats for sale within the State of Illinois.
Car Seats Expire
Car seats expire about 6 years after their manufacturing date, which can be found on a sticker that’s typically on the bottom or back of a car seat. That sticker will show the manufacturing specs of the seat as well as the date it was created.
One of the reasons car seats expire is that safety standards change and car seats are designed to stay current with those standards. The addition of an expiration date on seats was a way to encourage parents to purchase updated seats instead of purchasing used ones online.
Child safety seats or car seats also begin to degrade over time, which can be aggravated by extreme temperatures as explained in this article:
“Car seats are mainly made of plastic with metal bits (some feature steel frames, though this is more common in newer models) in key areas and fabric covering the seating area. Car seats typically live inside cars, and depending where you live temperatures inside your vehicle can range from 50 below zero to 140 degrees. Through these extreme temperature changes, the car seat sits and endures and these climate fluctuations—and time—take a toll on the plastics.”
Remember to Register Your Car Seat!
Registering your car seat not only makes sense, but we also believe it’s as essential as having one! It gives the manufacturer the ability to contact you about any recalls or safety notices for the lifetime of your product. It only takes a few minutes and is worth the peace of mind.
Get your car seat installed, inspected, and registered – for free:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration takes this issue seriously enough to provide support services to all Americans for FREE. They are accessible through the link below and you can search your local area to take advantage of them:
For advice on how to properly install your child’s car seat and common mistakes to avoid see our article, Car Seats Save Lives… But Only When Installed Correctly!
Something extra – to help keep our children safe in and around our cars!
As additional support to our parents, we wanted to include this for you also. Now that you have a safe car seat, here are some general tips on car safety for our children!
Keeping Kids Safe: A parent’s guide to protecting children in and around cars.
Supporting the community with information that keeps us all safe!
The experienced team at Shuman Legal® is here for our community. Sharing information so you won’t need us, and helping you navigate the complex legal system when you do need us. As experienced attorneys, we help you evaluate facts, assess options, and navigate legal challenges.
Marc J. Shuman and the team at Shuman Legal® have decades of experience advocating for victims and their families. We advocate on your behalf so that you can focus on what is really important, your family, and their wellbeing!