Present day parents, though, really have very little choice in the matter. Many states now have laws governing the transport of children in cars, with specific regulations about the type of seat required at various stages of your baby or infant's life. The simple practice of holding your baby in your arms in the car just isn't an option any more.
Whether you're very keen on adhering to the law or not, it's still very obvious from all the statistics on road accidents over the years, that car seats are very definitely a lifesaver for little ones. There's no reason at all to avoid using one - your baby's safety is at risk if you don't. Remember, too, that it's not just babies - most laws cover children at least through the toddler years as well. Usually the type of car seat required is related to height and weight. Using a baby car seat is going to be a part of your child's life for quite a while.
Before I had children of my own, I'd never paid a great deal of attention to baby car seats. Once I realized I was going to have a baby, though, it became very important for me to find out what was available, and even more importantly, what style of seat was going to be the safest. There was no way I was going to risk my child's safety in a substandard car seat. However it was also important for my baby to be comfortable, and for the baby car seat to be easy to use.
Baby car seats can range in cost enormously, from fifty to several hundred dollars. It's important to understand that being more expensive doesn't always equal being safer. The only way to really determine the safety level of a baby car seat is to look at reviews done by various consumer groups. These groups test and rate a whole range of car seats, and so can give you some ideas of what car seat to buy. Many reviews also look at the durability and ease of use of a car seat, which is valuable too. Having said that, it's usually safe to stick with a well known, quality brand, like Century, Britax or Graco, to name a few.
Doing your research isn't hard - there's so much information on the internet nowadays. You can visit manufacturer websites to find out what they offer, as well as the consumer review websites. You can also visit the bigger baby chain stores to get a good look at a wide variety of baby car seats. This can be valuable for determining the ease of use of a car seat.
Once you know what you want to buy, it's then just a question of tracking down the best price. Again, visit baby stores, or check out the online websites. It's possible to look at auction sites like eBay, but personally I'm always a little concerned about buying a baby car seat when you don't know its history. Once a seat is more than a few years old, various elements can deteriorate. Straps can fray, plastic shells can become brittle. And if a car seat has already been through an accident, you should NEVER use it again - its safety is compromised. The worst part is that you won't know most of these issues exist until you're in an accident and the car seat doesn't perform properly. So if you can buy new, or at least use a relatively new car seat that you know for sure hasn't been in an accident, do it.
In the end, being a new parent can be stressful enough, without having to worry about your baby's safety as well. So take the time to look around, find what you want, make sure it's safe, durable and reliable, and then make the investment in your baby's future.
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