The list of things to think about may feel endless when you’re expecting a baby, and somehow it grows even when they’ve arrived!
We’ve put together this super simple step-by-step list to guide you through the process of choosing your car seat.
If this is your first car seat and you expect to use it for quite a long period of time, it is probably worth investing a little bit more as opposed to buying a replacement for a short period of time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing a car seat on sale, or a model from last season, but you may find that these are lacking some of the features required for newborn passengers. Remember that purchasing a car seat for a newborn has different criteria than a toddler. *Top tip! You might want to look at the softness of the harness straps against their sensitive skin, or the head support to prevent their head slumping. These could mean your budget needs to be a little more, but you want to know that you’ve invested in the best possible product for your child, their safety is priceless after all!
Most manufacturers will list the testing conditions their car seats endure, and you’ll probably find NHTSA and AAP are referenced quite often. Also consider other customer reviews, safety stories and recommendations, especially if they have a vehicle of similar size to your own as this will tell you if the car seat is the right fit for you, literally.
So, what’s the difference, and which is for you? Let’s break it down!
Infant car seat – these are designed specifically for newborns, offering head, neck and spinal cord support. You must have an infant car seat or convertible car seat installed in your vehicle, rear-facing, when leaving the hospital. When purchasing this type of car seat
consider the following: installation, safety check features, care and cleaning, size and the weight limits.
Convertible car seat – these are great for adapting and changing with your growing baby’s needs. You can use this car seat rear-facing until passenger reaches height and weight limit (we recommend travelling rear-facing until at least age two) then simply switch to forward facing. When purchasing this type of car seat, consider; installation, safety check features, care and cleaning, size, and the weight limits.
Booster seat – when your child has outgrown their forward-facing seat (check weight and height as per manual) they’re ready to graduate to their booster seat. High back booster seats are designed to position the child properly so the lap and shoulder belt fits properly and ride the same way adults do and should be used in vehicles that do not have headrests or low back seats. Booster seats are a terrific way for your child to learn independently buckling up but remember to check the belt positioning. Lap belts should be low and snug across their thighs and shoulder belts should be across the middle of their chest and shoulder, and not on their neck.
Backless booster – these are a great alternative to a backless booster for moving between vehicles or using less frequently. Backless boosters have seat belt guides and should only be used if the vehicle seat comes up to your child’s ears.
All-in-one - like the name suggests these car seats are a combination of all the above! All-in-one car seats are suitable to carry newborn passengers, convert easily from rear to forward facing and include booster mode, whether highback or backless (or both). These are a great solution to cost effectively choosing a car seat, though they may need a bigger investment to begin with all-in-one car seats often don’t need replacing for anywhere up to 10 years! **Top tip! Small doesn’t mean less, all-in-one car seats don’t always mean they’ll be big and take up room. Diono Radian® models are slim in design and fit 3-across in most vehicles.
Just like ingredients to a recipe, the materials of a car seat are essential to know. *Top tip! If your car seat is expected to last for a long time, you’ll want machine washable covers or even the option to purchase replacement ones. Replacement covers and parts for your car seat are a great way to help it look and perform at its best for every adventure.
Consider the expected lifespan of your car seat, do you plan to use it from birth through to booster? In that case, you’ll want to make sure there’s replacement parts, covers and most importantly a great warranty period. Every purchase direct from diono.com gives you an additional 2 Year warranty on your car seat, and we offer a wide range of covers and replacement parts to keep your car seat looking as good at age 10 as it did at day one. See our full range here.