Car Seat Buying Guide
Car Seat Buying Guide
Sitting Pretty—and Safe—With the Best Car Seat for Your Child

Of all things you’ll buy for your child, a good car seat is one of the most important. You’ll need a car seat from the moment you take baby home from the hospital until he or she grows up enough to fit into adult seat belts, typically around the age of 8 or later. What’s scary is that nearly 80 percent of child seats are installed incorrectly, and a poorly installed seat leaves a child vulnerable in a crash.

All child seats are required to meet federal safety standards in a 30 mph crash test. We’ve been testing seats for more than 30 years, and we go further—with a simulated 35 mph crash that better represents current vehicle environments. We also test for ease-of-use (how simple it is for the average person to follow instructions or manage buckles and straps) and fit-to-vehicle (how well the child seat fits into five different vehicles with challenging interiors). So, the better a seat does in our tests, the better your chances of getting it right. And, of course, the safest car seat is one that’s installed correctly and securely every time, and fits your child properly.

Throwing money at this problem doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get the best-performing seat. Many mid-priced models work as well as or better than pricier ones. Whatever the cost, a certain seat may simply just not work with your car. This is why we strongly recommend planning ahead. Use our guide to figure out the right seat for your kid and car, and to determine when you’ll need to move your child to the next one.

More to Know About Car Seats
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