Which car seat is right for you?
With so many options out there, it can be difficult to decide which car seat is right for you. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Choosing a car seat is one of those decisions that new parents take very seriously. There are so many options to choose from that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. It gets even more complicated when you consider what materials car seats are made of. ‘What is my baby sitting in?’ is the question that comes to mind for many parents. Once you start investigating further, it can be quite tricky to know what’s best. But first, it’s important to understand what’s required by law.
Flame Retardants and US Requirements
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires that all materials inside a vehicle in the US meet anti-inflammability standards in the event of a crash. This includes car seats. So regardless of what seat you choose, it will need to meet this regulation.
According to non-profit environmental organization The Ecology Center’s 2016 report on toxic chemicals in car seats, two classes of flame retardants – brominated and phosphorus-based – are still widely used in car seats in the U.S. But for the first time since they started testing car seats, chlorinated flame retardants weren’t present in any of the seats. Given that brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (also called halogenated) are the types that are most harmful to developing children, the lack of chlorinated flame retardants is an improvement – but there’s still a long way to go.
Some brands such as Britax have removed halogenated flame retardants from their seats due to their toxicity to people and the environment. And in 2017, UPPABaby introduced the world’s first naturally flame-retardant car seat, the UPPABaby MESA Henry. Since then, Nuna also developed a seat that’s free of flame retardants, the Nuna Pipa Lite, and Clek launched a naturally flame-resistant car-seat fabric made of 100% Australian Merino wool.
When it comes to selecting a seat, there are several other important things to consider, and of course there are variables such as car safety, car size, size of the child and budget. Despite the regulations, we do have options, but overall being safe in the event of a car crash is most important.
What to look for when choosing a car seat and what to avoid
There are so many car seat brands to choose from that it can be an overwhelming task to figure out which one is right for you and your family. Whether choosing a seat for an infant or a more mature baby or toddler, here are some simple starter guidelines:
- Crash Testing: It goes without saying that knowing a seat will survive a crash with flying colors is a must-have. All the car seat brands offered at The Tot are thoroughly crash-tested by the manufacturers to provide the best impact protection and not only meet the U.S. criteria but exceed them.
- Flame Retardants: In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be strapping our kids into car seats laden with chemicals but laws dictate that they must be flame-retardant. However, the brands we stock at The Tot have chosen to remove the most harmful flame-retardant chemicals from their car seat products or are naturally free of them.
- Rear-Facing Options: It is recommended that you rear-face your child for as long as possible and some infant car seats accommodate that longer than others. Whether you are buying an infant seat or a convertible, consider that you will want to have the option to continue to rear-face your child for a time. If your budget is limited, choosing a seat that will last you past infancy is a wise investment as it will allow you to safely rear-face your infant and you won’t need a new seat for a while.
- Extra Accessories: It might sound like a smart workaround to add an organic seat cover or barrier between your child and a car seat, but it’s a dangerous gamble to take. Car seats are not safety crash tested with extra covers or padding that are not provided with the seat. So altering a car seat is potentially putting your child at a risk.
Our team at The Tot have provided you with some of the best and highest-ranked car seats on the market.
Some of our favorite car seat brands include:
Clek recently launched a first-of-its-kind car-seat fabric called Mammoth, which is made of 100% Australian Merino wool and is naturally flame-resistant. No added flame retardants necessary! The high-quality fabric is made from ethically sourced, 100% non-museled wool, which is breathable, resistant to odors and naturally hypoallergenic. And the seat itself comes with all the advanced safety features of Clek’s original Fllo and Foonf car seats, so you can rest easy knowing that your child is protected from all angles.
The Nuna PIPA Lite seat is entirely free of flame retardants – hooray! How is this so? The smartly sourced elements are actually flame resistant so they contain no added retardant chemicals. And at 5.3 pounds, it’s the lightest car seat on the market. You’ll also love the slick new design, cushy micro-knit fabric and luxe faux-leather carry handle. But most importantly, the five-point safety harness, True Lock installation system and side impact protection ensure every car trip is a safe and secure one for your baby.
Because the Nuna PIPA is made with certified Oeko-Tex® fabric, it’s free from Azo colorants, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol, cadmium, nickel, and other harmful chemicals. In terms of features, we love the Nuna’s lightweight and compact design, five-point safety harness and sustainable production process.
The Ecology Center gives Britax a High Recommendation for the low levels of flame retardants in its car seats. Britax’s internal policy restricts over 100 chemicals, such as phthalates, metals, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, and antimony compounds. On the safety and comfort side, the Britax-exclusive ClickTight Installation System means that you can experience real confidence that the seat’s safely and correctly installed every time. The Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator ensures your child’s harness is within the correct range of tightness. The Britax Advocate safely seats children weighing 5-40 lb. in the rear-facing position.
All materials used are carefully tested and approved under the strictest European standards and the REACH regulation, including SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern). Doona states that not only are the materials used free of hazardous chemicals, they are also tested for their durability and quality to ensure the safe and continuous use of the products. What we love about this seat is that it converts from an infant car seat into a compact stroller! It’s ideal for nipping out and about with baby, and it means that there’s no need for a stroller or car seat carrier in the trunk of the car. Amazing!
The fabric, foam and harness in the Clek Fllo 2018 are free from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. The GREENGUARD Select Certified Crypton fabric not only meets stringent chemical emissions requirements, it also provides permanent protection against stains, moisture and odor-causing bacteria. If you have more than one child or you’re planning to expand your family, you’ll love the best-in-class 17-inch width that allows you to fit three car seats across your back seat. And it’s super-safe too: the Anti-Rebound Bar and aluminum honeycomb safety system protect your child from impact in the event of a collision.
Just like the Clek Fllo car seat, the Oobr booster seat is tailored from GREENGUARD select certified Crypton super fabric, which is free from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants and affords superior protection against stains and odors. The Oobr features a Rigid LATCH System which locks the seat in place and an energy-absorbing foam layer that reduces the force transferred to your child in a side impact collision.
All Cybex car seats adhere to strict safety standards and offer outstanding protection. The Cloud Q features a five-point harness, an energy-absorbing shell and a Telescopic Linear Side-Impact System to protect your precious cargo in the event of a crash. In terms of features, you’ll love the Cloud Q’s groundbreaking full-recline position outside the car so your little one can lie comfortably in an ergonomically correct position.
Cybex’s Q-2 Fix booster seat provides the highest level of safety and comfort thanks to its optimized Linear Side-impact Protection and patented reclining headrest which prevents little heads from dangerously tipping forward during sleep. Soft seat cushions and a new air ventilation system also guarantee optimal comfort for your half-pint passenger.