Which car seat is right for you? - TheTot
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Which car seat is right for you?

Tot Health expert, Katherine McMackin, shares her tips on what to look for when choosing a car seat.


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 they will all need to meet this regulation.  There are three types of flame retardant classes: Brominated, chlorinated, and phosphate-based. Brominated and chlorinated chemicals are also called halogenated and are the ones that are most notably harmful to developing children.  Some brands such as Britax have removed halogenated flame retardants from their seats due to their toxicity to people and the environment.

When it comes to selecting a seat there are also 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 US regulations we do have options, but overall, being safe is in the event of a car crash is what 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 a newborn 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 companies to provide the best impact protection that not only meet the US criteria but exceed it.
  • Flame Retardants: In a perfect world we wouldn’t be strapping our kids into car seats laden with flame retardants but laws dictate that they must contain them. However, the brands we stock at The Tot have chosen to remove the most harmful flame retardant chemicals from their car seat products.
  • 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 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 putting your child at a risk.

Our team at The Tot have provided you with some of the best and highest ranked car seats that the Ecology Center has rated in regards to the type of flame retardants used. Keep in mind it’s impossible to avoid flame resistant chemicals but there are options that use less toxic chemicals to achieve it.

Some of our favorite car seat brands include: 

  • Britax Advocate Clicktight Convertible Car SeatThe Ecology Center Rates Britax #1 in Chemical Policy. Britax’s internal policy now 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 experience real confidence that the seat’s safely and correctly installed every time. The Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator Wraps your child in comfort with premium padding and fabrics. Safely seats children weighing 5-40 lb. in the rear-facing position.
  • Cybex Platinum Anton Q Plus Infant Seat: Cybex uses a proprietary solution that does not contain halogenated (brominated or chlorinated) flame retardants and is free of the heavy metals lead, antimony, arsenic, chromium, cobalt, copper, mercury, nickel or tin. The innovative rear facing car seat has a range of impressive features including near-flat lying position for premature babies and newborns, Side-impact Protection and an 8-position height adjustable headrest. The Cybex infant car seat can be combined into a clever travel system with the CYBEX strollers Callisto, Topaz and Onyx and with many other brand strollers.
  • Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car SeatChicco products comply in every way with all car seat requirements. ALL Chicco products meet or exceed the stringent safety standards in the U.S. and Europe regarding chemical content. Key features include a thickly cushioned seat with a five-point safety harness. It’s also lined with energy-absorbing foam for increased safety and comfort.
  • Nuna PIPA Car Seat and BaseThe only chemical used in the Nuna is FR in the padding of the PIPA. The FR in the PIPA padding is in the Ammonium Polyphosphate category. This is used to meet FMVSS 213 standards. The FR is not in the padding that touches the child. In terms of of features, we love the Nuna’s ultra lightweight and compact design, 5-point safety harness and certified Oeko-Tex® fabric that keeps baby cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • Orbit Baby G3 Infant Car Seat: Orbit Baby follows many of the best practices recommended by the Ecology Center, including requiring its suppliers to follow a standard that prohibits halogenated flame retardants and specifically limits or restricts more than 100 different chemicals. Key features include a 5-point harness, infant head-support insert, and UV sunshade with Paparazzi Shield extension. It can be positioned as rear-facing only with or without the Orbit car seat base.
  • Doona Car Seat: All materials used are carefully tested and approved under the most strict European standards and the REACH regulation, including SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern). Doona states that not only are the materials used free of any hazardous chemicals, they are also tested for their durability and quality to assure 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 is no need for a stroller or car seat carrier in the trunk of the car. Amazing!