The first thing to remember is to choose your new car seat by weight of the child and not by age. Some manufacturers give a guide range of age but it is only a guide as each child is different.
A car seat that is installed correctly can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by as much as 75%. Babies should be in rearward-facing baby seats until they weigh at least 13kgs and can sit up unaided, only then should they be placed in a forward facing seat. Try to keep them in a rearward-facing seat as long as possible as it’s the safest way.
As many as 80% of car seats are installed incorrectly, and the most common errors are not tightening the seatbelt and harness enough. Make sure your child is safe and properly strapped in and never place a car seat where there is an active airbag. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when fitting the seat
It is far better to buy a new child seat; second hand car seats have suffered more wear and tear and may not be designed to current safety standards. If you must buy second hand make sure it’s either from family or friend so you know the car seat history, and that it comes with the full instruction manual for fitting.
Prices vary dramatically, and it is not necessarily best to buy the most expensive one. The most important thing is to make sure that the seat you choose is suitable for your child and for your car. There are a number of price comparison websites to help you.
Look through the manufacturer's catalogues, on their websites, and in shops so you can see a broad range of seats, there are lots to choose from. If you will be constantly taking it in and out of the car, then a lightweight seat may be the best choice, and if you do a lot of travelling it will probably be better to get a car seat that reclines so your child will be more comfortable and can fall to sleep on those long journeys. Before you buy a car seat you should contact the child seat manufacturer to check if the seat will fit your car.
The best car seat you can buy is the one that will fit your car and your baby!
Mark Hartshorne is a father with two young children and created a website to review baby car seats to offer parents a fair comparison on price, size, safety, design and more. That website is My Baby Car Seat .