Choosing a Car Seat & Stroller – What you need to know.

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Choosing a car seat is one of the most important decisions you will make for your little one.  The car seat is the one item that will be used almost every day for the first 5-10 years.  There are some important things to consider when purchasing a car seat and they are Safety, Ease of Use, Type of Car seats, travel system compatibility. So lets get right into it.

1. Safety

Of course the #1 thing to consider is SAFETY, what is the point of using a car seat if it is not a safe seat.  Here are some things you want to be sure of:

1. Expiry – make sure that the seat you are using is not expired.  Most infant seats have a 6 year lifespan, some convertible seats have extended expiry since they are able to hold up to 120lbs and grow with your child.  Be sure to check the expiry date on the seat, especially if you are buying a pre owned seat, or if you are re using a siblings seat.

2. make sure that the seat you are using has never been in an accident.  Many people don’t realize that your insurance company will cover the cost of a new seat if the car seat has been in an accident (even if the child was not in car, any impact can cause the connectors to weaken, if the child was in the car, the belts can stretch causing problems in future accidents).  Be cease use of any seat that has been in an accident and it is recommended to buy new seats so you can be sure the seat you are buying has not been in a wreck. has trade in events several times a year where you can trade in old seats for discounted new products.

3. make sure the seat you are using does not have any rust, or belt deterioration.  Both of those things can cause the joints to be compromised in any impact.

4. look for a seat that has a built in head rest or insert.  After market car seat inserts and belt covers are not recommended.  My Favorite seat for this is the Graco 35 LX, it provides great head cushioning and full containment.

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2. Ease of Use

Another very important factor to consider when purchasing a car seat is the ease of use.  This may not be something you have considered, but seeing as how you will use this item EVERY DAY, it makes it much easier when it is easy to use. some of the key things to consider are

1. How it straps in to the car – Most modern car seats have a base available for easy in and out, this allows you to simply drop the car seat onto the base and it will lock in immediately and you are done.  I highly suggest having this feature for at least the main car that will be used, it saves 2-3 minutes each time you strap your child into the car and that can sometimes be 6+ times per day.  It is also much nicer when it is raining.

2. How do the belts tighten and adjust – There are 3 main styles of straps, fully adjustable with one button, tighten and loosen with one button, but re thread as the child grows, or manual re thread and adjustable straps on the back of the seat (this is the least convenient option).  Ideally, you want to be able to adjust the belt height with one button and a lift, and also tighten the belts by pulling on the strap between the child’s legs, loosening them by pressing the button and pulling out on the shoulder straps.  The Graco Snugride Click Connect 35LX linked above has these options.

3. Does the seat work well with a stroller.  The last thing you want to do is wake a sleeping baby, especially in those first few months, making sure that your car seat can clip conveniently into the stroller makes for an easy transition from car to store.  Graco’s click connect system allows any click connect car seat to attach to any click connect stroller, making this transition painless and quick.

Here is the stroller I decided to go with, it has the maneuverability of a jogging stroller, the Fast Action fold (which is seriously a life saver!) and the Click Connect compatibility.

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