We have discovered that there seems to be a prevailing but incorrect idea floating around the car seat customer world. Many people believe that if a car seat is on the market then it is safe and that if you pay more than the lowest price on the market, you are just paying for the popularity of a name. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. We want you to know what types of features you should be looking for in a seat, and explain why you might be paying more for them. I have a secret for you, it has absolutely nothing to do with the brand names and everything to do with the safety!
But, there are seats on the market (the ones that, you guessed it, tend to cost more) that take their safety ratings to a much higher level. If the seat is on the market then it does meet the very minimum safety requirements, but your question should be “How far above and beyond the minimum requirements does this seat reach?”
What should I be paying more for?
There are some large parent companies out there that produce car seats. These companies sometimes produce the same car seat, under multiple different names. They will add some showy looking “features” that look like they are super fancy, and then mark up the price. BUT the seats don’t actually have anything better in their safety features than the original seat produced by that parent company. BEWARE!
True and pure car seat companies that invest their heart and soul into developing their seats DO NOT DO THAT. These companies have actual car seat representatives that spend their careers devoted to their car seats and amazing features that truly take to your child’s safety to another level. A few of these companies are some of our favorites; Britax, Clek, Chicco, and UPPAbaby! Now let’s talk about the specific types of features that are worth your extra dollars!
Features worth spending on.
Crumple Technology: This can be found in both Britax and Clek car seats. On these seats, there is a section of materials designed to crumple or compress upon impact(like the red honeycomb material pictured to the left.) The compression of the material lowers the center of gravity within the car seat and re-directs the impact momentum, keeping the car seat and your child from propelling forward and hitting the vehicle seat in front of them.
Rigid LATCH: LATCH installation is extremely popular these days because it can be so much easier than installing a seat with your vehicle seat belt. Unfortunately, even when using LATCH there are still many errors made. Rigid LATCH allows you to install with an almost non-existent window for error. because it is attached directly to the car seat rather than to a tether strap. The Nuna Pipa, AACE Booster, and Clek Foonf car seats have this awesome feature!
Steel Reinforced Frames: It is a bit of a no-brainer that metal is much stronger than plastic. A car seat that is built or reinforced with steel or aluminum obviously packs more of a safety punch against impact when in a wreck. Britax, Chicco, and Diono seats have steel reinforced frames.
Easy Installation: If installing your car seat correctly is such a huge deal, then it is a huge win when your installation is simple enough that you don’t feel confused or unsure during the process. Seats with the ClickTight feature or the Mesa from UPPAbaby both make it easier to get a tight and secure installation. Both have audible or visual indicators to tell you that you have done your installation correctly!
Versa Tethers: Some seats on the market have a tether strap on the backside of the car seat that tether to hooks already in your vehicle. These straps give yet another way to secure your seat down and resist movement during impact. Tethers are most often used when a convertible seat is facing forward, but some brands manufacture their seats to safely use the tethers while rear-facing as well. There are a handful of these seats on the market, so just be sure to read or ask to see if the seats you are looking into have the feature.
A bit more general safety.
In this video Katie, one of our CPS techs, runs through some other really wonderful pieces of information about car seat safety! If you are finding yourself wondering about anything in the realm, I highly suggest you watch this video! Our CPS gals really know their stuff!