The Best Seat
Car seats. Ok, raise your hand if the mere mention of that product makes you cringe. I know my hand is up. I remember the first car seat I ever bought. And the second. And then how that one didn't fit when we needed a third. And me, sitting on the floor in my living room crying because I couldn't figure out how to loosen one of the straps once I had tightened it. Yep. Car seats.
But the weird thing is, I also find them really cool (when they aren't making me want to rip my hair out). And I want to use mine properly and safely and make sure others are using theirs safely too. That's why I became a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician). The very first thing my instructor said to our class was, "You think you know about car seats. You know nothing." Gulp. And after that day (and the next) I realized that there is a lot to know!
Facebook is a great place to hear chatter about car seats- not a great place to necessarily learn about them though! And one thing I keep seeing time after time is, "What is the best seat?!" So I'm going to tell you.
Are you ready?
The best car seat is the seat that 1) fits your vehicle 2) fits your child and 3) that you can use properly and safely every single time.
1) Not all vehicles are the same. And not all car seats are the same. If you've been at any baby supply store in person or online to look at seats, you'll know what I'm talking about! Take the time to try out a seat before you buy it to make sure it fits. Head restraints, seat belts, the distance between the back seat and the front, other seats already in your vehicle- all of these can make a car seat incompatible with your vehicle.
2) Not all babies/toddlers/preschoolers are the same. What works for your neighbours, cousin's, sister's kid might not work for yours. Tall skinny kids need a different seat that a short heavy one. Take your child shopping and try out seats.
3) Some seats are just easier for some people to use than others. Some have funny quirks that leave some parents frustrated because the straps just won't tighten or loosen or stay where they're supposed to. When you shop make sure to try things out. Read reviews. Talk to other parents who have the same seat and find out why they love/hate it. You're the one who will have to use it (often multiple times every day).
And finally, no matter what you end up purchasing, have it installed or verified by a CPST. We can answer your questions, teach you how to use your seat, and give you some tricks for making your new life as a car seat owner easier so you're not crying on your living room floor.
CPSAC (Canadian Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada)
Click here to find links to their Used Seat Checklist as well as a link to Provincial and Territorial Law regarding car seats.
Kids en Route
If you're in Montreal, this organization provides car seat education as well as installation and verification. Click here for more details.
Car Seats for the Littles
This site has a great list that compares and contrasts various models of car seats giving information on prices, pros and cons as well as dimensions to help you sort through the variety out there! Click here for the list.
Stefanie Bittner provides her birth and postpartum clients with car seat education and resources as well as installation and verification. Visit her website at karisdoula.com
Stefanie Bittner is a birth and postpartum doula and the founder of Karis Doula. She is also a CPST.