My family had all sorts of trouble with car seats. First we fought with the infant seat. Then we had to get a small, cheap, forward-facing one. The baby quickly grew to big for it, and we had to get a new one. That one was so huge (we got it mail order) that passengers had to squeeze into the back seat. Why did the car seat thing have to be such a nightmare?
We should have done our research before buying. Seats can differ greatly, and we should have taken into account what type of vehicle we had. We should have measured things. And we should have thought about how many passengers and other children we would have in the car on a regular basis. But instead we treated it like something simple, like buying baby bath toys or blankets! Save yourself the big hassle by treating it like any serious purchase.
The number one thing I can recommend to you is to keep the original box and any receipts! If for any reason the seat does not work for you, you can return it and not be stuck! (We were stuck with the giant one because we threw out the box and receipt).
I also wish I had known about convertible car seats like the Evenflo convertible! It starts out as a back-facing infant seat. Then you can switch it over into a forward-facing seat when the baby gets older. Try to get one that has a high maximum weight limit (if it will fit in your car!) so that you can keep it for a long time without having to buy a new one.
Another thing to think about is investing in quality. One brand that gets high marks is the Britax car seat. While I do not have personal experience with this brand, I would definitely give Britax a try if I needed another car seat, just based on reviews. By getting a quality car seat, you reduce the chance that you will have to buy an new one later on. Also, a quality car seat is more likely to keep your child safe if you have an accident.
Here’s an important note on accidents. If you do get in one, you will need to replace your car seat, even if it does not seem to be damaged. This is because it might have fractures or stress in places that you cannot see. Then, if you get in another accident, the seat may not work properly. Do not take the risk.
I know this is not an in-depth guide on how to buy a car seat, but hopefully it gives you a few things to keep in mind while you are shopping. Just try and avoid the mess our family got into by taking the time to do some research (or ask families with children for opinions) before you buy.