Choose a car seat that fits your child's weight range, uses a five-point harness system and features a safety label verifying that it meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Pick a car seat that is easy to install correctly to ensure you use it properly.
The age of the child determines the type of car seat to purchase. Children up to 24 months are safest in a rear-facing position. Not all car seats work in the rear-facing position. Children should stay in a car seat until age 4 for the safest ride. This means finding a car seat with a maximum weight limit higher than your child's weight.
Ease of use plays a role in safety. If you choose a car seat that is difficult to use, you may not install it correctly, decreasing your child's safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides ease-of-use ratings for car seats, with one star being difficulty to use and five starts being easy to use. Each seat receives an overall rating in addition to individual ratings for labels, instructions, securing the child and installation features. Choose a car seat with a high ease-of-use rating.
A new car seat is recommended for safety reasons. New car seats meet the latest standards and haven't been through any accidents. They have newer parts without wear and tear.