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Car Seat Buying Guide

Jon Whittle


Ratings, Recalls and More

Because you’re a diligent, smart parent, you’re going to do your research before you buy. The following sites are not to be missed: The consumer site of the American Academy of Pediatrics is packed car seat safety info. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created an ease-of-use rating system for parents to use before purchasing a seat. “We want seats that are easy to use properly each and every time,” says Dr. Durbin, so this research is incredibly important and helpful. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is one of the only sites that provides detailed safety info on specific booster seats. It also provides clear photos of what makes—and doesn’t make—for a proper fit. It’s a must-read! You can check a manufacturer’s safety track record, research consumer reports of injury, and stay up to date on any recalls.


Car Seat Recalls: Once you get your car seat or booster home and take it out of the box, you’re going to find a card asking you to register the seat with manufacturer in case they need to notify you of a recall. DO THIS. It’s easy. It’s quick. And it takes some of the pressure off. In the meantime, you can also sign up for email alerts from the Consumer Products Safety Commission at, or check our Recall Finder.

One final message: Transitioning to a new car seat is considered a milestone, one we tend to approach with great expectation, says Dr. Durbin. “But this is one milestone you want to delay as long as possible—with each transition, there’s a reduction in safety for the child,” he says. “You’ll still get to have your celebration, just a little later.”