New parents face a slew of purchases as they welcome a new baby, but perhaps none are as important as an infant car seat.
When you shop around, many of them look alike, so how do you know which ones will protect your baby when you need it most?
Consumer Reports uses state-of-the-art science and testing to rate and recommend the safest seats for any budget.
For more than 80 years Consumer Reports has been known for rigorous, scientific testing. That continues today. The high-tech equipment these engineers are evaluating? – infant car seats.
“The main objective of a car seat is to have to manage the crash forces. You know, the energy absorption and all ways to control the forces in energy, keeping it away from the child,” Jennifer Stockburger with Consumer Reports said.
While all child seats sold in the US must meet federal safety requirements, Consumer Reports goes beyond and conducts its own crash tests at a higher speed, and on a test-sled designed to more closely represent the inside of a car and a real-world crash.
“There are so many new features coming out on car seats that truly take incredible engineering. And it’s awesome to be able to get our hands on so many different kinds of seats and see how they’re going to perform in a crash test,” Emily A. Thomas, PhD said.
That includes testing seats with “load legs’' - extra support that extends from a car seat’s base to the vehicle’s floor, and it makes infant seats that much safer. This Clek Liing is CR’s top recommended infant seat earning high scores for crash protection and along with crash tests, Consumer Reports engineers also evaluate each seat for how easy it is to use and to install.
“Car seats are unique in that there’s so much of the consumer’s use that actually affects the outcome of how it controls energy and protects a child in a crash,” Stockburger said.
The reasonably priced Chicco KeyFit is rated as one of the easiest seats to install and also top for safety.
“Make sure that your child is buckled properly and the seat is properly installed every single time,” Thomas said.