By Julie McCaffrey, a proud mommy to 3 kids, including one set of twins and owner of BabyNav Baby Planners where she offers personalized consultation to new and expecting parents.
There is only one piece of baby gear that you absolutely must have and that is a car seat. Seriously, even if you are walking home after leaving the hospital your baby must be secured in an approved car seat to be discharged. But shopping for car seats can be confusing as you try to ensure you select the safest seat for your child. Ultimately, the safest car seat is the one that fits your child correctly, is installed correctly, fits well in your car and is used correctly each time! Car seat technology is always changing and improving so looking at the latest models is a good place to start. There are a lot of options available but to save a little time, start by checking out these seats to see if one is right for you:
Nuna Pipa, $299
If you are looking for style along with safety the Nuna Pipa is a great place to start your search! Nuna has designed this unique seat with True Lock installation making it very easy to install. The Pipa also features a steel stability leg, which they claim can reduce head injury by up to 33%. The stylish Dream Drape extends from the canopy to provide extra sun protection. And as a bonus this seat will work with the Maxi Cosi adaptors allowing over 20 strollers to be transformed into a travel system with the Pipa. Weighing only 7.7 pounds the Pipa is one of the lightest on the market but it is also one of the fullest on features!
Cybex Aton 2, $299
If you need a car seat that will fit in a compact car or behind a very tall driver the German engineered Cybex Aton 2 may be the right seat for you. The Aton 2 is one of the smallest seats from the top to the bottom, but it is packed with safety features. Like the Nuna Pipa, the Cybex Aton includes a load leg to minimize rebound. This easy to install with or without the base (think taxi) seat also includes Linear Side Impact Protection that is designed to transfer the energy from a side impact to the seat’s shell. With its sleek European style this is the one seat you may be happy to have installed in the back of your sports car!
UPPAbaby Mesa, $279 – UPPAbaby fans everywhere could be heard rejoicing when they announced they were coming out with the Mesa. This seat has two features that set it apart from the crowd and they both have to do with ease of use. This seat is super easy to install using Latch without any of the usual tugging and then gives parents visual confirmation that the seat is installed correctly. The Mesa also includes side impaction protection in the headrest that is easily adjusted with the no-rethread harness (which is hard to find in an infant seat).
Clek Foonf, $449
The Clek Foonf has definitely changed the game when it comes to convertible seats. While it looks stylish and even comes in options for seats designed by Tokidoki, the Foonf is really all about safety. Thanks to the React safety system, including crumple zones (the stuff that makes race cars safe), the Foonf is able to reduce the force of a head-on collision on a forward facing child by up to 40%. The Foonf features a unique rigid latch system that makes for one of the fastest and easiest forward facing installs for a convertible seat. This seat will be a big hit to your wallet, but it will no doubt protect your child.
Diono Radian RXT, $339
The Radian RXT is a convertible car seat that comfortably seats your baby rear-facing from 5-45 pounds, front-facing from 20-80 pounds and converts to a booster for children up to 120 pounds — meaning it could be the only seat you ever need purchase! Thanks to its steel frame and the eps foam that lines the entire seat to provide complete side impact protection, you can feel safe with your little one in tow. And for the growing family, thanks to its slim design the Diono Radian RXT can fit three seats across your back seat.
Lastly, once you have selected your car seat you can make sure it is correctly installed by having it checked at a certified car seat inspection station. You can find one near you by visiting this website.
Julie McCaffrey is a modern baby gear expert, has been featured in Pregnancy and Newborn magazine and loves to help moms and dads navigate everything from baby gear to preparing for multiples to getting back to work and getting the whole family on a routine. Follow her on Facebook.