Buying Your First Car Seat
Since your baby may arrive early, Parents advisor Ari Brown, M.D., coauthor of Baby 411, recommends that you start car-seat shopping around your sixth month of pregnancy. You'll want to get either an infant-toddler car seat (also called a convertible seat) or a smaller infant seat. The first offers savings: You'll be able to use it longer. But babies under 20 pounds might be better off in infant-only seats, which are specially contoured for newborn bodies, says Dr. Brown. They are also convenient: Most double as carriers, clicking in and out of a base that's kept in the car so you can move your dozing baby without disturbing her. Most standard-size strollers can accommodate them, or you might consider a ready-made car seat/stroller combo. When your child outgrows the infant seat, though, you'll need to switch to a convertible seat, which can go both backward and forward, notes Dr. Brown.
Do This to Be Safe
Get your car-seat installation double-checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). Find an inspection station near you at seatcheck.org or call the Department of Transportation's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.
Originally published in the September 2012 issue of Parents magazine.