Whether you’re buying a car seat for your first baby or your fifth, safety is always an issue. As parents, we do all that we can to ensure the safety of our children. When it comes to picking out baby car seats, all of the terms and labels can get confusing. How can you pick the best seat for you, your baby, and your car, if you don’t even know what half of the wordy descriptions mean?
The following is a list of definitions to help you find a little clarity and simplify your choice. The terms and definitions are meant to be a guide. To ensure maximum safety for your child, speak to a customer service professional in this area and be certain that the baby car seat fits perfectly into your vehicle and that it does, in fact, meet your specific needs.
This term stands for the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is their recommendation that children remain rear facing in their car seats until they are one year old and 20 pounds.
- Angle indicators
Device that lets parents know whether the car seat is appropriately positioned and at the right level of incline on the vehicle seat.
A solid plastic frame that holds and locks in the infant carrier. Can remain in the car or travel along with the infant carrier (see detachable base).
- Belt positioning boosters
Booster seats that use the vehicles restraints as the child’s seat belt. These are available with or without backs.
- Booster seats
Smaller car seats designed for children who have outgrown the size and age limits of infant carriers and front facing car seats (4 and up). These are locked into place with the vehicle seat belt.
- Car seat boot
Meant to keep the child comfy and warm, this blanket-like cover fits on the car seat and keeps baby snug.
- Car seat cover
A great idea in the summer, these covers fit over the entire car seat, covering them from the sunlight coming into you car.
- Car seat tote
Great for travelers, the car seat tote zips the car seat right up inside so that a passenger can check the seat in just as they would any other luggage. They are designed for easy carrying through the airport.
- Combination seats
Seats designed with the interest of saving money. They provide more than one option such as a rear facing, front facing, and booster seat (see Three-In-One).
- Convertible Car Seat
Just as the name says, the convertible car seat converts to another style so that parents can use one car seat instead of buying two or three.
- Detachable base
(See base) Can be left in the car or at home. The car seat snaps easily in and out but the seat is also usable without the base.
- Double head support
For use with car seats, strollers, and infant carriers, the soft padding provides support for baby’s head and neck.
- Five point harness
An option when purchasing car seats: two shoulder straps, two hips straps, one strap between legs.
- Front facing
When your child has reached the weight and age limit, he or she can have their car seat turned so that they, like you, are facing the front of the car. You can buy a front facing car seat or a combination seat with this option.
The car seat straps that keep baby snuggly and safely within the seat. Not to be used on their own to secure baby…Seat must be secured with vehicle seat belt.
- Harness adjusters
These allow you to position the harness securely and safely while it prevents the restraints from moving or twisting. Adjusters should rest parallel with baby’s armpits.
- Harness covers
Soft material that wraps around the harness, usually and the shoulder level, to prevent harness from ‘digging in’ to baby.
- Harness slots
Where harness feeds through car seat. Be sure that your harness is properly attached and securely fits the child.
- Head support
A soft pillow-like pad that surrounds the baby’s head. Meant for car seats, infant seats, and can be used in strollers. Keeps baby’s head secure.
- Infant carriers
Car seats for newborn babies, but can be used until child is up to 22 pounds (check individual car seat for weight restrictions).
Refers to how the car seat is placed and secured in your vehicle. If uncertain of how to install, discuss with a customer service specialist and always read directions.
- Integrated seats
Car seats that can be custom built right into your vehicle.
Stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, which refers to a way of securing the car seat to the vehicle with straps or tethers.
A long, round, pillow like device that rests on the vehicle seat to even out the car seat and prevent it from leaning too far one way.
The company responsible for making your car seat. They generally provide your warranty.
The style of car seat which you purchase. (i.e. Cosco Infant carrier: Infant carrier is the model, Cosco is the make).
- Night sight
A car mirror system designed to allow you to see baby in the back seat, at night, while you are driving.
- Overhead shield
A large arm rest like shield that comes down over the baby’s head and rests on the car seat, just above baby’s legs.
- Proper fit
How the car seat fits into your vehicle and whether or not it shifts and is securely fastened.
- Rain shield
Designed for infant carriers, they cover the baby from the rain and zip up around the carrier.
- Rear facing
Larger car seats for when baby has outgrown the infant carrier, but still must remain rear facing. You can purchase a rear facing or a combination seat.
When a product has been called back by the manufacturer because a defect or problem has been identified. It is important to fill out your warranty card in case a recall is necessary.
Seat belts that hold the child or the car seat in place.
- Safety mirrors
Mirrors that attach to your car visor so that you may see baby in the back seat while you are driving.
- Safety seats
Another term for car seats.
- Seat protectors
A plastic guard to protect the vehicle seat from any sort of damage from the car seat. Rests between vehicle seat and car seat.
- Seat shade
A device that shields baby’s car seat from the hot sun while your car is parked.
- Shield boosters
A booster seat that is equipped with a full five point harness.
- Sit and stroll
A convenient combination set that includes an infant carrier that sits in and detaches easily from a baby stroller.
- Six point harness
Car seat comes with six straps: two at shoulder, two at hips, and two between legs.
- Size limit
The height and weight restrictions placed upon individual car seats. Not all car seats have the same height and weight limits….be sure to look for this information.
- T shield
A plastic shield that rests on child’s chest and is attached to the harness to keep straps from moving or shifting.
- Tether straps
Anchors that attach to the vehicle and the car seat so that car seat is more secure. (Many vehicles now come with built in tethers; if not you should have one installed.)
- Three in One
A car seat that offers three options: rear facing, front facing, and booster.
- Three point harness
Has three straps: two at shoulders, one between legs.
- Toy bars
Toys that can hook on and attach to the car seat for baby’s amusement.
- Travel systems
Offers a combination pack where you can purchase an infant carrier and a stroller all in one. (See sit and stroll.)
- Travel toys
Toys that can provide pleasure for the baby and easily attach to infant carriers.
- Travel vests
A safety system for older vehicles that only contain lap belts rather than lap and shoulder belts.
Given by the manufacturer, it guarantees the product in specific areas for a given amount of time.
- Weight limit
The maximum capacity that the car seat can hold.
There you have it. Now that you know a little more about what to look for in a baby car seat, you will be better prepared when you go shopping and you can feel good about your choice!
Jody Holford is a successful Internet entrepreneur and writer who operates several affiliate marketing websites including Great Baby Products which provides information about baby car seats.