Car Seat Features to Look For - Car Seat Buying Guide

Last updated: October 2020

In this guide:

Car seats are always coming out with new features. Below is a list of all the features a car seat could possibly have. Take a look and get a sense of what's possible. Then decide what's a must have vs. nice to have.


Car Seat Safety Features

  • Five-point harness:  The harness system is what securely straps your child into their car seat. A five-point harness is the most secure. It buckles above your little one’s waist and has a strap over each shoulder, above each hip, and one between the legs. A three-point harness does not have the straps above each hip.
  • Strong frame:  Standard car seat frames are made of strong metals to survive crashes. The best models have automotive-grade full steel frames for maximum impact protection.
  • Side-impact protection:  Car seats use a variety of different technologies to provide side-impact and head protection. These include padding, energy-absorbing foam, and air pads. It’s best to check crash performance tests to see how well the car seat performs.
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system compatibility:  The LATCH system was designed to make it easier for parents to install car seats correctly. Instead of securing your car seat using the seatbelt, LATCH systems have anchors built into cars that the car seat can connect to with hooks. Cars made after 2001 typically have LATCH systems. It’s worth noting that you still have to use the seatbelt for all front-facing car seats.
  • Anti-rebound bar:  This is a bar at the foot of the car seat that can reduce the rebound during and after a crash. This is often a feature found in premium car seats, but is becoming increasingly more popular.
  • Load leg:  This is a metal pole that comes down from the base of a rear-facing car seat and secures to the floor of the car. It’s intended to provide additional stability during a crash and reduce the risk of head and spine injuries. This is a feature that originated in Europe and is becoming more popular in the US.
  • Shoulder belt clip:  This is a feature for booster seats with high backs to ensure the seatbelt is positioned correctly.
  • Reclining features:  Positioning your little one in a comfortable position is important, especially if they’re sleeping or on long drives. Premium models offer more recline options.

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