Testing Baby Car Seats for Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the government agency counted on by consumers to see to it that baby car seats pass quality and safety standards. It was put on the spot in January 2007 when Consumer Reports revealed the results of their crash tests for rear-facing baby car seats designed for infants weighing up to 22 pounds.
Their findings showed that of all the baby car seats they tested, only two - the Baby Trend Flex-Loc and the Graco SnugRide - passed them, specifically their side-impact crash tests. The magazine's editors even stated that the addition of a side-impact crash test to the study served as a challenge to the federal government and manufacturers of baby car seats.
Parents were understandably alarmed at the results, unsure whether the baby car seats that they were using were indeed safe or if any product recalls were in the offing. The folks over at the NHTSA then took it upon themselves to conduct both front- and side-impact tests to validate the results released by Consumer Reports.
What they found was that the way the tests were conducted by Consumer Reports on all the baby car seats was flawed. They said that the front-impact tests were acceptable, but the side-impact tests did not make use of a correct measurement methodology. Technically, the baby car seats underwent impact speeds of up to 70 mph, nearly double their reported speed of 38 mph.
Because of the NHTSA's answer to their findings, Consumer Reports immediately retracted their results and again conducted tests for the baby car seats, this time according to the guidelines issued by the federal government.
The result? All the baby car seats tested passed, and the editors came up with a report focusing on how the products fit inside vehicles and their ease of use.
In conclusion, the NHTSA advised all worried parents to continue using their baby car seats, giving them an assurance that all baby car seats manufactured in the U.S. and given a seal of approval by the NHTSA have undergone thorough crash tests and are therefore safe for use.
Top-performing baby car seats
Brands and models that have consistently topped the list of the safest baby car seats are:
Graco SnugRide - the installation instructions are user-friendly and parents affirm that it is easy to install in most types of vehicles. Depending on the model, the Graco SnugRide's price ranges between $65 and $150. This product's features include: a 5-point harness, a canopy with a peek-a-boo window, an ergonomic carrying handle, an infant headrest, a stay-in-car base, and comfortable GracoPedic foam. It also features harness straps that can be adjusted in front to facilitate getting your infant in and out of the baby car seat.
Baby Trend Flex-Loc Adjustable Back - this handsome car seat has simple harnesses that are easy to put on. Its seat back can be adjusted so it actually "grows" with your child. This particular model has also received the highest ratings for safety, and costs a reasonable $90-$100.