There’s only one way to bring a newborn home from the hospital – in a car seat.
But is that it? Do you need only one infant car seat?
If not, how many do you need?
If these are the questions keeping you up, this is the place to be. This guide is a one-stop-shop on all the information you might need.
To get to the answer, we first need to take a step back and talk about the options available to the new parent.
What types of car seats are there?
Today’s market is brimming with various baby car seat products, designs, and brands.
When all said and done, two types of car seats are available – infant and convertible.
So, let’s start there.
Infant car seats
These usually come as a part of a 2-in-1 travel system together with a stroller. Because these car seats can be used in vehicles and with strollers, transitioning from one place to the other is as easy as it gets.
The ability to move a sleeping baby so effortlessly is priceless for many parents, even if the baby quickly outgrows this seat.
Another advantage of infant car seats is their compact and lightweight design since their average weight is 10-20 lbs.
Convertible car seat
These are the most budget-friendly option out there. Namely, the essential feature of convertibles is their ability to convert from a rear-facing position to a forward-facing one, thus eliminating the need to buy a new car seat every so often.
Yet, the bulky and heavy design of convertibles isn’t their strongest feature, as they weigh 30 lbs and more.
Related: infant car seats vs convertible car seats | car seats age | when to forward face a car seat
How many infant car seats do I need?
You need one infant car seat per baby.
That will be true for the vast majority of families, but there are exceptions which depend on factors like including car seat habits, the number of vehicles, and the involvement of other family members.
Your baby will start to develop unique habits from the first day – how it bathes, what it does when it’s having a dirty diaper changed, or what feeding position it prefers.
The same goes for car rides. Some babies hate riding around in a car while others adore it.
Before you purchase multiple car seats, you should check how your baby feels about car rides and how long can newborn be in a car seat.
If you own a single vehicle and the baby always travels with you, there’s no need to buy more than one infant car seat.
It’s a different story for families that have multiple cars and tend to frequently switch between them.
Car seats sometimes get forgotten or lost, so how many infant car seats do I need largely depends on the number of vehicles you plan on using while out and about with a baby.
Related: Free car seat Medicaid
Family members as a reason to get multiple seats
Other family members be the reason behind purchasing multiple car seats as well.
Because most parents prefer family members to keep an eye out for their babies instead of dropping them off at daycare, grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, and other family members can quickly become the reason why you need several car seats instead of one.
With this arrangement in place, babies switch between different cars multiple times throughout the day and having more than one car seat can come in handy.
Related: What to do with old car seat
Which car seat should I go with?
Here are some key features you should check when shopping for a car seat.
Increased safety with the 5-point harness
Whether you decide on an infant or convertible car seat, the 5-point harness is a must.
The 5-point harness models have two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and one strap that goes between the legs. For a proper car seat strap placement, all straps should be secured in one place and offer a snug fit.
Finding the perfect fit with customizable straps
Another helpful feature is the possibility to size the straps up or down.
With customizable straps, parents can modify the length of straps as their baby grows, without compromising their comfort levels. In case you decide to have another baby, straps can be sized down in seconds and give the car seat another life.
Ease of use with the LATCH system installed
Largely popular among parents is the LATCH system, which enables easy and simple fastening of the car seat to its base without using seat belts.
For busy parents who don’t have the time or patience to struggle with seat belts every time they want to leave the house, the LATCH system is the perfect alternative.
Additional safety features with car seat foam
The car seats foam plays an important role in the overall car seat safety too.
Besides the obligatory air pads at the sides of the baby’s head, many brands now incorporate additional foams and protective features to up their safety characteristics to the max.
Simple cleaning and maintenance
Don’t forget to research the fabrics and other materials used for your car seat.
As a piece of equipment that’ll regularly be used, you would want to go with a car seat made out of smooth fabric that’s easy to clean and maintain.
Related: How to clean baby car seat
Deciding on the number of car seats needed is a process every family has to do on their own.
Unique features such as the baby’s and parents’ habits, the total number of vehicles, and the involvement of other family members can’t be generalized, so we’re unable to provide you with a straightforward answer.
By understanding your baby, your parental needs, possibilities, and preferences, you’ll be able to come to a decision that’s best for your little bundle of joy.
Steph is a passionate mom who co-founded Wumblers to share her parenting journey with others. She graduated from Concordia University with a masters degree in Education Technology and worked as an advisor for many years. Steph loves being a mom and wants to have more kids.
Learn more about Steph and Wumblers here.