As a parent, there are so many exciting “firsts” to look forward to with your new baby – the first step, first word, first smile. But there’s one first that can be overwhelming, and even a little scary—the first ride home from the hospital.
We have a long history of first rides home, as Britax has been a leader in child safety technology for more than 50 years. We believe that safe enough is never good enough, so we spend our days designing, engineering and testing our products beyond industry/government standards.
We are happy to share our safety knowledge and experience with you to help that memorable first ride home run smoothly.
Choosing the Right Infant Car Seat
An infant car seat is a rear facing only seat that can be used from newborn (check min lbs & height) to the maximum height or weight as indicated on your seat. There are tons of options available, and it really comes down to finding the seat that fits into your lifestyle and keeps your baby protected on the go.
Here’s what to look for when shopping for an infant car seat:
Easy and Safe Installation
Infant seats come with a base to install in your vehicle, making it easy to put the baby in safely every time. It’s important to choose a seat you’re comfortable and confident installing, so you’ll know your little one is as safe as can be. It never hurts to practice installing the seat before you make your decision.Vehicles that are newer than 2002 will typically offer the option of installing the car seat using a LUAS (Lower Universal Anchor System) or LATCH system. On our Britax B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite seat, we offer SafeCenter LUAS (LATCH), which makes it easy to tighten and secure the base in your vehicle. Simply click the LUAS onto the identified anchor points (see symbol below) and pull nice and tight in the center.
Make sure that the base is installed snuggly by trying to move it side to side at the connection point. You should not be able to move it more than 1” left to right and front to back. If you don’t have the LUAS anchor points in your vehicle you can always use a seatbelt to install the seat. The B-Safe 35/Elite base offers easy-to-use lock-offs to ensure a tight install is achieved.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper angle for your child’s seat. Recline is especially important for the younger child without head or neck control to maintain an open airway. Britax’s easy-adjust base and level indicators will also help you achieve the desired angle for a safe ride home with your newborn.
You want to be sure your baby is comfortable while you’re out exploring the world together. Look for a car seat with a large canopy to shield your child from the elements. Some car seats even come with premium fabrics and body pad cushions for extra support and comfort. Looking for a little extra head support? Be sure to check out Britax’s B-Safe 35 Elite which offers 2 layers of side impact protection in the head area.
Ease of Mobility
Designed to help new parents get around, a travel system combines the safety of the infant car seat with the mobility of a stroller. Many strollers have attachments that make them compatible with your preferred infant car seat to create a customizable travel system. Our Click & Go System allows you to easily click your infant car seat into the stroller and go about your day.
For times when your stroller isn’t handy, you want to be able to easily transport your baby around in the car seat itself. Ergonomic handle bars, in particular, are comfortable to hold with your hand or forearm while you’re out and about.
Above and Beyond Safety Features
Some seats offer safety features that go above and beyond the industry/government safety standards. Our B-Safe 35/Elite base features an integrated impact stabilizing steel frame and impact absorption to divert crash forces away from the child
Placing the Seat in the Correct Spot
Aside from installing the car seat correctly, you may also want to place it in the safest spot in your vehicle.
The rear center is generally the safest location, as it is further from side impact crashes. However, vehicle seat contour and width of the vehicle seating position can sometimes prevent a secure installation.
It is also important to note that if you plan on installing the seat in the center with the LUAS (or LATCH), check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to be sure your vehicle offers this type of installation for the center seat (Many do not).
If the center seat is not the ideal spot for your vehicle or car seat, the next best place to install it is behind the front passenger. You will never open up your child into traffic on this side of the car.
Install the car seat about 6-8 weeks before your due date to plan for unexpected surprises.
Safely Placing your Baby in the Seat
You’ll also want to be sure you place your baby correctly into the seat.
The harness is the part of the seat that holds your child in securely. When properly snug, you should not be able to vertically pinch webbing at the child’s collar bone.
The chest clip is a pre-positioning component, which helps the keep the harness properly situated on your child’s shoulders.
The placement of the harness is important for keeping your child safe. When using a car seat rear-facing, the harness should be positioned AT or BELOW the shoulders of the child and never above.
Be sure to adjust your harness height according to your child’s growth as needed. The Britax B-Safe 35 offers a 4 position re-thread harness, and the Britax B-Safe 35 Elite offers a 6 position NON-rethread harness, making it extremely easy to make height adjustments.
Even when you are not using the car seat in the vehicle, you should always make sure the harness is positioned properly and snug around your child.
Now that you’ve taken the time and done your research to choose the perfect car seat for that first ride home, you can sit back and enjoy every second of parenthood. We hope this guide has helped calm your nerves during this exciting time in your life.
Britax is a leading manufacturer of premium car seats, strollers and accessories. Britax intuitively designs, tests and builds all of its birth through harness-to-booster line of car seats in the U.S.A. using U.S. and global components.