Baby showers are exciting. Not only do family and friends gather to celebrate a new life and a wonderful new addition, but it’s also a time to shower the soon-to-be parents with a few gifts.
The trouble comes when choosing a gift. There are the tried and true standbys – a baby blanket, a stuffed bear or elephant, a book, or a few plush toys. Parents and little ones alike enjoy these gifts, but what about some of those more expensive needs?
Different types of baby chairs are common inside the home. But have you considered gifting a car seat? A child car seat seems like a perfect baby shower gift. Every newborn is required, by law, to use a car seat, and they can be pricey. Parents often love being gifted with these types of gifts, but does that mean a car seat is the right gift?
Car seats come in many different styles and options, plus there are a handful of safety issues and laws to consider. There are dozens of questions to answer before taking a car seat home – even questions like does car insurance cover car seat replacement?
Car Seat Dos
The car seat is a very important decision. From newborn to school age, children are required to sit in a height and weight-appropriate car seat. While all car seats are important, it can be argued that the first car seat – the newborn car seat is the most important.
So don’t go into the car seat shopping experience unprepared. Follow these few steps and walk away feeling confident in the car seat you select.
#1 – Research car seat requirements for your state
Each and every state has different car seat requirements. The car seat you purpose must meet those requirements, so it’s vital that you know those requirements before making a car seat purchase.
There are often overlapping requirements between states, but it’s always best to double and triple-check. Newborns are required in all 50 states to be in rear-facing car seats. So start your search with rear-facing seats.
#2 – Check vehicle compatibility
Not all car seats will fit comfortably or safely in all cars. The best way to make sure the car seat fits well in the parents’ car is to test it. Take the car seat to the car and install it. Of course, this defeats the purpose of gifting it.
There are a few ways to accomplish this without giving away the surprise. First, try a little research. See if there are reviews or manufacturers’ specs that outline which vehicles are most compatible with the selected car seat.
If the research turns up little information, consider buying the car seat with a gift receipt. This way, if the car seat doesn’t work out, then the new parents can return it and shop for another car seat.
Then again, you can always give the big gift – the car seat – to the happy couple early. Bring the car seat before the baby shower and add to the surprise.
#3 – Purchase it new
There are baby items parents don’t necessarily need. Still, those items will end up on a registry. In some instances, these items can be purchased second-hand. It saves a little bit of money and gives these beloved items a new life. A car seat, however, is usually one of these second-hand items.
Car seats should always be purchased new. Used car seats can be really dangerous. They could have been in an accident, making them less safe for the new occupant. They could be subject to recalls and other issues.
It’s always best practice to get a brand new, out-of-the-box car seat.
#4 – Check for recalls
Car seats are often reviewed, even those that have already been manufactured, purchased, and used. Because of that, it’s important to research the chosen car seat for any outstanding recalls. Depending on the recalls, the car seat could be a bad purchase. Plus, any recalls can add an extra headache for new, sleep-deprived parents.
Car Seat Don’ts
Where there are “to-do’s,” there are also “to-don’ts.” And it’s not just as simple as not getting the wrong color or wrong size, like when shopping for baby clothes.
Looking for the right car seat involves knowing what not to do, just as much as what to do. Here are just a few things to keep in mind.
#1 – Don’t add a lot of extra accessories
Baby accessories are adorable. And it might seem helpful to add any and all accessories, but that’s not the best idea when it comes to car seats.
Extra accessories – like toys, aftermarket headrests, or loose and heavy blankets – can pose safety threats to a newborn baby. It’s best to stick with the car seat only and leave the accessorizing to the new parents.
#2 – Don’t let the price tag decide
Car seats can be pricey. The price tag can be shocking and might scare a few buyers away. But the car seat is one area where spending a little extra money is a good idea.
No, you don’t need to blow all your disposable income on this gift, but spending a little extra money is a good idea. Super cheap price tags can spell shortcuts and big safety issues. So don’t shy away from some of the more expensive options.
#3 – Don’t focus on the “best”
Most car seats brag about being the “best” or “safest” option on the market. There is little regulation on these types of marketing tactics. It’s best to not be swayed by these common and persuasive buzzwords.
Before you go shopping, do your research. Review manufacturer specifics, safety reviews, and customer reviews. Find the right car seat without focusing on flashy stickers or terms.
Buying anything for a new baby can be daunting. There are so many options and opinions, it can be hard to shift through everything and find the right one. This kind of pressure can get even more intense when the gift is something so important like a car seat.
Gifting a car seat as a baby shower gift is a good idea, as long as the do’s and don’ts are followed. Remember a car seat will hold and protect this little bundle from their earliest days. Shop with confidence and know you’ve given a great – and safe – gift.
Laura Gunn writes and researches for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com. A mom to two wonderful young boys, she is passionate about all parents feeling confident and prepared when bringing a baby home.