Traveling with a baby can be nerve-wracking, but with the right baby car seat, you can make sure they are comfortable and happy every step of the way. From 0-24 months, babies still have fairly weak muscles and poor control of their spine, head, and neck. Thus, they need to have their own separate seats to provide adequate support and security when riding in a moving vehicle.
It goes without saying that safety should always be your number one priority, especially when driving. If you're not sure how to go about purchasing a baby car seat, check out our buying guide with tips and comments from pediatrician Dr. Joanna Cuayo-Estanislao. We've also curated a list of the best baby car seats out there. Read on to know more!
Dr. Joanna Pamela Cuayo-Estanislao is a pediatrician and child health specialist based in Metro Manila. Doc Joey is passionate about health education and empowering families to become informed advocates of their children's health and wellness. She uses social media to educate and raise awareness about important issues and topics in the field of pediatrics and child care.
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Here are some key points to consider:
For more detailed information, read through our buying guide below.
Before choosing the size you want, consider how much space you have in the backseat. Sedans tend to have a smaller area in the rear passenger area compared to SUVs or vans. For the available space in the back, don’t forget to consider the space the driver needs.
Car seats move back and forth as well as recline. This can take up more or less space depending on the ergonomic requirements of the driver. The best option is to choose a convertible baby car seat. This allows you to switch between an upright and lying position for when your child is awake or asleep. Convertible car seats give your baby a bed and chair in one.
The best thing about it is it "grows" with your baby in size with its adjustable headrests, shoulder straps, and even a seat reducer. Some convertible baby car seats can accommodate a child from 0 up to 12 years old - talk about a one-time safety investment!
Convertible seats are a great economical option, as they can be adapted and adjusted according to your child's size. However, convertible car seats are often heavy and not very portable and should be used only for travel (not outside the car). Do also avoid using a seat with a tray shield for newborns. These shields come up too high on them, and, in a crash, the baby's face could hit the tray.
Rear-facing car seats are best for newborns up to babies about a year old. This is because a rear-facing seat protects the neck and spine better from injury due to whiplash in the event of a bad front collision or even from simple sudden braking. This type tends to take up more seat space since it puts the child in a lying position.
Front-facing baby car seats are best for babies 12 months and above when they have good control of their neck and spine musculature. It keeps them upright and allows them to take in visual stimulation from the road scenery that helps them develop stronger visual acuity. For you, it'll help you keep an eye on your baby easier via the rearview mirror.
For either kind of seat, always check the manufacturer's guidelines for use and care. Do place the harnesses of the seat in slots that are at or below your child's shoulders. Check also that the harness is snug and that the chest clip is placed at the center of the chest, even with your child's armpits.
For front-facing seats, always use your car's tether when you can. A tether is a strap that is attached to the top part of a car safety seat and functions to hold the seat tightly by connecting to an anchor point in your vehicle. Using a tether is an important extra protection by keeping the car safety seat and your child's head from moving too far forward in a crash or sudden stop.
A baby car seat is more than just a piece of equipment you buy to comply with the law. So, don’t compromise your child’s safety to save a few thousand Pesos. Always pick the best one! Since the main purpose of getting a baby car seat is safety, consider the features below.
For attachment points for child safety seats in vehicles, ISOFIX is the international standard. It stands for "International Standards Organization Fix." LATCH or "Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children" is simply a different regional name. Check if your car is ISOFIX- or LATCH-compatible by looking at the tether or attachment in the back seat, on the floor, or the rear deck of your car.
What these two tell you is that they offer the safest attachment for your baby car seat. They ensure that the car seat is rigidly fastened to the car, from base to headrest. They are anchored to the car itself as opposed to just the seat via the seatbelts, an important feature to have for kids who like to move around the seat.
Remember, an ISOFIX or LATCH baby car seat is only compatible with a vehicle with attachment points of the same name. The good news is that most ISOFIX seats are adaptable, meaning in the absence of an ISOFIX anchor point, you can use the seat belt of your car to secure your baby's car seat in place.
Lower anchors can be used instead of the seat belt to install your child's car seat. Many parents find the LATCH/ISOFIX system easier to use in some car models, while some may find the seat belt system easier. Whichever system you opt for, be sure that the top tether is always used with a forward-facing seat.
The seat belt and LATCH systems are equally safe, so caregivers could use one or the other--whichever works best for them, their car safety seat, and their vehicle.
A five-point harness offers the best security to your child. It fastens them firmly but comfortably. It secures the baby through five straps: two at the shoulders, two at the hips, and one at the crotch, all connected through a buckle release mechanism. The five-point harness is, by far, the safest belt system.
There are also other options such as three and two-point harnesses, which are better suited for children nearing or in the toddler age. The three-strap harness is the same as the one in every adult car seat, which already provides great security and protection.
I highly recommend getting car seats with a five-point harness, even for your older children. Ensure that the harnesses are adjusted to fit snugly against your child's body. Do avoid using bulky clothing (puffy/thick jackets and other outerwear), which can compress in a crash and leave the straps too loose to effectively restrain your child, leading to an increased risk of injury.
Ideally, dress your baby in thinner layers and just wrap a coat or blanket around your baby over the buckled harness straps, if needed.
You should only choose a padded baby car seat. Anything less would be uncomfortable and even painful to your little one. The quality of the paddings will differ, some will be thick and soft, thin and dense, or any other combination of these characteristics. Choose pads that most conducive to your city's climate.
You also must consider where the paddings are placed. Make sure they cover the basics: neck, back, and legs. For a safer and more comfortable seat for your baby, opt for one with lateral headrests and padded side wings. These keep your little one protected during sudden jerking movements from maneuvering or stopping.
Carefully examine the product, some might look padded but they merely provide thin cushions that degrade and lose springiness over time. Most good products will have a memory foam padding that retain their shape, conform to the body's curves, and are naturally breathable.
If your child needs a little more support/padding than what your car seat has built-in, you can try placing a tightly rolled blanket on both sides of your child. Many manufacturers also allow the use of a tightly rolled small diaper or cloth between the crotch strap and your child, if necessary, to prevent slouching.
Do not place padding under or behind your child or use any sort of car safety seat insert unless it came with the seat or was made by the manufacturer for use with that specific seat/model.
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LX Car Seat
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Mamas and Papas
Cybex Aton M iSize Baby Car Seat
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Juva Infant Car Seat
A Lightweight Car Seat That Lets You Rock Your Baby
Swoop Car Seat
Ensure Comfort and Stability With Superior Padding
Unico Car Seat
A Convertible Infant-to-School Age Car Seat for Maximum Safety
Air Groove AC Toddler Car Seat
Has a Highly Breathable and Comfortable Cushion
Steadi Car Seat
Multi-Padded Baby Car Seat for the Coziest Rides
Tilt Car Seat
Cocoon-Shaped Car Seat That Keeps Your Baby Warm
Universal Lightweight Baby Car Seat Basket Carrier
ISO-Certified Baby Seat and Carrier That’s Easy on the Wallet
This ISO-certified all-in-one car seat definitely comes with a hefty price tag, but we assure you it's worth the investment. It's as close to luxury as you can get with a special upholstery made of a patented TENCEL lyocell fiber that gives the car seat a natural, plush, and earthy feel. Plus, it has all the safety features you need to keep your baby secure.
For example, you'll find mechanisms such as stable ISOFIX attachments, a 5-point harness, and Nuna's smart Side Impact Protection System that utilizes an energy-absorbing foam. It also offers many options for customization, like 6 reclining positions and 10 height settings for the headrest, ensuring that it accommodates the changes in your child's body as they grow.
This car seat from Doona enjoys a large following among parents worldwide because it's such a practical solution for traveling with their baby. It is a car seat that conveniently transforms into a stroller with just one click. Everything about this innovation has passed the highest quality and safety standards and is aircraft-approved for travel.
Designed for newborns to babies 15 months old, it is rear-facing and is outfitted in breathable BabySafe fabrics and foams. The stroller handlebar also serves as an anti-rebound bar once it is transformed into a car seat. This is a great product for those who want a smart and stylish travel solution!
This baby car seat from Mamas and Papas may look simple, but it's actually packed with features that make it one of the best choices for newborns and preemies. For one, it has a removable seat insert that lets you place your newborn in a near-flat position as recommended for their age.
The headrest has 11 settings for adjustment to accommodate your baby's needs as they grow bigger. It also has superior impact absorption thanks to its Integrated Linear Side-Impact Protection feature. Aside from that, there's a retractable sun canopy with 50+ UV protection, a feature you won't find easily in other baby car seats.
If you're looking for a baby car seat with something extra, check out this one from Joie. Aside from being one of the most lightweight models on the market, it has a curved base that lets you rock your baby to sleep in the car. The side impact protection gives your baby adequate cushioning, and it has a 5-point padded harness for complete stability.
It has several features designed to keep you and your baby comfortable on the road. For one, it has an ergonomic carry handle and a sun canopy for protection against glare. And if you have a Joie stroller, this seat seamlessly integrates into that with no need for an adapter. On top of that, this one is airline-certified. It's a complete travel system that has your comfort in mind!
This mid-range product is geared to accommodate all stages, from newborn to age 12 or a maximum of 36 kg. It also has an ergonomically designed base and can rotate 360° for switching between rear- and front-facing positions. It is fixed on the car using ISOFIX on the bottom and has a five-point harness that is adjustable with a single pull.
Whether your car has a modern ISOFIX attachment or a traditional 3-point seatbelt system, this car seat by Chicco will be a good fit because it is adaptable to any type of vehicle. For comfort, the whole seat can be reclined, plus it has a side safety system and a padded reducer. The multiple plump paddings ensure the best comfort so your baby can travel at ease.
This car seat has a rotating base, so you can switch from a rear-facing position for newborns to a front-facing position as your baby grows. The entire headrest, including the lateral headrests, are adjustable to adapt to the changes in height for children up to 12 years old. So, even with its hefty price, it is a worthy investment considering you can use it for a long time.
This convertible car seat is good for children 7 months old to 11 years. The headrest is adjustable up to 5 positions and comes with side impact protection. Aside from that, its best feature is its memory foam padding, which is well-upholstered with luxe mesh for absolute breathability and sweat-proofing.
The Air Groove also has ventilation holes found at the headrest, backrest, and side rests. The waist support cushion is also made with Breathair technology, so the securing harness won't make them feel uncomfortable or sweaty. This is the best choice for those living in hot coastal provinces or if you have a kid with heat-irritable skin.
For your newborn, this is one of the coziest car seats you can find. Fitted with a padded infant head and body support cradle, it ensures that your tiny baby is practically hugged by the cushions. The child restraint harness is also made with breathable and soft mesh belt pads.
It comes with a seat reducer for extra cushioning for babies. The Grow Together system will still give that same level of coziness even as the child grows because of the plush neck and headrests that are height adjustable. The ISOFIX system also makes for a rigid attachment from top to bottom.
This car seat has a cocoon-shaped profile that gives it a low center of gravity. This is why it is great for older car models without ISOFIX or LATCH anchor points. It keeps the weight on the seat base and therefore, firmly on the backseat even with just the conventional three-point seatbelt installation. It does have four recline positions and easy-to-pull, adjustable harnesses.
It does not have the usual mesh or other breathable covers that other seats have. Its synthetic and thick cover traps body heat better. Hence, it is great to use in cooler areas or if you often commute with the air-conditioner on full blast to escape the tropical heat and metropolitan air.
If you are looking for a car seat that's easier on the pocket but of high quality, this Burbay baby seat is a great choice. It is ISO-certified, meaning it has met all the requirements for standardization and quality assurance. It is easy to install; you only need to fasten it using the vehicle's conventional three-point seatbelt.
The good thing is it comes with belt hooks that keep the harness away from the baby. Therefore, there's no need to uninstall the seat itself when carrying the baby in and out of the car seat. It also has removable cushions for easy cleanups and a sun canopy that can be expanded in and out as you wish.
Here are some of the most asked questions on the web answered by Dr. Joey Cuayo-Estanislao.
A baby should not be in a car seat for longer than 2 hours within a 24-hour time period. A baby kept in a car seat for longer than two hours can suffer from strain on your baby’s still-developing spine and have a higher risk of restricted air flow to their lungs.
Ideally, as well, car seats should only be used for transport and not as a place to hold your baby. Research recommends that frequent breaks should be taken on long journeys to get the baby out of the seat, even if this involves waking the baby up. The same applies when bringing the baby into the home if they have fallen asleep in the car seat: remove the baby out of the seat and transfer them to a more proper sleeping space.
Even for a short trip, it is never safe to hold your baby in your arms during a car ride. Your baby could be pulled from your arms and thrown against the dashboard by a quick stop. Babywearing accessories are also not a good option, even with a seatbelt. Your baby or child can become crushed between the seatbelt/dashboard and your body in the event of a sudden stop or a crash.
An important note too for expecting parents: when bringing your baby home from the hospital, have an appropriate car seat ready for them. It is also always best to have an adult or responsible older child in the backseat with your baby to easily take care of their needs during a car trip.
Ideally, baby car seats should be installed in the back seat. You should also NEVER put a rearward-facing car seat in the front if there is an active passenger airbag.
Moreover, we have a local law, Republic Act No. 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, which disallows children 12 years old and below who are shorter than 4’11 from sitting in the front passenger seat of the vehicle, and also requires children to use Child Restraint Systems (CRS) or child car seats that are appropriate for their age, height, and weight while inside a private vehicle.
If possible, try installing the child/baby car seat in your vehicle before purchasing it to make sure you are able to install it properly and to ensure that the seat is the right fit for your vehicle.
Always practice installing the car seat first and ensure its secure, proper installation before placing your child in the car seat. It is also the best and safest practice to have your baby in a car seat at all times during a car ride, no matter how quick or short the ride will be.
Before going on a trip, make sure you have everything you need to address your baby's needs and to keep them happy while on the road. Check out our articles below for more travel essentials!
Author: Petre Baliton
Re-editor: R. Umlas
Our buying guide was carefully researched and crafted by the mybest team of writers and editors, in collaboration with the expert featured in this article. We used the buying guide as a basis for choosing and ranking the product recommendations, and we looked at reviews and ratings from different E-commerce sites like Lazada, Shopee, and more.
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