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What better gift for the holidays than a gift of safety and comfort in the car?
Car seats may not be the most exciting gift but keeping a loved one safe if there is a crash can mean more than toys or electronics.
The fact is car crashes are the number one cause of child fatalities for children between the ages of 1 and 13. Car crashes are also the largest cause of fatal injuries for pregnant women and their unborn babies.
If there is anything we can do to keep our children safer, it’s well worth doing. So we’ve compiled a small car seat gift guide with a few of our picks for increased safety, comfort and convenience this holiday season.
We drive a lot of miles everyday but the miles really seem to add up during the holidays. We want to keep our loved ones as safe as possible for all those miles. This isn’t always the most easy thing to do as car seats can so easily be used incorrectly. In fact, 3 out of 4 car seats have some sort of mistake in their use. This is especially scary since studies show that 96% of new parents think they have done everything right with their car seat.
Let’s start in the very beginning…
Tummy Shield – Baby’s First Car Seat™
Moms-to-be can have peace of mind using the only pregnancy seat belt positioner that is highly engineered, designed and crash tested to make driving during pregnancy safer for her and her baby. As a bonus it also makes wearing the seat belt more comfortable. We know it looks like a simple cushion but there’s a heavy-duty safety device hidden inside.
To buy: $169; Tummy Shield
Doona All In One Infant Car Seat/Stroller
This super innovative infant car seat/stroller almost makes me want to have another baby… OK, maybe not. But it would have been great if it was around when I did have babies. This is the world’s first infant car seat with a complete and fully integrated mobility solution. The car seat transforms into a stroller when out of the car. It’s like magic. Perfect for traveling with little ones.
To buy: $499; Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base
We like this car seat; so much so it’s the one we chose for our last baby. It is so easy to install this car seat using either LATCH or the seat belt. The orange indicates which parts are used for properly installing, harnessing and riding with baby. While we never thought it realistic to actually carry a 20+ pound baby in a car seat carrier, it is nice that it can be used up to 30 pounds.
To buy: $199, amazon.com
Download our report: Common Car Seat Mistakes and How to Fix Them
This convertible car seat goes extended rear facing up to 50 pounds and forward facing up to 65 pounds. This adjustable car seat has many perks like True Tension™ doors that ensure a secure install without sitting in the car seat. Plus it has infant head and body inserts. But the best perk is the ease of installation. Nuna says they prefer installation with the vehicle seat belt which eliminates the confusion about when and how to use LATCH or when you need to switch from LATCH to the seat belt.
To buy: $499.95; nunababy.com
Rescue Facts™ ID Wrap
Many organizations recommend putting a sticker on the car seat with a child’s information, name and any health details rescuers should know. To not cover up any other stickers on the car seat, these often need to go in the back which means rescuers may not find it right away. This can attach to the harness, seat belt or LATCH strap to put the information front and center for first responders.
To buy: $12.95; rescuefacts.com
This is the perfect travel car seat for children ages 3 and up. Believe it or not this lightweight vest is a certified child restraint. It is foldable and packable. No more lugging that car seat through the airport! We don’t even carry it at all; our kids attach it to their carryon backpack and carry their own child restraint. (Great for everyday use at home too especially if you do any carpooling or switch who is doing pickup.)
To buy: $145-159; RideSafer
A lightweight, portable forward-facing car seat. Great for kiddos who don’t meet the specifications for the RideSafer yet. It folds so compact it could fit in the overhead bin, except that you can (and we recommend) use it on the plane. Yup, FAA approved. And it only weigh 8 pounds. Much easier carrying weight than the normal car seat! This is also great for families who live in big cities and take taxis or ride shares with their kids. Forward-facing car seat fits kids 22-50 lbs and 30-45 inches.
To buy: $330, wayb.com
Britax Car Seat Travel Cart
For those who can’t use the RideSafer yet, this car seat travel cart helps you haul that car seat through the airport with more ease. The cart fits all Britax convertible and combination (aka “harness booster”) seats and most other brands of convertible and forward-facing car seats. The cart pulls them with in-line skate wheels. Let your child hitch a ride buckled in their car seat and it helps you speed through knowing exactly where your child is.
To buy: $89.99; amazon.com
J.L. Childress Car Seat Travel Bag
When you decide to travel with your car seat but not have it on the plane, this car seat travel bag will fit most brands of car seats. It is padded to help protect the seat. This durable bag includes adjustable backpacks straps to keep your hands free to carry other things or hold your child’s hand. It is water resistant and easy to clean.
To buy: $54.99; amazon.com
For warmth (or cool)
Buckle Me Baby Coats
As car seat experts, we don’t recommend wearing a heavy winter coat in the car seat. So what makes this acceptable? This coat is specifically made and crash tested for use in a car seat. In bright, cheerful colors and solid materials, this coat has a thinner back than front and rolls open in a way that the car seat’s harness straps go right over the child. Once nice and snug in their car seat harness straps the coat rolls back over to keep your child warm. It has a shorter hem so there’s no bunching in the back. Bonus: it’s washable!
November 2021: This just in! Buckle Me Baby Coats has introduced the car seat suit for the littlest ones in sizes 0/3 Months, 3/6 Months and 6/9 Months.
To buy: $69.99-149.99; bucklemecoats.com
Babies need to be warm too but still without the fluff. The cozy fleece-lined LambPOD has a removable back, eliminating extra fabric between baby’s back and the car safety harness. Great for the stroller too with openings in the back for the stroller harness and a water-resistant outer shell. Bonus: it’s washable!
To buy: $120-150; amazon.com
While we’re nice and cozy in the front seat our kids could be shivering in the back seat. That’s where the Noggle comes in. This air hose helps control distribution of air around the car for warmer winter driving and cooler summer driving. This is especially helpful for rear-facing children whose car seat blocks air that might be coming from rear vents.
To buy: $49.98; amazon.com
No car seat gift guide would be complete without some toys. Remember to only hang toys from the car seat if your car seat allows it.
Also remember everything in the car becomes a projectile during a crash. At the same our children like to be entertained, especially on longer car rides and road trips. If they are not, they may become a distraction to the driver. Toys in the car should be soft and lightweight. (Keep heavy things buckled down or in a trunk.)
Infantino Hug and Tug Musical Bug
Huggable bug pull toy attaches to just about anything and features music and movement. When children pull the bug down, it will play music for 90 seconds while it slowly inches back up. The toy also has clacker rings and mirrors for some play variety.
To buy: $13.99; amazon.com
Lamaze Clip and Go Mortimer the Moose
Meet Mortimer. He’s a plush moose that can attach to the side of a car seat or stroller. This toy has a teething element in addition to the activity legs, squeaker tummy and crinkling hooves.
To buy: $15.99; amazon.com
Alex Desk to Go
This soft-pouched portable desk helps keep older children occupied in the car with artwork. Two zippered pouches hold art supplies and a soft pillow bottom rests on the lap while providing a drawing surface with elastic straps to hold the paper.
To buy: $20.00; amazon.com
What would you add to this car seat gift guide?
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
Copyright 2021 Safe Ride 4 Kids. All rights reserved. You may not publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material without permission. You are welcome to link to Safe Ride 4 Kids or share on social media.
We originally published this post in November 2017. We updated the article for accuracy and comprehensiveness (and searched for more car seat gifts for our guide but these are still our favorites).