It’s one of the many shocks for first-time parents. The realization that there isn’t any real comparative safety information available to consumers on the plethora of different carseats currently on the market. I remember my first carseat decision. It was spring 1997 and after surviving a particularly nasty wreck several months earlier, I was attempting to choose the “safest” carseat for my precious baby-to-be. I had no useful information to go on and I remember feeling really lost despite the fact that there were FAR fewer choices back then. I spent hours at different baby stores playing with seats, dismantling them, and desperately trying to make meaningful comparisons. Unfortunately, I wound up choosing an infant seat that I found out many years later was probably seriously flawed. Luckily, I never had to find that out the hard way like some other poor parents and their babies did.
Fast forward 12.5 years and not much has changed. I still have no choice but to “trust” that a product I purchase to protect my 5 year old under the worst possible circumstances is really up to the task. While designs are continuously improving, that is going go be offset to some degree by the increased demands placed on these seats. Apparently, it’s not enough for infants seats to be rated to 22 lbs anymore. Now everyone wants infant seats that can be used to 30 lbs or more. Higher weight limits, both rear-facing and/or forward-facing, are practically an expectation for any new seat that manufacturers develop today. And while we’re all happy to see this trend, you’ve gotta wonder how safe these seats are when really pushed to the max?