Your child's car seat is very important for his or her safety, as the car seat acts as a restraint in case of an accident and also prevents your child from leaning against a door or window that may accidentally open and allow them to fall out. The car seat can also keep them more comfortable during long drives so they're less fussy when in the car. When choosing a child's car seat, you want to ensure you purchase one that is legally appropriate for their age, but note a few other reminders for making the best choice as well.
Going from car seat to booster seat
Children who are no longer infants but who are not legally allowed to sit in the front seat often need to sit in a booster seat. This elevates them in the seat so that the seatbelt provides better restraint for them. When choosing a car seat, you might note if there is an option for a seat that will convert from a standard car seat to a booster seat; this might include having the back removed or folded down. This will mean not having to buy two separate seats for your child as he or she gets older.
Be wary of car seats bought or imported from overseas
In many areas, car seats that are bought overseas or that have been imported for sale may not pass the local legal requirements for car seats. As an example, in Australia, car seats must have what is called the AS/NZS 1754 certification, and these are sometimes considered the strictest in the world. Car seats bought overseas will often not have this certification, and they may illegal to use in the country. If you have purchased a car seat when on vacation or if you're in a particular country on a visa, be sure you note the type of car seat you use and if it passes local regulations rather than assuming that all commercially-sold seats will be safe.
Rear-facing versus forward-facing
In many areas, it's the law that infants need to be in a rear-facing seat and then parents can switch them to a forward-facing seat after so many months. However, rear-facing seats can protect your child from flying glass if the windscreen of the car should shatter in a collision. You might consider keeping your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible, at least until their legs get so long that they need to sit facing forward, for their own protection.