For some parents, price is no object when making purchases for their children, especially when it comes to safety gear such as infant car seats. Infant car seats can be a costly purchase, with prices starting at $60 and often costing well over $100. Well-meaning parents think that the more expensive infant car seats will provide a higher level of protection for their child; however, a February 2007 Consumer Reports test shows that the higher price models don’t always perform as well as the more moderately priced car seats (note that Consumer Reports does plan to do some additional testing to confirm these results – the below results reflect their testing as of Janurary 2007).
As background, when the federal government tests infant car seats, it ensures that they can survive a 30 mph frontal crash. Consumer Reports decided to go a step further and determine whether the car seats would be able to withhold crashes at both higher speeds and with side-impacts. Tests were completed with infant car seats installed using both the automobile’s seat belt system and by using LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), the federally mandated installation system. According to Consumer Reports, the only infant car seats which passed their tests using both methods were the Baby Trend Flex-Loc Adjustable Back seat and the Graco Snugride with EPS seat. The retail price for each of these seats is $90, well below the price of others that only passed using the vehicle safety belt system. More expensive infant car seats that did not pass all of the Consumer Reports tests include the popular Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP (priced at $230), the Britax Companion (priced at $190) and the Eddie Bauer Comfort (now discontinued, but was priced at $200). The cheapest model of the grouping, the Evenflo Discovery (priced at $60) failed all aspects of testing and was deemed “not acceptable” by Consumer Reports.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees that a higher priced infant car seat does not necessarily guarantee more protection for the child. On its website, the AAP states that “all car safety seats available for purchase in the United States must meet very strict safety standards established and maintained by the federal government” and suggests that more expensive infant car seats have more features such as headrests or detachable bases that may or may not improve the seat safety. Indeed, when parents rate infant car seats on websites such as Amazon or Babies ‘R Us, they often focus on the way that the car seat looks instead of whether or it seems to be safer for their child. In the future, parents will want to consider that more expensive infant car seats do not necessarily provide more protection for their child.