It’s funny how things you never thought would be particularly exciting matter more when you’re caring for little ones. The perfect blender, a whole night of sleep — and a car seat you know you can depend on.

There are few things more important than going out adventuring with your family, exploring the world for the very first time. But to do that safely, a great car seat is essential.

So, to help you find the right one, here are three fundamental areas to consider before you make a purchase.

1. Safety first

As you’d expect, safety matters above all else. The secret to safety is easy — always buy a new car seat.

It would be simple to list off the current safety standards, from the latch system of fastening the base, to the importance of side-impact protection for your infant.

But these standards move so fast that the best way to guarantee your car seat meets – or exceeds – them is to buy a brand new seat from a reputable brand.

2. Don’t forget to consider comfort

Since most car seats are required to meet certain safety standards, it can be hard to figure out why some of them cost so much more. Often, it’s the difference between a functional seat and one that’ll give your little one the ride of his or her life.

Compare the thickness of the padding available on different models, as well as bonus features including cup holders for older kids and extended canopies to keep the sun from little eyes.

Meanwhile, you should always consider your own comfort. How light is the car seat, how straightforward is it to fit, and how gently can you lift it from your vehicle to your home while trying to keep your infant asleep?

3. Think of the future

Finally, it’s important to think of a car seat as an investment for the future, not just a one-off purchase. As soon as your child is in a front-facing seat, they’ll stay in one for a long time.

Many models offer user-friendly adaptation as your child grows, including additional harnesses and removable backs to turn your existing car seat into a convenient booster.

So when you find a car seat that’s exactly what you’ve been looking for, you can keep hold of it for years to come.

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