Walk into any big box baby store you’ll find a dizzying array of stuff you never imagined that you’d need. Bassinets, footed pajamas, infant tubs - you name it, they have it.
They also have rows and rows of car seats, all of which look alike. But are they?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a database that rates car seats based on a five-star system that evaluates car seats based on:
- Quality of instructions
- Ease of installation
- Clarity of labeling
- Ease of securing your child
Car seats come in three categories:
- RF - Rear facing seats
- FF - Forward facing
- B - Booster
The NHTSA breaks down the five-star rating system as follows:
- 5 Stars = The car seat is excellent for its respective category.
- 4 Stars = Above average features, instructions, and overall ease-of-use for its category.
- 3 Stars = An average product for its category.
- 2 Stars = Below-average features, instructions, labeling and ease-of-use for its category.
- 1 Star = Poor overall features for this child safety seat.
Although car seats may look alike, they’re not. Parents can view a complete list of safety seat models and ratings by visiting the NHTSA website.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Car Seat Ratings Systems: What the Numbers Really Mean and was authored by Kevin Woo.