If you're a parent, you probably can't imagine life without a car seat. For starters, it ensures your child's safety and it's also a great tool for carrying kids to and from the car. But did you know they didn't once didn't even exist — even when cars did? Here's a look back at how today's car seat came to be:
Meaning there was essentially no emphasis on safety — just on convenience for the parent. The Bunny Bear Company designed a model that hooks onto the back of a seat — like this vintage one, which you can buy on eBay right now. (Just, please, don't place a real kid in it.)
Sure, a nice feature if little Billy likes to sightsee. But still not very safe.
The '60s marked the beginning taking car seat safety seriously. American Leonard Rivkin (seen above) created a seat that featured a metal frame surrounded by a buckle, while Briton Jean Ames' design was a rear-facing seat with a Y-shaped strap — which is similar to today's models.
Which was a plastic chair that had a padded area in front of the child's face and acted as a cushion upon impact.
There was a separate design for children and infants, both of which also utilized seat belts to keep them in place. Made from polypropylene and padded with urethane foam, they were touted as lightweight and portable.
This advertisement in the Fall/Winter issue of a Sears catalogue for a vinyl-covered foam pad that kids could sleep or play on in the back of the car is both surprising and alarming.
The very first standard was set in 1971 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which required all seats be held by safety belts and include a harness to hold the child into the seat — though, no crash testing was required.
This required children under a certain age to have a car seat when riding in a vehicle.
These are lower anchors and top tether anchor points that improve the stability of the seat if the car gets into an accident.
Safety seats are required in all states and must be tailored to the age and weight of the child, so your child will almost certainly need more than one in their lifetime (get the scoop on all the different types of car seats here). Today, the seats come with expiration dates and safety recalls are taken very seriously.
The Good Housekeeping Institute recently tested car seats on ease of use, and picked three favorites. The above is their infant-seat pick: the Chicco Keyfit 30 Magic ($210, amazon.com).