One of the eye-opening things you quickly learn as a parent is how expensive child car seats are.
Spoiler alert for the childless: Car seats are super-expensive. Also, your growing child will cycle through various car seat stages. Take it from me, a father of two.
These days, the average convertible car seat price is roughly $175 — although it ranges from $75 to $400 or more, depending on your needs, taste and budget.
One way to save money here is to take advantage of car seat trade-ins. Babies R Us, Toys R Us and Target have these in-store events every once in awhile.
That means you still have a 10-day window to bring in your old car seat and get a coupon for 20% off a new car seat, booster, base or travel system. You can use the coupon in stores or online until Oct. 7.
What happens to the car seats that Target collects? It has teamed up with recycling company TerraCycle to have them recycled. Target and TerraCycle expect to keep 700,000 pounds of car seat materials out of landfills.
Once or twice a year, Toys R Us and Babies R Us do the same thing, and they usually offer a 25% discount.
If you’re a Penny Hoarder like I am, you’re always looking for ways to save money. Saving on car seats is no exception as long as my child’s safety is not compromised.
The Car Seat Cycle of Life
These car seat trade-ins are especially useful because there will come a time when your child outgrows their current car seat or it expires.
The federal government offers car seat guidelines based on age and weight. Here are some useful guidelines:
- Infant seats: Newborn to 2 years, or 30-plus pounds.
- All-in-one seats: Newborn to 12 years, or 120 pounds.
- Convertible seats: Newborn to 6 years, or 65 pounds.
- Booster seats: 6 to 12 years, or 120 pounds.
Consumer Reports has a few good tips on when to trade in your car seat:
- When your baby is a year old.
- When your baby gets too big for their infant seat.
- It’s simply time for the next step.
- When your car seat expires. Yes, car seats have expiration dates. Check your car seat’s manufacturing label. They’re typically good for six years. After that, you can’t resell them on Craigslist or at a consignment store.
- The car seat has been involved in a crash.
- The car seat is damaged.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has two little kids, and just writing this story is making his wallet bleed.
Tyler Omoth, a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder, also contributed to this post.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.