Choosing The Right Car Seat
Car seats are vital for the safety of your child. It’s important that you keep up to date with all information regarding recommended use guidelines.
Although you can use a convertible car chair from the moment your baby is born to protect them, most parents opt for an infant seat. Because of the ease and convenience that infant car seats offer, this is most common. Both are safe choices provided you adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular car seat.
Let’s look at the various types of car seats and how they can be used safely. And when it’s time for a convertible.
How do infant and convertible car seats differ?
When traveling with their baby, parents have the choice of a convertible or infant car seat. If your baby is at least the recommended height and weight for the car seat, both are safe choices. It is important to know how to install the seat securely. You need to find the right seat for you and your baby. These are the main differences between infant and convertible car seats.
Infant Car Seats
For parents with newborn babies, infant car seats are a more popular option. These car seats attach to the base of your vehicle and can only be rear-facing. With a click, parents can remove infant car seats from the base. The handle on infant car seats makes it easy to carry your baby around the car without having to take the seat off.
A travel system often includes infant car seats. Car seats and strollers that are compatible with travel systems usually include an infant car seat and a stroller. You can attach the infant seat to your stroller and not have to remove the car seat.
Babies often fall asleep in car seats. Parents should remove the baby from the car seat as soon as they reach home or at their destination. When you’re in your car, don’t take your baby out of the car seat.
Sleeping babies should not be left in a car. Instead, they should be placed on their backs in a crib bassinet, or in a play yard with a flat surface.
Convertible Car Seats
Convertible car seats are not suitable for infants. They can be used rearward-facing during the first few years, then forward-facing. The AAP recommends that children ride rear-facing in a convertible seat until they reach the maximum rear-facing height and weight. Only then can the seat be turned forward.
The child should then face it forward-facing until they reach the maximum height or weight. Rear-facing limits (height, weight) are almost always lower than forward-facing.
To keep themselves harnessed, some children will require a seat that is higher in height or heavier than the one they have. Convertible seats can be oriented rearward to 40 pounds, and forward to 50 pounds. Convertible car seats with a maximum weight limit of 40-50 lbs are not suitable for most children.
Convertible car seats are mounted in the vehicle without the need for a base. Convertible car seats must be transported to and from the vehicle by a baby.
Eric Anderson, MD pediatrician, Atrius Health Burlington, Massachusetts, stated that the convertible seat has higher rear-facing weight and height limits than infant rear-facing seats. They are perfect for toddlers and larger babies.
Convertible seats are also ideal for preschoolers who prefer to be rear-facing. Convertible seats can be used by most children rear-facing up to age 3. Many can also be used rear-facing up to age 4 or 5.
Convertible car seats are often larger than infant seats. You may be wondering how your baby could fit comfortably in one of these seats. To ensure that your baby can travel in a convertible car seat safely, it is important to read the specifications.
You may find inserts in your convertible car seat that you can add or remove depending on the baby’s height. These inserts should be used according to the instructions in the manual. Do not add accessories to your baby’s car seat that aren’t approved by the manufacturer.
When should you make the switch?
Infant car seats can have weight limits of 22 to 35 pounds. However, almost every baby is too tall to reach the limit before they are reached, especially for seats with 30+ pound weight limits. The child’s head should not be more than 1 inch from the seat’s top. To ensure that your child is safe, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the requirements for height and weight of your car seat.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), recommends that your baby be moved from an infant seat to a rear-facing convertible car seat once they have reached the minimum height and weight requirements for their infant seat. It is unsafe to use the infant seat if a child exceeds the weight limit while still staying within the height limit. Your child is too big once they reach one limit.
Although the maximum height of most infant seats is 1 inch above the top, Consumer Reports crash testing has shown that it is best to move to the rear-facing convertible seat sooner, before your child’s top is within an inch. CR’s crash tests using a 12-month-old dummy revealed that head injuries are more likely in an infant seat than in a rear-facing convertible. The dummy was thrown on its back in more than half the infant seat crashes, while it was only 4% in the convertible seats.
With that being said once your child reaches their first birthday and can still safely fit in the rear-facing infant car seat it is best to switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat.
Important Safety Considerations
Parents should not make the difficult transition to convertible car seats lightly. To protect your child’s safety in case of an accident, you need to consider safety when installing and selecting your car seat.
Correctly Install the Seat
You should use either the seatbelt, or the LATCH system to install your car seat. When installing your child’s car seats, make sure you refer to the manual. A properly installed car seat shouldn’t move more than 1 inch from side to side or front-to back.
Learn about the laws of your state
Some states require that children ride in rear-facing car seats from the age of two. However, many states allow for your child to be legally turned forward-facing up to a year. It is safer for children to ride rearward-facing car seats than forward-facing.
Children who are rear-facing suffer less injury to their bodies, including their necks and legs. The AAP recommends that children keep their rear facing convertible seats until they reach the maximum height and weight. This can be for most kids between 3 and 5 years.
Most people are not aware that car seats have an expiration date. This can typically be found on the bottom of the car seat. Checking the expiration date is extremely important if you use your car seat for multiple children or buying one second hand. The car seat manual will also have this information. The average lifespan of car seats is 6 years but this can change. The reasons the expiration dates can change is due to the new laws and regulations that are introduced to meet safety requirements.
You must properly harness your child
If your child is facing forward, the car seat straps should be placed at or just below their shoulders. The straps must be flattened and free from twisting. After the harness is buckled, adjust it until the straps fit snugly. It is virtually impossible to adjust the straps too tight on any car seat but there shouldn’t be any reason you can’t tighten them to the right place.
Most children ride in too loose straps. It is important to make sure they are snug, not too tight. This harness is vital for the safety and well-being of your child. It is important to make sure your child is properly buckled. Every time you buckle your child, make sure it is properly fitted. The pinch test overlooks the fact there may be a lot of slack in the straps at your hips and belly. The chest clip should be positioned at the armpit.
Many parents start with an infant car chair and then transition to a convertible for their child. It is important that you choose the car seat that best suits your child and you. Safe car seats are those that have not been in an accident, and can be safely installed in your vehicle.
For the best chance of avoiding injuries or fatalities in the case of a crash, it is safer to keep your child facing rearwards until age 2. Make sure that your child’s car seat has been installed correctly and is properly harnessed according to the manual.