Convertible Car Seats

What is a “convertible car seat”?Convertible Car Seats

How can you take your baby in the car in the safest way possible?  A convertible car seat may be the answer.
Convertible car seats can be used first facing the rear of the seat when your child is an infant, and then can be turned around facing the front of the car (forward-facing) as she becomes a toddler and her legs are longer. Depending on the car seat, it can hold your kid from the time they are born until they are 40 to 80 pounds and up to 50 inches tall.  Good convertible car seats have high weight limits so that your child can safely ride facing the rear until around age 2.  This is the best way for your small child to ride.

A type of convertible car seat called the ”All-in-one” or  “3-in-1” can face rear, forward, or be a booster seat accommodating children up to 100 pounds. (Be sure to read the instructions carefully.  Some 3-in-1s will not accommodate an infant safely. )
These car seats vary on weight limits, so consider your child’s weight and height before buying one.

Why buy a convertible car seat?

It is very important that you have a car seat when you have a baby or a small child. The hospital will not let you take the baby home unless you have a car seat in your car.  State law requires that children up to 4 years of age be strapped in a car seat while riding.  In addition most states also require older children to ride in booster seats.

In the United States, an automobile crash is the leading cause of death for children ages 3-14.  You should buckle up your child and yourself for every ride in the car.  It is the most important thing that a family can do when traveling, even a short distance.
All convertible car seats in the United States should meet the minimum federal safety standards.

Pros and Cons

You have two types of car seats for your baby from which you can choose: an infant car seat and a convertible car seat.

Here are some reasons that a convertible car seat is a good choice.

  1. Long- term Use: A convertible car seat is designed to let a child from birth up to around 80 pounds ride safely.   Infant seats can only accommodate a child from birth up to about 22 pounds.
  2. Seat Direction:A convertible car seat can be used in the rear-facing or forward-facing positions. Infant seats should only be used in the rear-facing position.
  3. Cost:Buying a seat that is safe for your child is worth any price.  Knowing that one seat, the convertible car seat, is safe for your child, no matter what her size, is smart and cost-efficient too.

Here are some reasons that an infant car seat may be better when your child is small.

  1.  Infant seats have a handle that swings up so that you can move your baby from the car without waking her.
  2. The infant car seat fits the child better at first until she is 6 to 9 months old.  Then the convertible car seat fits just as well.  You may have to prop the child safely in place until he grows to fit the seat better if the convertible car seat does not have enough padding.
  3. A convertible car seat is heavy and should be installed in the car.  An infant seat is easier to take in and out of the car and you can carry the baby in it.

Safety Notes

Although your child may want to turn around and face forward in her seat, it is safer for her to ride rear-facing until about two years of age.  A convertible car seat facing the rear of the car spreads the force of a crash more evenly across the child’s body.  It limits the head’s motion to prevent neck injury, and it better restrains the child.

Here are some tips when using a convertible car seat:
Read your car owner’s manual on how a child car seat should be properly installed.
Find the height and weight limits for the car seat.  Buy one appropriate for your child.
When rear-facing, the car seat’s harness straps should be positioned at or below the child’s shoulder level.  The straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders when facing forward.
Adjust the crotch straps as close as possible to the child, but not under him.

Check your vehicle owner’s manual on the weight limit for using the lower LATCH anchors.  This is usually at 48 pounds. Use the seat belt to install the seat after reaching that limit.
The weight limit for using the car’s top tether anchors is from 40 to 60 pounds.  Check your car’s manual.

Used or garage-sale car seats

I do not recommend buying a used car seat. It could be missing parts.  It could have been in an accident and have damage that does not readily show.  If it is old it might not meet current safety standards or it might have been in a recall for design flaws.  Also older seats may have brittle plastic that could crack or break in an accident.  If you do decide to use a second-hand seat, buy it from someone that you trust.  Be sure that it was not in an accident, has all of its parts, and is less than five years old.  Also check that the previous owners did not change the seat in any way.  No matter how good of a deal it is, you do not want to take the chance that the car seat could cause your child injury.

Recalled Car Seat

Most stores will pull recalled items off of their shelves.  But it is still good to check with the car seat’s manufacturer to be sure that your new car seat has not been recalled.  You can probably check this online easily or call the phone number printed in your car seat’s instruction manual. If this is a used car seat, it is even more important to check. Fill out and send in the registration card for a new car seat.  That way they can notify you in case of a recall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.