Things You Should Know About : When To Switch To A Convertible Car Seat

In the forefront of every parent’s mind is the safety of their child. From the moment that little bundle of love is ready to come home from the hospital, there is a mountain of gear that is used to protect them every moment of the day. The top of that list is the car seat.

Car seat is the first piece of safety equipment used as the new family heads home from the maternity ward, and it has the largest number of choices in the baby gear category. The questions of which seat do you start with, when do you switch to a convertible seat, and when do you get to remove the car seat entirely are ones that every parent researches.

When selecting a car seat for the new arrival, there are generally two choices: an infant car seat and a convertible car seat.

Infant car seat

An infant car seat provides the best fit for a newborn. It is typically rear-facing only and safely secures children up to 35 pounds. They are the smallest of the car seats and are designed to hook into a base that is secured into the automobile.

An infant car seat is usually designed with a handle, which makes it easy to tote your little one into the house when she falls asleep in her car seat. You can hook her into the car seat inside and then just hook the carrier into the base before heading out on your travels.

It is definitely worth the expense when your sleeping baby can stay asleep as you transport from the car to your destination.

Infant car seats are often designed to hook to a stroller, providing additional convenience and minimizes jostling the baby around. It is also handy when flying because it can be gate checked and then used in a coordinating base in your rental or family’s car. The infant car seat is an excellent solution to managing toting your little bundle around with little interrupt to his or her comfort.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child stays rear-facing until at least two years of age. Studies have shown that a rear-facing seat significantly minimizes the risk of injury during a collision and is five times safer than facing forward.

It is also important to ensure the seat has a five-point harness which maximizes the safety for the child. One of the largest challenges with an infant car seat is that it is viable only until the child reaches between 22 and 35 pounds depending on the model, which is a short period of time. It will last usually until the child is 12 months of age.

It can also become unwieldy to carry it with the handle the heavier and taller your child gets. When you child does max out of the infant seat, a convertible car seat is an ideal next step car seat option.

Convertible car seat

A convertible car seat is heavier and larger than an infant car seat. It is designed to accommodate a child from newborn until they age out of needing a car seat. It can be used for children from birth to, depending on the style and model, up to 80 pounds.

It is able to be placed rear-facing and then turned forward facing for the duration of the child’s use. It definitely has pros and cons to consider when choosing one.

There is a financial benefit to just buying the convertible seat versus first purchasing an infant seat and then upgrading. Parents want to ensure that there is padding or a newborn insert so the baby is protected properly.

Some experts recommend putting a newborn into an infant carrier and then transitioning to a convertible car seat when the time is appropriate. Children also like familiarity, so when they have been in the same car seat since birth, they are more tolerable to spending time in it.

Because it cannot be taken out of the car, a convertible car seat can be cumbersome to use, particularly while rear facing since you have to latch it and tighten the straps in a small space.

It does take up more space in your backseat, which can be tricky if you have more than one car seat to accommodate. Also, because it stays in the automobile, parents need to purchase a separate stroller and carrier.

when to switch to a convertible car seat

Most parents opt to keep their little one in an infant carrier and then switch to a convertible car seat when the time is appropriate. However, that in itself is a question that often befuddles parents: when is the right time to switch from an infant seat to a convertible car seat ?

Experts recommendation

Safety experts issued new guidelines in January 2016 as to when parents should move their child from a rear-facing infant carrier to a rear-facing convertible car seat.

Based on crash tests results, the recommendation is to move infants to a convertible car seat by the time they turn one. It is also suggested that best car seats are the ones that have easy installation and enable parents to adjust as their child grows.

Whichever car seat is the best fit, parents need to ensure that it fits in their vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. If there are any concerns with properly fitting the car seat into the vehicle, then local fire and police departments have experts on site who can install it free of charge.

The findings showed that when the infant’s head is less than one inch from the top of the infant carrier or the baby has exceeded the maximum height limit; they are more likely to hit their heads on the back of the front seat during a frontal collision.

By their first birthday, infants should be moved to a convertible rear-facing car seat. One of the concerns parents have is whether or not their child will be comfortable rear facing. Experts assure that because they do not know any different, children will not be concerned about cramped or squished legs and the rewards of rear-facing outweigh any perceived inconveniences of comfort.

​Children need to stay rear facing until two years of age or until they reach the maximum height or weight limit for safe rear-facing use. Because some convertible car seats can safely keep children rear-facing until 45 pounds, parents will want to check their specific seats guidelines.

​The only time parents should evaluate delaying moving the child to a convertible seat from an infant car seat is if the child, by his or her first birthday is unable to sit up. In that case, the cushioning of the infant seat is a better option to keep the little one safe.

Final Thoughts

Parents are always trying to do their best to keep their amazing little bundles of joy as safe as possible. With car seats, the choices available will all keep a child safe, but it can be confusing with the types of seats and options out there.

The best guideline is to keep a baby in an infant carrier from birth to the first birthday, and then transition to a convertible car seat that time. By keeping their baby rear-facing as long as possible and secured with the appropriate five-point latch, parents can have the peace of mind their little one is traveling in style and safety.

Things You Should Know About : When To Switch To A Convertible Car Seat