A buyer’s guide to convertible car seats

All cars and car seats manufactured after Sept 1, 2002 , include the LATCH option.) Unlike an infant seat that can rely exclusively on LATCH if you choose, most convertibles will require a seat belt installation when a child hits 40 pounds, as the LATCH system is not designed to hold a child in past that weight. All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. To see which convertible car seats people are buying visit convertiblecarseatadviser.com.

All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. All the research we’ve conducted for this guide and for our guide to infant car seats leads us to the conclusion that best practice is to move a child from an infant car seat to a rear-facing convertible, and stay with a rear-facing seat until the child reaches the seat’s height or weight limit for rear-facing installation (which is generally different and lower than the limits for the same seat while front-facing).

In fact, in the past year alone six states have adopted new rear-facing laws ( nine states now have laws requiring it ). The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends that children stay rear-facing as long as possible (and not move to a booster seat until they have outgrown the weight and height requirements on their forward-facing convertible car seat). We also install the forward-facing convertible in the second row’s middle seat with the booster and infant seat in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit ; a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. These days, safAety experts recommend keeping children facing backwards for longer, and the affordable Graco Extend2Fit has a 50-pound weight limit for the rear-facing position (many comparable car seats go up to 40 pounds).

There are also 3-in-1 car seats that can first be used as a rear-facing baby car seat, then as a forward-facing seat, then finally as a booster seat when the child reaches the recommended height and weight. For children rear-facing 12-40 pounds and forward-facing 22-65 pounds, the Chicco NextFit Sport is a great convertible seat for parents who prioritize safety. However, we think the design and features of an infant style seat are far better suited for younger babies, and we think parents should avoid convertible car seats until their baby reaches at least 9 months of age or has exceeded the maximum height or weight limit for their infant seat (height being the more probable limit to reach).

Car safety seats may be installed with either the vehicle’s seat belt or it’s LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system. ​Children who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer. Each family was interviewed about ease of installation, how difficult it was to get a child in and out of each seat—unlike smaller, usually more-compliant infants, toddlers can be challenging to manipulate into car seats—and how easy it was to adjust the straps and find the right fit.

Unlike an infant seat that can rely exclusively on LATCH if you choose, most convertibles will require a seat belt installation when a child hits 40 pounds. Read the car seat manual carefully and remember that children should ride rear-facing until they reach the top height or weight limit for the rear-facing position before you move them to the forward-facing position with a harness and tether. Another type of convertible seat known as a 3-in-1 or all-in-one car seat can change from rear-facing to forward-facing, then into a booster seat for children up to 120 pounds.

Designed to accommodate each stage of early childhood development, the best convertible car seats have two different belt routing paths, one for your rear-facing infant, and another forward-facing setting so your curious toddler can be part of the conversation. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat , and that Latch anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds, including the weight of the child and the weight of the seat itself. Another type of convertible seat known as a 3-in-1 or all-in-one car seat can change from rear-facing to forward-facing, then into a booster seat for children up to 100 pounds.

Booster seats – Designed for preschool to primary-school aged children, booster seats are typically belt-secured versus the harness used with infant and toddler car seats. A child safety seat is a seat designed specifically to protect children from injury or death during vehicle collisions Most commonly these seats are purchased and installed by car owners, but car manufacturers may integrate them directly into their vehicle’s design and generally are required to provide anchors and ensure seat belt compatibility. Convertible car seats can be used rear- or forward-facing and typically have higher rear-facing height and weight limits than do infant-only car seats.

Also, once your child reaches a certain weight, the seat belt installation often becomes your only install option, as the LATCH system will become unsafe due to the combined weight of baby and car seat (see tip above). So if your car seat manual says the seat can be installed using LATCH up to 60 lbs of child weight, but your vehicle manual shows a limit of 50lbs, then you must switch to the seatbelt installation at 50 lbs, not 60. Some car seats require a change from LATCH anchors to seatbelt installation when your child reaches a certain weight.

A: Children can sleep in a convertible car seat as long as it is properly installed and the harness is correctly adjusted to the child’s height and weight. Cons: Does not allow the seat to overhang the vehicle seat in booster mode, does not become backless, installation is more difficult than the Frontier, seat is large and heavy, using the booster with smaller children may result is the seat belt not moving properly in the seat belt guide. Cons: Does not allow the seat to overhang the vehicle seat when rear facing, harness isn’t long enough to fit some kids at the upper end of the seat’s weight/height limit, narrow set harness straps do not have strap covers and may irritate the child’s neck, no infant body padding to help fit, and single required recline angle.

Safety 1st Guide 65, Complete Air 65 , Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite and Cosco Easy Elite : Though rated from 5 pounds and 19 inches long, with 9″ and 10″ bottom harness slots respectively, neither of these seats will fit a newborn or young infant. Having a car seat that can grow and evolve with your child with give you years of use, especially with all-in-one convertible car seats that change from rear-facing to forward-facing and then can transform into a booster seat. The average age to transition your child from a rear-facing infant seat into a rear-facing convertible/toddler seat is approximately two years, but it is really based on weight and height so you should familiarize yourself with your car seat’s specific maximum weight/height guidelines.

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