Why Should I Buy Convertible Car Seat?
If you’re in the market for a car seat, then chances are that convertible car seats are on your radar. These seats not only make it easier to switch between rear-facing and forward-facing modes but also provide better safety for your child. However, there’s no point in buying an expensive convertible car seat if it doesn’t fit well in your vehicle! That’s why we’ll cover both the benefits of using a convertible car seat as well as what features to look out for before purchasing one.
This blog post is going to talk about what makes a great convertible car seat and how you can find one that will work with your needs and budget.
What is a convertible car seat?
A convertible car seat is a general type of best convertible car seat that can be adapted to fit both infants and older children. These seats are equipped with many features designed to make them safe for whoever is using them.
What are the different kinds of convertible seats?
Convertible car seats come in 4 basic types: rear-facing, front-facing forward-facing, and booster. The first two have been discussed at length on this blog so I will give you a brief overview of those two here. Front-Facing Car Seat: A front-facing car seat should not be used until your child outgrows his or her infant carrier. This typically occurs between 12 months and 2 years old. In addition, you should always ensure that your child’s head is supported, either with a pillow or by adjusting the seat backward.
Front-facing seats are equipped with two harness straps that buckle around each of your child’s shoulders and one belt-type strap that buckles between your child’s legs. Some manufacturers have recently introduced belts that do not require you to thread them through the crotch portion of your child’s pants. These are known as 5-point harnesses.
Facing backward requires the use of an additional strap called a lap belt. It fits over your child’s lower body to ensure they will not slip out of their chair in case of an accident or sudden stop.
Rear-Facing Car Seat: This type of seat should only be used until it is no longer physically possible for your child to fit in it. This typically occurs around 2 years of age and 30 pounds for most children. At this point, you will want to upgrade to a forward-facing seat and use the same harness system as before.
The main difference between a rear-facing and front-facing car seat is that the rear-facing version has a removable base with either wheels or plastic feet on them. These allow you to easily move your baby from one place (e.g., home) to another (e.g., car). Booster Seat: A booster seat may be necessary when your child outgrows his or her convertible car seat but cannot yet sit up straight with their back against the backseat. Typically, the seats are big enough to fit a child from 4-8 years old. Booster seats have no harness system and simply use vehicle belts to secure the sitting child in place, similar to adult safety belts.
The final category of convertible car seats does not include any form of harness or back support. This may be necessary for children that have outgrown their booster seats but still cannot sit up straight on their own.
Why should I buy a convertible car seat?
You should buy a convertible car seat because it’s safer than downgrading to a booster when your child no longer requires a forward-facing harness.
Some kids are okay riding in the back of the vehicle from an early age, but most aren’t. If your child is under 4 foot 9 inches tall and under 80 pounds, they must ride in the front with a 5 point harness right up until that height or weight limit is reached.
Regardless, nearly every parent decides their child has outgrown their current car seat before that time arrives, either by looking at a chart, listening to salespeople in stores, or asking friends and family members. This leaves them wondering what to do next. Boosters have come a long way since they first appeared on the scene. They’re safer than they used to be, but just because your child can sit in them doesn’t mean it’s safe for them to ride that way. That or you’ll find out firsthand that their car seat just plain isn’t compatible with the back of your vehicle.
At this point, there are two options: downgrade to a booster, or upgrade to an appropriate convertible car seat. There’s no right answer here, but I am going to share my opinion on what you should do next after upgrading from a forward-facing harnessed car seat.
Regardless of whether you choose to enter the world of boosters or stay with an infant/toddler seat, every parent should always use a tether strap when securing their child in their car seat. The tether strap will keep the top of your child’s head from being the first to snap forward during a collision, which can be deadly if they were to go flying out of the front of the vehicle because their seatbelt didn’t hold them back against it.
Though these are not required by law everywhere yet, you should also buckle your child in with the harness secured when using a booster since lap/shoulder belts are meant for adults and aren’t safe when children are involved. If you’re planning on doing this for any length of time, I recommend buying a convertible car seat that is rated high enough that you’ll be able to use it well into your child’s late childhood years.
How does a convertible car seat work?
Convertible car seats are specially designed to be used rear-facing for infants, toddlers, and even older children. There are two main designs that most convertible car seats use. These designs allow the strap positions to be changed depending on what phase of use they’re in. The first design is known as a “rear-facing only” seat. This type of seat does not have any special features that can be used in its forward-facing configuration (i.e., it has no side impact protection). Instead, when the child gets large enough, you’ll need to switch the seat over to the front-facing position where it will provide side impacts protection along with some head support in some models. The second type of seat (more common in the US) is a “convertible” or “3-in-1” design. It has two sets of strap positions, one for when it’s used rear-facing and another for when it’s used forward-facing. These car seats feature side impact protection along with some head support in some models.
To convert between modes, parents will need to open up the back of the car seat and move the straps around. Some manufacturers include a “belt lock-off” system that makes this process easier by locking certain parts of the harness into place so you don’t have to rethread them every time you reposition your child. One thing to remember is that you should always use the harness at all times when rear-facing. When your child is in a forward-facing position, you will need to install a shoulder belt to properly restrain them.
Advantages and disadvantages of using convertible car seats.
The first advantage is that they provide safety for your baby. When you choose to use this kind of car seat, you will know that there is less possibility that your baby can be harmed if ever an accident happens while you are driving. There are many kinds of convertible car seats available in the market today and it would be best to choose one which has excellent protection features because these can protect your child up to 3 times his body weight even when he was rear-facing only. It also protects him from a head injury as well as spinal cord injuries which can happen if ever an accident happens. This kind of car seat keeps your children safe regardless of whether he is frontward or rear-facing especially since this kind of car seat is made out of sturdy material which will not just break the moment it hit something. This kind of car seat also lets your baby grow with it because you can turn this into different positions depending on what is comfortable for him.
One more advantage when choosing this kind of car seat is that they are pretty much easier to secure than other kinds. Since all you need to do when securing a convertible car seat is to adjust its belt for it to fit in well around the child, you won’t have any trouble in making sure that he doesn’t move around too much while you’re driving. Just make sure though that when there are sudden stops or movements, you check on your child if ever he got thrown around by the belt because this might harm him.
Another advantage when choosing to use a convertible car seat is that you can bring your child with you where ever you go, regardless of the season. Convertible car seats allow airflow between the back and a bottom portion which lets your baby feel less stuffy in hot conditions while enjoying extra warmth when it’s cold outside.
Converting these kinds of car seats to rear-facing or forward-facing positions may take some time so parents who are always in a hurry every morning just to drop their kids off at school might find this kind inconvenient for them. Also, there are lower safety ratings for early models of convertibles than there were later on models because they didn’t have enough research before making them. This might be able to harm your child if ever an accident happens while you’re driving with him in the car.
As a parent, you need to know that it will cost more money when buying a convertible car seat because its parts can’t be used for other cars and this means that parents will have to purchase another one once their children outgrow this kind of car seat. Considering also your child’s weight which varies in size, this may cost you even more money especially if he is still growing. Also, fitting these kinds of car seats into small cars can be quite tricky since they don’t fit well inside small spaces. As a result, it will take time to secure these kinds of car seats but if your child is already big enough to fit all his parts in, you can just install these right away.
How to choose the right convertible car seat for your child?
When you are buying a car seat for your child, keep in mind that your child will be using it for many years. You may have to buy one when he/she is just a few months old and use it up to the time when they are ten years old or even more! With proper care, you should be able to get at least 5-8 years of service from a car seat.
As per the child safety experts, if you want to keep your child as safe as possible in your car, you should invest as early as possible. While most convertible seats can be used only after the baby is at least 20 pounds, you should buy a convertible seat that can be used from birth. Prices for these seats are about $100 or more, but it is well worth the investment. You should buy a convertible seat that has weight limits between 5 and 35 pounds.
However, do not choose your child’s car seat based on its price alone. The last thing you want to hear if something unfortunate happens after an accident is that you did not choose the right car seat. It might just cost a few more dollars but it can save your baby. So, go for the one that offers all possible safety features available in the market.
Check for the following features in the convertible car seat you wish to buy:
1. Five-point harness system. Convertible car seats come with either three or five-point harness systems.
The five-point harness is considered to be safer; however, some experts recommend three-point harness systems because they tend to fit better on newborns.
2. Side impact protection. If you are getting car seats for an older baby, then side impact protection systems are very important because they will protect your child’s head and neck during lateral collisions.
3. Buckle straps that secure the harness tight enough to hold the child in place but yet loose enough for easy removal of the child from the seat. It is important to choose a car seat with straps that will allow you to tighten and loosen them quickly and easily.
4. Ahead support and a separate cushion for the crotch and chest area which provides utmost comfort for your baby, particularly when he/she is sleeping.
5. The weight of the child-specific car seats is available for kids of different weights.
6. Proper fit and readability of the weight indicators or indicators about height and age.
7. The type of convertible seat you decide to buy should offer easy installation systems, enough space for your child’s legs and neck, and load limit indicator warning signs that tell you when it is time to get a new seat.
8. A five-point harness is considered safer during frontal collisions because it holds the child in place better. These are more expensive but they are worth the money you invest in them. The three-point harnesses provide less protection for your baby’s head and neck area although some of them have additional lateral supports.
9. When buying a convertible seat, look for the load limit indicator that tells you when you should get another seat.
10. Convertible seats are wonderful because they can provide safety for your child during the first months of his/her life and even longer than this! The price of these seats may be more expensive but they offer so much protection that it might be worth your while to invest some more money in them right now.
11. A convertible seat should fit snugly into the car; otherwise, it might come loose during an impact and cause injury to your baby.
12. It is important to consider how easy or difficult it will be to install the car seat you are thinking about buying in your car. You don’t want to spend extra money for installation in case it cannot be installed in the car you have. Moreover, convertible seats can be used with infant carriers without needing re-installation.
13. Finally, you should also consider the overall comfort of your child while he/she is sitting in the seat.
Tips on how to install the best convertible car seats in your vehicle
Some convertible car seats are difficult to install, and the installation instructions can be confusing. These tips will help you avoid some common problems while installing your convertible car seat.
1) Make sure that the carrier is not reclined when it is rear-facing
Your baby’s head should rest on a well-cushioned or firm surface, such as a tightly rolled receiving blanket so that his/her chin does not sink into his/her chest. You want to make sure there is at least one inch of space between the top of their head and the bottom of the car seat to create an angle where there is no risk of suffocation or pressure points on your infant’s delicate skull and neck area. This is particularly important for infants who are close to, or more than, 20 lbs.
The seat must be reclined when it is forward-facing with your child, who needs to sit with his/her back flush against the vehicle seat back cushion. For children under 40lbs., the convertible car seat should be in its most reclined position. For children over 40lbs., you can move the seat up so that your child’s shoulders are slightly above the top of the seat. Make sure there is at least one inch between their shoulder and the top of the car seat so they will not slide down during impact.
2) Check your vehicle owner’s manual – some vehicles require a certain order for installation
To avoid having to move your convertible car seat between rear-facing and front-facing modes, check the manual that came with your vehicle to see if there are any important guidelines for installing a car seat in your particular vehicle. Many vehicles have special requirements on how to install a car seat. In some cases, you may have to follow these instructions before you can secure the car seat into place, particularly when it is installed forward-facing.
3) Read the manufacturer’s directions thoroughly
Be sure to read all of the information carefully before attempting installation. There is a great deal of variation from one model of convertible car seats to another. However, some common problems include: using an incorrect mode – such as placing a forward-facing child in a rear-facing seat; misreading or failing to read the weight requirements for forward-facing use; using the wrong belt path (rear- vs. front-facing); and installing it too close to bulky seat cushions.
4) Use installation aids wisely
Many different types of tools are available to help with installation, such as LATCH devices, “buckle” bags that can be used together with LATCH belts for tightening them, special tethering systems, and so on. Some manufacturers also make seating templates that tell you exactly where the top of your child’s head should be to achieve proper positioning in all three modes – rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster mode. These are great tools to have, especially if you do not have a lot of experience with car seats.
5) Have the right fit for your child
Just as important as the correct installation is choosing an appropriate carrier that fits properly in your vehicle. Most parents use the middle seat because it is usually easier to access from outside the vehicle and provides better access to rear-facing installations. However, remember that you must keep a space between your child and any large bulky objects or cushions – such as tall passengers who sit up near their heads, the front passenger seatback pocket, door armrests, etc.
6) Be sure to tether forward-facing carriers correctly for extra safety
The purpose of installing a car seat forward facing is for children to be able to withstand a frontal impact – which is far less dangerous than rear-end or side impacts. For this type of seat to perform the way it’s supposed to, you must tether it properly in your vehicle.
When installing forward-facing, use a tether strap with each car seat and attach it between the carrier and the lower anchor point on the vehicle. You don’t have to tighten it very much. The purpose of tether straps is not to hold down your child’s car seat but rather to keep your child from being ejected from his/her seat in a collision. When a conductor, such as LATCH straps, stretches too much during a collision, they can break and allow the infant to carry all three modes turns a child carrier into a deadly missile that can injure all passengers in the vehicle. Tether straps, on the other hand, will give way and keep your child from being hurt or killed by allowing his/her car seat to remain securely attached to yours.
7) Make sure it’s tight! – Check your installation
After attaching each of your child’s car seats using the methods described above (use at least one LATCH device and secure both top buckle/harnesses), check to make sure that there are no gaps between the carrier and your vehicle seat and that the carrier is not loose or wobbly. This is very important – particularly with forward-facing car seats.
If you cannot tighten the strap/latch, try pushing harder on the carrier with one hand while pulling the belt through with the other hand. It may help to add a LATCH strap in this case if it’s available where you are installing your child’s seat (it should be). However, do not pull hard enough on any of these devices to cause damage to your vehicle!
You can also check to see if you need to tighten your top tether strap using the following method: after everything is tightened and in place, take a sharp pencil and try to push it between the carrier and your vehicle seat. If it fits, it’s too loose; tighten your installation until there is no space at all.
8) Be aware that incorrect installation does not necessarily mean danger
Although proper positioning should always be done, remember that minor errors such as low-buckle positioning (not buckling the crotch buckle completely), incorrect harness slot usage (using an inappropriate slot for a particular weight or height range), etc., should not put your child in immediate danger. However, you should still attempt re-installation – particularly if you have any doubts about your ability to do so correctly.
9) If you make a mistake, try again – use a car-seat check at the store
If you’ve done everything as discussed above and still feel concerned, take your child out of her seat and go back inside the store where you bought it to ask for assistance from their staff. The employees who sell these products should be able to show you how to use them properly or at least give you some additional tips. If not, don’t buy that carrier! Instead, look for a competitor who can help you out before heading home with a potentially dangerous product.
Where to purchase a convertible car seat?
If you are looking to purchase a car seat immediately, walk-in stores are ideal. You can see what they have in stock and feel the car seat before purchasing. These retail stores may be limited by your location so calling ahead of time is recommended. Some retailers limit which models they sell, or offer certain brands only online or at their actual store. If you are not able to pick up the convertible seat today, online purchases will save you time and allow you to compare prices, shipping options, review ratings on specific seats without having to physically touch them. Check shipping costs before selecting an online retailer since some companies may charge outrageous fees for the delivery of larger items. Many websites offer good prices with no additional costs for “free” shipping.
The next step is to choose a seat that fits your child and vehicle. Some seats can accommodate an infant, while others cannot. A few car seats will only fit in one specific make and model of the car; this is especially true for convertible booster seats (convertible = changes from rear-facing to forward-facing). Be sure you find the appropriate car seat for your desired weight range as well as your age group. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests keeping children rear-facing as long as possible, up to the height/weight limit of the particular seat. Visit their website or read Car Seat Safety (linked below) for recommendations by age range on when they should change from facing to front-facing.
It is important to read the owner’s manual of your car seat and vehicle before installing or attempting to use a car seat. It will tell you where the anchors are located in the car, how they connect, and any other pertinent information on your specific model. Always familiarize yourself with these materials before starting an installation project when possible. A few models require purchasing additional parts when converting from rear-facing to front-facing. Some owner’s manuals also contain useful tips such as: “This product should NEVER be installed in a cab of a pickup truck without using both the lap and shoulder belt.” This particular rule may save your life if not followed properly! The manual can be very helpful when it comes to checking expiration dates on harness straps and buckles, as well as recommending replacement dates after a crash.
It may seem like there are too many choices out there when looking for a convertible car seat; however, there is no “bad” type of car seat. All approved models must meet minimum safety standards set by the government and/or manufacturer. Some companies make more expensive seats with additional features such as reclining and rolling over (from front to rear-facing). These features can be added onto most models via an infant insert or pillow, but they do not come standard in every child restraint. If you need to save money and only plan on using your child’s car seat until he/she reaches 40 pounds (and 38 inches), check out what discount stores such as Target offer. They usually have a limited number of car seat brands and models in stock, but you can find popular and reliable seats for half the price of specialty retailers.
However, if you own a compact vehicle and need to switch your child’s car seat from rear-facing to forward-facing when he/she turns two years old (the maximum height/weight limit), it may be difficult locating one with suitable dimensions. Therefore, any parent with an unusual seating situation should spend time shopping at specialty retail shops such as Babies R Us. The downside is that these stores charge more than most other retailers which many times cannot be offset by using loyalty coupons or reward programs.
If you anticipate moving the convertible car seat between vehicles frequently (for example, a parent of two children who each have their car seat), consider buying a seat that is LATCH equipped. This means the anchors are already attached to the car and there is no need for fishing around in your vehicle’s floorboard or center console for them.
If you have a child who can sit up unassisted, or if they are over 1 year old and weigh more than 22 lbs, then it’s time for them to graduate from their rear-facing car seat. A convertible car seat offers the same protection as a rear-facing one with the bonus of being able to use it in both positions – front and back. Plus, these seats can be used until your child reaches 65 pounds! Convertible car seats also come in many different styles so there is something for everyone. With features like this, choosing a convertible might just be the best decision you make when looking for new car safety gear.