Types of Car Seats: A Buyer’s Comprehensive Guide
There are basically three types of car seats – the infant car seat, the convertible car seat, and the booster car seat. More importantly, a safe car seat is an essential product you will need to buy for your child. Every child needs a car seat every time they ride in a car.
When shopping for car seats, you need to take several things into consideration. You need to choose the right car seat for your child based on his age, weight, and height. A safe car seat is one that is a perfect fit for your child.
You also need to make sure that the car seat installs easily and properly into your car. A car seat that is not properly installed will cause your child more harm than good when in a crash.
Types of Car Seats
When you are buying your first ever car seat, you have 3 types of car seats to choose from. When your child outgrows his first car seat you will need to get him a “little man” or “little lady” car seat, the fourth type.
Check out which among these first types of car seats is best for your needs:
Infant’s Car Seat
This is the first type of car seat most new parents would buy. It is a rear-facing car seat which is recommended for newborns and young babies. A large percentage of these seats come as a travel system where the car seat can be detached and attached to a separate chassis that stays in the car. Some carriers would require an adapter so it can attach to a chassis.
If the car seat and chassis are of the same brand, they are most likely to be compatible and would not need an adapter. Some car seat carriers though are compatible with chassis of different brands.
- An infant car seat provides the perfect fit for infants and small babies.
- Most models can comfortably accommodate babies from as small as 4 pounds and up to 40 pounds.
- They come with an infant insert to fit smaller babies and a 5-point harness system with front adjustments and straps.
If your child becomes too tall before he becomes too heavy for this car seat, you will need to get him a car seat appropriate for his height: the crown of your baby’s head should always be about one inch from the topmost shell of the car seat. The infant car seat may be already small for your baby if he exceeds the maximum height limit recommended by the manufacturer.
Convertible Car Seat
When you are buying your first ever car seat, you can opt for an infant car seat or opt to invest a bit more for a convertible car seat. It will come out cheaper in the long run.
When your baby exceeds 40 pounds, he will no longer fit in his infant car seat and you may need to buy a new one. Additionally, an infant car seat is only rear-facing. If you want a more versatile car seat, one that your child can use for a longer period of time, you should go for a convertible car seat.
- A convertible car seat is ideal for newborns all the way until your infant is about two years old.
- This car seat converts from being a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing car seat, ideal for older babies.
- A convertible car seat has a similar harness to an infant’s car seat.
This type of car seat has a higher weight limit when used rear-facing, meaning a baby over 40 pounds can still be in this rear-facing car seat. That is the feature that the American Academy of Pediatrics likes most about convertible car seats because they believe that a rear-facing car seat is the safest of all types of car seats. Thus the longer babies are kept in rear-facing car seats, the safer it is for them. When the child is ready, this car seat can simply be converted into a forward-facing car seat and eventually into a booster seat.
If you choose to go for a convertible car seat for your newborn, make sure it comes with a newborn insert so your baby can comfortably fit into the car seat.
Since convertible car seats are heavy, they need to be installed in your car, unlike an infant car seat where only the base is installed so the carrier can be detached.
All-In-One Car Seat
This is a great value car seat because your child can use it from birth up to the time he is ready for the car’s safety belt.
This is a variation of a convertible car seat. It can shift from rear-facing car seat to a forward facing car seat all the way into a booster seat.
- Rear-facing, can accommodate babies from 4 to up to 45 pounds
- Forward facing (with harness), can accommodate children from 25 pounds up to 65 pounds
- Booster mode, it can accommodate children up to 120 pounds.
This type of car seat is heavy and really large. The carrier is not detachable. It may be difficult to smaller cars and even smaller babies.
You child will need a booster seat he becomes too big for a forward-facing car seat.
- The child uses the safety belt of the car seat.
- The booster seat lifts the child at the center of his collarbone so the built-in car seat perfectly fits him.
- Available in high back and backless models.
The high-back models are more preferred because they provide more protection for impacts and the shoulder belt is better positioned. However, the backless models are easier to install and are more portable.
The law in most States says that children should be kept in booster seats until they are 9 years old or at least 80 pounds.
Each type of car seat has its own pros and cons: the convertible car seat provides a lot of versatility for a better value, but the infants car seat makes it much easier to transport your baby in and out of the car. Choosing the right type of car seat for your child and your car can be difficult, but do your research and pick which one is best for you needs.