A convertible car seat is a type of child safety seat that can be used both forward and rear facing. It is an excellent choice for parents who want to keep their infant or toddler rear facing longer.
When Should a Child Use a Convertible Car Seat?
Many infant seats have a weight limit of thirty pounds, and most infants outgrow them in length long before they should be turned forward facing. When your infant outgrows his or her carrier style seat, a convertible car seat is the next step.
Convertible car seats can also be used in lieu of an infant carrier style seat for newborns. Many models are equipped with inserts to keep your newborn snug in the seat.
The convertible seat can be used rear facing until your child has reached the maximum weight or height limit for rear facing in that specific seat. When rear facing, the shoulder straps should be at or below your child’s shoulders. Laws vary by state, but at the very minimum, your child should remain rear facing in a convertible seat until he or she has reached at least twenty pounds and one year in age.
When your child is ready to face forward, the convertible seat can be used until he or she reaches the maximum weight or height limit for that specific seat. The shoulder straps should sit in the slots at or above your child’s shoulders.
What Should I Look for in a Convertible Car Seat?
Always choose a seat that has a five point harness on it. Look for a model that has a high weight limit for rear facing so that your child can remain rear facing as long as possible. Some models have rear facing weight limits as high as thirty-five to forty pounds.
Also make sure that the seat has a high forward facing weight limit, which allows your child to remain in a five point harness until he or she is ready to transition to a booster style seat. There are convertible seats on the market with forward facing weight limits as high as sixty-five to seventy pounds.
Once you’ve chosen a seat, you can compare compatibility ratings with different vehicle models at Car Seat Data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a database of convertible car seats rated for their ease of use. It can be viewed here.
How Much Do Convertible Car Seats Cost?
You can find convertible seats for as low as $40, or you can spend close to $300 on one. Convertible seats are the safety seat your child will most likely be in the longest, so be sure to invest in a seat that fits your car well and received high ratings in safety tests.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Healthy Children.org by the American Academy of Pediatrics