Parents will know that when it comes to choosing the right car seat there is more to consider than just looks. No where is your child more vulnerable than in a car, and if the worst was to happen, you want to be sure that your child is as protected as possible.
Once you start looking for a convertible car seat you will realize that it is harder than it seems. There are so many things to consider but it is important not to get sidetracked. There are certain considerations that are more important than others.
Follow the 5 steps below and you will be on your way to choosing the right convertible car seat….
1. What is your child’s height, weight and age?
The step is easy as it concerns you child, and it is by far the most important factor in choosing the right convertible car seat. The first consideration is your child’s height and weight. Age is irrelevant when it comes to whether your child sits forward or rear facing, as this is now dependent on the size and weight of your child and the manufactures recommendations.
However, the older your child is, the faster they may grow. If you choose a convertible car seat whilst your child is in the middle of a growth spurt you may soon regret it. You child can sit rear facing up until they are around 40lbs. Once they reach this threshold, they will need to be positioned forward facing.
A convertible car seat is more appropriate when your child is younger. This will enable you to take full advantage of a convertible car seat. If you have multiple young children, or are planning on having more children, it would be worth considering a convertible car seat that can hold both infants and toddlers. This will give you flexibility to adapt the car seat to both children when needed.
With this in mind many car seats have an expiration date of up to 5 years, so they may expire before that time comes.
2. Decide what safety features are important to you
Convertible car seats, as with all infant car seats, must abide by strict regulations and therefore both can be considered very safe. One of the features that can differ greatly between convertible car seats is their level of side impact protection.
Side impact protection is important as many infant fatalities are due to a lack of it. All car seats for sale must have some level of side impact protection. The difference comes in that some car seats have multiple layers whereas the protection provided by others are more subtle.
Another consideration is the weight limit of the car seat. The longer a car seat can be sat rear facing the better. Some convertible car seats can only be used rear facing up to 30 lbs, whilst others go over 40lbs.
Always remember that the safest thing you can do is install your car seat correctly – you can read more on how to do this here.
3. What type of car do you have?
Newer convertible car seats feature the LATCH system, as do all newer cars. This makes installation unified and simple, minimizing the risk of incorrect installation. Older types of cars may have a different specification and will need to be fit accordingly. This results in some convertible car seats not being appropriate for older vehicles.
Safety is greatly compromised when a car seat is positioned in a car that it does not fit appropriately. One of the best things you can do is to find a car seat that fits comfortable in your car and to have it secured as well as possible. Smaller cars will benefit from convertible car seats that have been designed specifically for them.
4. What is the brand of the car seat?
There is a reason that a few brands are trusted more than others. Over the years certain brands have proven themselves to be reliable in real life scenarios. Some brands are better than others, not just in regards to safety, but in regards to honoring warranties, offering support and parts.
Some of the most trusted brands in convertible car seats are Graco, Safety 1st, Maxi-Cosi, Britax and Evenflo, but there are certainly more. Graco offers a limited warranty, whereas Maxi-Cosi offers a lifetime warranty for many of its products so support does also differ between these brands.
This is why it is always worthwhile choosing a trusted brand. This will leave you with peace of mind not only if something does go wrong, but with the manufacturers confidence in their product. Car seats are not something you want to mess around with – the wrong car seat can be detrimental for your child in an accident.
Regardless of the brand it is, it is never recommended to buy a used car seat.
5. Do you need a booster seat?
Convertible car seats have the advantage of possibly following you through to the end. This is what makes them such an attractive option for parents. A 3 in 1 car seat can offer a booster seat in addition to a forward and rear facing car seat.
Is this necessary for you? If you have an older child, then yes. If your child is still young, you may be surprised just how long these car seats can last (and how fast they can grow). Whatever the case, booster seats are usually inexpensive and can add to the cost and weight of a convertible car seat, so consider whether you really do need one.
What else should I consider?
Choosing a car seat does not have to be completely boring! Although the above considerations are definitely the most important, there are other things to look for to find the right car seat. The style, color, and fabric are just some of these considerations.
Choosing a car seat can be fun and a great way to show your individual style, and it can also be a great way to know the latest on how to keep your child safe.
Finally, whatever car seat you choose to purchase, be sure to test its sturdiness from time to time. This will ensure the car seat remains secure and safe. Ready to pick a convertible car seat? Read my convertible car seat revews and see just how many fantastic options there are.