When your baby outgrows an infant style car seat, he or she will need a convertible car seat. This generally happens when the baby reaches between 9-12 months of age or until your baby’s height starts to push the maximum length of the infant seat. While weight is also a factor, height is usually the biggest indicator that dictates the switching to a convertible seat.
It can be an overwhelming decision for many parents, especially when you see how many different options there are on the market. Take your time and don’t rush your purchase. You want to get a safe, comfortable seat – the best value for your hard-earned money. This is our attempt to get you started towards purchasing the right seat for your baby.
Studies indicate that the longer you keep your child rear-facing the better so you might want to keep this in mind when choosing a seat for your Li’l Niblet. Many convertible car seats are safe up to at least 40 lbs. but make sure to check each make and model to be certain.
The Britax Advocate ClickTight is a good example of an exceptional rear-facing convertible car seat. The ClickTight Installation System makes setting up the seat in your car hassle-free. All you have to do is open the front compartment on the seat, feed the seat belt through the path indicated, slide in the Anti-rebound bar in the designated spot, recline the seat to the desired angle and then click the seat compartment shut. SafeCell Impact Protection surrounds your child in safety and helps keep his/her neck and head extra secure. There is no guessing when it comes to proper tightness due to the Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator.
“Convertible car seats are safe as long as the full 45° recline that a newborn baby needs, fits properly in the vehicle and the baby has a proper harness fit,” says Li’l Niblets’ Car Seat Technician, Elaine Vucko.
What to consider in a convertible car seat?
As you make this important purchase, here are a few points to consider:
- Vehicle fit – some convertible car seats are bulky while others are more compact. The bottom line is, not all convertible car seats will fit well in all vehicles.
- Child fit – you don’t want your child to outgrow his or her car seat too quickly. Different car seats have different height and weight limits. Some children are bigger/taller so this is something to keep in mind.
- Ease of use – there are convertible car seats that have some great ease-of-use features. For example, the no-rethread harness allows you to change the harness height by pushing a button or sliding a bar up and down. Another example is easy installation technology, like ClickTight. The ClickTight System simplifies securing your car seat into your vehicle using the vehicle seat belt instead of lower anchors.
- Cleaning – you likely already know how messy little ones can be. There are some seats that come with covers you can remove and easily wash, without uninstalling the seat.
- Installation – while you might think you have it all figured out, it is best to leave the installation up to the experts. According to the Journal of Paediatrics, in the United States, about 95 percent of baby car seats have at least one major installation error.
Safety is of paramount importance. In recent years baby car seat makers have done a good job of taking both safety and comfort into account when designing convertible car seats. Some have gone a step further and have been able to incorporate style as well. The Clek Foonf is an example of a safe yet stylish car seat. The manufacturer describes it as being “built like a tank” with its metal substructure and dual layers of energy-absorbing foam. Its convenient and durable rigid-LATCH feature makes it easy to install, but the durability and functionality are matched by its look and feel. The Clek Foonf provides a snug yet comfy ride and includes Crypton Super Fabric with permanent protection against stains, moisture, as well as odor-causing bacteria. For those who are environmentally conscious, it is good to note that the seat is recyclable through Clek’s Car Seat Recycling Program. The simple, clean design of the Clek Foonf also makes it a must-have car seat for a lot of parents.
Just one final note about convertible car seats - experts don’t recommend buying a used one. Second-hand seats could be missing parts, may have been involved in an accident or could have damage that is not easily visible. Also, we have to consider that plastic gets brittle as it ages so a seat that is too old may not stand up well in an accident.