Our baby’s safety is always a concern for us parents, especially when riding a car or any vehicle. Therefore, choosing the appropriate convertible car seat is an absolute must in good parenting.
It is called a convertible car seat because it can be converted from forward-facing to rear-facing. This type of car seat is better for babies who can already hold an upright position like older babies or young toddlers, as they are designed to cater to various ranges of weights and heights.
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Things to Consider Before Choosing a Convertible Car Seat
It is most important to choose a car seat that perfectly fits your vehicle and most especially, your child. These seats are not created equally so you need to consider the following before getting one:
- They convert from facing the rear and the front, designed for babies between 40-80 lbs. and to a height of 50 inches.
- There is also a convertible car seat popularly known as all-in-one or 3-in-1, aside from it being convertible, they can also function as a booster seat for babies up to a hundred pounds.
- Although, there are other 3-in-1 seats that aren’t for small babies, they are only forward-facing and convert to boosters that are high-backed, to backless boosters for older toddlers.
- Save money by purchasing the convertible car seat for a 0 month old baby, instead of getting the infant car seats, although experts say they are more safe in these car seats. Many parents are bothered by the enormous space of a convertible car seat, which their newborns cannot fill. But if you are really pro-economical, you can just use towels, small pillows or head rests, or different cushioning to hold your baby safely until he or she grows older to fit the car seat.
Features You Want to Look at When Buying
- Easy to use: See if there is an NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) 5 star rating. The easier to use, the more stars the car seat gets. The ratings look for the ease of use by taking into account the installation of the seat into your vehicle and the security of your child while on the seat and how clear the contents are in the manufacturer’s manual.
- The 5 point harness safety: Why 5 point? There should be a strap for (2points) for each of the shoulder, (2points) each of the thigh and (1 point) between the baby’s legs.
- Easy adjustments: The more adjustable the straps are, the safer it is for your child. Why? Because as your baby grows older, you would need adjustment for the harness and the best car seats will allow the adjustment of the harness and straps at the front to make it easier for you. Some models have included a belt with one-hand adjustment that comes with a quick-release buckle.
- The LATCH System: this stand for L-lower, A-anchors, T-tethers for CH-Children. Starting 2002, car seats and car/vehicles were made compatible for this system. It allows attachment of the seat right into the vehicle versus securing the car seat with a seat belt. This will make your installation easier and safer. The bottom straps and the top tether may cause confusion sometimes, especially if the car seat is positioned in the rear. You don’t need to use the top tether strap in this position, to be on the safe side, follow the instruction manual.
- Cleaning Made Easy: Having a child on board can be messy most of the times, so it is very convenient that some car seats goes with removable covers. These machine-washable and detachable covers certainly make cleanup so much easier for you.
- Comfort: As parents, we want to make sure our babies are comfortable during their car ride, so we want to look for a very good padded seat that give great head support for our babies.
- Protection from Side-impact: Accidents sometimes happen, it is definitely morbid to think about, but we want to be ready of this happens (knock on wood, we hope it won’t!). Having car seats with special foams that absorb side impact are musts for better protection of your child’s chest and head during an accident.
Almost everyone think that reading and following the instruction manual will fit the bill, but then they are oh so wrong! In real life, it is not so easy, in fact, according to NHTSA 75% or 3/4 of seats are not properly installed.
Don’t be too proud, we are talking about your child’s safety here, for heaven’s sake! Have a professional check your installation. You can use NHTSA’s locator to arrange a seat inspection.
You want to avoid common mistakes in installing car seats, you might want to consider talking to people in a car safety group.
Best Location to Install
For safety, car seats should be setup at the backseat. With children under 2 years old, install the convertible seat rear-facing. According to experts, it is the safest way at least until the child reaches 2 years old or gain the maximum weight and height for rear-facing car seat, or whichever comes first.
Pre-Owned Car Seats
Forget about eBay, or any other way of buying secondhand car seats, because buying them is not recommended. Most of the time, these pre-owned car seats could be missing vital parts, or they have been already involved in mishaps or accidents, may be short of safety standard or may already been recalled for a faulty design. More importantly, you have to remember that they are made of plastic which gets brittle over time and so older car seats are prone to break.
But if you do want to use a pre-owned car seat, you must be certain it was never involved in any accidents, and is not older than five years. Alsocheck that it still has complete parts and the manufacturer’s manual.
If you have considered everything on this list then you are ready to shop for a convertible car seat to provide for your beloved baby, you just need about $80 to $380, because the cream of the crop is a little bit expensive but it often has greater weight limits and added features.
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