Convertible Car Seat Makes Practical Investment

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies

convertible car seat

Is a convertible right for you? Credit: Getty Images

The convertible car seat is a unique option within the car seat market -- a single seat your child uses from birth through school-age. What begins a rear-facing infant seat eventually morphs into a forward-facing seat for a growing child.

There is practical value to these seats, because you're investing in a car seat only once.

"It's one seat all the way," says Jennifer Stockburger, program manager for vehicle and child safety at Consumer Reports. "They can take a child anywhere from infancy almost up to elementary school, with higher weight harness versions going all the way to 65 pounds."

And there is an appealing safety element, as well: Convertible car seats can hold larger babies in the rear-facing position, extending the number of months the child will ride facing backwards.

"We see a whole trend of keeping babies rear-facing longer," Stockburger says. "It's safer, and a convertible seat lets you do that."

But, she points out, "over the years, there's the wear and tear. The expiration is about six years from date of manufacture, if you buy it new." And convertible car seats don't offer the option of a removable carrier, she adds.

"It's a one-piece deal," Stockburger says.

If the baby falls asleep in the car, you have to take the child out of the car seat -- perhaps waking him or her -- and transfer the child to a stroller or carry the child.

"That's the least appealing thing," Stockburger says, and "that's why most parents still opt for carrier version" when buying a car seat for a newborn.

Another point to consider: Although convertible car seats have adjustable straps and offer padded inserts to hold infants securely, Stockburger says carrier seats made specifically for infants do fit young babies better. That's especially crucial, she says, for lower birth weight babies who may leave the hospital weighing just five or six pounds.

For more info on the pros and cons of convertible car seats, check out this Consumer Reports video. And, because car seat regulations vary widely from state to state, check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's comprehensive listing for details.

Related: Is it safe for babies to sleep in their car seats?
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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.
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