- BrandJJ Cole
Last update on 2023-12-07 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
Newborns can use a wide variety of convertible car seats, but for the best protection, you should acquire an infant car seat since it provides extra support for the baby's neck, head, and spine. Infant car seats are typically more compact than other types of child car seats, allowing you to more easily transfer your baby in and out of the car, and making them compatible with certain strollers, so you can simply remove the car seat and link it to a stroller without removing the baby.
When picking out a car seat for your baby, keep in mind the following details:
Height and weight limits
There are maximum height and weight requirements listed on every infant car seat. If your child has already reached the height or weight limit for their current car seat (usually 32 inches or 35 pounds), it is time to upgrade to the next size up.
Many infant car seats are designed to attach to a base that stays in your vehicle, so you may take your baby with you without disturbing them in their seat, and then simply reattach the seat to the base when you're ready to drive again. Check the weight of the carrier to ensure that you can easily raise it from its base while carrying your infant.
It is considerably simpler to move from A to B with a baby because most carriers are compatible with a variety of strollers, extending the usage of some strollers that can't be used at birth.
Ease of installation
During testing, our team noticed that installing the car seat was the most challenging part. The installation of many of the seats we tested required considerable effort, and other seats only fit snugly in particular automobiles. Make sure the car seat fits in the back of your vehicle by measuring its dimensions. If you require assistance installing a car seat, it is recommended that you use a professional who is qualified to do so.
Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's accident tests and usability studies were taken into account whenever possible (see above for details). Additional safety features, such as a load leg or anti-rebound base, were also thought welcome, especially if they came standard on the base model of the seat at no extra cost. (Sometimes the same car seat model will be available with and without a certain safety feature; we've indicated if this is the case wherever possible.)
Easy to carry
A baby seat shouldn't be too cumbersome to transport. One of its main functions is to be comfortable for the passenger, therefore if it seems excessively heavy before the passenger is even inside, it's not doing its job. The handle for adjusting the seat's height should be comfortably within reach.
The demands of a new parent's life are high enough without adding the stress of fumbling with an infant car seat. The seat's harnesses should fasten without difficulty and buckle without effort. It should be easy to insert and remove the bucket from the base. The stroller seat needs to work with a wide range of standard strollers (with or without the addition of an adapter). The fabric covering the seat ought to be maintenance free. Finally, while a no-rethread harness or an exceptionally well-designed LATCH system are hardly necessary, they are nonetheless very much appreciated.
A car seat base
Some parents opt to purchase an additional plastic base for use with their infant car seat in a second vehicle. When you're ready to travel, just snap the car seat into the base and fasten the harness around your youngster. Some chairs' underpinnings come with extras like level indicators or feet that may be adjusted to help find the ideal reclining position. Load legs, which are struts that go from the front of the seat base to the floor of your vehicle, are becoming increasingly common. During a collision, the seat's rotation and subsequent rebound are both mitigated by this leg. Manufacturers claim that crash pressures exerted on a vehicle seat can be reduced by 40 percent thanks to the load leg.
As your child becomes taller, you'll need to make new adjustments to the harness and the headrest. The straps and harness height of a high-quality car seat can be readily modified from the front. The best models allow you to change the height of the headrest with one hand and have harnesses that don't require rethreading.
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
The LATCH system must be available in all vehicles and all car seats (including two-seat convertibles). When utilizing a car seat with LATCH, you don't have to use the seat belt; instead, you can attach the seat directly to the vehicle. Even while proper installation using seat belts is just as secure, this can make the process of installing them much simpler. The tethers are rarely used with infant car seats, and instead the lower anchors are used. There are two types of LATCH connectors: those that are attached to a flexible strap that runs through the car seat, and those that protrude vertically from the back of the seat. The LATCH connectors are more robust and are therefore easier to use, according to several experts.
How Long Are Infant Car Seats Good For?
An infant can ride safely in a car seat from birth until they outgrow the seat due to height or weight restrictions (anywhere between 22-35 pounds, depending on the specifics of your seat).
Remembering the "or" is crucial. As a result, you should move to a convertible car seat even if your child is still within the height constraints of your infant car seat but has surpassed the weight limit.
Around the age of one year, most babies no longer need an infant seat.
When is my baby too big for an infant car seat?
Infant car seats, and now all car seats, must have height and weight limitations clearly written on the seat itself and detailed in the manual, according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 213, explains Chan. When your child reaches the upper height or weight limit for their forward-facing convertible seat, it is time to switch to a rear-facing seat (whichever comes first).
These days, infant car seats typically accommodate children up to 35 inches or 30 pounds. According to Chan, this development typically takes place between 9 months and 2 years of age in children. However, parents should make sure to check frequently because infants develop rapidly and missing the mark poses major risks.
What's the safest infant car seat?
To assure their safety, "all car seats are put through the same safety standards and testing," adds Chan. Any seat available for purchase in the United States can be considered to be a secure one.
There is a widespread misconception that European car seats are safer than their American counterparts. While it's true that the Swedish were an inspiration for several of our rules (such rear-facing and rear-facing till at least age 2), safety testing and standards in both countries show striking similarities.
What, then, does one gain by paying more if not security? Depending on the model, "sometimes you have a higher weight and height limit or convenience features like easier use, performance fabrics (moisture wicking), memory foam, and changeable/washable lining," says Chan of the features that distinguish one car seat from another.
Keep your child rear-facing until he or she reaches the maximum height and weight allowed for the car seat's rear-facing position. (The majority of modern convertible seats can accommodate children weighing up to 40 pounds in the rear-facing position, allowing them to remain in this position for as long as possible, typically until age 4 or beyond.)
Used car seats are not something we advise. They may be defective owing to missing components, have been in accidents (even unseen damage can influence a seat's functionality), do not meet current safety requirements, or have been recalled due to design flaws. Moreover, as plastic ages it becomes brittle and more likely to break in a collision, making an older seat even more dangerous.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that many car seats are placed incorrectly because it is more difficult than it seems.
Having your car seat and its installation evaluated by a professional is important for safety reasons. Use the NHTSA's car-seat-inspection-station locator to schedule an inspection near you.
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