Of all baby products, car seats are one of the top products parents should pay attention to. This has to do with safety, and the safety of your child should be foremost.
When it comes to buying a car seat, the market is flooded with different brands, which makes it quite difficult for some people to make a choice. The weight and size of a car seat are two important factors when choosing one.
For parents, you can go for an infant car seat or get a convertible car seat, or both. Which is better? Do you need both? These are some of the things we’ll discuss in this article.
Let’s begin by having a clear knowledge of what an infant and a convertible car seat are.
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Table of Contents
What Is An Infant Car Seat?
An infant car seat is meant for infants between the ages of 0 and 24 months. Since the growth and development of babies vary, most infant car seats come with weight limits to guide parents.
Therefore, you should always work with the instruction or label on the product to know when to stop using the car seat.
Ultimately, infant car seats are designed for just rear-facing positions. This means your baby will face backwards while you drive.
While most car seats come with a base for locking the seat into position, some brands are strapped directly.
Once your baby reaches the maximum weight or size limit of the car seat, you should start to plan for a bigger baby carrier. Even with a bigger car seat, you may want to continue with the rear-facing position for some time.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends using the rear-facing position until a baby reaches 3 years. Of course, this also depends on the weight and height limit of the car seat.
For babies that are born prematurely, a car bed would be needed for some time before transitioning to an infant car seat.
What Is A Convertible Car Seat?
A convertible car seat can be used for a child as long as the car seat can hold your child. It got the name convertible because you could use it in rear-facing or forward-facing positions.
The fact that you can use both forward-facing and rear-facing positions means that a convertible car seat can serve you for more than 3 years. This is a pretty decent investment for parents.
From 0 to 3 years, you should use the rear-facing position, while from 3 years upwards, you should switch to the forward-facing position. However, the weight and height limit of a convertible car seat is also a deciding factor.
Just because a convertible car seat can be used for kids above 3 doesn’t mean you should do so. Some kids grow pretty fast and these age factors may not apply to them. In such a case, you would have to use the weight limit and height limit as your yardstick.
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Some Differences Between Infant Car Seats and Convertible Car Seats
below are the differences between an infant car seat and a convertible car seat:
- An infant car seat has only a rear-facing position while a convertible seat has both rear-facing and forward-facing positions.
- A convertible car seat can be used for both newborns and toddlers up to 3- 5 years, depending on the weight and height limits. Whereas, an infant car seat is suitable for babies between 0 and 2 years.
- An infant car seat tends to be compact, lightweight, and portable, making it easy to transfer from one car to another. As for the convertible seats, they can be quite bulky and heavy, taking up a lot of space in your car.
- Going for a convertible car seat may mean cutting down on cost because you won’t need to buy another seat when your baby reaches about 2 years. As for an infant car seat, you will need to transition to a bigger car seat after about 24 months.
- With a convertible seat, reclining to the perfect angle for the safety of your baby can be a problem if you are using a small car. Whereas, with an infant seat, you can comfortably get a good angle even with a small car.
Do You Need An Infant Car Seat And A Convertible Car Seat?
No! An infant can use a convertible car seat and skip the infant car seat. You don’t necessarily need to have an infant car seat if you have a convertible car seat already. However, there is a catch.
An infant car seat is more suitable for babies between ages 0 and 2 years.
Also, remember that convertible car seats are bulkier and heavier than infant car seats. Owning only a convertible car set would be tough for you if you have more than one car. Transferring from one car to another would be burdensome.
The fact that most infant car seats are lightweight, portable, and come with bases, makes the whole process easy. With the base installed, it takes just a few minutes to install the car seat without stress.
Then lastly, if you own a convertible car seat, your car needs to be big enough to accommodate the perfect reclining angle for babies. But with the compact size of an infant car seat, you don’t need to stress to get the best reclining angle.
Therefore, you need to put these points into consideration to determine whether you need both an infant car seat and a convertible car seat. Nevertheless, there are a lot of parents that skip the infant car seat.
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How Long Do You Use An Infant Car Seat For?
Typically, an infant car seat should be used for babies from 0 to 2 years. However, other factors like the height and weight limit of the car seat come to play.
Most car seats have a weight limit of 32 to 40 pounds and height limits of 32 to 39 inches. You need to check your baby’s seat to be sure of the specifications.
If your baby outgrows the seat before turning 2, you don’t have to wait until he or she is 2 before switching to a convertible seat. This is why most parents don’t want to invest in car seats because it has just a short time of use.
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Your baby can use a convertible car seat as long as your car is big enough for the perfect reclining angle. If you are trying to cut down on expenses, you can skip the infant car seat.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t change the fact that an infant car seat seems to be more suitable for newborns. Whichever decision you make, just be sure to stick with the safety guideline set out by the relevant agencies.