You’ve got a choice of two kinds of car seats for your baby: a baby car seat or a convertible car seat.
An infant car seat generally includes children up to 35 or 40 lbs and is rear-facing only. It takes children from birth to between 40 and 80 lbs and 40 and 57 inches tall. Another type of convertible chair known as a 3-in-1 or all-in-one car seat can change from rear-facing to forward-facing, then into a booster seat for children around 120 lbs. (Note: Many 3-in-1 car seats are not for babies since they are forward-facing only.)
Although it’s cheaper to purchase a convertible car seat instead of beginning with an infant car seat and then affixed into a convertible, a few specialists say young infants are safer in a baby car seat. Many parents say their newborn seems overwhelmed at a convertible chair. If you opt for a convertible, make sure it has padding or a newborn insert which helps your infant fit comfortably.
Convertible seats are thicker than baby car seats and usually need to be set up in the car rather than clicked right into a base that remains in the car. This means that you can not easily take them in and out of the vehicle, carry your baby inside them snap them into a stroller.
Check the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-star rating system; the more stars a vehicle seat gets, the easier it is to use. These evaluations take into consideration just how easy it’s to install the seat in your car and secure your child in it, in addition to the content and clarity of the instruction manual. And look at BabyCenter’s annual Moms’ Picks awards, to determine which seats other parents enjoyed best.
These straps — one for each shoulder, one for each hip, and also one which moves between your baby’s legs are crucial for security, and they’re located on all new car seats.
Some car seats have special energy-absorbing foam and other features designed to better protect your infant’s head and chest in a side-impact accident.
A couple of models also have single-handed belt alterations with quick-release buckles. It’s good to know about convertible car seats before buying.
A well-padded seat with loads of head support provides your baby a much better ride.
Kids and mess go together, but a surprising variety of car seats come with covers you can not take off. An easily removable, machine-washable cover makes cleanup easier.
A car seat needs to be installed in the back seat. For babies and toddlers under age 3, it normally faces the trunk of the automobile. Experts say it is advisable to keep a child rear-facing as long as you can, until he is 3 years old or reaches the highest rear-facing height and weight limit for your car seat. (Most newer convertible seats can manage kids around approximately 40 lbs at a rear-facing position, and some actually go to 50 pounds.)
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