With Consumer Report issuing new guidelines that indicate that it is safer to switch to a rear facing car seat, the following are some of the things that you need to know.
With rear facing is a commonly accepted standard for any child below the age of two, consumer reports testing has reinforced the importance of keeping your child in rear facing but also determined that it is safest to switch from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat when your child is a year old.
In their experiments, researchers tested a rear facing convertible car seat and rear facing infant car seat using a 22 pound dummy. In 50% if the tests, they established that the dummy's head would hit the back of the front seat as opposed to only one in the 25 convertible car seats which had the same result.
The issue is that once the head of the child is less than an inch from the top of the outer shell of the infant seat, there is an increased risk that they will hit their head on the back of the front seat in the instance of a crash. This usually happens when the child is approximately a year old or more old. This means that you need to switch the baby from the infant car seat to a convertible by the time they are a year old even if they have not exceeded the infant carrier's weight and height limits.
First things first what are the differences between the two types of car seats?
Infant Car Seat
While there are many convertible car seats out there that could be suitable for your child from birth to toddler and even until they start using vehicle seat belts, most mums will go for the cheaper infant car seat. The infant car seat sometimes referred to as a bucket seat has several things going for it. It has been made for the smallest of babies and can only be used in the recommended rear facing mode which will give you peace of mind while traveling with your kid. Another thing it has going for it is that it is very light which makes it very handy when you need to get that sleeping child out of their seat without waking them up. Unlike your convertible car seat, the infant car seat can be unhooked easily from its base and installed on a stroller or carried into the house which is quite convenient. However, being the small car seat that it is, the kid tends to outgrow it very fast and you may have to buy a new car seat by the time your baby is a year old.
Convertible Car Seat
Just like the infant car seat, the convertible car seat also has its own advantages. For one, you can use some convertible car seats from birth right through to when they are toddler until age 12 when they shift to using car seat adult safety belts. As such if you bought a convertible that can be used in rear facing forward facing for toddlers from 2 years and as harnessed booster seats from 8 years, you may use one car seat to last a child through their car seat years.
When to Make the Switch
When the Child Maxes Out the weight Limits of their Seat
The good thing about car seats is that all of them will typically come with weight and height limits. It is important that you read your car seat owners manual and have a thorough understanding of it before you put it to use. You need to be ready with a convertible car seat when the child maxes out the weight of their car seats which is typically between 22 and 35 pounds depending on the brand.
When the Child Maxes Out the Height Limit
Similar to weight limits, a car seat also has height limits that you need to adhere to. You need to read your car seat owners manual and follow it religiously to ensure your child is safe. In most instances the kid will exceed the height limit before their weight limit. Most infant car seats will usually have a height limit of about 29 inches.
You need to switch the child into a convertible car seat when they attain either the weight or height limit of their infant car seat. Always switch the kid onto a convertible car seat when they attain the maximum height of the car seat (about an inch from the top) regardless of whether they have maxed out the weight limit.
When it is no Longer Convenient
At a certain point in time your child will grow heavy enough that lugging the car seat around will begin to take a toll on you. Even the kid may not have attained the maximum height or weight limits.A solution at this stage may be leaving the car seat installed in the car as you would with a convertible car seat. However, if the child also seems to show signs of being uncomfortable in the infant car seat such as crying a lot when they are in their seat it may be that they are cramped in the little seat.
If you have read up on the size and weight limits of your seat and found out that the child still has some way to go before they are too big for their seat, you may still switch them over to a convertible car seat if you feel that it would make them more comfortable. As long as you switch them to a car seat that is installed in rear facing mode, they should be fine. Nonetheless, it is always safer to keep the infant in the bucket seat for at least a few months and shift them to a convertible car seat when they are at least six months or older. A convertible car seat will last longer saving you money and could reduce child tantrums as they can look outside the window which can serve as a good distraction while you are driving.