A Guide On When Can A Baby Go In A Convertible Car Seat

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
24 min read

When should you start using a convertible car seat for your infant? A convertible car seat can be used for a child as long as they are at least five pounds and no more than 40 inches in length.

This need continues until the child reaches one year of age or the top of their head reaches the top of the rear-facing convertible seatback. Weight limits for forward-facing seats might vary by manufacturer, so it’s important to research your individual model before making the switch.

If the two of them weigh within 20 pounds of each other (say, 15/30), it is best to make the move now rather than later out of an abundance of caution.

What Is an Infant Car Seat?

A child safety seat designed for infants is called an infant car seat. Attached to a base, the rearward orientation of these seats is a constant feature of the vehicle. You can quickly and easily get your baby in and out of the car because the base stays put in your vehicle and the seat clicks in and out.

Car Seat Safety Guide - Parenting

There are a variety of other types of car seats, including:

  • Convertible car seats can accommodate children from birth up to around 65 pounds, as they can be used in both the rear-facing and forward-facing positions. Some convertible seats can be used from birth, but they aren’t as convenient because they aren’t made to be quickly removed from the car and are too heavy to carry around. (I’ll elaborate below.)
  • A word about booster seats: Vehicle booster seats: Booster seats are designed to accomplish just what their name implies: raise a child who is at least four years old and 40 pounds higher in a car seat. This ensures that the lap and shoulder belts in your automobile are properly positioned across your child’s body for maximum safety.

How a newborn should sit in a car seat?

Always keep the infant facing backwards in the car seat. Your child’s car seat’s harness straps need to go over his or her shoulders and fasten at the crotch area using a clip or buckle.

For further safety in the event of an accident, some of these seats feature side-impact protectors, which function similarly to airbags for infants.

If you want your infant to be as comfortable as possible when out and about, place the head support cushion so that it touches his or her cheeks while keeping the chin tucked in close to the chest.

Some baby carriers have a carrycot attachment specifically for newborns, expanding the range of possible uses for the carrier. The carrycot is an oblong bassinet that may be placed on top of or beneath the carrier’s frame (depending on if your car seat has a front-facing or rear-facing option).

They are designed for overnight sleeping and come with covers that can be used as waterproof blankets too!

They are designed for overnight sleeping and come with covers that can be used as waterproof blankets too!

Covers double as waterproof blankets and are meant for nighttime use.

The infant car seat should always be adjusted so that the back is facing forward. Your child’s car seat’s harness straps need to go over his or her shoulders and fasten at the crotch area using a clip or buckle.

Some infant carriers also include side-impact protectors, which are crucial in the event of an accident (think of them as airbags for babies).

If you want your infant to be as comfortable as possible when out and about, place the head support cushion so that it touches his or her cheeks while keeping the chin tucked in close to the chest.

When can a babysit longer than 30 minutes?

When carried by an adult, babies can remain contently seated for far longer than 30 minutes. Babies should not spend unsupervised time in a car seat, swing, or any other device that prevents them from moving about and gaining muscle control.

To allow your kid to move around freely even if you have to leave the room, remove any and all baby gear.

Can a 4-month-old go on a road trip?

Absolutely! In general, traveling with a baby of this age is a breeze. Your youngster will be at the perfect age to enjoy his or her first road trip, full of wonder and amazement at the world around them.

Toys can be easily accessible by attaching them to the back of the car’s rearview mirror, relieving parents of the need to pull over every few minutes for a break because their children are getting bored.

And keep in mind that you don’t have to let your child cry it out if he or she gets fussy on long travels; there are many of techniques for parents to soothe fussy babies in the car (such as turning on the radio).

How long can a newborn be in a car seat?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies should stay in their car seats for as long as possible. An infant can sleep soundly in a car seat throughout the travel. Babies can be safely restrained in an aircraft seat with just about any car seat approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, including rear-facing infant restraints and convertible child restraints.

The AAP recommends keeping infants in car seats for as long as possible. If you want your kid to sleep during the flight, he or she can do so in a car seat without any worries. All FAA-approved car seats, including rear-facing infant restraints and convertible child restraints, are suitable for use in an airplane seat.

When can babies face forward?

In 2021, infants can start to roll over to their front at the age of two months.

At this stage, a baby’s neck muscles become strong enough to support his or her head for brief periods of time. They can see their surroundings while facing outward in a carrier or stroller.

It’s likely they still don’t have a firm grasp on their necks, though; it takes time and effort to perfect. Keep your baby facing you until he or she is stronger, as it is quite improbable that he or she will be entirely ready at exactly six weeks (or even close).

Around the fifth month, most babies can support their heads without help, however others may need it until they are nine months old.

How long can a baby stay in an infant car seat?

Most baby car seats can be used for up to six years. This is due to the fact that if your child is bigger and heavier than usual, they will outgrow the seat’s weight capacity of 35 pounds in less than a year.

It’s also worth noting that the average age that a child outgrows an infant carrier is 36 months (about three feet). As long as you’re both happy with the decision, there’s no need to rush the transfer. However, you should keep an eye out for growth spurts, as they may indicate it’s time to move them up.

You should turn your child over if you think he could be feeling uncomfortable due of his increased size.

When to switch car seats for babies and children

When it comes to changing car seats, there are a few rules of thumb to follow. Age, height, and weight restrictions may apply, as may constraints related to the type of seat you have.

Most parents will wish to keep their kid in a rear-facing infant seat up until their child reaches the maximum height or weight allowed by the manufacturer or safety standards organization. A forward-facing strapped booster seat should not be used until the kid is at least one year old, unless such use is mandated by state law in your location (this is not recommended).

Even if your child is smaller than these minimums, a five-point harness will still provide excellent protection in a crash. However, most experts recommend keeping your child within these minimums for as long as possible, especially from birth to four years old, a period linked with higher injury rates in crashes.

Infant car seat vs. convertible car seat

Infant car seats are positioned so that the child faces backwards. Most of them may be attached to suitable strollers and can be easily clicked into and out of a base that stays in your car.

Convertible car seats are designed to be used rear-facing until the kid reaches a certain height or weight, at which point they can be turned around and used in the forward-facing orientation. A convertible car seat can be used from the time a kid is born until they no longer fit in a forward-facing seat.

Children should use a front-facing car seat until they are at least 5 years old, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Reliable Source.

Convertible car seats are convenient since they can be used for multiple stages of your child’s car seat development. Until your child is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall, or until they are 9 to 12 years old, they should ride in a booster seat.

What to look for in an infant car seat

There are a plethora of baby car seat choices available nowadays, so it’s important to limit down your selections. Several factors should be considered while settling on the infant car seat that is right for your family:

  • Your vehicle’s dimensions and shape.
  • seat weight and dimensions
  • How many child safety seats will you need?
  • the frequency with which you’ll employ it
  • Connectivity to strollers
  • Comfortable set-up
  • For simplicity in cleaning
  • Protective Measures
  • price

Safety notes

The AAP stresses the importance of keeping infants and young children in rear-facing car seats until they reach the seat’s height or weight limits. The older the better, although it can be anywhere from two to four years old, depending on the seat.

This fact sheet was compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to assist parents in deciding how long their child should ride in a rear-facing car seat.

Don’t worry too much about how quickly your child outgrows their current car seat; instead, focus on finding the one that fits them the best.

When installing a car seat and base, be sure to refer to the manual provided by the manufacturer.

The LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) system is used in some car seats, while others only require the use of a seatbelt. Providing your car’s seatbelt locks, the AAP considers all approaches to be equally safe.

Keep in mind that the LATCH system has weight limits, which become more significant as your child ages. The youngster and the car seat must not weigh more than 65 pounds total.

How we chose the best infant car seats

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of infant car seats on the market. We’ve compiled a list of the top-rated infant car seats available in a number of different types. So that you can spend more time exploring the world and less time poring over possibilities, our analysis is grounded in product ratings, reviews, and user feedback.

Always remember that all licensed car seats, regardless of price, have been put through extensive testing to assure their safety. You shouldn’t worry that the safety of your loved one will be compromised if you go for a less expensive model.

Infant Car Seat Guide: 9 Things You Need To Know Before Buying

Healthline recommends that parents consider the following when shopping for an infant car seat:

  • Safety regulations mandated by the federal government. To the best of our knowledge, every child safety seat on the market complies with all applicable federal regulations (all car seats sold in the United States have to meet these requirements). This guarantees that the restraint system is secure, that the device has an instruction booklet for basic use, and that the product’s manufacturing date and the manufacturer’s contact information are clearly displayed.
  • Fabricated using high-quality materials that are built to last. We went for chairs that were both composed of sturdy materials and provided extra protection in the event of an accident.
  • Accepted by the Transportation Security Administration. The Federal Aviation Administration has given its blessing to the use of all types of car seats on airplanes.
  • Price. To accommodate a wide variety of budgets, we offer several different pricing tiers.
  • Quick and simple set up. Incorrect installation is a leading cause of car seat failure. So, it’s great if the car seat can be set up quickly and easily.
  • Effortless operation is the goal. Parents who have used our car seats have nothing but praise for them.
  • Comfort. We made sure to pick car seats that are not only secure, but also cozy for your baby.

Price guide

  • $ = under $150
  • $$ = $150–$300
  • $$$ = above $300

Healthline Parenthood’s picks for the best infant car seats

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $$
  • No more than 30 pounds
  • Size restriction: maximum height of 30 inches
  • 9.6 pounds (without base) is how much this seat weighs.
  • The Chicco line of strollers is supported.
  • Advantages: reclining position; bolstered headrest
  • Some users have complained that the seat is too hefty.

Chicco nailed it with their high-quality, low-priced booster seat. The seat is padded and offers additional head support, and the design features a spring-loaded leveling foot for optimal recline. The canopy attaches to the majority of Chicco strollers and can be unzipped to let in more air flow.

The weight of this seat has been mentioned by several patrons. But it’s undeniably a favorite among parents when it comes to car seats.

Britax B-Safe Gen2 Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $$
  • There is a 35-pound weight restriction.
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • Weight of chair without base: 10.9 ounces
  • Compatible with Britax single strollers (no adaptor required) and other major brands (with adaptor).
  • Cleanability and airflow are both high marks.
  • Some buyers have complained that the installation is more difficult, and the product is bulky.

This car seat is suitable for those who drive a compact vehicle because of its narrow width and user-friendliness. The mesh construction provides airflow to keep your baby comfortable and makes for quick and simple cleanup. Two layers of side-impact protection foam, a steel frame, and an impact-absorbing base contribute to its high safety rating.

This seat can be used without the base, though some parents have found that this makes installation more of a challenge. They say it’s a really solid seat, but it’s also quite heavy.

UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $$$
  • There is a 35-pound weight restriction.
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • Seat weight, without base: 9.9 pounds
  • The stroller is reversible, allowing baby to face you or face the world, and is compatible with the Vista and Cruz UPPAbaby strollers without an adaptor and the Minu stroller with an adaptor.
  • The advantages of this car seat are that it is simple to set up and provides visual proof that the seat has been properly installed.
  • There were complaints from some reviewers about the seat’s weight.

This seat is among the safest solutions because it was made with high-quality materials and no flame-retardant chemicals (!). In either the LATCH or unlatched configuration, the base’s light will illuminate to indicate that the seat is securely fastened.

Whether you have a car or take public transportation, the simple installation process is a boon.

Although this seat generally receives high marks, some reviewers have pointed out that it has a huge label on the back, which may be uncomfortable for some babies. Additionally, several consumers have commented on the seat’s heaviness.

Doona Car Seat and Stroller

  • Price: $$$
  • There is a 35-pound weight restriction.
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • Seat mass: 16.5 lbs.
  • Product can be easily transformed into a stroller
  • Pros: it’s convertible and approved for use on airplanes.
  • Disadvantages: bulky; inadequate stowage

This car seat is the only one of its kind that turns into a stroller, making it ideal for parents who travel frequently with their young children. The wheels can be folded in, the seat can be set on the ground, and the chair can be used as a rocker.

The stroller is lightweight, compact, and simple to steer with one hand, making it an excellent choice for parents who frequently find themselves navigating crowded public spaces. It’s simple to collapse and secures to the car seat base, so you may leave it in the vehicle.

Airline approval means you can transport the seat onboard with you instead of having to check it at the terminal. Because the cloth is detachable, it’s also simple to clean.

Some parents complained that their child was unhappy while using the seat. Some parents have said their kid swiftly outgrew it. There are a few complaints about the seat being excessively heavy.

Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $$
  • No more than 30 pounds
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • Weight of seat: 8.11 ounces without base
  • You can use it with a Maxi-Cosi Quinny stroller or an adaptor can be used with other manufacturers.
  • Easy-to-clean, stain-resistant, lightweight fabric are all pluses.
  • Straps can be awkward to adjust, and some customers found the sun visor to be too thin.

Since spills and stains are par for the course when traveling with a baby, it’s important to have a car seat that can be cleaned quickly and easily. The seat pad of this choice is made of a self-wicking, stain-resistant fabric that can be cleaned with a damp towel or by tossing it in the washing machine and dryer.

Parents have commented that this option’s modest weight makes it simple to transport. Patented side-impact prevention technology is included in the safety features to prevent serious injury to your child’s head in the event of an accident. Additionally, it safeguards the head and neck by preventing unnecessary rotation thanks to its stability leg.

Evenflo LiteMax 35 Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $
  • There is a 35-pound weight restriction.
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • One pound is the average weight of a seat.
  • In terms of stroller compatibility, Evenflo strollers can be used with this product.
  • Pluses: easy portability and detachable padding
  • Unadjustable canopy is a drawback.

This lightweight, inexpensive car seat has top marks in safety ratings and is a great choice for parents who need a convenient, hassle-free option. The seat’s pads are easily removable for machine washing, and it reclines to four different positions and includes a pillow to prevent your baby’s head from moving around too much.

Negatively, numerous reviews have observed that the seat canopy cannot be adjusted. The handle’s construction made it awkward for one user to transport the seat by arm.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $
  • There is a 35-pound weight restriction.
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • The weight of the seat alone, without the base, is 8.5 pounds.
  • Only works with Graco strollers that include Click Connect Technology (the brand’s one-click attachment mechanism).
  • Advantages include portability and a simple set-up process.
  • Disadvantages: it is not relaxing

This car seat, at roughly 8.5 pounds without the base, is a good choice if you need to transport the seat over long distances, are transporting many infants, or just want convenience. In addition, it may be quickly attached to any Graco stroller.

Easy to set up, it can be moved into four different positions to accommodate your baby as they grow. Parents report that the harness is safe and simple to adjust, but the seat itself is not particularly comfortable. Another thing to keep in mind is that just the carrier part, and not the base, is allowed on airplanes.

Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat & Base

  • Price: $$$
  • Weight restriction: 32 lbs.
  • The maximum allowable height is 32 inches.
  • Weight of chair: 8 pounds without base
  • Compatible with all Nuna strollers and other leading brands.
  • Advantages: It notifies you when the installation is finished correctly; cloth that can’t catch fire
  • High cost is a drawback.

When properly installed, the safety features of the Nuna PIPA seat will alert you. It’s convenient for parents who rely on ride-sharing services or taxis, as it may be installed either with or without the base.

Quality micro-knit fabric that is flame-resistant without the use of fire retardant chemicals is featured. It also has the Greenguard Gold certification. You may attach it to a variety of strollers if you get a Nuna or Maxi-Cosi converter. The lighter (and, of course, more expensive) Nuna PIPA lite lx is an option if you’re looking to cut down on the weight you have to carry.

Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat

  • Price: $
  • No more than 30 pounds
  • Size restriction: maximum height of 30 inches
  • Weight of chair: 7.7 ounces without base
  • Details on their website indicate that they are stroller-friendly.
  • Advantages: the specially crafted carry handle
  • Disadvantages include its bulkiness and the assertions of some reviewers that it is not well made.

This is the car seat for you if you need to transport more than one child at a time. It’s cheap enough to double up on, yet it’s not too bulky or heavy to provide adequate protection.

The EZ Flex Loc can be used with either hand thanks to its triangular grip. Unfortunately, one reviewer was not pleased with the lack of recline options.

Frequently asked questions about infant car seats

What infant car seat is the safest?

Although all car seats marketed in the United States must comply with basic safety regulations and are therefore all regarded safe, some perform better than others in standardized safety tests. The Chicco KeyFit 30 performed exceptionally well in government-funded and independent crash tests.

Many injuries are caused by faulty installation rather than the car seat itself, so it’s crucial to consider ease-of-use scores when selecting for an infant car seat.

When to Turn Around Your Baby's Car Seat

Should a baby car seat go behind the passenger or driver?

It is suggested that the seat be installed in the center position in the back, if at all possible. Of course, not all vehicles have this feature, and if you have more than one kid in the car, it won’t work. Because of the higher frequency of left (driver’s) side impact car incidents compared to right (passenger’s) side crashes, the rear passenger side is the safer option in such a situation.

What type of car seat is best for a newborn?

Babies should always travel in a car seat that faces the back of the vehicle. Convertible car seats are available that can be used rear-facing for newborns and then switched to front-facing for older children. Newborns should ride in specially built car seats that can only face backwards until they are ready to sit up.

Can you use an all-in-one car seat for a newborn?

Yes. All-in-one car seats, also known as 3-in-1 and 4-in-1 models, are highly recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When your child reaches the appropriate age, you can convert these seats from rear-facing to forward-facing and subsequently to a booster.

Always consult the manual or information provided by the car seat’s manufacturer to determine the maximum allowable height and weight for the child passenger. All-in-one car seats are convenient since they can accommodate your child at different stages of development, as noted by consumer safety advocacy group Car Seats for the Littles.

Is it OK for my child’s feet to touch the back of the seat?

This is still secure, yes. Even if your child’s feet touch the back of the seat or their legs are bent, keep them in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old. All children should sit with their backs to the backseat for as long as possible.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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