When Do Babies Change Car Seats? All You Need To Know

Helen Skeates
Helen Skeates
12 min read

Is there a specific time when a baby’s car seat must be replaced? Until they are one year old, babies must ride in a rear-facing car seat.

This second phase begins when they are born and begin learning about the world around them. Normally, the first stage of development occurs while the baby is still in its mother’s womb.

Even if your baby isn’t yet able to walk, it’s a good idea to put them in an infant car seat as soon as possible, even if they aren’t yet able to sit up on their own.

Your child’s safety may be compromised if they are too small or too old to fit in this model, so you may want to look for an other way to go around town without putting them at risk for injury.

Rear-facing for as long as feasible and at least until age two is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to ensure that the child’s neck to hips are supported in the event of turbulence or other distractions in the car!

Once a child reaches the age of one, many safety experts suggest that you stop carrying him or her all the time.

Car Seats: Information for Families - HealthyChildren.org

You may, however, keep your child in an infant car seat for as long as necessary, even if it means that you’ll need to buy them larger clothing or diaper bags before making the transfer.

How many pounds do you have to be to sit in the front seat in California?

To sit in the front seat, you must be under the age of 18 and weigh no more than 62 pounds. Only one individual over the age of 12 may occupy this spot if you weigh between 62 and 80 pounds.

If there are no car seats available, one six-year-old or older child can sit on each lap. All passengers in the car, even youngsters who weigh more than 80 pounds, are required to use the vehicle’s safety straps in order for them to ride in either the front or back seats.

Every passenger, regardless of weight or age, must have a rear-facing baby seat installed in their car in order to comply with this legislation. If you don’t follow these rules, you risk getting a citation and paying a fine of $20 per seat.

Can you put a car seat in a bucket seat?

You certainly can. Car seats that operate with both types of vehicles allow you to be as versatile as possible while carrying your child, despite the bucket seat being a less safe option.

When a child is strapped into their car seat, a LATCH system is used to keep it in place without the need to use the vehicle’s own seat belts.

Best convertible car seat for bucket seats

If you must drive with your infant in the front seat (and we strongly advise against it), make every effort to keep them as safe as possible in the backseat.

Many infant and convertible car seats might be difficult to use in a bucket seat because the buckle or anchor strap has no place to go – not even on top of all those comfortable pillows!

Bucket car seats are a great option if this describes your situation (or if you’re looking for maximum comfort and safety!).

*Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 – Graco has incorporated a strap that attaches into the back of the buckle instead of having two separate straps attached on either side.

Even if it takes longer to get in and out, it’s so much more convenient for this mom!

We don’t always recommend Graco seats due to the extra step in installation, but we think you’ll like how straightforward this seat is to use.

All-in-One Convertible Car Seat – Evenflo Symphony DLX These car seats, by Evenflo, have nearly all received five-star reviews and feature their “Click Connect” technology, which means you won’t have to struggle with straps that don’t link properly into the buckle.

A nice value infant/convertible car seat for grandparents or babysitters to use is this model.

Our favorite brand of car seats is Maxi-Cosi, and we think you’ll enjoy it, too! Once you’ve done it once, there’s no need to reread the instructions like there is on most other brands, thanks to the design of their click connect.

For those who care about style (and who doesn’t?), take a look at the stunning styles they come in; some even have matching strollers if that’s important to you as well!

When to change the earliest from an infant carrier to a toddler seat?

For as long as feasible, we at BeSafe recommend that you use an infant carrier, as it gives you, as a parent, flexibility and provides excellent side protection for your baby. Consider switching to a toddler car seat sooner rather than later. You should only switch to a toddler car seat if your child is able to sit up unassisted, as these seats are more upright and less stable than infant carriers.

Make that your child has attained the minimum height and weight requirements for the toddler seat you intend to purchase. This might be either a minimum weight or a minimum height, depending on the law.

When to change the latest from an infant carrier to the toddler seat?

Step 1: Verify the seat’s weight and height restrictions.

As long as your infant carrier is ECE R44-04-approved, your car seat has a weight limit. A person’s weight cannot surpass this amount of weight. As a result, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be able to continue using your baby carrier until your child reaches this maximum weight. Check out step 2!

When Should My Baby Change Car Seats? - 1happykiddo

This means that if your infant carrier is UN R129-approved, it has a limit height. This is the highest height that can be reached without going over. In most cases, the maximum height is the end of the seat’s usability, but you should also check step 2 for further information.

Step 2: Inspect the seat belts and the height of the seat.

You should switch to a toddler seat when the baby’s brow is approximately 2 fingers away from the highest point of the seat shell. Before your infant reaches this stage, you should begin searching for toddler seats. As a “buffer” in case of an accident, this distance of two fingers is recommended. If the seat belts aren’t all the way in, this kind of thing can happen. Even while we know parents try their best to constantly tighten the belts correctly, it is possible that the belts are not as tight as they should be – when in a hurry or if the baby moves a lot.

Additionally, make sure that your baby’s shoulders are properly supported by the seat’s shoulder straps and follow the instructions in the seat’s user manual. According to the majority of manufacturers, the shoulder straps should not extend below the level of your baby’s shoulders at any time. If, with the headrest/belts at their highest position, the shoulder belts no longer sit flat against the shoulders, it’s time to swap them out.

Time to Move to the Next Type of Car Seat?

  1. Don’t put yourself in a hurry. Use your current car seat until your child exceeds the label’s maximum weight or height. Take your time because every step forward reduces your safety by a little. Why? To prevent your child from being ejected from the car in the event of a front-end collision (the most common sort of collision), you should always use a rear-facing child safety seat. To ensure optimal safety, each seat has been designed to accommodate a specified weight, height, and age range.
  2. Car seats that face the back. Until your child is at least 2 years old and has outgrown the harness in terms of height or weight, keep your youngster in a rear-facing seat. A rear-facing convertible car seat that can accommodate a larger child may be necessary as your child grows out of a smaller rear-facing only car seat. Find out more about babies in car seats. Make sure your youngster is ready for a forward-facing car seat by watching the accompanying tutorial in the gallery.
  3. Car seats that face forward. The convertible car seat can then be used forward-facing, or you can use a forward-facing only car seat with a 5-point harness and top tether after your child hits the weight or height limit for rear-facing. Before upgrading to a booster seat, your child may require a forward-facing car seat with a harness that has a higher weight or height limit. Find out more about the topic of children in car seats. You can tell if your child is ready for a booster seat by watching this video.
  4. Booster seats are a good example of this. When your child’s weight or height exceeds the forward-facing car seat’s weight or height limit, switch to a belt-positioning booster seat. Find out more about booster seats.

What to Do with your Old Car Seat

  1. Please spread the word. Give your child’s car seat to a friend when she outgrows it. All original parts, labels, and instructions should be included in the seat’s packaging. Throw away the seat if it has been in a car accident or if it has missing parts.
  2. Old or defective seats. Taking apart your car seat if it has expired or is hazardous will keep it from being used by someone else.

When Should You Make the Switch?

Weight restrictions on infant car seats range from 22 to 35 pounds, but most babies are too tall to fit in any of them, especially those with weight restrictions of more than thirty pounds. Too high is when the child’s head is less than an inch from resting on the seat’s back. For your child’s safety, it’s great if you become familiar with the car seat’s height and weight restrictions.

As soon as your baby reaches the required height or weight for their infant seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you switch to a rear-facing convertible seat. No youngster should ride in the seat if they are overweight but still within the height limit (and vice versa also is not safe). When your child reaches a certain size, they are no longer a small child.

Most infant seats have a maximum height limit of 1 inch below the seat’s peak, but crash tests by Consumer Reports (CR) show that switching to a rear-facing convertible seat before that point may be preferable.

Crashes conducted using a 12-month-old dummy demonstrate that an infant seat is more likely to cause a child’s head to strike the back of the front seat, compared to an infant seat that is rear-facing and just 4 percent more likely to cause a child’s head to hit the front seat. 1

The car seats of rear-facing children can be removed. It’s considerably less probable that a kid in a convertible seat will hit the back of the front seat because there’s more of the shell above their heads than there is in a traditional car seat.

When Should You Upgrade Your Child’s Car Seat?

When your youngster is no longer able to fit into an infant seat. Many rear-facing baby seats have weight limits of 30 pounds or more, but most don’t have height limits. This means that your child may outgrow the baby seat before the weight limit has been reached.

Your child will be safer facing the rear if you upgrade to a convertible seat that can face either the front or the back of the car.

Upon reaching the age of a year, you should: If your child has turned one and is still able to sit in a rear-facing infant seat, our most recent guidelines and tests indicate that switching to a rear-facing convertible is the best option.

Crash simulations are now a part of our new testing process. Rear-facing infant seats were proven to be considerably more dangerous than rear-facing convertible seats for a 1-year-head old’s when traveling in the front passenger seat.

It’s time to get rid of your child’s car seat. Children’s car seats have expiration dates that many parents don’t know about. Using the same car seat for multiple children can be very significant.

In most cases, this information can be found in the seat’s user manual or on the seat’s label. Its average lifespan is six years.

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

Expiration dates help ensure that the seat’s critical components aren’t too worn out and that it fulfills the most up-to-date safety regulations.

Assuming your child’s car seat has been in an accident: The majority of seats can be repurposed following a small collision. A seat should be replaced if it was involved in an accident that resulted in injuries or necessitates the vehicle to be towed; if air bags were deployed; if the seat (or the door nearest the seat) was damaged; and if any of these conditions are met.

There are trade-in events where you may get cash for your old car seat if it has been in an accident and you haven’t changed it yet.

What to do if the car seat for your child is damaged? A vehicle seat’s structure can be harmed by regular use, repeated heating and cooling, and careless storage. Cracks and loose parts should be examined by parents, as well as worn strap and fastener components. In the event of a collision, a damaged seat may not provide the necessary protection.

Buying a new seat with undamaged components is preferable to trading in an old one, even if the type of seat is the same.

When the next step is all that’s needed: If your child has outgrown or is close to outgrowing his or her current car seat stage, a trade-in event may be the greatest opportunity to make the change.

The discounts are attractive, but don’t hurry the process. A child’s safety may be compromised by transitions other than from a rear-facing baby seat to a rear-facing convertible seat. A booster seat is less safe than a forward-facing strapped seat since it is forward-facing rather than rear-facing.

Consider using CR’s interactive decision tree in “Can I Reuse or Donate My Car Seat?” when deciding what to do with an old car seat.

Find a car seat for your child using the timeline below.

Helen Skeates

Helen Skeates

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