Each year child safety seats save thousands of lives and are a necessity for just about every parent. But what type of car seat is ideal for your child? It mostly depends on their weight and height as well as how you intend to use and what you hope to get out of a car seat as far as convenience and price.
There are basically three main types of car seats available which include; infant, convertible and booster. While Momma Trauma Blog tries to help you find the best convertible car seat, you may have different needs that will make getting an infant or booster seat ideal. We’ll break down some of the differences between the three to help you make the right decision for your family.
Infant Car Seats
These are specifically made for newborns and smaller children. Most of these types of seats typically carry a weight recommendation for children between 4 and 30 pounds. These seats should be used in the backseat of the vehicle and should be rear facing.
During their early years, children’s heads are a lot heavier compared to the rest of their body and the neck and shoulders have not developed enough to withstand the force of a sudden stop as an adult would while facing forward. Having the seat face the rear of the car allows these areas of the body to be supported by the car seat and eliminating the risk for whiplash from a front collision or sudden need to slam on the breaks.These types of seats also need to be in the rear of the vehicle because of the risk that modern cars with front airbags pose.
Infant car seats generally can also double as a carrier making them versatile for parents and somewhat easier to get the child in and out of the car. Those that prefer this type of seat should be prepared for the added cost of having to buy another car seat when their child outgrows their infant seat.
Convertible Car Seats
Many parents choose to go with this type of seat as it can be used for a longer period of time for a growing child. For infants this seat can be used in a rear facing mode, protecting the child from harm while supporting their neck and shoulders adequately. When children get too big for this, the seat can be switched, or “converted”, to front facing mode.
These seats are typically have a lot of adjustable parts such as headrest, harness and strap position as well as inserts for newborns to fit comfortably and securely into the seat.
One of the drawbacks of this type of seat is their size and weight. They generally are not the most convenient pieces of equipment to move around from one car to another. With all of the different safety features used to protect children of a wide array of sizes, these seats tend to be a little bit bulkier.
The plus side of these seats is obviously the prolonged period of use that these can provide as the can accommodate your child from infant into their toddler years all while delivering excellent protection.
These types of seats are for toddlers and larger children who may have outgrown a convertible car seat but are not quite ready to go completely seatless. There are various types of booster seats that can be backless or adjustable and can be used in some cases for children up to 120 pounds if needed. They usually make use of both the lap and shoulder belt of the car.
A lot of parents make the mistake of not using a booster seat and jumping straight from a convertible seat to having their child just use nothing but their vehicles regular seat belts. However, this can be a risky mistake as many vehicle seat belts will not fit a child properly and will ride too high on their torso with the potential to cause injury during a collision. Booster seats are recommended for children up to 8 years old or until a regular sit belt will fit properly across their body.
Booster seats that make use of both the shoulder and lap belt are a lot safer and perform better in crashes than those that typically make use of only the lap belt. This is an important factor that should be looked into when choosing an appropriate booster seat.
These are the basic three types of seats available with some other specialized variations. It is vital to remember that car seat recommendations are categorized by weight and not by age. Since all children grow at different rates this is something to always keep in mind when shopping for a new car seat. It is important to know how to properly use a child seat as well, no matter which type you end up using.
Check out the video below for a quick demonstration of the various types of car seats available and how they work.