As parents on the go, it’s important to be able to keep our young kids safe in the car while we do all our daily errands. That’s why infant car seats, booster seats, convertibles — whatever you wanna call them — are a must-have for any parent who drives. But just as any child eventually outgrows the cradle and bottles, there will come a time that your baby will also be too big for the infant car seat. Eventually, they will have to transition to the bigger convertibles.
But before you even think about your child getting too big (sniff!) for their car seat, you have to make sure you’re getting the right one for your kid. It gets even more confusing when you have more than one kid to lug around, because you’ll definitely need more than one seat. Knowing which infant seat to buy is a whole other story, but nonetheless important because a car seat’s individual size and weight limits are probably the best guide you have to when your child should stop using it.
Another thing to consider would be the price. With so many other expenses involved in raising kids, it may not make much sense to spend over $100 for a higher end car seat, but these more expensive odels will last you longer because of the higher height and weight limits, not to mention the quality.
To make this a little easier (because let’s face it, you’re probably here because you’d rather do a quick Google search than spend hours at the store), we’ve put together some tips below:
Weighing Your Options
The first thing to look at is your child’s weight. Be sure to check the different weight limits for different models of infant car seats. Generally though, you’ll know that it‘s time to transition your child once he reaches around 35 pounds.
Height Is Might
Weight limitations are just one side of the story — you need to make sure that your little tyke actually fits comfortably in it. Children are now taller than they used to be, so it’s entirely possible that your baby will outgrow the seat before they even hit the weight limits. Fortunately, infant car seats now come in a variety of sizes and it’s easy enough to ask and check which one is the best for your child. They generally come with height limits from 29-30+ inches tall, so take your pick from there. When in doubt, ask if you can fit the seats. As you use them, make sure that your child’s neck and head are adequately supported by the seat. If they get too tall for it, make the switch.
(BONUS TIP: It is not advisable to use a secondhand infant car seat, because the state of the seats can vary with use. You definitely don’t want your baby to make do with a run-down car seat—it’s neither appealing nor safe! If you need to use a hand-me-down, make sure it’s in as good a condition as it can be. Remember, safety first!)
This one is a little more complicated to explain, since it involves height, weight, and (gasp) the law. Age requirements for car seats vary from state to state, but generally they state that children should transition from infant seats to convertibles by around 5-7 years of age. But based on new safety tests, you may want to buy that convertible seat for your child’s first birthday instead. The new tests showed how a child’s height can affect his safety in the event of a collision. While a child may we’ll be within the weight limit for an infant seat, if they are tall enough, they could seriously get injured during a (kick on wood) car crash. Convertible seats simply provide more protection for the head, so they’re definitely worth the added price or the inconvenience of carrying a larger seat around. Besides, you’re probably going to need to buy one down the road, so it wouldn’t hurt much to get it a little earlier than planned.
Based on the above tips, there are many things to consider in knowing when your baby needs to move into a new car seat. Height, weight, and law requirements all factor in when making this decision. And while infant seat manufacturers have their own recommendations, these are all still variable from case to case. Needless to say, the best guide for you would be your child’s comfort and safety. After all, nothing compares to the peace of mind we’d get knowing that our children are safely strapped in. Happy driving!