The Different Types of Baby Car Seats
A car seat is vital for your child, a necessity designed to keep your baby safe while in transport. You’ll need a car seat even before your child is born, as, if you’re taking your baby home from the hospital in a car, you’ll need a car seat already inside the vehicle. In fact, if you’re an expecting mother, child care experts recommend that you start shopping for a car seat around the sixth to eighth month of pregnancy. This will give you ample time to go shopping for a car seat before giving birth.
Now, there are a multitude of different baby car seat types to choose from. Whichever you choose among the baby car seat types depends on your lifestyle and budget, but also on your baby’s age, height, and weight. As this is an essential piece of child safety equipment, you’ll be using the car seat every single time you go out, so make sure to invest in a quality seat. Read on to find out more about which car seat would be best for your family:
Infant Car Seats / Rear-Facing Only Car Seats / Bucket Seats
Just as the title says, this car seat is designed for newborns and infants. This type of car seat is used typically from birth until around the age of 2, or until your child reaches the weight limit of the seat—whichever comes first. Infant car seats are designed to sit in your car in the rear-facing position only, as this is the safest position for small children to ride in.
Infant car seats are a great first seat, as they usually double as a carrier. You can strap the seat into the car directly or onto a base that stays strapped to the car seat. This is also a great seat to get if you own more than one car, as you can buy multiple car seat bases to install into your other vehicles.
These seats have the shortest shelf life, lasting you two years, depending on how fast your child grows. Some reach the weight limit before they turn two years old. But the rule of thumb is: once your child reaches the max weight or height limit of the seat, it’s time to switch it up.
Tip: Read our article on Keeping Your Baby in a Rear-Facing Car Seat to know how you can keep your child safe on this type of car seat.
Convertible Car Seat / Type AG Car Seats
Out of all the baby car seat types, convertible car seats are the seats to get if you want the most out of your investment. These types of seats can be used from your child’s birth all the way up to when they outgrow a seat altogether.
These baby car seat types can be used both in the forward-facing or rear-facing position. Whether to use it rear-facing or forward-facing depends on the height and weight of your child. Usually, rear-facing is used for infants up to toddlers aged three years old. Children older than three can start sitting in the forward-facing position, however, safety experts recommend leaving your child in the rear-facing position as long as possible, as it is the safest position to travel in.
While the convertible car seat is perfect for parents on a budget, there are downsides to these baby car seat types. First off, unlike the infant car seat, the convertible car seat doesn’t double as a carrier. In fact, this type of car seat is not portable at all, and is generally quite big and bulky. They don’t have detachable bases and are hard to move from one car to another.
This works well if you only have one car, or if you already have or don’t use a carrier for your child. Convertible car seats also make the perfect gift for relatives who babysit your child often, such as the baby’s grandparents.
3-in-1 Seats / All-in-One Car Seats / Lifetime Car Seats
3-in-1 seats are baby car seat types that are quite similar to convertible car seats. The only difference between these and the previous seat is that these 3-in-1 seats work as a booster seat, too. These are also great investments, as you’ll only have to buy one seat, and it will accommodate your child from their rear-facing riding days all the way up to when they’re old enough to not need a seat at all.
Just like convertible seats, however, they’re also heavy, bulky, and not easy to transfer between vehicles.
Booster Seat / Belt-Positioning Devices
This type of seat is the last seat you’ll be purchasing for your child. Booster car seats are used only in the forward-facing position. Depending on the model, these seats require your child to be at least 30-40 pounds.
This type of car seat typically has its own set of buckles or a harness attached, but sometimes it also just utilizes the seat belt system in your car. Usually, the latter is cheaper and the more convenient option of the baby car seat types, but your child’s height should dictate which one you end up purchasing. Bring your child with you while shopping to figure out which ends up being the most comfortable for him or her.
Out of all the baby car seat types, this seat will most likely last you the longest, as children may need a booster seat from age three all the way up to their school age years. You’ll be using this seat until your child is old enough or big enough to be able to use the regular seatbelts inside of the car, so make sure to invest in a sturdy, quality seat.
Do you know it's dangerous to use seatbelt extenders? Discover Elise's
tips and tricks to buckle your car seat in vehicles with short seatbelts.
The Importance of Installation
While choosing the proper car seat is important, the most vital step is actually the installation. No matter which seat you choose among the baby car seat types, it is crucial for the safety of your child that it is installed correctly. Installing one incorrectly practically negates the use of the seat entirely.
Common mistakes are: threading seat belts through the wrong slots, not using a locking clip when you need one, installing the seat too loosely, or forgetting to buckle in the child. A car seat that’s installed properly will absolutely not budge, not even an inch forward or to either side.
Most car seats follow LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), as it’s a standardized system for seat installation. You can easily search up instructions for the LATCH system online to aid you in car seat installation.
If you still need help with choosing the proper car seat, or if you’ve already bought a car seat and require assistance with installation, head on over to Taxi Baby and we’ll give you a helping hand! Our team is well-versed in child safety, and we’d be more than happy to help you with whatever you need.