Several parents have recently asked, “what are the differences between the various Car Seat Types on the market”?
Car Seat Types
The different types of child safety seats and their uses are listed below.
These are designed specifically for newborns and infants. They must only be used rear-facing. The majority can seat a newborn from about 5 to 22 pounds in weight, and between 29 and 30 inches in height. There are a few seats that can be used with a newborn of 4 pounds but these are very limited in number. Many manufacturers also supply seats that cater for an infant right up to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches in height. There are also now some seats that can be used rear-facing right up to 50 pounds.
These are seats that can be used rear facing for an infant or young child up to around 35 pounds. The seat can then be turned around. or converted, to be used forward facing until the child reaches around 60 pounds. There is quite a large variation on height and weight limits for children using convertible car seats and it is very important that you are fully informed of these limits before making a purchase.
Due to the fact that the AAP now recommend that a child stay rear facing until 2 years old several manufacturers are starting to make convertible seats that can be used up to 45 pounds when rear-facing. Convertible type seats are quite expensive but will give you several years of use.
Combination seats can only be used forward facing. These come pre-fitted with 5-point harnesses for extra safety. Later on, as your child grows, the harness can be removed and the seat used as a belt-positioning booster seat. Most combination safety seats can be used with the harness until your child reaches around 40 pounds. At this point your child should be tall enough to use your vehicles own seat belt correctly.
Once again, several manufacturers have produced seats that can accommodate larger children using the harness for longer than the norm. Always consult the seat specification provided by the maker before making a purchase to ensure that the seat will fit your child and vehicle correctly.
A booster seat is used for the older child and is designed to be used without a harness. The purpose of this type of seat is to position your child properly, so that your own vehicle seat belts can be used correctly by your child. The seat lifts your child so that they are sitting at the correct height for the lap and shoulder belts to be correctly adjusted.
There are several different types of booster seat, the high back booster that incorporates a back and head restraint, and the backless booster which relies upon the vehicles own back and headrest to support your child’s head.
3-in-1 Car Seats
There are 2 types of 3-in-1 seats.
Type 1 can be used first as a conventional rear facing seat for an infant. It then converts to a front facing seat with a 5-point-harness. The harness is then removed, and the seat finally converted into a belt-positioning booster.
Type 2 can only be used front facing and therefore is NOT SUITABLE for an infant. This type of seat starts off as forward facing complete with 5-point harness, and then as your child grows older, the harness is removed and the seat used as a belt-positioning booster. Finally, the seat can be converted to a backless booster.
The 3-in-1 car seat group includes some of the most expensive models, but as they can be used for many years. the larger cost investment means that they can actually work out cheaper in the long run, than investing in several other types of seat.
I have summarised below the progression of seat types that your child might need depending upon the route you choose to follow.
Infant Car Seat —-> Combination Car Seat —-> Booster Seat
Convertible Car Seat —-> Combination Car Seat —-> Booster Seat
Infant Car Seat —-> Convertible Car Seat —-> Combination Car Seat —-> Booster Seat
3-In-1 Car Seat – Type 1 Only (Rear Facing + Front Facing with Harness + Belt-Positioning Booster)
Infant Car Seat —-> 3-In-1 Car Seat – Type 2 (front facing with harness + Belt Positioning Booster)
Note: Some manufacturers include the term,’3-in-1′, in the name of their car seats, but in some cases the seat cannot be used rear facing, so the term can sometimes be a little misleading.
As you can see there are several different ways to safely seat your child in your vehicle during the different stages of development. Always check the manufacturer’s specification of the individual car seat type, or check to see if there is a review on the CarSeatsInfo website to ensure that you are properly informed before making a purchase.