As a parent of five children myself, I know how difficult it can be to choose a Car Seat of the right type and size to fit both your child and your car. Over the years I have done a lot of research into the various types of car seats and want to share with you what I have found.
There are several basic types of child safety seat available on the market. The right type to use for your particular child depends upon several factors including the following:
- The age of your child
- The weight of your child
- The height of your child
- Any additional medical requirements
The Different Types
Premature Baby Crash-Tested Car Beds
Premature baby car beds are used for transporting small preemie babies who can typically weigh less than 5 pounds and may also have medical problems that could prevent them being able to travel in the seated or reclining position in a normal infant car seat. These preemie car beds typically secure to the back seat of the car using the existing car seat belts, but the method of attachment can vary model by model, so check with the supplier or manufacturer.
There are not many makes of these on the market but one possibility if you are looking for one is the Dream Ride SE Infant Car Bed.
Rear-Facing Infant Car Seats
An Infant Car Seat is usually the first seat that your new infant will need if he or she is born at a birth weight of 5 pounds and above, and has no medical problems that would prevent your child sitting up while travelling.
Some examples of best in class seats for infants are the Graco SnugRide range, the Chicco KeyFit 30 and the Safety 1st Onboard 35 Air ranges. Many other manufacturers also produce very good seats and all seats currently on sale have to meet US standards for safety.
A few manufacturer’s also supply baby car seats that can suit a baby as low as 4 pounds in weight. These include the Britax B-Safe and the Graco SnugRide 30. These seats can be used if your doctor says it is OK for your low birth weight infant to travel home in a seated or reclining position. Always check with your doctor to get advice on the best travelling position for a low birth weight infant.
It is recommended by experts that an infant seat or premature baby car bed is only fitted in the rear of the car. Infants must only be seated rear-facing until they either exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit of the seat or reach 2 years of age. Travelling in the rear of the car and also rearward facing reduces your child’s risk of serious injury in the event of a car crash by over 50% so this is advice that should be followed to ensure the maximum safety of your child.
Convertible Car Seats
Another type of car seat that is suitable as an infant’s first car seat is the Convertible Car Seat. This kind of seat can be used rear-facing from 5lbs to around 30lbs in most cases, and can then be converted into a front facing car seat when your child has grown to the manufacturer’s limit, which is typically around 30lbs in weight, or at approximately 2 years of age. Some of the best convertible seats include the Britax Marathon 70 and the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite.
Both Infant and convertible type seats are suitable for most infants from birth provided the weight of the infant is above the minimum weight guideline for the seat in question. The convertible type has a longer lifespan than the infant type and hence may be more cost effective if you are looking for a best value for money solution. It’s also worth remembering that with a convertible type of seat, it’s going to be in use for several years, and so it’s probably worth spending a little more and getting a better quality seat with easily removable covers and possibly covers that you can also replace if they get too worn. All these factors should be considered when selecting the correct seat for your child.
Combination Car Seats
Combination seats are suitable for toddlers and young children in the weight range of 30lbs to around 85lbs. The applicable weight range varies widely by manufacturer so always check the manufacturer’s recommendations before purchasing any seat.
These seats are designed to be used forward-facing and are normally supplied with a 5-point harness. Once your child has outgrown the harness it can be removed and the seat can be converted into a belt-positioning booster that in some cases can accommodate a child up to the age of 12 years. Some of the best combination car seats include the Britax Frontier 85 and the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1.
I hope I have helped to remove some of the confusion around choosing one of the different types of car seats for your child. If you need any further assistance finding one of the better car safety seats then have a look at some of the many reviews on this site which we hope will help you make the right choice.