What is a Combination Car Seat?
A Combination Car Seat is a child safety seat fitted with a 5-point harness that can only be used forward facing. Later on when the child is older the harness can be removed and it can then be converted into a belt-positioning booster seat.
There is a considerable variation in the size of toddler or young child that the harness can fit but the weight range typically starts around 25 pounds and on some models the harness can be used up to 90 pounds in weight. Once the harness has been removed the seat, as a belt-positioning booster can then fit a child up to 120 pounds in weight in some cases. Due to the large variation in the specifications of these seats you should pay careful attention to the manufacturers car seat manuals when making a purchase.
The latest AAP guidance on best practice for car seat use, recommends that your child should be seated rear facing until at least 2 years and should only be moved to a forward facing direction if your child has reached the height capacity of the seat in question.
The AAP has also said that the longer a child remains harnessed the better and some manufacturers have, as a result, increased the seating capacity of their harnesses to try to meet this requirement better.
Summing up, as a parent, the safest option for your child is to stay rear- facing until at least 2 years of age or longer if your child’s current seat will allow.
If you purchase a combination seat, then look for one where the harness can be used up until 80 pounds. It’s better for the safety of your child that you keep them using the harness for as long as possible so try to find one of these larger harness capacity seats. When the seat harness limit is reached then it can be turned into a belt-positioning booster seat that can typically seat a child up to around 120 pounds.
Combination Car Seat FAQ
At what age is it best to change a child into a combination seat?
It is best to change a child to a combination seat at 2 yrs or older as the seat can only be used forward facing.
What are the Height and Weight Limits of a Combination Seat?
The limits of these seats vary widely between the different manufacturers
Weight limit with harness 40 to 90 Pounds
Height limit with harness 30 to 58 Inches
Weight limit without harness Some seats up to 120 Pounds
Height limit without harness Some seats up to 62 Inches
At What Age Should My Child Stop Using the Harness?
It is much safer for your child to remain in the harness until they reach the manufacturers guidelines for removal. A child is much safer being harnessed than using the vehicles own seat belts. See the individual car seat manual for the maximum capacity of the harness used.
Where can I get Ease-of-Use Ratings for Combination Car Seats?
You can get more information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, on the ease-of-use of all types of car seats.