3 Types of Car Seats for Baby

Infant Car Seat

Mother putting baby in car in car seat
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Car seats are something designed to make transporting your baby in a car safer. Though the vast majority of parents misuse car seats, making them less reliable and more dangerous. 

An infant car seat is designed for infants. This is usually from birth until your baby is two years old, when they can be placed forward facing. These car seats are designed to ride in your car in the rear facing position. They are not designed to be turned around to a forward facing position.

An infant car seat can last you six to twenty-four months depending on the growth rate of your baby and the size of the car seat. Some babies outgrow the infant car seat faster than others. Once your baby has outgrown this car seat you will need to switch to another type of car seat designed for older babies and toddlers. Getting a new car seat does not necessarily mean that you should turn the car seat forward facing. The longer you can keep your child in the rear-facing position, they better. The year that is often quoted is considered the minimum.

The infant car seat can also double as a carrier. You can carry your baby out of the car to the house, grocery or anywhere. (Do not place the car seat in the grocery car - even if it clicks, it is not designed for that and is very dangerous.)  I would encourage you to consider a sling or other carrier. Many models of this infant car seat can either be strapped into the car directly or into a base that stays strapped into the car seat. Multiple bases can be purchased for multiple cars.

(Premature infants under a certain weight may need to use a car bed prior to riding in an infant car seat.)

Fun fact: Car seats have expiration dates. Be sure to check your car seat, particularly if you're using a car seat from a previous child.

Convertible Car Seat

Convertible Car Seat
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Convertible car seats are used from birth until your child outgrows a car seat. This means that you can get more use out of your investment. They can be used in forward-facing or in rear-facing positions, depending on the weight of your child. (Rear facing is used for infants up to 2 years, and forward facing happens after your child is two years old.)

The downfalls to the convertible car seat are that they are not portable and cannot be used as an infant carrier. They do not have bases and are not easily moved from one car to another. Some parents find these bigger seats more difficult to use for smaller infants, though their bulk often promotes a feeling of safety.

Booster Seat

Booster Seat
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Booster car seats are to be used only for toddlers in a forward facing position. The minimum weight requirement varies from 30-40 pounds, depending on the model you select. The good news is that the booster car seat can take your child safely to 80 pounds in a car seat. As infant car seat laws change and vary state to state many states are going with higher weight requirements for children in car seats.

This type of car seat can have its own set of buckles or harness or it can use the seat belt already found in your car. Your child's height will dictate which is most comfortable. So I'd recommend trying the car seat out with your child prior to purchasing it.

Currently, the recommendation is that you child should be in a car seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches, which is between 8-12 years old.

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