When Should You Switch to a Convertible Car Seat?
From the time you first find out you’re expecting a child, car seat safety is likely high on your list of priorities. All US states and territories require child safety seats for infants and children up to a certain weight and height, but there’s no law stating which kind of seat to use. And while it’s illegal to even leave the hospital with your newborn baby unless you have a car seat, choosing the seat that is safest for your child can be a long and drawn-out process.
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Many parents choose rear-facing infant seats for their newborns. These seats attach to a base which is kept in the car at all times. The benefit of these seats is that you can take them out of the car with your baby still in them, allowing you to enjoy a meal in a restaurant or a peaceful grocery trip while your child slumbers away. But while many parents wait to move onto convertible seats until after their child’s first birthday, a new study suggests it’s beneficial to make the switch much sooner.
Convertible car seats have a range of weight and height limits, but all of them are able to be installed either rear-facing or front-facing. Many convertible car seats have low weight limits, meaning they can be used for children from birth. And a new study from Consumer Reports suggests that, especially when your child gets larger, a convertible car seat is the safest option.
The study used a 22-pound dummy (which represents an average 12-month-old) to test the effectiveness in both rear-facing infant seats and convertible seats. Due to the height of the child and the small size of the infant seats, the dummy’s head struck the front seatback in 53% of the time in crash testing. Compare that to only 4% of the time with convertible car seats, and the safety advantage is obvious.
This study is especially important to drivers who have larger babies that reach 20 to 22 pounds before their first birthdays.
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News Source: Consumer Reports (subscription required)