What are the different types of car seats?
Infant seats, or bucket seats, are what most parents start their little one out in. While different brands have different upper and lower weight limits, most seats begin around 5 pounds and go up to around 30 or 35 pounds. Check your car seat’s instruction manual to make sure you are meeting the weight requirements! Bucket seats can be detached from their base, which stays installed in your vehicle, allowing you the freedom to take baby anywhere if they happen to fall asleep during a car ride! Bucket seats are rear-facing and ensure that your child is in the safest position in your vehicle. You can also keep your new bundle of joy safe in a rear-facing convertible car seat.
It is recommended to keep your child rear-facing until at least age 2, or once your child reaches the height and/or weight limit for that seat.
Convertible car seats are named so for their ability to protect your child from infancy to toddlerhood. These seats have the same starting weight as infant bucket seats (around 5 pounds) and can be used as a rear-facing seat up to 40 pounds. Once your child hits 20 pounds and is at least 1 year old, the seat can be used as a forward-facing seat up to 65 pounds. However, it is strongly advised to keep them rear facing until they outgrow the maximum height and weight of the rear facing guidelines.
While it is completely safe to use a convertible seat from the very beginning, you lose the convenience of being able to take the seat itself out of the car and carry your child in it, as these seats stay securely installed in your vehicle.
Convertible seats can be used by children from birth up to at least age 5, based on height and weight.
All-in-One car seats are relatively new to the market but have been taking it over by storm. They allow you to buy ONE car seat and be DONE, forever! Most All-in-One seats will rear-face from 5 – 45 pounds, can be turned around to forward face up to 65 pounds and will convert to a belt position booster for up to 100 – 120 pounds! You literally get the benefits of BOTH a convertible car seat and a combination harness to booster seat! The only downside is they cannot be removed from the vehicle during errands or to make a travel system. The entire seat remains in the vehicle at all times.
All-in-One car seats can be used with children from birth up to approximately 10 years old.
Time and time again, it has been proven that a five-point harness is most effective in keeping a child safe in the event of a crash. Five-point harness booster seats provide your child with the safety as well as the growing room they need. Again, while weight limits vary by brand, most five point boosters will begin around 25 pounds and can go up to 120 pounds.
Once your child hits around 40 pounds, the harness can be taken out and a seat belt can be used, as long as the shoulder belt sits across your little one’s shoulder and does not cut into their neck or face at all! It is highly recommended that a five-point harness continue to be used until the child outgrows it completely.
Five point boosters are often the last seat you will ever need for your child and are geared towards kids aged 4 and up until 10 years old.
You can begin using a belt positioning booster seat around 40 pounds and 38 inches. Often times, the backs of these seats can be taken off so that your child can continue to use the booster portion to help the lap belt sit correctly across their chest if they are not quite tall enough.
Remember: you should always buckle the seat in even when your child is not in the vehicle, as it could become a projectile object in the event of a crash. Some lap positioning boosters, such as the Britax Highpoint 2-Stage Booster, have the LATCH system, allowing your seat to remain in place even if you forget to buckle it in!
Belt positioning boosters are typically used for children aged 6 and up.