A good child safety car seat is necessary for your child to be a safe passenger in a car. As a baby grows to be an older child, you may need to purchase a new car seat to replace your old baby safety car seat–if you don’t already own one which has adjustable size features. Proper support in child and infant safety car seats can save your child from an accident, as long as they’re in a seat appropriate to their size. These differences between child and baby car seats will help you determine which one is right for your little one.
Types of Car Seats
Infant Car Seat: Infant car seats are rear facing seats specifically for babies less than 22 pounds; some models can carry babies and toddlers up to 30 pounds. They are easy to detach from the base.
Child Safety Car Seat: These seats are front facing and obviously much larger than infant seats to fit children up to 100 pounds.
Convertible Car Seat: To save money on car seats, you might want to invest in a convertible car seat which can hold infants as light as 5 pounds to older kids as heavy as 100. They swap from rear to front facing and have fully adjustable straps to hold your child from infancy until they are ready to leave their car seats behind.
Front vs. Rear Facing
Infants and young children should be in rear facing car seats for as long as possible. Legally, they must remain rear facing until they are 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds, but experts recommend they stay rear facing until 30 pounds if possible. Infant safety car seats will always be rear facing, while seats made for older, heavier children can be front facing.
Comfort and Convenience
Infant car seats, since they are specifically made for infants, tend to be more comfortable for babies. They allow the baby to recline a little more than an infant-toddler convertible car seat does, meaning that the head won’t drop forward onto the chest when the baby sleeps. Infant seats are also easy to detach from the base, making it convenient to remove a sleeping baby from a vehicle without disturbing them.
Since infant car seats are meant for infants, they may have a slight safety advantage over placing infants in convertible seats. This difference is negligible. A much more significant difference is the brand of car seat. Trusted brands like Eddie Bauer and Graco are trusted for a reason, and it is generally worth investing in your child’s safety with a brand-name seat.
Infants up to 20 pounds may be slightly more comfortable, and you might find slightly more convenience in an infant safety car seat. Whether you want to save money by getting a convertible seat right from the start is up to you. There’s no significant difference in safety as long as you choose a trustworthy and high quality brand.