The Secrets Of Choosing The Best Convertible Car Seat
Parents who have to drive with their baby in the car know the pain of looking at the staggering pile of car seats that are no longer functional. It seems that babies need different seats at every stage of growing up but a convertible seat can save much of the hassle and a load of money. If you can score one of the best convertible car seat units, it will save money and cut down on the stack of plastic.
However, what’s the secret of picking up the right one out of so many options? Should you read convertible car seat reviews or simply go for the most expensive ones in the market? Is an all-in-one convertible car seat just a gimmick or better than the regular ones? Let’s find out how to choose the best car seats for babies.
Top Tips For Choosing The Best Convertible Car Seat
You can use the infant convertible car seats in the rear-facing position for small babies and then switch it to the forward-facing when the child grows older. The all-in-one units have the booster function for older (school-age) children. It seems that the best car seats for toddlers can get you through from the baby’s days of infancy through the preschool years and even beyond.
Many parents start with a rear-facing car seat for their newborns and then resort to a convertible model ultimately – which seems to be a practical and frugal choice. As one of our many driving tips, here are some tips and hacks to choose the best convertible car seat.
Ease Of Installation
You might be expecting to hear of the safest convertible car seat but proper installation is actually a bigger issue than the safety rating. Surprising but true, any parents will love a car seat that does not take much time for installation and provides an owner’s manual that has clear instructions for the process. While intuitive installation system is the most coveted, any parents frequently using a rental car can vouch for that.
The best convertible car seat should have a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) – a system that makes easier the correct installation of a car seat without using seat belts. A push-button LATCH system is easier to operate than a hook-style LATCH, especially when unfastening the latter is a bit difficult.
The convertible seat must have a seat belt installation system too because the LATCH is not sufficiently strong to hold a child weighing more than 40 pounds.
Center Or Side Installation?
Researches show that the risk of injury lowers 43% when the car seat is installed in the center. But, more than 80% of products don’t properly get secured in the center position. Although a side installation is more convenient for getting the baby in and out of the vehicle, a center installation is safer and the only option for families with more than one child.
You should thoroughly read convertible car seat reviews to find out whether it offers a center-seat installation option. Some vehicles don’t have a LATCH connection points for the center seat but it won’t be a problem if the convertible has a system for seat belt installation.
Extended Rear-Facing Use
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommend children to keep in the rear-facing position until they are two years old. The weight limit in most rear facing convertible seat units is 35, 40, or 50 pounds but some models extend it to 65 pounds or more. You should choose a seat that offers higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position.
Easy Of Use
Just like the ease of installation, the operation of the convertible seat should be convenient and user-friendly. Strapping and releasing the harness and getting the baby into and out of the car are something that the parents have to do on a daily basis. The best convertible car seat units should have the right designs that make these activities easier.
Can you quickly buckle up and release the belts when required? Does the harness offer a snug fit? How simple is it to adjust the straps? These things determine how easy it is to use a convertible car seat.
The ease of operation also depends on the weight of the seat. Convertible seats tend to be heavy because they bundle up the functions of two to three types of seats. Also, a substantial structure offers better protection and does not lose shape in the event of an accident. But, lighter seats come in handy when you take frequent rides in cabs or rental cars. Lugging a lighter seat is also convenient when you travel frequently through train or airplane.
Some convertible car seats are lightweight and also score a high safety rating. The Evenflo Tribute is just 9 lbs while the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB is 28 lbs. The Clek Foonf is another good option that weighs only 33 lbs.
Crash Test Performance
The NHTSA is a is a government agency that regulates the road safety and the safety, policy, and installation of children car seats. There are some independent parties too like the BabyGearLab and Consumer Reports that conduct their own safety testings.
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Comparing convertible car seats according to the NHSTA rating is an efficient way to filter the quality out of the unqualified ones. However, the NHSTA data are for front-impact crashes only. The side-impact test scores are available in Europe and Australia but not in the United States. You have to rely on independent third-party institutions for assessment of the side-impact scores.
The Final Words
The convertible car seat reviews is an effective way to determine which one will best suit your needs. In fact, much of the decision making depends on personal preference. Many parents put much importance on the crash test performance but convenient installation and easy functions play a bigger part in ensuring the overall safety. The best convertible car seat should have a combination of good safety score, easy installation system, and user-friendly functions.