OK, so your baby is a little older and has either outgrown her infant seat or is just looking like she might want more room to stretch-out. Here begins the confusing world of convertible carseats.
First, it must be said that any seat on the market is considered safe when used properly because it has passed the government safety standards and crash tests. However, some seats have features that make it much EASIER to use correctly every time, and some go beyond the standard safety protocols. Additionally, some seats may be used longer than others based-on weight and height requirements. Before choosing a seat, this Buying Guide is very helpful in distinguishing what to look for.
Some main things:
Rear-facing is the safest possible way for your child to ride! (More on this in Part 3)
Look for a seat with a high rear-facing weight limit, ideally around 30-35 lbs.
Look for a seat with a high foward-facing weight limit, ideally around 55-65 lbs.
Look at the height of the top shoulder harness. Brands differ dramatically on this, and it can make a huge difference in how long the child is able to use the seat. They can outgrow it in torso length before weight.
A few reccomendations:
Fisher-Price Safe Voyage Deluxe -This is the seat that we have, and it comes highly reccomended by the carseat safety community as a great value for the money. It’s made by Britax, but sold under the Fisher-Price name, so you get the same frame as a Decathalon for a better price and without a couple bells and whistles. It rear-faces to 33 lbs. and foward-faces to 55 lbs. Typically, this will get most kids until the age of 5 or 6. $129 I have recently been alerted to the fact that the FPSVD isn’t be made anymore. So pay careful attention to the date-of-manufacture if you purchase one. They have a 6-year life-span, and the older the DOM is, the fewer years you are able to use it. Britax has been known to partially refund the purchase price if you get an old DOM, and I believe that it’s still a great deal if you are able to get 4-5 years out of it.
- Britax Marathon, Decathalon, Boulevard– The Britax brand makes the Cadillacs of carseats. These seats have several more features that allow for an easier install and a rear-faced tether that anchors the seat to the car. (the FPSVD only has a foward-facing tether) Around $250-300 depending on where you buy
Cosco Scenera – Surprisingly, this is a very low-priced carseat that has great rear-facing weight limits! It rear-faces to 35 lbs. and foward-faces to 40 lbs. It’s a no-frills seat, but if used correctly, it passes all safety and crash tests. If you are thinking about buying another seat with the same weight-limits, you’d probably do better to just get this one as it offers the same protection for a much cheaper price. $43.74 at Wal-Mart
I’m definitely not a carseat expert, but if you want to ask questions of some people who are, here’s where to go. For information on where to find a carseat technician in your area who will check your carseat for proper installalation, look here. For a really great and comprehensive list on highly reccomended carseats, look here.
Soon to follow, Part 3 on Extended Rear-Facing .