Front vs. Back Facing Children Car Seats
Infant seats are designed for infants who weigh up to 20-22 pounds. These seats are positioned facing backwards, or rear-facing, in your car. A convenient and attractive quality of most infant seats is that they come with a base that remains in the car and have a seat which is removable. This feature allows parents to take a baby in and out of the car without removing her from the seat. Since babies sleep so much, this means that you’ll have to wake up your baby a lot less every time you get to a store or arrive back home. Federal safety standards dictate that babies must remain in rear-facing car seats until they are at least 20 pounds AND at least one year old. This means that if your baby weighs more than 20 pounds before his first birthday you will no longer be able to use the infant seat and will have to buy another car seat. This double-cost can be avoided by skipping the infant seat and making the first car seat you buy a convertible car seat.
Convertible seats are very versatile as they can work as both rear- and front-facing seats as your child grows simply by rotating them in the vehicle. Infant / toddler convertible car seats are significantly larger than infant-only car seats because they are designed to grow with your child through his toddler years. Convertible seats will face the rear of your car when your child is less than a year old and under 20 pounds and can then turn around to face the front of your car when your child is at least a year old and weighs at least 20 pounds, which is the earliest time allowable that your baby can sit forward-facing safely.
The main benefit of a convertible seat is that it can last for years and some are safe for kids who weigh up to 70 pounds. The main downside to skipping the infant seat and going right to a convertible seat is that many parents say their newborn seems to be swimming in the convertible seat. If this is the case, you will have to use head rests, rolled up towels or other types of cushions to prop your infant safely into place until he grows into the seat. Convertible seats also lack the easy detachable mobility that infant seats have. You will have to remove your infant from the seat to remove him from the car.
Booster seats are for children who weigh 30 to 80 pounds but who are not tall enough to use only an adult seatbelt. Booster seats are sometimes sold as just the bottom seat or some may have the feature of a detachable back rest for extra support. These seats help to boost your child into a position that makes it safe to use the car’s existing seat belt. Without a booster seat, a seat belt can actually cause injuries to a child in the event of a car crash. A lap belt across your child’s tummy can result in stomach, liver, or spleen damage and if the shoulder belt falls too high on the child it can cause neck injuries and spinal and back trauma.
When shopping for a car seat, take note that many convertible car seats that use the five-point harness system convert to booster seats that you can use until your child weighs 80 or 100 pounds.
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