Convertible Car Seats

Convertible car seats can be used by both infants and toddlers up to 40 lbs. Some convertible seats also convert into a belt-positioning car booster seat and can last your child up to 100 pounds.

Typically, convertible car seats face the rear for babies under one year who weigh 20 pounds. When your baby weighs at least 20 pounds and is at least one year old, you can turn the seat around to face forward and continue to use until your baby is 40 pounds. Most new convertible car seats support babies up to 30 pounds in a rear-facing position. If your baby is still comfortable in the rear-facing seat after their first birthday, and the seat can accommodate your baby's weight, leave it in the rear-facing position. Keeping your car seat rear-facing for as long as possible is the best and safest position for your baby.

Convertible car seats are found with three different harness styles: 5-point harness, T-shield harness, and an overhead shield. The 5-point harness is the safest harness style for all car seats. The straps—one for each shoulder, one for each leg, and one between your baby's legs—are adjustable and secure your baby snugly. The T-shield 3-point harness is a padded t-shaped or triangle-shaped shield that the shoulder straps buckle into to hold the shield in place between your baby's legs. The overhead shield is a padded tray-like shield that swings down around your baby with the shoulder straps and crotch strap buckling in to hold the shield in place. Older car seats typically use the T-shield or overhead shield; newer car seats use the 5-point harness. It is best to stick with the 5-point harness for ease of use and safety.

Car seats that also convert into a belt-positioning booster seat are usually convertible seats with a 5-point harness. The five-point harness is removed and you use the lap-and-shoulder belts in your car. This buckles your child in while still boosting their height to ensure the straps are positioned correctly across their belly and chest.

When choosing a convertible car seat, you want to make sure it will keep your baby securely in place at any weight or height. You also want it to be easy to use. Look for a seat that is equipped with more than one set of harness slots. As your baby grows, you want to be able to adjust the harness shoulder strap height to give your baby more room. The shoulder straps should be in the top set of slots. These slots are reinforced to withstand the force of a crash

If you are using a convertible car seat in the rear-facing position, you will want your car seat to angle so your baby is not sitting completely upright. Angle indicators and built-in angle adjusters help you set the car seat at the proper recline position.

Make sure your car seat uses the LATCH attachment system. Starting in September 2002, all new car seats and vehicles must be compatible with the LATCH system. This system makes installing a car seat easier and safer by attaching it directly to the vehicle. Convertible car seats must have the lower anchors and the top anchor.

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