Updated at: 06-05-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

A convertible seat can be used at any time. For now, keep an eye on your baby’s ability to raise his or her head forward, as well as its ability to regulate its neck muscles and sit up on its own.

This developmental milestone is typically reached around the four-month mark (when the shoulders are wide enough), but the timeframe varies from kid to child. Wait until six months if you’re concerned about them putting themselves in harm’s way due to a condition like plagiocephaly (a flat head).

Infant and Convertible Car Seats: What’s the Difference?

Choosing between an infant car seat and a convertible car seat is a choice for parents when traveling with a baby. If your child is the recommended weight and height for the car seat, you can use either one. In addition, it’s important to know how to secure the seat. It’s critical to pick a seat that’s comfortable for both you and your child. Here are the main distinctions between convertible and infant car seats.

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Infant Car Seats

For new parents, infant car seats are the most popular option. These rear-facing car seats are attached to a base that is already installed in your vehicle. With a simple push of a button, parents may remove their child safety seats from the car’s trunk. Additionally, many infant car seats come equipped with a handle to make it easier to carry your child in and out of the vehicle.

When purchasing a travel system for an infant, the infant car seat is commonly included. Car seats and strollers that are designed to work together are known as “travel systems.” This means that you don’t have to remove your child from the car seat to attach the infant seat to the stroller.

To avoid disturbing a sleeping infant, parents should always remove him or her from the car seat as they arrive at their destination. When driving, never remove a baby from its car seat, whether it is sleeping or awake.

The best setting for a sleeping baby is a crib, bassinet or play yard that has a level, solid surface with no blankets, toys or stuffed animals in it.

Convertible Car Seats

Car seats that can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing are called convertible car seats, unlike baby car seats. Until a child reaches the maximum rear-facing height or weight restriction, the AAP recommends that children ride rear-facing in their convertible seat. Only after that point should the convertible seat be adjusted forward-facing.

A youngster should use it for forward-facing until they are at least 5 feet tall and weigh at least 50 pounds. The rear-facing restrictions (height and weight) are nearly always lower than the forward-facing limits.

A higher weight or height limit may be necessary for some children before they are ready to use a booster seat. Most convertible seats can accommodate passengers weighing up to at least 40 pounds in the back and up to 50 pounds in the front. Convertible car seats, which have a weight limit of 40-50 pounds, are out of reach for the majority of children.

Without a base, convertible car seats can be put in a vehicle. This means that every time a convertible car seat is used, the child must be carried out of the vehicle.

Rear-facing weight and height restrictions for the convertible seat are higher than for newborn rear-facing only seats, according to Atrius Health doctor Eric Anderson, MD, of Burlington, Massachusetts. Because of their size, they are ideal for newborns and toddlers.

They’re also great for keeping toddlers and preschoolers seated in a backwards position. The majority of convertible seats may be used until the child is at least 3 years old, and many can even be used until the child is at least 4 years old if not more.

If you have a baby, you may be concerned that a convertible car seat won’t be spacious enough to accommodate them comfortably. To ensure that your child is secure when traveling in a convertible car seat, it is vital to study the seat’s specs.

Convertible car seats may come with additional inserts that can be added or removed based on your child’s growth. Make sure to follow the instructions provided in your car seat’s manual while using these inserts.

When Should You Make the Switch?

A majority of babies are too tall to fit in an infant car seat even before they reach the weight restriction, especially in cars with 30+ pound weight limits. When a child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat, the seat is considered too lofty. Make sure you know the height and weight limitations of your child’s car seat before he or she gets into the vehicle.

Your kid should be moved to a rear-facing convertible seat after they hit the required height or weight for their infant seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Even if a youngster is within the height and weight restrictions, it is not recommended that they utilize the seat (and vice versa also is not safe). After a certain height, your child is no longer a small person.

Most infant seats have a maximum height limit of 1 inch below the seat’s peak, but crash tests by Consumer Reports (CR) show that switching to a rear-facing convertible seat before that point may be preferable.

In CR’s crash testing with a 12-month-old dummy, they found that the risk of head damage is substantially larger in an infant seat than a rear-facing convertible seat—as the dummy impacted its head in more than half of the crashes in infant seats, but only 4% of the accidents in a convertible seat. 1

The car seats of rear-facing children can be removed. More of the seat shell is visible above the head of a kid in a convertible seat. This means that their head will be less likely to hit something hard like the front seat back if they fall out of their seat. 1

Important Safety Considerations

Parents should not make the switch to a convertible car seat lightly. Certain safety factors must be taken into account when selecting and installing your child’s new car seat in order to keep them safe in the case of an accident.

Install the Seat Correctly

The LATCH system or the seatbelt should be used to install the car seat, not both. When putting your child in a car seat, make sure to read the instruction handbook. If a child’s seat is installed correctly, it should not move more than one inch in each direction when the child is in it.

Know Your State Laws

It is legal to turn your child forward-facing at the age of one, but some jurisdictions restrict children to travel in their car seats rear-facing until the age of two. Rear-facing car seats are more secure for children than forward-facing ones.

Rear-facing children are less likely to have injuries to the head, neck, and legs than front-facing children. Therefore, the AAP suggests that children ride rear-facing in a convertible seat until they reach the convertible seat’s maximum height or weight, which is typically between 3 and 5 years of age for most children.

Harness Your Child Correctly

If your child is riding rear-facing in a car seat, the straps should be at or below the shoulders, and if your child is riding forward-facing, they should be at or above the shoulders. There should be no twisting or kinking in the straps. As soon as you’ve buckled the harness, you should adjust the straps so they’re snug. Even if you’re an NFL linebacker, it’s impossible to get the straps on practically any car seat “too tight.”

Instead of fretting over whether or not the straps are excessively tight, it is critical that they be adjusted so that nearly every child can ride safely. The child’s life is in the hands of this harness. You shouldn’t take it for granted that your youngster is properly restrained. Every time you secure the youngster, make sure the straps are snug enough. The pinch test overlooks the fact that the straps around the hip and belly area typically have loads of slack hidden in them. Finally, place the chest clip at the level of the upper armpit.

A Word From Verywell

The majority of parents begin with an infant car seat and then move on to a convertible car seat as their child grows. Choose a car seat that works best for your child and your lifestyle. Uninjured and capable of being safely put into your vehicle, the hallmarks of an ideal child safety seat are the following:

The safest option for reducing injuries and deaths in a collision is to keep your child rear-facing until they are at least 2 years old. Your child’s car seat should be installed and secured in accordance with the instructions provided. Don’t be afraid to ask the manufacturer of your child’s car seat any queries you have.

When to Switch Car Seats

Infant seat

When traveling with a baby under 2 years old, many parents prefer to utilize an infant seat, which is a rear-facing bucket seat. Other parents may want to use a convertible car seat for newborns, but regardless, a car seat must be used when transporting a new baby from the hospital.) The most popular form of infant seat is one that snaps into and out of a base. All infant seats are rear-facing exclusively. You’ll likely just need to buy one seat and two bases if you have two vehicles.

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There is a newborn insert included in all infant seats, which should be used from birth until the kid weighs between 11 and 15 pounds (see the manual for exact guidelines, but in general, if the baby’s shoulders cannot reach the straps without the insert, it should be used). More than one recline position is available in most infant chairs. The most reclined position is ideal for babies. CPST Lani Harrison, who works with Car Seats for the Littles and frequently installs car seats, said that when parents complain their baby cries continually in the car, it is typically because the infant car seat is positioned at an angle that is too steep.

When either of the following occurs, a child has outgrown their baby seat:

  • When they’re strapped in, the top of their heads won’t even touch the seat.
  • They’ve exceeded the weight restriction, which is normally 30 to 35 pounds.

The seat’s height limit is usually exceeded before the weight limit. A child’s size (larger youngsters will usually move on faster) determines how long parents should wait before switching from an infant seat to a larger, convertible seat. However, if the seat is rated safe for their child’s height and weight, they can choose to do so sooner. There is no reported difference in safety between a rear-facing infant seat and a rear-facing convertible seat between the ages of 9 months and 2 years, as long as the kid is within the seat’s height and weight restrictions. Even though both seats are equally safe, some parents may choose to retain using an infant car seat until their child is old enough to use a one-piece convertible car seat instead of moving to a one-piece convertible seat.

A vehicle bed may be necessary for preemies or babies with specific needs who are not yet able to sit upright.

Convertible seat

In a convertible car seat, which is also known as a toddler seat, the child can face forward or backward. In spite of its versatility, experts advise keeping a convertible car seat installed in the rearward-facing position as long as feasible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has modified their advice to the same effect. California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina are the only states that currently require children under the age of 2 to ride in a rear-facing car seat. In 2019, New York, Nebraska, and Virginia will follow suit.

Until they reach the weight/height restrictions, it is safer to keep a child in a five-point harness. Take your time before upgrading.

Experts are still debating the best time to switch a youngster from a rear-facing to a forward-facing car seat. Even though one of the studies that supported the extended rear-facing guideline was retracted in 2017, most experts still believe that rear-facing for a longer period of time is safe. Those we spoke to for our car seat instructions recommended that a child remain rear-facing for as long as possible, until they outgrow the rear-facing position.

When one of the following occurs, a kid has outgrown a rear-facing position in a convertible car seat:

  • They exceeded the weight limit for rear-facing seats. Wirecutter’s top two convertible seat recommendations include weight restrictions of 40 and 50 pounds, respectively (about the weight of an average 5-year-old, though many parents, including myself, make the switch before then).
  • Less than an inch separates the top of their skull from the top of their car seat shell or head restraint. Short children with lengthy torsos may outgrow their seats sooner than those who are taller overall.

Some parents choose to forward-face their children before they outgrow the requirements for rear-facing car seats, often because they find it easier to interact with their children or to hand them snacks in this way, or because they think the child is less likely to get car sick or simply prefers it more than rear-facing car seats. Additionally, Car Seats for the Little ones suggests a four-year-old cutoff. However, this should be done before the infant is placed in a forward-facing convertible seat:

  • At least two years old, if possible.
  • the forward-facing seat’s minimal weight limit (typically over 20 pounds)

A five-point harness is used to restrain a child in a convertible seat, just like in an infant car seat. A five-point harness is safer for a child until they outgrow the height and weight restrictions. Take your time before upgrading.

When a child is no longer able to fit comfortably in a forward-facing convertible seat:

  • There was no way they were going to make it under the weight limit (65 pounds for Wirecutter’s picks).
  • ears that extend above the top of the head restraint or the shell of the car seat
  • At or above their shoulders, they are not allowed to wear the harness straps

Booster seat

Because it raises the child’s legs and shoulders over their bellies, a booster seat relies on a child’s existing seatbelt to keep him or her securely buckled in. In comparison to backless boosters, high-back boosters provide more protection for the head and the sides of the child. We’ll have a guide to booster seats out in the following month.

The following conditions must be met before using a high-back booster:

  • Many states require a maximum weight of 40 pounds, however the manufacturer’s recommendations also factor in.
  • Four-year-old (minimum)
  • ability to accept and comprehend the necessity of remaining seated in a vehicle
  • in the event of an accident, a child’s seat belt could damage them if they fall asleep in the wrong position.

Once the child’s ears reach the top of the head restraint, he or she should switch to a backless booster booster.

When they can buckle themselves into an adult safety belt without the use of a booster:

  • The seat belts are long enough to keep them in place if the automobile abruptly slams into a stop.
  • Keeping their back against the seat, their knees bent over the edge, and their feet flat on the floor, they are able to remain in this position.
  • Seat belts should be worn over the collarbone and low on the hips so that the tops of the thighs are in contact with the straps.
  • It is possible for them to ride in this position for the whole of the journey.

Most youngsters, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are ready to stop using a booster seat and start wearing their seat belts on their own between the ages of 8 and 12 years.

How do you change the recline position on a Graco 4Ever?

A Graco Backless TurboBooster Car Seat has an adjustable recline. You can’t adjust the seatback while driving; it must to be in an upright, locked position. Adjustments can be made by:

The release button is placed at the top of the headrest post and can be pushed in order to open or close the headrests (clockwise or counter-clockwise).

If you have a youngster in a car seat, gently press down on it while pushing forward with one hand until your hands touch behind the backrest of the seat.

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C) Adjust the height of the car seat as necessary to obtain the appropriate level of comfort.

D) Before re-closing the harness buckle slots with the harness tongues inserted into the buckle, make sure the harness fits tightly around the kid.

How do I make my Graco 4Ever into a high back booster?

For children who are still too young for a seat belt but have outgrown the 4-in-1 harness system, you can convert it into a high back booster by adding an ad to the head rest cover. To ensure the safety of your youngster, purchase this car accessory!

This fashionable gadget allows them to participate in their favorite pastimes while ensuring the highest possible level of safety. In addition, spills aren’t a huge concern because it’s so easy to clean.

There are no cup holders, but at least you won’t have to worry about anything falling on the ground while transporting it because it folds flat after use!

The finest element of this product is that it can be simply adjusted. Because you can quickly adjust the headrest level of your child’s seat, you’ll never have to be concerned about their discomfort.

When should a car seat be forward-facing?

When a child weighs more than 20 pounds but is under the age of two years.

Car seats should not be used for infants and toddlers who weigh less than 22 pounds, as this can put them at risk for head, neck and spine injuries in the event of a collision.

It’s also dangerous because it can lead to a narrowing of the airways in the throat as a result of persistent tilting forward while traveling lengthy distances.

A securely buckled-in seat in the back is always the safest position for a kid who has outgrown their rear-facing car seat, since they are more likely to be injured if they are traveling in either a sidecar or an additional passenger seat, which do not give appropriate protection against impact forces.

How long can you rear face in Graco 4Ever?

There is a 44 to 52 inch height range for the Graco Nautilus 65 LX. That means you can rear-facing this seat till the child’s head is about an inch from touching the top of the seat if they are within that height range. Changing the position of your child’s crib so that they face forward is necessary if their heads contact.

Car seats like this one should be used with the lowest harness setting whenever feasible to ensure the safety and comfort for smaller children. Only children who are between 22 months old (or 20 lbs) and 43′′ tall (or older than age 4) are permitted to use this car seat when rear-facing.

This convertible car seat comes with a 40-pound rear-facing weight limit. Your child should be placed in a forward-facing position when they reach the maximum weight or height restrictions.

When can you turn your child forward-facing?

This convertible car seat has a 40-pound weight limit for rear-facing use. When your child has reached the maximum weight or height for their car seat, it’s time to switch to a forward-facing configuration.

When can I turn my Graco 4Ever forward-facing?

Your child must be two years old, weigh 40 pounds, and be under 52 inches tall to use the Graco forward-facing car seat. Your child can be moved up front-facing if they fall within those limitations before their third birthday and do not meet any of the other conditions.

If you don’t have any further information from medical professionals about how much longer your kid will need a rear-facing car seat or you believe they have stopped growing in height, then utilize the weight range we provided.

Infant to the toddler car seat when to switch?

Infant car seats are often outgrown by children between the ages of one and 18 months. Your infant should now be in a forward-facing safety seat with a crotch strap and a five-point harness system, rather than a rear-facing one.

This is the time to think about whether your child should stay in a convertible car seat or go on to a booster seat, for instance.. Let’s go through each step in detail so that you don’t miss anything!

Changes to the convertible car seat aren’t necessary if you’ve been using it since the beginning, unless your child has outgrown it and you need to get a new one.