When To Change The Latest From An Infant Carrier To The Toddler Seat
Step 1: Check the weight/height limitation of your seat
If your infant carrier is approved to ECE R44-04, then your seat has a maximum weight based on its approval. This maximum weight must not be exceeded. But this does not mean that you can always use your infant carrier until you have reached this maximum weight, often babies outgrow their seat in height before they reach the weight. For this, check step 2!
If your infant carrier is approved to UN R129, then it has a maximum height given by its approval. This maximum height must not be exceeded. In most cases, the maximum height marks the end of when you can use the seat, but in addition, also check step 2!
Step 2: Check the shoulder belts and distance to the top of the seat
When the uppermost point of the babys head is approx. 2 fingers away from the highest point of the seat shell, you should change to a toddler seat. Ideally, you should look for toddler seats already some time before your baby has reached this point. This 2-finger-distance is recommended since it includes a buffer for upwards movement in case of an accident. Such a movement can happen if the belts are not perfectly tightened. Even though we know that parents do their best to always tighten the belts correctly, it can happen when in a rush or if the baby moves a lot that the belts are not as tight as they should be.
When Should You Make The Switch
While infant car seats have weight limits ranging from 22 to 35 pounds, nearly every baby is too tall before reaching the weight limit, especially for the seats with 30+ pound limits. Too tall is when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat. It would be best if you familiarized yourself with your car seat’s height and weight requirements to ensure your child is riding safely.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends transitioning your baby from the infant seat to a rear-facing convertible seat, once they meet the minimum height or weight requirement for their infant seat. If a child is over the weight limit but still within the height limit, it is not safe to use the seat . Once your child reaches one limit, they are too big.
While the max height for most infant seats is when the child’s head is 1 inch below the top of the seat, crash testing from Consumer Reports indicates that it may be best to transition to the rear-facing convertible seat earlier, before your child’s head is within an inch of the top.
Rear-facing kids will slide up their car seat. A child in a convertible seat has a lot more of the car seats’s shell above their head, making it much less likely that the child’s head will slide over the shell of the car seat and be able to hit something hard, like the back of the front seat.
When To Change Your Child’s Car Seat
For optimum safety and protection it is vital your little one is sitting in a car seat that is suitable for their size. Its now the law that your child has to be in an appropriate car seat until they are 135cm or 12years old. But it can be tricky to know when its time for them to move up to the next stage car seat, and with two different fitting standards and regulations it can be confusing to get your head around all the important jargon. We want to help you feel confident and secure in the knowledge you are choosing the appropriate car seat for your child at the right time.
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The Car Seat Has Expired
Car seats typically last up to six years, and there are valid reasons that they have expiration dates. Standards and technologies change. Its not the end of the world to have an old version of a smartphone. Having a car seat without the most up-to-date safety standards, on the other hand, isnt safe.
Seats are also only tested for safety for a certain period of time. This means that if youre using an older car seat, it hasnt been tested to modern standards, and you dont really know how safe it is.
Having a car seat without the most up-to-date safety standards, on the other hand, isnt safe. Seats are also only tested for safety for a certain period of time.
Expiration dates are usually located on the manufacturers label, found on the side or base of the seat.
Determining Car Seat Fit
If you think your child is outgrowing their harnessed car seat, first be sure that you’re checking the right signs to judge the fit. Most children outgrow harnessed car seats by height long before they outgrow by weight, particularly with the 65-pound seats. When your child is forward-facing, the harness slots should be at or above the child’s shoulders. When the shoulders are above the top slots, it’s time to change seats.
A forward-facing car seat is also outgrown by height when the tops of the child’s ears reach the top of the car seat shell unless the manufacturer states otherwise in the instructions. When checking the weight limits of the car seat, be sure you’re looking at the forward-facing harness weight limit, not the booster weight limit .
There are many harness-to-booster car seats available today with a higher harness limit that later become booster seats. These can be a good option because they allow you to avoid buying another car seat and then a booster. Look for a car seat with a higher harnessed weight limit and a higher top shoulder strap height. This will allow the seat to be used longer in car seat mode .
The range of car seats available today means no family should struggle to find even a budget model that allows their child to remain safely harnessed to a minimum of age five, and most likely far beyond that.
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How Do You Know When It’s Time To Change Car Seats
It’s better and safer to keep your child in the lowest group seat for as long as possible, rather than moving up groups too early. It’s also more economical, too, as you won’t have to splash out on a new seat until you’ve had the maximum usage out of your current seat.
Do check what the upper weight or height limits are for your car seat and keep an eye on your baby or child’s weight and height, to make sure they aren’t out-growing the seat too quickly.
Dont forget to check if theyre too tall for the car seat harness the top of it should sit 2cm above their shoulder even when its adjusted to the highest position.
In most cases, a child will reach the weight limit of a child car seat before becoming too tall for it, but all babies and children are different.
Children at the bottom weight of each group are more vulnerable to injuries, this is why we don’t advise you swap too soon.
The recommended weights and heights for each group overlap, so we advise you to let your child reach the top limit for one group rather than swapping when they reach the bottom weight of the next.
Changing Old And Damaged Car Seats
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Child Car Seats: The Basics
To travel in cars, children aged up to 7 years must use either a rear-facing child car seat, forward-facing car seat or a booster seat.
The car seat must be:
- approved to the AS/NZS 1754 standard and labelled accordingly
- appropriate for your childs size and age
- correctly installed in your car according to the manufacturers instructions
- properly adjusted and fastened to fit your child
- under 10 years old and in good working condition.
Children 7 years and older must continue to use a suitable, approved car seat until they fit a lap-sash adult seatbelt. They can use a properly adjusted and fastened adult lap-sash seatbelt only when theyre big enough for the seatbelt to fit them correctly.
Not sure when you should move your child from one type of car seat to another? Our guide to types of car seats and when to use them can help.
How To Install Child Car Seats Correctly
All child car seats must be installed correctly for safety, but this can be tricky.
When youre buying a new car seat, its a good idea to check that it will fit in your car before you buy it. You can ask the shop to let you try fitting a display model in your car.
Once youve bought a car seat, its also a good idea to have your new car seat professionally installed or checked at an authorised installation or fitting service. If you install the car seat yourself or need to move it later, always follow the manufacturers instructions.
Tips for safely installing a child car seat
Extra tip: when youve positioned and attached the car seat firmly, make sure passengers can still easily get to their seatbelt buckles.
You can do the pinch test to make sure that a car seat harness fits your child properly. First check that the harness straps are flat, not twisted, against your childs torso. Fasten the buckle and tighten the straps. Then try to pinch the straps horizontally at the shoulder. If you can pinch the straps, you need to tighten the harness more.
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Choosing A Child Car Seat Or Booster Seat
A childs developmental stage, weight and height can help determine what type of child car seat is best suited for them:
|Type of car seat|
|Up to 9 kg||None|
Rear-facing child car seat, if the manufacturer recommends its use
|Under the age of 8||18-36 kg||Under 145 cm tall|
Your child can use a seatbelt alone when they reach any of the following milestones:
- turns 8 years old
- weighs 36 kg
- reaches a height of 145 cm or more
Follow recommendations from the manufacturer
Its safest to keep your child in a child car seat or booster seat until they reach the maximum weight and height limits of the child car seat.
Most child car seats do not allow the use of aftermarket products and advise to not dress the child in bulky clothing or sports gear as it can compromise the fit of the harness.
Always follow the recommended use set out by the manufacturer.
Watch a video
Watch this video for tips on choosing, installing and checking that a child car seat meets safety standards:
How Do You Install A Booster Seat
A booster seat is typically held in place by the child’s weight and the vehicle’s lap-and-shoulder belt. Some seats do use your car’s lower anchors and LATCH system like a car seat. It’s important to read the booster seat instruction manual before installing your child’s booster seat. Your car’s instruction manual can also help you determine how to properly and safely install the seat. If your car doesn’t have headrests, you should use a high-back booster seat.
Here are some important tips to follow when you install your child’s booster seat:
- Always place the booster seat in the back seat.
- Always use a lap and shoulder seat belt with the booster seat.
- Place the booster seat flat on the vehicle seat.
- Have your child sit in the booster seat and pull the seat belt across your child’s body to make sure the belt fits properly. The seat belt should rest low on the hips, not across the stomach. Across the chest, the belt should lie firmly in the middle of the child’s shoulder.
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What Is Booster Seat Age
Booster seat age refers to the age of a child at which they are ready to move from a car seat to a booster seat. The appropriate age is generally at least 4 years old, but for various children may be a few years older. In fact, it’s safest for most kids to remain in a 5-point harness car seat until age 5 or 6.
I Thought My Child Could Turn Forward
This is NOT correct. Many years ago, in the days before the iPhone was invented, the minimum to turn forward facing was 1 year and 20 pounds.
In 2011 both the AAP and NHTSA updated their recommendations to reflect the latest research in child passenger safety. The AAP now recommends that kids sit rear-facing until at least age 2 and for longer if possible. NHTSA now recommends: Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seats manufacturer.
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But My Childs Convertible Car Seat Only Goes To 20 Or 22 Pounds Rear
Your car seat is confusing you! Really! All convertible seats on the market in the US have for many, many years allowed rear-facing until at least 30 pounds, with most going to 40 or more pounds rear-facing. However, the labels on the car seat confuse many families, leading them to think a child must be forward-facing starting at 22 lbs.
Why? Because our government requires manufacturers to include some exceptionally confusing wording on the labels of every convertible car seat . The sentence that confuses most people is Use only in a rear-facing position when using it with an infant weighing less than 20 lbs. What this sentence is trying to say, is that for kids who weigh less than 20 lbs. the only direction you are allowed to install this car seat is rear-facing i.e. a child under 20 pounds may never ride forward-facing in this car seat. However, many people confuse this to mean that after 20 pounds you must turn the car seat forward-facing which is NOT what it is trying to say.
In another sentence, likely very close to where you found the confusing one, youll see the rear-facing maximum weight for your convertible seat, likely 40 pounds or even higher.
Infant And Convertible Car Seats: What’s The Difference
Parents have the option of choosing between an infant and a convertible car seat when traveling with their baby. Both are safe options if your baby meets the car seat’s height and weight recommendations. You also have to make sure you know how to securely install the seat. It’s important to choose the seat that works best for your baby and your needs. Here are the key differences between infant and convertible car seats.
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I Already Turned My Kid Forward
Yes! When we know better, we must do better. A few months ago when you turned her forward facing you did what you thought was best, but now you know differently. Avoid regrets, and give your child the best protection.
Many parents worry that it will be a disaster turning an older child back rear-facing. Here is one moms experience turning her almost-3-year-old son back rear-facing:
I was initially very hesitant to move my almost three year old son to rear facing from forward facing. He has been sitting forward facing for over a year and can be strong willed when it comes to change. However, after hearing how much safer it is I was willing to try. The first three or so drives were very difficult as he asked to look out mama and dadas window almost the entire time. We ignored and distracted and I was about to give up when I noticed that although he still complained about sitting rear facing it happened less and less. Now he asks maybe once every other drive if he can sit forward facing and was even fine the other day when his friend joined us and sat forward facing. It was a tough first few drives, but I am very happy we did it and I feel so much safer.