Which type of car seat is right for your baby?
Infant Car Seat
If you're pregnant or have an infant, you have two choices
in a baby car seat. The first, which most parents opt for, is an infant seat.
This seat is designed specifically for use with infants generally from 5 pounds
to 22 pounds and is always used rear-facing in the car. An infant seat provides
features that offer convenience for you and comfort for your baby. For example,
this type of baby car seat is lightweight and has a carrying handle so you'll
find you can transport your baby from one place to another without disturbing
her sleep. Many offer a separate base which allows the parent to snap the seat
easily in and out of the car, and you can get more bases for additional
Your other choice of car seat for an infant is a convertible
car seat, which is used in the rear-facing position for infants, then converted
to the forward-facing position for toddlers. Although convertible seats lack
most of the convenience features common to infant seats, they're an economical
way to provide protection, as one seat can generally accommodate your child
from 5 to 40 pounds.
Convertible Car Seat
If an infant seat doesn't meet your needs, the alternative
is a convertible seat, which accommodates both infants and toddlers through a
single purchase. That's because a convertible seat, which is required for
children over 22 pounds, can accommodate infants from 5 to sometimes as high as
35 pounds when used in the rear-facing position.
Unlike infant seats, convertibles cannot be used as carriers
or rockers, and are not compatible with stroller systems.
Note: Pediatricians and child care advocates recommend that
you keep your child rear-facing from their first ride home from the hospital up
to at least one year of age and at least 20 pounds.
When your child outgrows her infant seat, the right car seat
for your child is a convertible car seat. Convertible seats are so called
because they can generally be used rear-facing for infants from 5 to 35 pounds,
then converted to a forward-facing position for use with toddlers 20 to 65
Booster Car Seat
When your child reaches about 40 pounds, it's time to move
her out of a convertible car seat and into a booster car seat. Most booster car
seats are designed to accommodate children from 30 to 100 pounds.
Although some parents choose not to purchase a booster seat,
as they feel the auto's seat belts alone are adequate protection. Others
consider buying a booster car seat only because it allows the child to see out
the window. An automobile's seat-belt system is designed for adults, not small
children, and most likely will not fit your child properly. A booster car seat
is designed to use your car's seat belts, but makes important adjustments to
provide better fit and comfort, which encourages your child to wear the seat
belt properly. A booster car seat raises your child so the car's lap belt goes
over his pelvis and hips, not his abdomen. In addition, many boosters provide
an adjustment clip to ensure that the shoulder belt does not cross your child's
face or neck. (If the shoulder strap crossed his neck or face, your child might
be tempted to move it out of position, which could be dangerous in the event of
Many states have laws that require children older than 4
and/or weighing more than 40 pounds to be in a child car seat. Click here to
see your state's child car seat laws.