Cars are made differently these days and we drive faster than before with more vehicles on the road. Plus, vehicles are full of air bags everywhere. Car seats not only protect your child from the forces of an impact, they also protect from the safety devices in the car, such as airbags, that are designs for adults. Going by the car seat height and weight limits instead of personal wants ensures the MAXIMUM protection possible for your child.
Two questions are asked when it comes to "switching"
1. When do I switch to forward facing?
2. When do I switch/upgrade to another car seat?
Let's address each question individually as there are many components to those answers.
Q: When do I switch to forward facing?
A: At the MAXIMUM HEIGHT or WEIGHT LIMIT your car seat for rear-facing mode.
-Young children are not physiologically developed enough to safely withstand a front impact.
- Their heads are too big for their neck muscles
- Sitting rear-facing protects their head, neck and spine
-There is no magic age that means it's time to switch - feet touching is a MYTH
-Seat limits generally range from 40-60lbs; most car seats are 40lbs
-40lbs is about the size of an average 4 or 5 year-old
- When switching a 4-5 year old (or any child) foward facing, they need to be put in a
car seat with a harness. NOT straight to a booster seat and seat belt.
- Children this young are still not developed enough yet for a seat belt.
-Kids are flexible. They can fold their legs criss-cross-applesauce or rest them on the seat.
- Folding legs won't harm them one bit. It's easier to fix a broken leg than a broken
neck or spine.
Q: When do I switch/upgrade to another car seat?
A: When the child has reach the maximum HEIGHT or WEIGHT limit for their current
- Find out what the height AND weight limits are for your current car seat
- The limit your child reaches FIRST is when it is time to upgrade
- Most infants will generally outgrow their infant seats between 6-12 months
- Upgrading from convertible/booster with harness to booster seat using a seat belt
happens between 6-8 years old depending on the child's size and the limits of your
current convertible car seat/harness weight limit in booster seat
Examples of when it's time to upgrade:
Infant > Convertible
- 11 month old infant who weighs 25 lbs and is 31 inches tall
- Current infant car seat has a weight limit of 35lbs and height limit of 30 inches
Child needs to be upgraded to a convertible car seat because the height limit has been reached, even though the weight limit has not
Convertible > Booster with Harness
- 4 year old who weighs 41 lbs and is 36 inches tall
- Current convertible car seat has weight limit of 40lbs and height limit of 37 inches
Child needs to be upgraded to a larger convertible car seat or high back booster seat with harness because the weight limit has been reached, even though the height limit has not
Booster with Harness > Booster with Seat Belt
- 7 year old who weighs 68 lbs and is 55 inches tall
- Current booster seat using harness has harness weight limit of 65lbs, overall maximum weight of
100lbs and height limit of 57 inches
Harness needs to be removed from booster seat and seat belt used with belt position device on car seat because the weight limit for the harness has been reached, even though the overall height and weight limit has not been reached.
Booster with Seat Belt > Seat Belt Only
- 10 year old who weighs 110 lbs and is 56 inches tall
- Current booster seat using seat belt has weight limit of 100lbs and height limit of 57 inches
The maximum weight limit of the booster seat has been reached even though the height limit has not.
The child may use the seat belt only as long as the lap portion sits over the hip bones and the shoulder portion sits in the middle of the collar bone and does not rub on the neck. No neck cushions or devices should be used with a seatbelt.
It us unnecessary to spend a large amount of money on an infant car seat as it will only be used for a year or less. Instead, spend the money on a good convertible seat or all-in-one/3-in-1 that will last several years until it's time for a booster seat or has a booster seat conversion built in (usually between 5-7 years old depending on child's size).
Tiny Humans provides hands-on instruction for correct use, placement, and installation of car seats by Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians. We also teach CPR, First Aid and other child safety classes.
Tiny Humans LLC
Clarksville, TN 37042