#childsafety | Best Car Seat Buying Guide

The next step after outgrowing an infant seat, is a convertible seat, which should be purchased no later than your child’s first birthday. It can be installed rear- or forward-facing.

The harness system, similar to an infant car seat’s, has a higher rear-facing weight limit. This means kids can ride rear-facing longer, which CR and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend as the safest option.

It must be installed rear-facing for children younger than 1 and weighing less than 20 lbs. These seats can be used rear-facing up to 40 to 50 lbs. (depending on the seat). Some manufacturers allow forward-facing after age 1, but CR recommends rear-facing up to the rear-facing limits of the seat. In some states (CA, CT, DC, IL, LA, ME, NE, NJ, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, VA, WA), children younger than 2 years must ride this way. When your child is ready, the seat can be turned around and used forward-facing until it’s time for a booster seat.

Many can hold children as heavy as 65 lbs. Although the minimum weight limit allows for newborns and smaller infants, this type of seat often doesn’t provide the best fit for smaller babies or the convenience of a detachable carrier.

Price range: $40 to $450

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