Car Seats After Infant Carseat

Updated on September 05, 2010
M.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN
14 answers

Hi, Our 10 mo (soon to be 11 mo) old son is growing out of his infant car seat and we're looking for a next one. However, I'm a bit confused. After the infant car seat, do we move on to a "convertible" car seat? Why are these car seats named "convertible"? Do they serve two functions? Or does it mean it can serve as an infant car seat and a toddler car seat, and if we used a separate infant car seat, we'll be wasting money on one function that we will not use? If that's the case, is there another kind of car seats that starts at where he is now (when babies grow out of their infant car seats - let's say 20lb and on)?

We'd like him to be able to use the next car seat as long as he can (although we don't want it to be too bulky either). Any recommendations? We have not weighed him since his 9 mo. check up, but he must be about 20 lb or a bit more.

Another question: We now have two infant car seat bases, one each for my husband's and my cars. I drop our son off at day care in the morning and my husband picks him up - we leave the car seat at day care. With the next car seat, do they sell separate bases, or do people buy two car seats, one for mom and one for dad, or do people have to re-strap car seats into cars all the time?

I appreciate your advice. Thank you!

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answers from Detroit on

I would also recommend Britax. We have another brand as well and don't like it nearly as much! Look at it this way, he will probably use this car seat for at least the next 4 years and what other "kid" thing lasts that long? It is worth the investment if you can swing it. We did the one car seat for a long time(which can be a pain)... Then ended up getting a cheaper one, and I've regretted not getting another Britax!

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answers from Los Angeles on

A convertible car seat means that it can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing. Since your son is not yet one year AND 20 pounds, you'll need to have a convertible seat so you can keep him rear-facing longer (AAP now recommends keeping them rear-facing as long as possible).

Britax seats typically have the highest ratings and seem to the be the most popular, though they are pretty expensive. If you are looking for one that will last a long time, look into either the Britax Marathon or the Britax Boulevard. Both seats have a maximum weight of 65 lbs, so they will last a long time. My son is 3 and he's a big kid (tall and 40 lbs) and he still has plenty of room in his Marathon.

Convertible seats do not come with bases and don't just snap in and out the way an infant seat does. You either have to buy two seats (which is what I recommend) or strap it in and out every single day, which is not as easy to do with a convertible as it is with an infant seat.

If you want other brands to consider, people like the Sunshine Radian and the Recaro brands. I stick to Britax though.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Personally, I love sunshine kids radian series. We had two of them for my son (one in each car) and just bought the third one for my daughter. It's slim in profile but very sturdy and heavy!!

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answers from Seattle on

Good advice so far, we used our britax marathon backward until our daughters were almost two, and it is now forward facing up to 65lbs. That is one of the highest limits you will find, many only go to 40lbs, so you will likely have to buy two seats before a booster, so keep that in mind if you think the britax is expensive.

I too will never buy another brand because of their high safety ratings. We were in a fatality accident when my daughter was in one and she was fine. She is now in the britax frontier booster seat because our youngest is in the marathon. They are comfortable, safe, and easy to clean and install. We have no problems moving it from car to car with the latch system. There are good deals at and you can also often find new in box seats on eBay with free shipping. Babies r us and similar stores often let you compare seats side by side. Safety is worth spending money on...Happy car seat shopping!

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answers from San Francisco on


They are called convertible because you can use them from beginning til a certain age and weight and then you can turn the carseat around and use it forward facing also. Some even have the capacity to turn into a booster--for the child later on. This carseat stays in the car- it is not removeable the like infant one with detachable base.

Please keep baby rear facing for at least 1 year and 20 lbs. It must be both-- Keep him rear facing for as long as you can~As far as buying two carseats, yes you need to do that unless you are willing to take it out of the car each time you need to have someone else drive with the baby.

Good luck.


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answers from Minneapolis on

Look at the manual for your existing seat to find the weight/height requirements. Often children at that age out grow the seat due to height before weight so watch this carefully. We then got 2 Britax convertible seats for our cars and kept her rear facing for another few months before turning it forward. Britax is the best in terms of safety and very easy to install.

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answers from Dover on

There are two types of convertible carseats. One (the most popular) is the one that is for rear facing infants and forward facing toddlers (up to 35-40 lbs)...some of these also convert to booster seats for your preschooler over 40 lbs. The second is a 5 pt harness booster that converts to a regular booster for the old child that is not quite ready to go without the booster safely but is too big for the harness. Only the infant seats have the stationary bases so yes, you will need one for each vehicle or you will have to take it in and out.


answers from Minneapolis on

A convertible car seat is a rear facing seat for infants and toddlers (up to 35-45lbs) and a forward facing car seat for preschoolers (up to 40-80lbs depending on model). Look for a car seat that has at least 35lbs rear facing and at least 50-65lbs forward facing. Avoid the Alpha Omega 3-in-1 seats, they are ok seats but are outgrown fast ad make awful booster seats, you will waste your money. For less you cna find a better seat. Graco Myride65, Evenflo Triumph Advance, Britax Marathon, Britax Roundabout 50, Sunshine Kids Radian are all excellent seats that will hold your child for many years in the harness.

You will want two car seats, especially if pick up and drop off is every day... you will tire quickly of changing the seat. Plus you want a good install and keep it, buy two car seats, one for each car, install them REAR FACING and you will be much happier.

Please google EXTENDED REAR FACING and JOEL'S JOURNEY for more information on why you should keep your child rear facing to the AAP's recommendation of 2yrs and 30lbs or beyond.



answers from Eugene on

Yes the convertible have two functions. Rear and forward facing some even go into boosters. Our state law a child has to be rear until one. 5 point until 40 pounds, booster until 8. It is a lot stricter than some states. For safety "they" recommend rear and 5 point as long as possible, and booster until
4' 9". So check the limits on the car seat when buying it. The Envenflo Symphony65 is a 5 point until 65 lbs, I have that seat before it was upgraded and like it. I choose it for the side impact protection. Every comfortable and easy to install. Have fun shopping!!



answers from San Francisco on

Since he is not even one yet he still needs to be rear facing so you have to get a convertible car seat (goes backwards in the car or forwards). Get one with as high a rear facing weight limit as you can, and keep him rear facing in the convertible seat until he reaches the weight limit/height limit (even if he is older than one). Then you switch the seat to forward facing! (we have the britax boulevard convertible seat and love it).



answers from Columbia on

I know theyre not cheap but i bought my daughter the "my ride 65" by graco. its an amazing carseat, kinda bulky but she LOVES it and it holds up to either 55-65 lbs. my daughter grew out of her infant seat at about 3 months so i had to get her that one and i felt very comfortable putting her in it. of course at 8 months she decided she was no longer going to sit rear facing, she can push off the back seat and i dont feel safe with her doing that.



answers from Grand Rapids on

i purchased a graco convertible car seat, that is rated up to 100 lbs. we purchased this one, after an accident and we love the seat. it is good all the way until our daughter is out of car seats and boosters. This is the one we purchased.



answers from Kansas City on

I agree with going ahead and getting 2 car seats. It's not very safe or time friendly to be reinstalling the car seat 2X/day. I am a big proponent of having the seats installed by a certified car seat installer (firefighters) because they do such an amazing job! I know my seats are totally secure! We purchased the Evenflo Triumph (pretty sure on the name) and we love it! We have the Cosco Alpha Omega Elite (which is rated just as high as the Britax) for my daughter and we like it okay, but I like the Evenflo better for one reason...the turning crank handle to adjust the straps. After we got this, we considered getting one for my daughter too because it is so easy! This is the main reason I recommend that seat. With the pull rope in the middle, the straps get all uneven and sometimes it's just a pain to deal with it, but not with the crank it!!! If you sign up for the Babies R Us coupons, they usually have one with a deal on carseats, so at least that's a way to cut the cost a tiny bit!



answers from Atlanta on

Convertible car seat means it can go rear facing and foward facing. This is the car seat you will need because your baby does not yet mean the 1 year and 20 lb bare minimum (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 2 years before turning them forwad facing, and with many car seats you can go until 3 or 4 rear facing). Rear facing is by far the safer way of travel.

You will probably want 2 car seats because installing and uninstalling every day will be a huge hassle. The britax seats are nice and user friendly, but there are quite a few cheaper options that are great now (graco myride, True fit, complete air, etc). As long as you buy a larger convertible seat (one that's rated to 60+ lbs and has a tall shell) it should get you to booster seat age.

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