Types Of Car Seats

Infant-only seats go by many names.  You might hear them called rear-facing only, infant seats, bucket seats or carrier seats.  These seats are distinguished by  their ability to be carried while the base remains in the car.  While there are always some outliers in any group the vast majority of these seats can be used with children weighing around 5 pounds on up to 30 or even 35 pounds.

Infant

Infant-only seats go by many names. You might hear them called rear-facing only, infant seats, bucket seats or carrier seats. These seats are distinguished by their ability to be carried while the base remains in the car. While there are always some outliers in any group the vast majority of these seats can be used with children weighing around 5 pounds on up to 30 or even 35 pounds.
Convertible car seats can be used BOTH rear-facing and forward-facing, so convertible isn't just a clever name.  These seats are distinguished by two distinct belt paths for installation, one for forward-facing, one for rear.  These seats are popular choices as many are able to accommodate children weight as little as 5 pounds on up to kiddos weight 65 pounds.

Convertible

Convertible car seats can be used BOTH rear-facing and forward-facing, so convertible isn’t just a clever name. These seats are distinguished by two distinct belt paths for installation, one for forward-facing, one for rear. These seats are popular choices as many are able to accommodate children weight as little as 5 pounds on up to kiddos weight 65 pounds.
Combo, short for combination car seats, sometimes referred to as harnessed boosters. like a convertible, does double duty.  It starts out as a forward-facing harness seat then as the child grows it becomes a booster seat.  Combination seats have one belt path and are generally able to accommodate children in harness mode up to 50 or 65 pounds, and up to  110 in booster mode.

Combo

Combo, short for combination car seats, sometimes referred to as harnessed boosters. like a convertible, does double duty. It starts out as a forward-facing harness seat then as the child grows it becomes a booster seat. Combination seats have one belt path and are generally able to accommodate children in harness mode up to 50 or 65 pounds, and up to 110 in booster mode.
All in one's are a relativly new class of seats in the market.  These seats go by many different nemes: all-in-ones, four-in-ones, three-in ones, foevers etc.  Thse seats combine the convertible car seat with the comvonation car seat.  This means that one seat is capble of rear-facing, forward-facing AND boostering.  While these seats cost a bit more upfront, many parents see the value in being able to purchase just one seat for their child instead of two or even three different seats.  Since these seats essentially do it all, they generally can be used rear facing from 5 to 40 pounds, forward facing with a harness up to 65 pounds and as a belt positioning booster seat until 110 pounds.

All-In-One

All in one’s are a relativly new class of seats in the market. These seats go by many different nemes: all-in-ones, four-in-ones, three-in ones, foevers etc. Thse seats combine the convertible car seat with the comvonation car seat. This means that one seat is capble of rear-facing, forward-facing AND boostering. While these seats cost a bit more upfront, many parents see the value in being able to purchase just one seat for their child instead of two or even three different seats. Since these seats essentially do it all, they generally can be used rear facing from 5 to 40 pounds, forward facing with a harness up to 65 pounds and as a belt positioning booster seat until 110 pounds.
No clever name here, booster seats do just what they say, they boost.  While car manufacturers are doing a much better job these days making seatbelt systems in their cars safer and easier to use for a wide variety of people, they just don't fit a 48 inch child well.  Enter the booster seat, or as we like to call it, a glorified phone book.  While every other type of seat we've talked about is a sophisticated piece of equipment designed to work with your automobile to transfer crash forces away from your child, the booster seat's function is simply to position your child properly so the seatbelt system in your car can function safely and effectively, and used properly it's very effective!

Booster

No clever name here, booster seats do just what they say, they boost. While car manufacturers are doing a much better job these days making seatbelt systems in their cars safer and easier to use for a wide variety of people, they just don’t fit a 48 inch child well. Enter the booster seat, or as we like to call it, a glorified phone book. While every other type of seat we’ve talked about is a sophisticated piece of equipment designed to work with your automobile to transfer crash forces away from your child, the booster seat’s function is simply to position your child properly so the seatbelt system in your car can function safely and effectively, and used properly it’s very effective!
confused-man

How Do I Pick The Right Seat?

There’s a lot that goes into selecting the right car seat for you and your child.  It can certainly seem like a daunting task at first when you are bombarded with information from any number of sources; friends, family, advertisements, social media websites, bloggers, vloggers and occasionally even cloggers.  So, where do you start?  

A Good Place To Start

We feel like a good place to start is at the beginning.  Makes sense, right?  First things first, let’s talk about how we as CPSTs come up with the recommendation we pass onto families.  Safe Start’s North Idaho Child Passenger Safety Team always relies on the recommendations from both the National Highway Transporation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) when we’re helping families.  

Current Recommendations

Both the NHTSA’s and AAP’s recommendations are almost identical and include the following:

  1.  Children ride rear-facing as long as possible until they exceed the maximum height or weight of their seat.
  2.  Once a child exceeds the maximum height or weight of their rear-facing seat they ride forward-facing with a harness until they exceed the maximum height OR weight of their forward-facing harness seat.
  3.  Once a child exceeds the maximum height or weight of their forward-facing harness seat they ride in a belt position booster seat until they reach the maximum height OR weight of the booster seat or they can achieve proper seat belt fit without a booster, usually around 4’9″.  What is a proper seat belt fit?  CLICK HERE for a great, quick video that shows how to check for the proper belt fit. 

OK, I Got All That, Now Help Me Choose A Seat

So now that you understand what we as CPST’s do and where we get our recommendations that we pass on to parents, it’s time to select that perfect seat for your child.  For this, we only need three things: your child’s current height, current weight and our very own, proprietary, high-tech Car Seat Select-O-Matic.  

The Select-O-Matic makes it easy to identify the options that might be appropriate for your child.  The Select-O-Matic is incredibly easy to use, simply find your child’s current age on the left side and read across to see what seat option might work for your child.  There are 3 categories: great choice, maybe and bad choice.  We recommend looking at the seats that have a ‘great choice” rating to begin with. 

Now kids are like pizza, there’s really not one standard pizza.  Some are bigger, smaller, longer, taller, thicker and on and on.  If for some reason the seats labeled “great choice” don’t work for your kiddo then it’s time to look into seats with a maybe rating.  You should be able to find something that works for your child in the “great choice” or “maybe” category, if you can’t, then you have a unique situation on your hands.  If that’s the case it’s time to contact us and come in for a car seat check, we can help you make the best, safest choice for your child in a situation like this.  Heck, that’s what we’re trained for and something we really enjoy doing! 

Once you’ve identified the seat type you’re going to look at first, continue on down past the Select-O-Matic where you’ll see a graphic that lists the types of seats with the general height and weight that each type can accommodate.  Keep in mind that all car seats are different so some might have a height or weight limit that lies outside of those listed in the graphic.  The graphic is simply a visual illustration of the approximate height and weight that each type of seat can accommodate.  When you do select a seat make sure you verify the actual height and weight limits of that seat.  

 

select-o-matic-workup
0-12 Months

0-12 Months

1-3 Years

1-3 Years

3-5 Years

3-5 Years

5-7 Years

5-7 Years

7 And Up

7 And Up

Infant Only

Infant Only

Great Choice!

Great Choice!

Watch child’s weight

Bad Choice!

Bad Choice!

Bad Choice!

Rear Facing Convertible

Rear Facing Convertible

Great Choice!

Great Choice!

Great Choice!

RF as long as possible

Maybe

RF if possible

Bad Choice!

Forward Facing Convertible

Forward Facing Convertible

Bad Choice!

Maybe

RF as long as possible

Great Choice!

RF as long as possible

Great Choice!

RF as long as possible

Bad Choice!

Combo Seat

Combo Seat

Bad Choice!

Maybe

RF as long as possible

Great Choice!

RF as long as possible

Great Choice!

RF as long as possible

Great Choice!

Booster

Booster

Bad Choice!

Bad Choice!

Maybe

Harness if possible

Great Choice!

Harness if possible

Great Choice!

seat-selection-graphic-workup-raw

Congratulations!

If you got to this message you worked through our seat selection tool and you should have a great idea of the type of seat that you want.  If you didn’t work through our seat selection tool and you’re still here you’re a big fat cheater!  Keep in mind as you begin to shop for a seat that we want to keep kids in each Safety Step as long as possible.  So, if your child weighs 30 pounds, while Step 2, forward-facing with a harness is a safe choice, we want to keep them in Step 1, rear-facing as long as possible.  We’re not saying that Safety Steps 2 and 3 are unsafe, we’re just saying that Safety Step 1 is safer than Safety Step 2 and 3 and that Safety Step 2 is safer than Safety Step 3.  

Let’s Get Down To Brass Tacks And Pick That Perfect Seat!

You’ve put some time in to make it all the way down to here, and here’s where it all pays off.  Here’s where we tell you that if your child is in Safety Step 1 the perfect seat for you to buy is model x by manufacturer z.  Well, about that.  We as CPST try not to recommend specific seats, what we do is help you find that perfect type of seat for your child and then let you decide what’s best for you and your child.  WHAT!

Picking that perfect car seat is a personal choice, we’re just here to guide you in the right direction.  Everyone’s different and likes different things, so we want you to pick that seat that you like, with the features you want and will use correctly every time.  Everyone’s preferences are different and just because we might happen to really like the lock-off on Chicco KeyFit 30, you might not.  What we can do is answer any question you might have about specific features of seats, the installation and ease of use and just about any other question you can think of to help you pick that seat that’s just right for you.  

Come In For A Pre-Purchase Consult

We highly recommend scheduling a pre-purchase consultation appointment with our team.  These appointments last about 45 minutes and give you the opportunity to spend time with one of our CPSTs one on one and to touch, install, inspect, use and explore many different seats on the market in the category you’re interested in.  We currently have over 50 seats at our office that you can look at and use.  This is a great opportunity to get all your questions answered and figure out the answer to questions that have haunted mankind for thousands of years:  Do you want a lock-off on your seat?  Do you like Chicco or Graco’s lock-off better?  What the heck is a load leg and do I want one?  How heavy is an Evenflo Suride compared to a Safety First Guide 65?  Do I prefer to install with a seatbelt or anchors?  You can figure out the answers to all the questions and more with one of our CPSTs as your personal guide.  Are you ready for the best part?  It’s totally free!  Click the button below to request a pre-purchase consult and we’ll get you in ASAP!