Car Seats for Newbies: The Convertible Seat

By Nikki M

One of the most important purchases you’ll make for the new baby is your car seat. In fact, it’s the only one you absolutely need to get your newborn home from the hospital. There are a ton of wonderful options. But you first need to ask yourself the all-important question: infant carrier or a convertible car seat? Here's everything you need to know about the convertible car seat.

So you've decided that an infant carrier seat is not for you. Maybe you like the look of an actual seat. Perhaps you find convertible seats sturdier-looking. Maybe you've dropped a lot of cash on a stroller with a bassinet, and you'd actually like to use it. Or maybe, you're just practical and don't want to invest in something you'll only use for a year (or less).

Convertible car seats are a bit more bang for your buck. These seats can be used rear-facing for the first year, and then forward-facing during the toddler years and beyond (some can accommodate up to 80 lbs!). They attach via LATCH or seatbelt, and are stationary once you install them. Some come with convenient features like cup holders and handles.

The Upsides

  • Long-term use: You will be getting about 7 years of use out of these, from when the kids are newborns until they are school-aged. In contrast, infant seats are only useable for a year or less.
  • Better value: Although convertible seats are initially more expensive than infant seats, it pays off in the long run because of the extended use. If you're looking at cost per year, a $400 convertible seat would only cost around $57/year for 7 years of daily use!
  • Added conveniences: Cup holders might seem like a frivolous add on, but you'll see how important it is early on! You'll need a place handy for milk bottles, as well as for water. Think how convenient your car’s coffee cup holder is for you!
  • Upright seats: Once your baby sits upright, she’ll really start to appreciate the view and enjoy car rides. You'll marvel at how observant young kids can be.
  • Works with older cars: Because you can install these via LATCH or with regular vehicle seat belts, you're good to go in your pre-year 2000 car.

The Downsides

  • Bulky: Most convertible seats are quite large, which can be a problem for compact cars. It will be near impossible to fit two car seats and an extra passenger in the back, or three car seats in a row.
  • Not the best for smaller babies: While convertible seats can accommodate tiny newborns, you'll see that it won't really recline to a position that looks super comfy. Some safety belts and harnesses will sit awkwardly high and look like they have a lot of slack. Until babies get big enough, they'll just look like they're slouching in these seats.
  • Disrupts baby's sleep: In the beginning, you want your baby to sleep as much as possible. But if you're constantly taking him in and out of his car seat, he'll surely be waking up, cranky to boot. (On the flip side, getting him used to this will train him to not be such a light sleeper and snooze through less-than-ideal settings.)
Clockwise from top left: Britax Boulevard, Clek Foonf, Combi Coccoro, Maxi-Cosi Pria, Diono Radian*


Our Favorites

Britax Boulevard

Britax is the king of car seats, engineering their products with the child's safety as the main priority. Safety features include Safe Cell Technology (designed to compress in a crash to counteract forward-rotation of the child's seat), HUGS (prevents forward head movement and keeps chest clip properly positioned), integrated steel bars, and an energy-absorbing versa-tether (anchors the top of the seat, and stage-released to slow the forward movement). These are even certified for aircraft travel.

Clek Foonf

The Foonf convertible seat is stunning and modern– but don’t let its good looks fool you. With features like extended rear-facing installation, advanced side impact protection, a rigid sub-structure of steel and magnesium, an anti-rebound bar, this seat’s utmost priority is your child’s safety. Comfort-wise, you’ll love the smooth recline, stain and moisture-proof Crypton fabrics, and cozy infant insert.

Combi Coccoro Convertible Car Seat

These convertible seats are cute, colorful, and compact, making them perfect for smaller cars. These come with a "mommy's lap" insert for smaller babies, and can accommodate children up to 40 lbs. when forward-facing. Get it in Key Lime Green!

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70

This seat comes with Air Protect technology to protect both the head and the torso. The headrest and harness can easily be adjusted without rethreading. It comes with cup holders to keep drinks within reach. Can accommodate kids up to 70 lbs. "Sweet cerise" is a gorgeous color.

Are you leaning toward an infant seat or a convertible seat? Share your product recommendations in the comments below!

*Diono carseats have been recalled nationwide

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Tags : baby gear   car seats   

Maya Slavin
The Maxi Cosi Pria looks so cute with those stripes!