If you have a new-born baby, you must be wondering how to choose the perfect car seat for your child. You would want the child to be safe and comfortable, while you also need to think about cost and convenience.
Most often, parents are confused while picking between an infant car seat vs. a convertible car seat. While each of these has its pros and cons, some factors are more significant than others.
No worries! In this article, I will provide you an insight into the topic so that you can take your decision wisely.
Infant Car Seat Vs. Convertible
Before going to the comparison, I would like to introduce you to each type of car seats as well as their pros and cons. Once you understand the differences, it will be easier to consider the decisive factors for purchase.
Why Go with Infant Car Seat?
You might be asking yourself whether you should opt for an infant carrier or a convertible seat. Both are viable options for an infant, but you may want to go with an infant carrier for a variety of reasons.
It Constructed & Designed For Infants
As the name states, an infant car seat is specifically designed for infants and young children. Infant seats are made with the correct incline to keep an infant’s airways open and create less stress when installing because they’re already at the right angle.
Also, the carrier part is attached to a base that stays installed in your car. You can easily snap in or remove the carrier, which makes carrying your baby very convenient.
This type of car seat is always rear-facing in the car to ensure maximum safety. The design of this seat is bucket-style so that developing infants can be well supported.
A deeper shell means better side impact protection. Infant seats have a deeper shell and infant support cushions to keep them safer in the event of a crash.
They’re convenient for strollers. Infant seats can clip right onto a stroller while convertible seats cannot. This is nice for when your baby is a newborn and they aren’t big enough to sit in the regular stroller seat.
How Long Can You Use Infant Car Seat?
You can use this seat from the birth of your child till the child grows to the maximum height or weight limit. Typically the height limit can be up to 32″, whereas the weight limit may range 4-35 lbs.
The height and weight ranges may vary depending on the make and model of the car seat. However, on average, an infant car seat can fit the child until 1-2 years of age.
Furthermore, many infant seats are specifically designed for preemies, which convertibles aren’t. Therefore, it’s our recommendation to purchase an infant seat as baby’s 1st seat and later on change to convertible or all-in-one seats.
Pros of Infant Car Seats
An infant car seat can provide your baby the maximum protection through multiple advanced safety mechanisms. Some of such features include the five-point harness, latch system, side-impact prevention, etc.
Compared to other types, an infant car seat is unmatched in terms of reliability. For instance, sideways protection is an exclusive feature in infant car seats.
Lightweight and Portability
The infant car seats are manufactured to be lightweight, without compromising the safety concern. Because of the lightweight, they have excellent portability. As I already mentioned how easy it is to install and remove the carrier, there is more to offer!
You will find the portable seat to be extremely handy because of the handlebar and its overall ergonomic design. As a result, you can easily lift and carry the baby inside the car seat carrier. You don’t want to wake your sleeping baby while taking them out of the car? An infant car seat will be your best friend!
You can simply unclip the carrier from the car and equip it in a stroller. With this feature, you can move your baby anywhere without any hassle. Besides, most infant car seats are also FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved! That means the seat is compatible to be equipped on an aircraft seat.
Cons of Infant Car Seats
There are a few drawbacks of the infant car seat as well-
Short Span of Usability
As I mentioned before, an infant car seat will fit your child until a certain height/weight limit. Typically the maximum usability of such car seats can be up to two years. As your child will be growing, the seat will not be fit for them anymore and you have to buy a convertible one.
Cost over time
Considering the short span of usability, some parents may find the cost to be relatively high. Particularly because you need to invest in another car seat within two years. This is one of the major con sides of the infant car seat.
Infant car seats incorporate sufficient foaming for safety, however it does not come with a frame. Hence, its capability to withstand an impact force or pressure may not be too high.
Convertible Car Seat
A convertible car seat is designed in such a way that it can be adapted with the baby’s growth. Thus it can last from the new-born to toddler years of the baby. When the baby grows into a toddler, the seat can be flipped from a rear-facing to forward-facing one.
Typically, for rear-facing, the weight limit can range from 5-40 lbs. For forward-facing, the weight and height limit can be up to 80 lbs. and 49″ respectively. On average, they can last up to six years of the child’s age, i.e. your kid’s preschool years and beyond.
Pros of Convertible Car Seats
Now have a look at the advantages of a convertible car seat –
One of the best features of a convertible car seat is its ability to switch from rear-facing position to forward-facing position and vice versa. That is the reason it can accommodate a baby as well as a toddler while ensuring their safety.
Longer Span of Usability
These seats can provide you with usability of at least four years to up to six years. Because of the wide range of weight capacity and higher height capacity, you don’t need to worry about investing in a new car seat too soon.
As a perk of their lasting usability, they are popular to be cost-effective over time. Parents for whom budget is a concern, sometimes consider skipping the infant car seat phase and getting a convertible one.
A Convertible seat comes with a steel or aluminum frame that makes the seat very strong and durable. As a result, they can withstand greater impact force.
Cons of Convertible Car Seats
Convertible seats can also have a bunch of disadvantages, as following:
Heavy-weight and Lack of Portability
Convertible car sear is a complete unit and has no detachable base. It uses a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system or the car seatbelt for direct installation into your car. Therefore the seat becomes quite heavy and bulky. The seat is not suitable for portability. Once installed, it is not very simple to remove from the car.
Inaccuracy in Weight Limit
Although the wide weight range can seem convincing, it is not always accurate, particularly for infant babies. It may happen that the seat is not fitting well for a newborn baby, causing discomfort and risk.
Incompatibility with strollers
Due to the bulkiness and size, convertible car seats are not compatible to be attached to a stroller. So if your baby is sleeping in the car seat, there is always a chance to wake them up while taking out of the car.
Although some of the convertible car seats are FAA certified, it is not very common. Hence, you may not be able to carry these seats in an aircraft.
You may have already got an idea of how the two car seats differ in features. Now, from a comparative view, I will clear things out in the following table:
|Features||Infant Car Seat||Convertible Car Seat|
|Installation & Removal||Quite easy with a detachable base. You can clip and unclip the carrier as needed.||Once installed, this car seat works as a permanent attachment for the car. So, it is not easy to remove.|
|Seating position||Rear-facing position.||Both rear-facing & front-facing.|
|Span of Usability||Maximum 2 years.||Up to 6 years.|
|Portability||Very easy with lightweight and compact size.||Not convenient due to the heavyweight and size of the seat.|
|Stroller compatibility||Most seats are compatible.||Not compatible.|
|Safety and comfort||More comfortable and safe for infants, as the bucket style is specifically designed for them.||While safe, sometimes the newborns may not be comfortable with the style of seat.|
|Cost-effectiveness||Low; need to reinvest for a convertible after 2 years.||High; this is a long-term investment.|
Final Verdict: Which One Should You Get?
There is actually no absolute right or wrong answer to it. It really depends on your preference and budget. The most important thing is to ensure the safety of the baby. In that aspect, both seats are pretty comparable.
However, many people believe that infant car seats offer better comfort to the baby because of the specific style of the seat. If portability and convenience are your primary concerns, you should definitely go for the infant car seat. In fact, most parents choose infant seats for their newborn babies considering the convenience aspect.
You can easily install them in a friend’s car or rideshares, and it allows you to carry your child while running errands. Moreover, you can store the infant seats indoors, keeping them at a comfortable temperature.
On the other hand, some parents choose to skip the infant car seat and use a convertible car seat from the beginning. There are two key reasons- the longer life span of the car seat and saving money in the long run.
If any of these is your primary concern, you can select a convertible instead of an infant car seat. Keep in mind that the child’s seat must be rear-facing for the first year, and then you should go for the front-facing option.
As long as your baby is safe and comfortable, you can always choose the option that best works for you. I hope this article will help you make an educated decision while purchasing a car seat for your baby. I wish you good health and all the very best!