A convertible seat can be used rear-facing for infants and young toddlers, and forward-facing for older toddlers. Generally they are rated for use from 5 to 22-35 pounds in the rear-facing position, and 20-22 to 40 pounds in the forward-facing position. Some seats on the market even go up to 65 pounds. Safety experts recommend using a seat with a five-point harness, which has five points of contact over the child’s hips and chest – the strongest parts of their body.
It is recommended that babies ride rear-facing until at least their second birthday and as long as possible. Why is rear-facing so important? It protects a child’s head, neck and spine during a crash, as demonstrated in the crash-test video below..
Toddlers and preschoolers ride in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until the child is at least 40 pounds or until they reach the seat’s height and weight limit, as stated on the seat’s label.
A combination seat is used as a harnessed seat forward-facing for a child up to 40 pounds, and as a belt positioning booster with the vehicle’s lap/shoulder belt for older children up to 80-100 pounds. It is often called a high-back booster.
It is considered best practice to keep your child in a five-point harness as long as your particular car seat allows or until the seat expires. A five-point harness distributes crash forces over the child’s body, which can reduce injury.
Certified child passenger safety technicians are also available to help you. Click here for more information.