When it’s the time to purchase or upgrade your car seat you might find yourself asking “Do I need a convertible car seat or an all-in-one? What’s the difference anyway?” As parents, we know the feeling!
That’s why we’ve put together this super handy and simple guide to help you learn what to look for in a convertible car seat. Whether you’re an expecting or new parent, a caregiver, grandparent or you’re in the market for something new this guide will be sure to help! Let’s start with the basics.
What’s the difference between an all-in-one convertible car seat and a convertible car seat?
An easy way to remember is that a convertible car seat quite literally converts, this means it travels both rear and forward-facing and is suitable for your child from birth up to around 4-6 years of age depending on the manufacturer, others may last even longer! Convertible car seats are a great cost-effective solution as they mean you only need to purchase one car seat for your child to travel from infant to toddler.
All-in-one car seats however are exactly what they say they are: a combination of all car seat modes in one! What this means is they are suitable for travel both rear and forward-facing, just like a convertible, however, they are also designed for use as a booster seat. What’s the benefit of this? You get even longer from your car seat.
What are the key things to consider when purchasing a convertible car seat or all-in-one convertible car seat?
Use this simple checklist to identify the features that are most recommended and considered the most important not only by Diono but leading child passenger safety experts such as NHTSA and AAP.
Most car seats are compatible with LATCH but you’ll notice that different manufacturers have created their own modifications to enable easier installation. LATCH stands for Low Anchors and Tethers for Children and is a device in the car that you attach your car seat to and means it is safe to use without a seatbelt. *Top tip! Remember to check your vehicle for LATCH before purchasing your car seat otherwise, you will need a car seat that installs with a seatbelt.
This means the type of harness/buckle system used. For example, Diono uses a 5-point harness (two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and an extra strap that goes between the legs and meets in the middle). This is important as it will determine how securely your passenger is buckled into their seat.
*Top tip! Check if the straps will need to be rethreaded as your child grows or if they are easily adjusted by handles or cords.
Although this is not legally required it is a great indication that there is additional, enhanced care and protection for your child’s head and neck. Side impact protection is usually determined by the materials used and could either be reinforced steel or a combination of layers, commonly made from energy-absorbing foam.
*Top tip! Benefits of side impact protection also include adjustable headrests and/or side wings. That means more room to grow!
Trust us, traveling with an uncomfortable child is not easy! You’ll want to make sure your Very Important Passenger is not only safe and secure but also comfortable throughout their journey from their first to their last. Look out for the seat base design. Also, consider the internal seat capacity to make sure there’s room to grow, and if the headrest is adjustable, to what height limit.
These are must-have features if you’re looking to get the absolute most for your money.
Longevity – check the lifespan of your seat
If it is only suitable for up to 4 years you might have to buy up to three seats up to booster stages. Suitable from birth – infant car seats are a whole other model but you can pass this stage and buy a car seat that is designed for use as an infant car seat.
Rear-facing – how long can your child travel rear-facing?
Child Passenger Safety Experts recommend up to age 3 minimum.
Easy remove covers – kiddos are messy, fact!
Look out for a car seat that has easy removal and machine wash covers so you can keep them fresher for longer, especially if your car seat is suitable for up to 10 years.
Put it this way, if the car seat says it is suitable for newborn passengers then you want to know what actual additional protection features it has.