Baby Car Seat Buying Guide
You have a choice of two types of car seat for your baby: an infant car seat or a convertible car seat.
A rear-facing infant car seat (suitable for babies up to 22 or 35 pounds and 29 to 32 inches tall) fits babies snugly during the first year or so. A convertible seat – so called because it converts from a rear-facing seat for babies and toddlers to a forward-facing seat – carries children from birth to somewhere between 40 and 80 pounds and up to 50 inches tall, depending on the seat.
Given the option of a convertible car seat, why bother with an infant seat?
The most important reason is safety. Although most newborns fit in a convertible car seat, experts agree that babies under 20 pounds. are better off in the smaller infant car seats. They're contoured to hold newborns securely and offer good support in all the right places.
Convenience is another big consideration. Infant car seats are smaller and lighter than convertible car seats and usually have a handle for easy carrying. They snap in and out of a base you install in the car, and in and out of your stroller, so you can transfer your baby from place to place without waking him.
In contrast, the larger and heavier convertible car seats must be installed in the car. When you reach your destination you have to unbuckle your baby and transfer him to a stroller or other carrier.
The disadvantage of an infant car seat is financial: When your child outgrows it, you'll have to buy a convertible model. Larger babies may outgrow the seat long before age 1, while smaller babies may fit in the seat until their first birthday or beyond.