The key features to look for when choosing a convertible car seat
Given how much time you spend in the car, buying a car seat is one of the most important purchasing decisions you will make as a parent. The challenge lies in striking the balance between price, safety, comfort and durability.
A convertible car seat is an ideal choice for newborns, providing flexibility with extended rearward facing for infants, while also offering forward facing as your child grows. Finding a safe car seat that meets your needs comes down to the features that you value in a car seat.
So what should you be looking for in the best car seat for you?
Comfort and durability
Easy headrest adjustment
The car seat age for convertible car seats is newborn to approximately four-years-old. In those four years there is a significant amount of growing happening so easy adjustment, particularly of the headrest is a big feature to look for.
A car seat that features easy headrest adjustment, without needing to remove the car seat, is a winner.
Some car seats will require a two-handed adjustment, while others are single-handed. The key to look for is a simple lift and click adjustment that doesn’t require the seat to be removed from the car.
Not all car seat fabric is created equally. A car seat can be quite hot for a little one and warm up very easily on a hot day. Look for convertible car seats with wicking fabric that is soft to touch and draws moisture away from the body to keep your child cool and dry.
If you do a lot of driving with your kids then this is going to make the journeys a lot more comfortable for them, and also for you because happy kids = happy parents!
ISOFIX is a much simpler method for installing a car seat than the traditional seat belt installation. ISOFIX car seats include an in-built indicator system to let you know if the car seat is installed correctly or not. Most modern cars will have ISOFIX anchors built into the seats but do check your car before you get too excited. ISOFIX can be used on both rearward facing and forward facing installations.
A convertible car seat with ISOFIX will mean that you can easily install the car seat. It is also perfect for situations where you need to move the car seat between cars regularly. The seat can also be installed using the car’s lash belt so don’t worry if you need to move your car seat to a car without ISOFIX. Do remember to only ever use one system to install: either the ISOFIX or the seat belt - never both.
If in doubt you can still have your car seat professionally installed, but ISOFIX does eliminate some of the worry of a correct installation as well as the cost of hiring a professional.
Car seat size
Convertible car seats can be bulky and can limit how many car seats you can actually fit across your back seat. Narrow convertible car seats, that don’t compromise on comfort, so you can fit three car seats along the back seat (of most cars) are ideal.
Even if you only have one or two children, having extra space in the back seat is a nice to have, particularly if you regularly need an extra seat for another family member. Squeezing between two large car seats, even for a five minute quick trip, is not a fun experience!
Added safety features
Air Protect™ Technology
All car seats sold in Australia meet the Australian safety standards. But some do go further. At Mother’s Choice, we have introduced Air Protect™ Technology into a range of our seats.
Air Protect™ is built into the headrest of the car seats to help reduce the severity of side impact crashes. Almost one third of all child crash fatalities are caused by side impact crashes, nearly all resulting from head injuries.
In the case of an accident, the headrest with Air Protect™ will serve as a cushion for your child’s head, absorbing the impact from the crash and transferring it away from the head.
While the law in Australia states that infants can be turned to a forward facing position from 6-months-old, many convertible car seats do offer the option for extended rearward facing, keeping children in a rearward facing position until they are approximately 12 to 30 months of age.
In considering how long to keep your child rearward facing, this will depend on the car seat you purchase and how happy your baby is facing rearward - some do not enjoy it at all!
When keeping your child in extended rear facing, it is much more about their size than their age. As long as their shoulders don’t exceed the rearward facing height marker on the carseat then it is suitable for them to stay in a rearward facing position.
Choosing a convertible car seat is no easy decision to make and weighing up the factors does come down to your personal choice and budget. The key factors to consider for a convertible car seat that will be comfortable, durable and safe are:
- Easy headrest adjustment to save you moving the car seat out of the car each time you need to change it (with between the ages of 0-4 is quite frequently!)
- For comfort look for wicking fabric that draws moisture away from your child to keep them cool and dry
- Ease of installation is a big deal, especially if you are moving carseats between cars regularly so look for ISOFIX attachments to make life simpler
- Narrow car seats that don’t compromise on comfort will allow you to install three car seats across the back of most cars or free up space for other passengers
- Added safety features such as Air Protect™ technology to give you peace of mind that your precious bundle is in the safest of places
- Finally, convertible car seats that offer extended rearward facing allow greater flexibility for keeping your child in a rearward facing position for longer.
The Mother’s Choice range of convertible car seats ticks the boxes for price, comfort, durability and safety.