Buy Your Child A Convertible Right Now, A Convertible Car Seat That is

Childcare Product Safety Attorney

Buy Your Child A Convertible Right Now, A Convertible Car Seat That is

No, we are not talking about convertible-top cars and that beloved T-Bird, although there may come a time when your teen really really wants one (and lets you know several times an hour).    Rather, we are talking about convertible car seats, and your about-to-be one year old.    New safety guidelines, some new state laws, and recent tests by Consumers Union (“CU”) show that you should put your child into a rear-facing convertible car seat by the time she is one year old.

Concerned about the collision of children’s heads with parts of the car during collisions, Consumers Union developed a new test protocol.   CU wanted to help “differentiate the ability of a variety of child seats to protect a child’s head.”   Existing crash tests, even those from the government “do not mimic what happens when a child comes into contact with another part of the vehicle.”   Thus, CU added to its test a surface that mimics what happens when a child’s head interacts with the front seatback.    CU compared its new tests with some it had done earlier on rear-facing detachable carrier  seats.

In the earlier tests, CU used a 22-pound dummy to represent the average 12 month-old child.   In tests with the detachable carrier seats, the dummy “suffered a head strike against the simulated front seatback with 16 of the 30 tested models (53 percent).”  Obviously, that is simply too dangerous.

In its new testing, CU focused on convertible seats.   They have longer shells and different shapes than the detachable carriers.   The convertible carriers performed substantially better in tests using the same dummy.   The dummy’s head hit the back of the seat in only 1 of 25 models, namely, only 4 percent.   Because of these glaring test differences, CU suggest that you put your 1 year old into a convertible seat much sooner than you might have thought, and not keep your child in the detachable car seat until she is two.

Some of CU’s findings and thoughts:

The height of your child matters more than weight.  And your child will likely grow tall enough to merit a convertible seat before he reaches the weight limits of the detachable carrier seat.

You will need one anyways.   New laws in California, New Jersey, and Oklahoma, as well as recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (since 2011), respectively, require and recommend that children under two be in rear-facing child seats.

The protection it gives your child is substantially greater.

Do not value convenience over safety.  Yes, lifting and toting the detachable seat seems easier.   You do not have to wake the child up to move the seat, and so on.   But safety should outweigh convenience.  Avoiding brain damage or death should be worth the extra effort.


A whopping 96 percent of parents think they know how to install the car seat properly.   Yet, when inspected by professionals, it is clear that up to 75 percent of car seats are actually installed incorrectly.   So, take the time to learn how to install your seat properly and safely—so that it can do its primary job.                


Related:    CU’s latest car seat ratings

Car Seats and Information For Families

Majority of parents do not install car seats correctly

Effects of LATCH versus Available Seatbelt Installation of Rear Facing Child Restraint Systems    on Head Injury Criteria for 6 Month Old Infants in Rear End Collisions


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