Infant Car Seat vs Convertible Car Seat

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As you prepare for your new baby to arrive there are seemingly endless decisions to be made – and none are more important than those involving the safety of your child. Choosing the right car seat is of the highest priority, but it can be overwhelming, especially with so many options. If you’ve been struggling to decide between an infant car seat vs convertible car seat, I’m here to walk you through the pros and cons of each and help you to make the best decision for your family.

Whether you went to the baby supply store only to be completely overwhelmed by the car seat aisle or have been doomscrolling the internet looking at option after option, wrapping your mind around everything there is to consider in choosing the right car seat can be draining – and pregnancy brain sure doesn’t help! Now that I’m in my second pregnancy, I find it to be so much less overwhelming, and I’m happy to share everything I’ve learned here on the blog with you today.

INFANT CAR SEAT VS CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

When you begin the process of shopping for a car seat for your new baby, you’ll quickly learn that there are a few standard options to choose from. You’ll probably be considering multiple options and trying to determine what is best – infant car seat vs convertible car seat. Both options have pros and cons – but which one is better?

First things first: you won’t make a “wrong” decision either way. Both infant car seats and convertible car seats are safe for your baby, so you can’t go wrong either way. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is that your child is safe, and both car seat options will provide that. However, there are things to like and dislike about both kinds of car seats, which is why I want to walk you through the differences so that you can discover which is a better fit for you, your child, and your family’s lifestyle.

INFANT CAR SEAT Pros and Cons

As you can assume from the name, infant car seats are designed specifically for infants. Due to safety regulations for infants, these car seats are rear-facing only. Every age of car seat has specific height and weight guidelines, and infant car seats generally range from a minimum of roughly four pounds to a maximum of up to 35 pounds. The height limit of infant car seats is usually around 30 inches.

Generally, an infant car seat has a base and a car seat. The base stays in the car, and the car seat snaps into place in the base. This allows for you to get your baby securely strapped in and situated anywhere that you’d like before snapping the car seat into the car itself, meaning you can carry your baby in the car seat out and about. This is also a lifesaver as you won’t have to deal with awkward angles trying to strap your baby in, and you won’t find yourself standing in the rain as you try to get your baby situated. It’s also great to be able to install bases in other vehicles if you have more than one car, or if another family member or caregiver will be keeping your child frequently.

Oftentimes, infant car seats come with or as a part of stroller sets, which is also handy. You can switch your baby straight from the car to the stroller for easy travel, making getting around with your infant super convenient.

The biggest con to choosing an infant car seat is that your child won’t always be an infant. Eventually, they will grow out of the rear-facing car seat, and you’ll have to buy a bigger car seat. From this standpoint, some people find it more financially wise to opt for a convertible car seat and only have to make the one-time purchase.

Graco Uno2duo Carseat

INFANT CAR SEATS For Your Baby

Have you decided that an infant car seat is the way to go? Here are a few of my favorite options when shopping for infant car seats for a rear facing car seat that will make your travel system a breeze.

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Graco

SnugFit 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco car seats are some of the best on the market, and the SnugFit 35 infant car seat instills confidence that your child will be safe and secure. The anti-rebound bar provides an extra level of rear-facing safety, and there are four available reclining positions to allow for the best installation process. Head and body support keeps even the smallest infants safe and comfortable, no matter how tiny.

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Baby Trend

EZ-Lift 35 PLUS Infant Car Seat

With plush seating and a great design, the EZ-Lift infant car seat is a solid choice for infants and parents alike. The ergonomic grip allows for easy carrying that is chiropractor-approved, and the handle slides down to work as an anti-rebound bar for extra safety for your baby. This car seat exceeds federal safety regulations, so you can trust that your baby will be safe.

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Graco

SnugRide 35 Lite LX Infant Car Seat

This lightweight carrier car seat makes traveling with an infant a breeze. At just over seven pounds, transporting your baby between the stroller and the car has never been easier. The adjustable base has multiple installation options to keep baby comfortable, and the easy to read level indicator helps you feel confident that you’ve installed the seat correctly and safely.

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UPPAbaby

Mesa V2 Infant Car Seat

Keep your baby safe in luxe comfort with the Mesa V2 infant car seat. It can be easily installed in seconds, with a safe and secure carrier-only installation option available when it isn’t convenient to use the car seat base. This car seat comes with a removable infant insert to help position the smallest babies comfortably and safely.

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Graco

SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco’s SnugLock technology is quick, easy, and effective – snap your car seat into place in just a minute. Safe for babies ranging from 4-35 pounds, this rear facing car seat fits well in cars and is soft and snuggly for baby to relax and enjoy the ride.

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Nuna Car Seat

CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT Pros and Cons

A convertible car seat is also exactly what it sounds like – a car seat that can be converted from rear-facing to front facing. As your child grows, so do their needs in regards to a car seat, and convertible car seats account for that. That’s why many people feel it makes more financial sense to purchase a convertible car seat – you only have to purchase a car seat once instead of twice.

While the specifics vary between different car seat brands, the minimum weight for a convertible car seat can be anywhere from four to fifteen pounds. Once the seat has been converted to a front facing seat, it can have a maximum weight of anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds depending on the model.

Because of the convertible nature of convertible car seats, they are definitely bigger and bulkier than an infant car seat, which can be a struggle if you have a smaller car. They take up a good bit more space due to the infant seat’s need to be able to recline. They also can’t be transitioned between vehicles as easily, so if your baby will regularly be traveling in more than one car, it can be tricky to do so in a convertible car seat.

CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS For Your Child

Do you prefer to go with one car seat for the foreseeable future? Save yourself the hassle of having to purchase multiple car seats over the years – choose from one of these great convertible seats for newborn babies and beyond.

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Graco

Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

The Extend2Fit convertible car seat from Graco will adjust to your child’s needs for years to come, making it a great choice for a convertible car seat. Made from reinforced steel, it meets or exceeds the child restraint criteria should you get in an accident while the car seat is facing front, so your child can stay safe. However, the car seat’s 50 pound rear-facing maximum means that children can stay rear facing for extra long, giving you as a parent additional peace of mind.

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Safety 1st

Crosstown DLX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Keeping up with your child’s growth has never been easier than with the Crosstown DLX convertible car seat. It allows your child to stay rear facing for up to 40 pounds, forward facing for up to 65 pounds, and then transitions to a belt-positioning booster seat for up to 100 pounds. It’s easy to get children in and out of the seat, and side impact protection helps you breathe easy knowing there’s extra safety.

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Graco

SlimFit 3 in 1 Car Seat

While convertible car seats can be bulky and difficult to deal with, this car seat is 10% slimmer than a standard convertible car seat, making it easy to fit in smaller cars. It grows with your child, supporting infants as small as five pounds and children as large as 100 pounds. Integrated cup holders also keep sippy cups handy, which is a major plus.

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Safety 1st

Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

If you’re on a budget, this car seat runs at a much lower price point than most convertible car seat price points, so it might be the perfect choice for you. Its compact design, multiple harness heights, and various buckle locations make it easy and convenient for children of all sizes.

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Graco

4Ever® DLX Grad 5-in-1 Car Seat

A car seat that can grow with your child from infancy to age twelve? Graco’s got you covered. With a slim fit, easy installation, and ten headrest height options, it’s hard to find a better convertible car seat for your family. Plus, the machine-washable seat cover will keep your car clean through all of the messes that childhood may throw your way.

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT Car Seat FOR YOUR BABY

So, that being said – which type of car seat is right for you? An infant car seat, which is permanently rear-facing and is smaller and easier to move between vehicles, or a convertible car seat, which can transition to forward facing as your child ages but is bulkier?

My personal recommendation is that, if you can afford it, having an infant car seat for the first year is often the best choice. The ease of travel is priceless (you know I have to be able to get around easily!), and I like that infant car seats are so specifically crafted for those early weeks and months.

However, for many people, convertible car seats may be the better choice, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Convertible car seats are a lifesaver if you don’t want to feel like you’re constantly shopping for a new car seat, and can easily be transitioned from kid to kid as your older ones age out of the car seat era. They have a great longevity that makes them a super valuable purchase. 

At the end of the day, the primary concern is simply that you’re following proper car seat safety procedures. Keeping your child safe is every mom’s top priority, and the right car seat will ensure that child passenger safety is taken care of. If you want to learn more about car seat safety, be sure to check out this guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It’s a must read for new parents!

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