Any parent that owns a car probably knows the legal recommendations for child safety. We all heard about infant car seats, convertibles and boosters, but how much can you stretch the use of these safety seats?
Most experts recommend to use an infant or toddler seat with rear-facing position until the child is at least 2 years old. But does that mean that we’re not allowed to use a rear-facing convertible until that age? The answer is no. The purpose of a convertible is to serve both as a rear-facing seat as well as a forward-facing one, thus satisfying the main requirement of an infant car seat. However, we do need to point out that a child under two also needs substantial body support, so you must make sure the convertible car seat you choose offers that.
From the age of two up until the age of eight, a child is supposed to be comfortable and safe in a convertible car seat, but we can make some arguments against being so definite about age in this particular matter.
About the maximum limit of age for the use of a convertible car seat, most articles and studies say that it can go until 8 years of age, but you need to be aware that this is an approximation. All car seats, disregarding their type, have weight and height limits, and these are the real parameters which dictate their limits of use. If a child is 7 years old but has the constitution of a 12-year old, then he might not be safe in a convertible anymore, and you can see that just by looking at the way he/she fits in that seat. The same rule applies in the opposite case. Some children are petite until late in their grade school years, so they can still meet the weight and height requirements of a convertible, even if they’re 10 years old. They won’t sit in one willfully, but they could, and they would be safe.
For people like me who need to find a baby car seat for my SUV, but not only, the best advice that anyone could give those of you who wonder about the limits of age for convertible car seats is to look past this reference point and follow the instructions of the manufacturer, for they know best what their products can support.