We know, in the city one of the most difficult stages of child-rearing is once baby has outgrown the infant car seat. Now as much as you want to stretch it out, you can’t live in denial. It’s actually more dangerous to have a child who’s too big for a seat still using it. Nope, it’s time for the convertible car seat. Want to know the safest convertible car seat for the city? Read on!
There’s no sugar-coating it. The convertible car seat is the very best solution for your growing child, who at this point is probably about 12 months old, but we get it, it is heavy. And it’s bulky.
But—it’s the safest choice.
At this point you’ll probably retool the way you get around the city to accommodate the safe seat or avoid the need for it altogether. If you have a car, you’ll install it and start using your car alot more, as it’s much easier to drive, knowing your baby is in a safe spot.
If you don’t have a car (or even if you do and you don’t want to use your car), it’s time to embrace public transportation. NYC’s subway system is pretty darn good and it’s a heck of a lot easier to get from Broome Street to Bloomingdales taking the R train or a bus and a lightweight stroller than lugging a large car seat and installing it in the back of an Uber to and from.
This all being said, we believe that every city parent should invest in a Convertible Car seat. The fact of the matter is that you will be taking cars on occasion and these seats last until the baby is about 65lbs, give or take. They’re long lasting.
What Is A Convertible Car Seat?
A convertible car seat can convert from a rear facing seat to a forward facing seat. Offering both options for parents, makes this a great seat to follow the rear facing (only) infant car seat. When you first start using it, you’ll install it rear facing.
You’ll then reinstall it as forward facing when your child outgrows the height/weight limits of rear facing. Like infant car seats, convertible car seats are engineered with all sorts of technologies to manage forces and energy in case of an accident.
Whether it be crumple zones or side impact protection or anti-rebound bars, everything in a convertible car seat is about safety.
Convertible car seats can often be used from birth to approximately 65 pounds, though specifics vary with model.
When your child has outgrown the convertible car seat, they’ll move on to a booster seat, that is just meant to position the child properly for the seat belt.
Why Do I Need A Convertible Car Seat For The City?
Although it’s not a convenient item, the convertible car seat makes your baby safe when riding in a vehicle.
If you have a car, this is not much of a discussion. Of course you need one, and you’ll install it in your car and all will be well! If you’re not sure how to install it or want some counsel, we suggest The Car Seat Lady.
Even if you don’t have a car, you should still have a convertible car seat, as it’s likely between the time your child outgrows their infant seat and 65 lbs that you will take them in a car, Uber, or taxi. When you do that, you’ll want to be safe.
Safest Convertible Car Seat For The City: Features To Look For
In terms of safety, there are a few things we look for in a car seat. The first is installation. A car seat is only as good as it is properly installed. A good installation is a tight installation – when pulling it back and forth, it should move no more than an inch in any direction. The name of the game is to limit movement of the child as much as possible
Car seat companies both provide manuals as well as videos on installation. It’s crucial that you follow the guidelines carefully to get a good installation. There are also professionals like The Car Seat Lady that will do your installation and train you on your seat. If you’re not in the city, go on Safe Kids Worldwide to find info on Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs) local to you.
LATCH, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, refers to the little metal attachment points for car seats located in your back seat and above the headrests. LATCH makes it easy to install a car seat, as the car seat will have little clips on it that will click onto the vehicle’s lower anchors making a safe attachment.
LATCH can be either rigid or flexible. While flexible LATCH features the car seat clips (lower anchor connectors) on a seatbelt type strap material, rigid LATCH is just what it sounds like. It’s actually part of the metal of the seat so when attached it is a metal-to-metal installation which is ideal as there’s no tightening required. The Foonf’s true rigid LATCH connection offers the tightest installation with the least movement.
Anti Rebound Bar
Anti-rebound bars add stability to the convertible car seat, prevents rebound and adds legroom when rear facing. It’s basically a metal bar that attaches to the end of the car seat.
This is something that only the Foonf and Fllo use these days. It’s a strap that wraps around a rear facing convertible car seat and connects to the car’s tether anchor. This is the same tether that you’d use when you’re forward facing. It’s a great extra safety assist that limits motion downward in case of an accident.
Straps That Don’t Twist (Or Are Easy To Untwist)
Twisted straps will make it so you can’t get the child strapped in properly and any forces in a crash will be disproportionately focused in the twisted area causing harm. You’ll want to get a seat with straps that don’t twist. It’s also good to know a trick if they do — the car seat lady has what she’s dubbed the Triangle Trick that is a good one to know.
Safest Convertible Car Seat For The City: Picks
If you’re in the market for the safest convertible car seat for the city, here are some of our very favorites:
Foonf by Clek
The Foonf is often referred to as “The mother of all car seats.” Made of a steel and magnesium substructure, it not only provides all the safety that you need, but it does so in a nice narrow design that is both comfy for the child and allows for maximum room (think three across) in your back seat. It can be installed very close to the door in the backseat while rear facing using its seat belt lockoffs (no interference with driver’s vision).
Speaking of rear-facing, we love that the Foonf can be rear facing up to 44 inches or 50 lbs. As rear facing is the safest for your child, we’d love to see them rear facing as long as possible.
The Foonf features great safety features like an internal crumple zone, an anti rebound bar, RIGID Latch for forward facing – making it the safest install in that configuration, and non-twisty straps so that your child can get a good fit in the seat. There’s also an options Q Tether that you can get that makes the install even safer as it stabilizes the top of the seat. It's great for travel too, as it's FAA approved for planes.
On top of that, it’s long lasting with a 9 year lifespan. That means, if you’re thinking 3 across, the Foonf can be stationed in your back seat for years to come.
Fllo by Clek
The Fllo is the lighter “sibling” to the Foonf that shines in a few unique ways. While the Foonf is the bee’s knees when it comes to installing behind the driver or passenger, if you want to install in the middle, the Fllo is a better choice. When installed with the seat belt lockoffs (which allows it to shift a tad), it can be positioned to sit much lower so it won’t obstruct the view for the driver.
Other than a slightly different energy management system, and the fact that does not use rigid LATCH for forward facing (it’s flexible LATCH like pretty much all other car seats), the Fllo has the same long rear facing capability (44 inches/50lbs), and the same safety features such as the anti-rebound bar, non-twisty straps, an optional Q tether. It will also stand the test of time with a 9 year warrantee.
Other Car Seat Tips
We’ve put together a list of other tips that may help you ensure that once you’ve landed on safest convertible car seat for the city, you use it in the best say.
- We said it before, but we’ll say it again. Just because the convertible car seat is a tank doesn’t mean you put it off. As soon as your baby exceeds either the height or weight limit of your infant seat, it’s no longer safe. You’re going to have to make the switch. Be mindful of these limits: they’re there for a reason.
- With your convertible car seat, you’re going to want to rear face as long as possible. Rear facing is the safest and it’s no surprise. If you’re in an accident the rear facing seat cradles the baby and protects their head. Forward facing passengers are thrown forward if the vehicle stops short or is in an accident. This will obviously create strain on their neck and back.
- Be sure to be mindful of the installation requirements as well. Some seats will allow LATCH only up until a certain weight, after which you need to install with the seatbelt or in some instances LATCH and seatbelt. You’ll want to be sure you’re aware of any adjustments you must make to the installation as the child grows.
- If your child is riding in any car seat, you’re going to want to be sure they’re not wearing a puffy coat or too many layers. If they do, their straps will be too loose which is unsafe. Better to be in their regular, indoor layer (a sweater or a shirt) so that straps are snug.
Shopping Convertible Car Seats At Babesta
If you’re in the market for the safest convertible car seat for the city, come to Babesta as we are always thinking about city parents. You can see the seats in person and we can help you face them off against each other.
We’ll help you design a plan on how to get around town safely with your baby without making it unduly hard on you. As always, Babesta offers a suite of great services that might be of interest as you’re making your baby purchases.
Babesta holds items until you need them, giving you flexibility as to managing your space and time. We also price match apples to apples. We offer free stroller assembly, white glove services (for a fee) and more. Our motto is same stuff, more service. Don’t lose your cool shopping the baby market: Shop Babesta. See you at the store!