Based on its latest tests, Consumer Reports is urging parents to move their children out of their infant carrier and into a rear-facing convertible seats at a younger age.
For newborns an infant carrier provides the best fit, a good level of safety and it's the most convenient car-seat option, but new test results from Consumer Reports finds that for older babies turning 1 a rear-facing convertible seat can provide more crash protection than an infant seat.
Consumer Reports crash-tested both types, using a 22-pound dummy representing a 1-year-old child. With more than half the infant seats tested, the dummy's head hit the simulated front-seat back. However, that didn't happen with 24 of the 25 convertible seats.
Children are technically too tall for an infant carrier seat when their head is less than one inch from the top of the carrier's shell, but Consumer Reports' new advice goes further.
"We recommend that all children be moved to a rear-facing convertible seat by their first birthday, even if they haven't outgrown their infant carrier," Emily Mathews, Ph.D., from Consumer Reports, said.
You should keep your child in a rear-facing seat until at least 2 years old. The seat can then be installed in a forward-facing position and used for several more years. Along with crash tests, Consumer Reports evaluates each seat for ease of use and installation because without proper installation even the safest seat can't fully protect your child in a crash.
Top ratings for convertible seats go to the Chicco Nextfit for $300 and the Britax Marathon Clicktight Seat for $265. But you don't have to spend a lot to get a safe seat. Consumer Reports recommends two best buys -- the Evenflo Sureride for $100 and the Cosco Scenera next for $45.
To make sure your seat is properly installed look for a car seat check-up event near you at SafeKids.org.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.
(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
Consumer Reports: Babies should be moved out of infant car seats earlier