When and Why Baby Needs a Convertible Car Seat

Putting the Nuna Rava convertible car seat in the car.

When and Why Baby Needs a Convertible Car Seat

Choosing a car seat for your baby is one of the most important baby purchasing decisions you will have to make for your little one. After all, the hospital won’t let you leave until you have baby’s car seat installed in your car. But with so many options to choose from, how do you go about choosing the right car seat for your baby?

Types of Car Seats

There are several types of car seats available: infant car seats, convertible car seats, all-in-one car seats and boosters. Many parents assume that they need to buy an infant car seat when preparing for their newborn, however this is not their only option. Other good choices are a convertible car seat or an all-in-one car seat since they can be used rear-facing or forward-facing and have many years of use.

But what is a convertible car seat and an all-in-one car seat?

A convertible car seat is a seat that is designed to grow with your child beyond their first year. Convertible car seats can be used rear-facing for infants and toddlers (on average starting from 4 – 5 lbs up to 50 lbs) and can be turned forward-facing and lasts up to 65 lbs or more. All-in-one car seats are similar to the convertible but they can also be converted to booster seats as the child grows out of the harness.

Families can start with a convertible car seat or an all-in-one car seat or they can make the switch to either of these after their child has outgrown their infant car seat, depending on preference. Convertible car seats and all-in-ones are larger and they cannot be taken in and out of the car as easily as an infant seat because they do not have stay-in-car bases.

All car seat types are great options, but they are very different from one another. Like any choice there are pros and cons to each, but I do want to point out that all parents will need a convertible seat or all-in-one seat at some point for their child. We’ve decided to go with the RAVA convertible car seat from Nuna for our little guy. I get that it can be confusing to know when is the right time to get a convertible car seat for your baby, and why you will need one (and want one). I am here to break it all down for you and share why I have chosen the RAVA convertible car seat from Nuna for my toddler.

The Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat

When to Choose a Convertible Car Seat

The great thing about a convertible car seat is that you can use it from birth through toddlerhood, so that means years. Some people choose a convertible car seat from day one for their newborns since it accommodates babies as small as 4 – 5 lbs. Other families wait to make this purchase until baby has outgrown their infant car seat, which usually happens around 9 – 12 months old. So when is the right time to get a convertible car seat? Honestly, either of these times work! You can get it as our first car seat and have it grow with your baby or purchase one after your child has outgrown their infant car seat. It really just depends on your lifestyle, your preferences, and your budget.

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Maybe my answer isn’t what you wanted or hoped for. If you wanted me to give you a firm answer on when you should get a convertible car seat the following reasons about why your baby needs a convertible car seat might make things more clear for you and your family.

Why Baby Needs a Convertible Car Seat

No matter what, your baby at some point will need to have a convertible car seat. Whether you get it as your baby’s first car seat or the second car seat, it’s an investment that will eventually have to make. Here are some reasons why I give thumbs up to investing in a convertible car seat now:

1. Lasts Longer = Saves You Money

I will say that if you are not planning to use a travel system, I recommend choosing a convertible car seat like the Nuna RAVA as your baby’s first car seat. Not having to invest in another car seat after only a year of using the infant car seat (or possibly less depending on your child’s growth) is a blessing. Buying a convertible car seat saves you money since it can be used for a longer period of time (rear-facing and forward facing), and they’re completely safe to use for your child since they have met all safety standards. So, if you’re wanting something that is high quality, that will last and keep your child safe, get a convertible car seat like the Nuna RAVA with higher size limits. You’ll be able to use it longer and get your money’s worth.

Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat

2. Lets Your Baby Sit Rear-Facing Longer

According to the AAP, it is recommended that babies be kept rear-facing as long as possible, up to the maximum height and weight limits of their car safety seat. Keeping children rear-facing longer and not making the switch from rear-facing to forward-facing when the child turns two is much safer than switching them to forward-facing, so the longer a child can sit rear-facing, the better. Even if your child has less leg room and must bend their knees, it is still safest to be rear-facing if your child is within the height and weight requirements of the car seat.

A convertible car seat like the Nuna RAVA allows your child to be rear-facing from 5-50 lbs and up to 49 inches tall, which is one of the longest lasting rear-facing car seats on the market. You’ll feel great knowing that your baby is in the safest position possible.

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3. They Are Safe

Convertible car seats have to meet the same federal safety requirements as any other car seat on the market. As long as your child is within the weight and height limits provided by the manufacturer, and you’re using it properly, a convertible seat is just as safe for baby as an infant car seat. Be sure to keep track of your child’s height and weight. You need to know when it will be time to turn the seat and when it’s time for an upgrade.

Why I Chose the RAVA from Nuna

First, some quick stats on the RAVA Convertible Car Seat:

  • Rear-facing weight range: 5-50 pounds
  • Rear-facing height range: 49 inches tall or less (manual suggests rear-facing to at least 2 years old)
  • Forward-facing weight range: 25-65 pounds
  • Forward-facing height range: 49 inches tall or less
  • Lowest harness position: 7 inches with insert
  • Highest harness position: 17 inches
  • Lower anchor weight limit: 35 pounds rear-facing, 40 pounds forward-facing
    • The RAVA has been designed to be used with vehicles’ seat belts for ease of use and to eliminate these lower anchor weight limitations.

I was really impressed by these stats, especially the rear-facing height range. I want my son to sit rear-facing in the car as long as possible because I know that is the safest position for him to be in inside my vehicle. Many children reach the height limit before they reach the weight limit of their car seat–like my son did with his infant car seat–and the RAVA car seat really impressed me that from birth to 50 lbs or 49 inches tall, whichever comes first, he can sit rear-facing in this seat.

Here are a few other reasons why I’m impressed by the RAVA from Nuna:

1. Easy installation. First unsnap the seat pad and pull it forward, and then open the True Tension door.

Installing the Nuna Rava convertible car seat in a car.

Next, route the seat belt through the shell that’s located under the cup holder openings. Pull the seat belt through the True Tension Door locking compartment and through the other shell opening. Then buckle the seat belt and make sure the lap belt part of the seat belt is tight and secure. Once secure, close the True Tension Door compartment.

Installing the Nuna Rava Car seat in the car.

Finally, lock the vehicle belt by pulling it all the way out and retracting it back. This locks the safety belt in place. The installation takes minutes, and feels very secure. Seat belt is best!

Installing the Nuna Rava Car Seat in the car.

2. A total of 10 recline settings. I love how simple it is to recline the seat and how it takes very little effort. All you have to do is push the button on the base, and glide the seat to your preferred angle. There are five rear-facing settings and five forward facing settings. (Choose your preference before installing.) I love that the RAVA can be reclined enough for a newborn, and completely upright for older rear-facing children.

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Adjusting the recline setting on the Nuna Rava Car Seat.

3. Two cup holders! I don’t know any parent that doesn’t love cup holders. These cup holders easily pop out of the sides of the seat, are flexible, and flip inside out for easy cleaning.

The Nuna Rava Car Seat Cupholders.

4. Buckle pockets. No parent wants to dig for their child’s car seat buckles after they’ve placed their baby in their car seat. These buckle pockets hold the buckle tongues out to the sides and keep them away when putting baby in her seat.

The Nuna Rava Buckle holder

5. Sliding harness adjuster. I’m not a big fan of any baby gear items that need rethreading. This is why I was thrilled to discover that the harness adjuster on the RAVA requires no rethreading. The adjuster is at the top of the headrest on the car seat and I can easily pull the tab and slide it up or down to adjust the harness to the setting my son needs.

Using the one handed harness adjuster on the Nuna Rava convertible car seat.

6. Laid back legroom calf expansion. I love how there is an extension panel that gives up to 2 inches of extra support for rear-facing riders. It can also be used for forward facing children as well for leg support.

7. It has a 10-year expiration.

8. Completely flame retardant free. I love that Nuna strives to continuously improve their material make up and manufacturing processes to be as mindful as possible, so they can design better gear for us and our families while at the same time bettering the world that our littles will grow up in. Now, Nuna PIPA™ infant seats and RAVA™ convertible car seats are completely flame retardant free! While both seats have always included fabrics that were flame retardant additive free where the child sits, Nuna has now gone one step further to ensure that everything from the fabric to the foam and beyond are both flame resistant and contain no added fire retardant chemicals.

9. High quality. In addition to creating the safest products possible, Nuna also looks to create quality, well-designed products. Their car seats are beautiful, well made and use top of the line materials. As the new RAVA hits the market, it will also be available in two new colors: Rose and Lake! With all of these features, the sleek styling, and the ease of use, the Nuna RAVA is an amazing option.

Looking at the Nuna Rava convertible car seat

If you’re looking for a car seat that you can use for years that grows with your child, a convertible seat is a great option for you. Just be sure to do your research, and determine what your priorities are in a car seat. The RAVA checked everything off our list and I highly recommend it to parents who are looking for a long lasting, high quality car seat for their baby. To see more information about it, check out our Facebook Live review of the RAVA here.

About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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Speak your partner's love language in postpartum. Send this resource to your loved one so that they can make you feel loved and supported in a meaningful way.⁠
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