When and Why Baby Needs a Convertible Car Seat - Baby Chick
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When and Why Baby Needs a Convertible Car Seat

It can be difficult to know when and why baby needs a convertible car seat. We're answering these questions and explaining why we love them.

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Published May 6, 2019

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

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Choosing a car seat for your baby is one of the most important purchasing decisions you must 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

Several types of car seats are available: infant car seats, convertible car seats, all-in-one car seats, and boosters. Many parents assume 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 are 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 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 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 each other. Like any choice, there are pros and cons to each, but I 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. It can be unclear 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, usually around 9 – 12 months old. So when is the right time to get a convertible car seat? Honestly, either of these times works! 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.

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

Why Baby Needs a Convertible Car Seat

No matter what, your baby will need a convertible car seat at some point. Whether you get it as your baby’s first or second car seat, it’s an investment that you 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

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 safe to use for your child since they have met all safety standards. So, if you want something 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 switching 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.1

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, making it one of the longest-lasting rear-facing car seats on the market. You’ll feel great knowing your baby is in the safest position possible.

3. They Are Safe

Convertible car seats must meet the same federal safety requirements as any other car seat. As long as your child is within the weight and height limits provided by the manufacturer and you’re using it correctly, a convertible seat is just as safe for a 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, here are 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 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 inside my vehicle. Many children reach the height limit before they reach the weight limit of their car seat–as my son did with his infant car seat–and the RAVA car seat 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, then open the True Tension door.

Installing the Nuna Rava convertible car seat in a car.

Next, route the seat belt through the shell 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 little effort takes. 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.

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 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 and 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 our families and us while also 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 flame retardant additive-free fabrics where the child sits, Nuna has now gone one step further to ensure that everything from the fabric to the foam and beyond are flame resistant and contains 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! The Nuna RAVA is an excellent option with all these features, sleek styling, and ease of use.

Looking at the Nuna Rava convertible car seat

A convertible seat is an excellent option if you’re looking for a car seat you can use for years that grows with your child. 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 looking for a long-lasting, high-quality car seat for their baby. To learn more about it, check out our Facebook Live review of the RAVA here.

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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