Disclosure: This Website is Reader Supported. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There are many types of car seats, many brands and generally too many options to choose from. The child’s weight and, age are the main determents of car seat type. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the most suitable car safety seat for your child.

Keeping your child safe when they are riding in a vehicle is among the most important jobs parents have. Each year, thousands of young children are hurt or killed in car crashes. Proper use of car safety seats helps ensure that children are safe. 

What is a tether? 

A tether is a strap used to minimize forward head movement in a crash and secure a forward-facing car seat. It is located on the top rear of combination, convertible, and all-in-one car seats.

It has a strap and hook that connects to one of your vehicle’s tether anchors. The majority of rear-facing car seats in the US don’t have a tether for installation. 

Types Of Car Seats [By Weight] 

Children under 2 weighing from four to 40 pounds should be in a rear-facing car seat. The fact that they are portable is the main reason people buy rear-facing-only car seats. Most of these can be used in strollers that are recommended by the manufacturer or sold with the car seat. You can use the seat in several cars if you buy extra bases.   

A convertible car seat is bigger, but it can’t be used in more than one car. It can be used rear-facing until the child turns 2. After that, you can change it to a forward-facing seat. A 3-in-1 car seat also can’t be used in more than one car. You can use it both rear-facing and forward-facing. Eventually, it will also work as a booster seat.

Car Seat by weight

2 – 5 YRS. & 21 – 65 LBS

At this age and in this weight range, you should look for a forward-facing car seat with a top tether and a harness. The child needs room to grow for several years; keep this in mind. 

If you have a convertible car seat, you can use it in a rear-facing position and then turn it forward when the child is big enough. You don’t have to purchase a new car seat until your child is ready for a booster seat. A combination seat has a top tether and 5-point harness. It is forward-facing, but when you remove the harness, it can change into a booster seat. 

A forward-facing-only car seat has a 5-point harness and top tether and is used in only one direction. A 3-in-1 car seat can be used in a forward-facing position, a rear-facing position, and as a booster seat.

6 – 8 YRS. & 40 – 120 LBS

Choose a high back booster if your car has no headrest and a low back. Children need head support like adults. If you travel often or carpool, a backless booster may be more convenient.

Usually, these cost less. However, your car needs a seat back high enough to provide support behind your child’s head. How would you know if it does? The child’s ears should not be higher than the headrest or the top of the vehicle seat.   

Before you buy a booster seat, make sure your child meets the height or weight limits allowed in a forward-facing car seat. They should not have to ride with a harness. They must stay in the booster seat the whole time. Fit the seat belt properly – below the hips and across the shoulder.

9 – 12 YRS & OVER 80 LBS

Children at this age might still need a booster seat if they are small for their age. Use a backless booster that is harder for others to see if your child complains about having to use a booster seat.

Types of car seats for toddlers 

​Children who have outgrown the weight or height limit for their rear-facing convertible seat should use a forward-facing one up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. Many seats are suitable for children up to 65 pounds or more. 

Which Type of Seat is Best For Babies (1 yr-2 yrs)?

Convertible seats allow children to stay in the rear-facing position longer. As they grow, it can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat. All-in-One seats can also change from rear- to forward-facing and to a booster seat as a child grows. It allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer because it can be used with children of various sizes.

What Type of Car Seat is Best For Newborns?

Newborns should use infant-only car seats. These are small, portable seats, in which the newborn can only face toward the back of the vehicle. Usually, babies outgrow their infant seats before they turn one. After that, you should buy an all-in-one or convertible car seat and use it rear-facing.

Car Seats For Preemies (Prematurely Born Children) 

We recommend getting a car bed if your child needs to lie flat due to medical issues. They are still sold with a harness, but the child will lie completely flat. As they don’t provide optimal side-impact protection, car beds are only meant to be used for the car ride home.

While shopping for a car seat for a prematurely born baby, make sure the weight limit begins with a minimum of 4 pounds. 

Strap And Buckle Placement

For the buckle and strap, check the lowest possible settings. You’ll need low settings to make sure the buckle and straps are positioned the right way. Even the lowest setting may be too big for a preemie, however.

Infant Inserts and Padding

This is where infant carriers come in. These are equipped with some sort of infant support to keep the child comfortable. Convertible seats aren’t always equipped with such support. Keep your eyes open if you’re looking for a convertible car seat for a preemie. 

What is the best type of car seat for a 2-year-old?

You should keep your child rear-facing until at least 2 years of age, but as long as possible at any rate. It’s the best way to keep them safe. They should remain facing rear until they reach the top weight or height limit allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer. They should be ready to travel forward facing with a tether and harness once they outgrow the rear-facing car seat.

What is the best type of car seat for a 3-year-old?

A 4-in-1 convertible car seat will work for children who weigh from four to 120 pounds. This makes such seats ideal for all three-year-olds. 

What is the best type of car seat for a 4-year-old?

A 4-year-old can ride in a booster seat. However, they should remain in the back seat. No child should ride shotgun. 

What is the best type of car seat for a 5-year-old? 

If your 5-year-old reaches the height or weight limit of a forward-facing car seat, they must transition to a belt-positioning booster seat. Booster seats keep the child high enough to use the car’s seat belt safely. A number of forward-facing car seats transition to belt-positioning boosters to make the change easier. 

Types of Car Seat [By Material]

There are five different types of car seat materials to choose from: leather, nylon, vinyl, polyester, and faux materials. There are also hybrid seat cover materials. 

Leather

Leather car seats offer value, visual appeal, and elegance. All this comes at a price. You need to decide if it’s worth the money, but know that leather seats are soft and comfortable. They are also remarkably easy to clean. 

Nylon fabric

Most car seats are made of nylon material, a universal seat fabric. The reason so many vehicles come with it is because it is affordable and durable. It is a bit harder to clean and less comfortable than leather. 

Faux vinyl fabric

When you want the luxury appearance of leather, but you can’t afford a leather car seat for your baby, faux vinyl is a handy material for use. A majority of parents find that car seats made of faux material are soft, elegant, and comfortable. The material is easy to clean and maintain. It is the fabric of choice for pet owners as well. 

PVC fabric

This fabric is in the low-class category of car seat materials. Its only advantage is practically in that it is quite cheap. Your baby might not feel comfortable in it because it lacks the feel and aesthetics of what modern consumers prefer and are looking for in a car seat. 

Vinyl fabric

Last but not least, many car owners prefer vinyl because of how easy it is to maintain and clean. It is nice and soft to the touch. One cannot possibly argue against its luxury feel and its visual appeal.

What is more, this interesting material is available in all kinds of colors and tones, making it suitable for private and commercial vehicles alike. Vinyl is a durable, high quality car seat fabric that will stand out among other materials. It is second only to leather in terms of comfort and visual appeal.

Britax Fit My Child ToolBritax Fit My Child – Online Tool To Find The Right Type of Car Seat

Britax has a great tool, that lets you input the child age, weight, and height and determine specifically, which car seat is the right one.