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New Car Seat Guidelines: Switch to Rear-Facing Convertible Seats Sooner

The Short of It

Consumer Reports has issued new guidelines after tests prove switching to a rear-facing convertible car seat by baby's first birthday is safest.

The Lowdown

You probably already know that recently revised guidelines say children should remain in rear-facing car seats as long as possible, even until their second or third birthdays. Now Consumer Reports is underlining the importance of keeping kids rear-facing, but saying it's safest to switch them from an infant carrier to a convertible car seat by the time they turn 1 year old.

To reach their conclusions, researchers placed a 22-pound dummy in a simulated crash, both in a rear-facing infant carrier and a rear-facing convertible car seat. In more than half of the tests involving the infant seat, the dummy's head hit the back of the front seat. But in all but one of the 25 convertible seats tested, this didn't happen.

The problem seems to be that once a child's head is less than one inch from the top of the infant seat's outer shell, there's a strong risk for hitting the head on the back of the front seat during an accident. But Consumer Reports is urging parents to switch all children into a convertible seat by age 1, even if they haven't outgrown their carriers.

The Upshot

The top-rated convertible seats, according to Consumer Reports, are:

  • Chicco Nextfit, $300
  • Britax Marathon ClickTight Seat, $265
  • Evenflo Sure Ride, $100
  • Cosco Scenera NEXT, $45

But above all, proper installation and use of your child's car seat at every stage is crucial to ensure his or her safety.

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