An infant car seat is a must-have during the first few years of your baby’s development. After all, your baby’s safety is paramount when driving. There are particular types of seats for each stage in your child’s life. When your child is born, you start using rear facing infant seats before moving on to a toddler car seat. That said, how do you tell when your baby has outgrown their infant car seat?

Let’s dive into the telltale signs of when your little one’s car seat will not do anymore:

  • When The Baby Reaches The Recommended Weight And Height Limit
  • When The Baby Reaches The Recommended Age
  • When You Buckle Up Your Baby And Their Head Exceeds The Upper Part Of The Infant Car Seat
  • When The Infant Car Seat Is Heavy To Carry Around
  • Your Toddler No Longer Fits In The Infant Car Seat
  • The Position Of The Harness Straps On Your Baby’s Shoulder

When The Baby Reaches The Recommended Weight And Height Limit

When Do Babies Outgrow Infant Car Seat

Most infant seats come with a maximum height and weight from the car seat manufacturer. On average, the recommended payload weight for an infant car seat is 30 to 35 pounds, while the height is 76 cm.

If your child is above the height and weight stated in the car seat manual, that’s a sign that you need to change their car safety seat.

The rate at which each child reaches the limit differs. Of course, bigger children will get this limit faster than smaller kids.

Read my guide on how tall should you be to sit on the front seat and avoid penalty.

When The Baby Reaches The Recommended Age

Your child will continue to grow and get bigger over the years and sometimes months. Most parents change up the child safety seat between 9 months and 2 years.

However, some kids grow and develop much faster than others. Therefore your child might overgrow the baby car seat much faster than you would anticipate.

The more your child grows, the less the baby car seat becomes ideal.

When You Buckle Up Your Baby And Their Head Exceeds The Upper Part Of The Infant Car Seat

If you find yourself in a situation where when you secure your baby in the car safety seat, their head pops up above the seat’s top part, that is a sign your baby has outgrown the seat.

This child passenger safety recommendation allows for a buffer in upward movement in case of an accident.

In addition, sometimes, the chest clip straps might not be tightly fastened, and this allowance ensures your baby’s head is not protected in case of a crash.

If the babys head is above the seat’s headrest, it is a clear indication that your child is well above the recommended height. Some parents might want to keep using the infant seat event after this.

However, it is advisable to get the right car seat for safety reasons.

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When The Infant Car Seat Is Heavy To Carry Around

If carrying your child around in the infant seats has become a challenge, then it’s time to switch up. Over time as your kid grows and adds weight, it will be challenging to carry them in the infant car seat. In this case, the infant car seat is no longer ideal.

Your Toddler No Longer Fits In The Infant Car Seat

Perhaps the most obvious sign is that if your child can no longer fit comfortably in the seat, it’s a clear indication that the child has outgrown the infant car seat.

Most traditional infant bucket seat has a rear facing configuration. When your toddler outgrows this seat, you will notice that they cannot fit comfortably on the seat when buckled in.

Since your child is facing the rear of your car, the legroom between the car seat and the back of your car will gradually decrease as your kid grows.

Therefore, there will come a time when your child can no longer fit in that space comfortably. When this happens, it is time to change the car seat to a more appropriate one.

The Position Of The Harness Straps On Your Baby’s Shoulder

Most car seat manufacturer manuals advise that the shoulder straps flow straight onto the shoulders instead of below. Suppose the crotch strap goes below the shoulders, even on the highest setting. You might also notice you are having trouble securing and buckling in your child.

The safety harness straps become too tight and difficult to adjust. It indicates that your child has outgrown the car seat, and it might be time to switch up.

  • Has The Child Reached The Maximum Weight And Height
  • Rear Facing Car Seats
  • The Child’s Age
  • Are You Getting A New Or An Old Car Seat

Has The Child Reached The Maximum Weight And Height

Before switching your child’s car seat, ensure they have reached the maximum height and weight. Do not be in a rush to change the child’s car seat until they have outgrown it.

Rear Facing Car Seats

Rear facing seat is the safest child’s car seat. Compared to forward facing seat, your child is less likely to sustain any injuries with a rear-facing car seat.

Consider changing it to a front one only when the child has outgrown the rear-facing car seat or the rear convertible car seat.

The Child’s Age

When your child gets to a certain age, you may need to change from the infant seat to the toddler seat. Some kids outgrow the infant seats much faster than others. However, your kid will outgrow the seat with age eventually.

Before changing the seat, consider getting one that you will not need to change often as your child grows.

Are You Getting A New Or An Old Car Seat

A new car seat is the most ideal. You might also have a car seat from your elder child, or you just got a good but used car seat; whichever the case, you need to be careful.

It is not to say that used car seats are not as good. However, you have to do your homework. Check the expiry date. Yes, car seats have an expiry date.

Ensure the seat has never been in a car crash and is viable still to protect your kid in case of an accident.

Is it illegal to use an expired car seat?

FeatureInfant Car SeatToddler Car SeatBooster Car seat
InstallationIt is installed facing the rear of the carCan be converted to face both the rear and the frontFront facing
Maximum height and weightMaximum height average is 76 cm while the weight is 35 poundsOn average can hold up to 65 with the harness and about 100 without100-150 pounds
Carry-onHas a handle that makes it easier to carry your toddler aroundMay or may not have a carry-onNo carry on, for car use only
Reclining positionSeveral reclining optionsSeveral reclining optionsLimited reclining options
Harness StrapsComes with a harness strapsIncludes the harness strapsUses the seat belt in your car

As a parent, it’s your responsibility to ensure the child’s safety when driving. Do not be in a rush to switch up the car seat before it’s necessary. With the range of car seats available in the market, finding the right car seat for your child should not be a struggle. Some brands have a 3 in one package where you get the infant, toddler convertible seat, and booster seat all in one.

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