New research indicates that more than a quarter of a million children ages one to six are heavier than the maximum weights for standard car seats. The study links these larger-than-average children with the U.S. obesity epidemic, and indicates that many babies and children may be under-protected in a crash because they are too heavy for their car seat or are in a booster seat that is not appropriate for their age and height.
Regardless of whether your baby or young child is legitimately overweight, or just grows faster than average, there are car seats available that allow heavier babies to remain in a harness beyond 40 pounds, which is the limit of some standard convertible car seats. Children should remain in a harnessed car seat until they are at least age 4, and until they are able stay properly seated in a belt-positioning booster. Rather than moving a heavier two- or three-year-old to a belt positioning booster, try one of these five-point harness car seats that can be harnessed up to 65 pounds. Some of the following seats also can be used as a belt-positioning booster seat after 65 pounds. If your child is extra tall as well as heavy, be sure to check the car seat's height limits, too.
Update: Since this post was initially written, a number of fantastic higher-weight-limit car seats have become available. Almost any of the car seats with a 65 lb or greater harness weight limit will be appropriate for this situation. I do not recommend the all-in-one car seat and booster combination car seats for larger children, because these car seat usually only have a 40 lb harness, which would require you to graduate your toddler to a booster far too soon. Many of these car seats also could allow you to keep your baby rear-facing beyond one year, which has significant safety advantages.
- Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat Review
- Britax Marathon Convertible Car Seat Review
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- Safety 1st Apex 65 Combination Car Seat / Booster Review
- Britax Frontier Combination Car Seat / Booster Review
- Britax Regent Forward-Facing-Only Car Seat Review
- Graco Nautilus Combination Car Seat / Booster (Compare Prices)
- Sunshine Kids Radian 80 Convertible Car Seat (Compare Prices)