Q: Hi there! Our little one is getting bigger. He can hold his head up, sit, and stand, and while he still fits his current car seat (a capsule) I think we probably need to move him out of the capsule soon. How do I know if he's ready, and where do I start with the next seat from there? Like, what is the next seat I need to buy him?
A: Thanks for asking this!
It's such a common question and it really annoys me when people say "6 months", like it's a developmental milestone to move out of your capsule. And like it's a one size fits all thing - because it isn't!
Capsules are really good.
Capsules are really good - that's the first thing I want to say. A capsule is convenient, you can take it in and out of the car with you, they're generally pretty easy to use, and they are rear-facing which is a lot safer for babies.
Most capsules are designed to fit for some time, usually at least most of the first year. And in my opinion, you don't want to move up too soon.
How do you know when to move on from the capsule?
Different seats have different guidelines. For example the Safety 1st LT capsule has a weight limit of 15.9 kg (that's kind of a huge baby), while the Maxi-Cosi Pebble capsule will generally last until 12 months of age.
There will be a manual that goes with your capsule, that specifies the weight and height limits. If you don't have your manual, talk to a Child Restraint Technician like those of us at Baby Box.
There may also be an indicator marking near the shoulders. If your child is above the line or their head is creeping close to the top of the shell of the seat, it's time to move them into another car seat.
What do you move them into?
We recommend moving them into a rear-facing car-seat. Most families will opt for a convertible option; one that will enable them to rear-face for now but forward-face later as their child grows.
My biggest recommendation to parents is to rear-face your child until they are at least 2 years old.
Rear-facing car seats will support your child's head, neck and spine by distributing crash forces across the shell of the car seat in a head on accident.
In fact, all Child Restraint Technicians will recommend that children are rear-facing for the first two years of life because it reduces the risk of injury or death to such a significant degree in the most fatal kind of road accident (a head on collision).
I've seen children as old as 5 in rear-facing car-seats. It is possible, and we have seats that will allow you to do it. The Pearl, for example (demonstrated in the picture above), rear faces until 4 years of age. Diono and Nuna seats also have high rear-facing weight limits.
How does your car impact your options?
If you have isofix, you can choose to move into a car seat installed using the isofix connectors as opposed to the vehicle seatbelt. The benefit to this is that it's really easy to get a nice stable install using the isofix.
However, if you don't have isofix or you plan on moving between cars, then I recommend a car seat that installs using a seat belt. Isofix also has a lower weight limit so is not a suitable option for heavier children.
Sometimes your car will also limit your options a little - for example if you have short seat belts you might not be able to use every car seat.
How to work out the best option
The best way to determine the best car seat for you and your vehicle, is to talk to a Child Restraint Technician. We love helping parents figure out what they need. We also sell the extras (like anchor point kits) that will help you make your car seat fit safely in your vehicle.