Fit Requirements of Car Seats
I can already hear your inside voice saying, "What in the world is a fit requirement?!?!?". I get it, it's overwhelming to have car seats...that's exactly the point of Child Passenger Safety. We are here to spread the word about car seats actually being "a thing" and a thing that is really easy to do incorrectly.
So, like other blog posts, let's break it down.
Car seats have stated weight and height ranges and they include both a minimum and a maximum for both. Car seats can also have other limits that are referred to as fit requirements. These can include things like an specific age, walking unassisted, top of head 1" from the top of the seat shell (or adjustable head rest), where the straps must be on shoulders, top of ears contained in seat and maybe even able to chew gum and walk at the same time (just kidding about that last one...who can actually do that?!). The pictures above and below this paragraph are straight from various car seat manuals and cover a variety of fit requirements and some are very seat specific, check them out to get a good feel of what to look for in your own manual.
A fit requirement is just as important as height and weight limits and can sometimes mean a seat is outgrown before a child reaches a weight or height limit. My son, for example, had a seat that stated it could be used rear facing to 40 lbs or 49", but it also said the top of his head must be 1" below the top of the seat shell. He actually hit that 1" mark when he was 32" and not quite 2 years old, not even close to 49".
In the following pictures you can see various fit requirements stated by manufacturers.
Far Left: How to measure the 1" rule. This child is getting close but is still below the other limits of this seat. She will soon outgrow it just by meeting the 1" between top of head and top of seat shell fit requirement.
Middle: This seat stated that the top of the child's ears must be at/below the top of the seat's head rest. This child is well within what the height and weight limits of this seat are, but he is very close to outgrowing it at 6 years old in the booster mode.
Far Right: This seat says that the harness must come from AT or ABOVE the shoulders when used in harness mode for forward facing. This child still fits the height and weight limits of the seat in harness mode, but the harness is clearly coming for well below his shoulders so he has surpassed that fit requirement and has therefore outgrown this seat in the harness mode - he may be able to switch to the booster mode.
So there you have it, another reason why reading your car seat manual is so important and more proof that every car seat is not the same. As you saw in some of the manual pictures I posted above, fit requirements can change by manufacturer and seat. Be informed and be empowered!
As always Safe Travels is here to answer any and all of your car seat questions. Don't have your manual anymore? Get in touch and we will do our best to help. Have a question about something else not related (or related) to fit requirement? Hit this button and get in touch!