It might just be baby fat. Or, it could be a larger-framed child. It may be that your child has an insatiable appetite at the moment. Whatever the case, if the child is overweight or slightly obese, they may not be able to fit into a normal-sized car seat like they use to.
It’s critically important that your child’s car seat fits them properly. The seat needs to be the proper orientation and needs to comfortably fit your child’s height and width. For obese children - those with ample girth for their height - it can be really hard to buy a child seat that fits well, but it's not impossible.
Before we go any further, there are some ground rules:
Children 2 and under need to be in rear-facing seats. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) recommends children 2 years of age and less should always be in a rear-facing child seat. Further, the longer your child remains in a rear-facing seat, the better. Use a rear-facing seat until your child outgrows either the weight or the height limit of the seat.
Use a front-facing child seat until it is outgrown. There’s no need to rush to the next stage, especially when your child’s safety is involved. A front-facing child seat is safer than a booster seat as long as your child is less than the height and weight restrictions for the seat.
Children 12 and under should always be in the back seat. It’s the safest place for them in the event of a collision. A deployed air bag could cause serious injuries to a child that would otherwise be life-saving for an adult.
With those details in mind, here are child seats that can accommodate obese children.
Diono Pacifica Convertible Child Seat
The Diono Pacifica offers a wide range of adjustment for every stage as your child grows. It can be used as a rear-facing seat for children anywhere from 5 to 50 pounds comfortably with the harness further outward and upward than most standard seats. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing option, flip it around to front-facing where it can be used for occupants anywhere from 20-90 pounds.
Clek Fllo Convertible Seat
The Clek Fllo is great particularly for the 2-and-under children with a little more heft than normal. The lightweight, stylish seat has a capacity of 14-50 pounds when used as a rear-facing seat. As the little one grows out of their baby fat, the Clek Fllo seat can be flipped front-facing to accommodate an average child up to 65 pounds.
Graco 4-Ever All-In-One
This child seat does it all. While the rear-facing seat configuration has only a 40-pound upper limit, the overall design of the seat is wider than normal so baby won’t be squished in. Its width comes from the fact that the Graco 4-Ever All-In-One can be used as a rear-facing, front-facing, and backless booster seat.
Evenflo Big Kid Booster Seat
When your child has outgrown their front-facing seat the Big Kid Booster Seat by Evenflo will accommodate them until they’ve reached 110 pounds. Its astounding weight capacity will assure even the most stout children will be able to ride safely in the car until they’ve grown enough to use a seat belt safely.
Safety 1st Advance Convertible Seat
Ideal for larger children in rear-facing mode, the Safety 1st Advance seat can hold up to 50-pound kids. Its wide seat base fits plump bottoms while head bolsters prevent head and neck injuries for short children. In front-facing mode, children up to 65 pounds are safely harnessed in.
Graco Argo 80 Elite 3-in-1 Car Seat
This 3-in-1 child seat is ideal for front-facing children from 20 to 80 pounds. The wide base, padded straps, and armrests will be comfortable for your plus-sized child until they are able to move into a booster seat. Then, this seat can be converted to a backed or backless booster seat, holding your child safely and comfortably until 120 pounds.
Diono Rainier Convertible + Booster Car Seat with Head Wings
The Diono Rainier child seat is a versatile option for “full-sized” babies and toddlers. The wide base without armrests allows for stout children to move without restriction and pinching. Rear-facing allows for occupants up to 50 pounds and forward facing until 65 pounds. It can also be converted to a booster seat for larger children up to 120 pounds.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as A Buyer's Guide to Car Seats for Larger Children and was authored by Jason Unrau.