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The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2022


Below, you will find in-depth reviews of the best convertible car seats on the market, today. In an effort to provide full transparency, the pros and cons of all car seats have been provided, even to our 5-star, top-rated car seats. This is to help you make an informed decision before purchasing the best car seat for your child.

Best Convertible Car Seat Overall:


Page Contents
Best Convertible Car SeatsChicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car SeatGraco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car SeatBritax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car SeatSafety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car SeatGraco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car SeatEvenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car SeatMaxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max All-In-One Convertible Car SeatDiono Radian 3QXT 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat Honorable MentionsBritax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car SeatBritax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car SeatBritax Emblem 3 Stage Convertible Car SeatCosco Scenera Next Convertible Car SeatEvenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Car SeatEvenflo Sonus Convertible Car SeatGraco Recline 'n Ride 3-in-1 Car SeatComparing Convertible Car SeatsGuide to Selecting a Convertible Car SeatSafetyInstallationHarnessWashabilityWeight RangeBudgetSize of Car SeatBuying a Used Car SeatGuide to Car Seat SafetyRear-Facing Car Seats for Infants and ToddlersForward-Facing Car Seats for Toddlers and PreschoolersBooster Seats for School-Aged ChildrenSeat Belts for Older Children and AdultsImportant RemindersFAQs - Convertible Car SeatsHow do I install a convertible car seat?Do car seats have an expiration date?How will I know if my car seat gets recalled?Can I use my car seat after a crash?Where should I put my car seat?Should my child ride in a car seat on an airplane?Where can I find more information on car seat ratings?What else I can do to ensure my child's safety while in the car seat?What are the car seat laws in my state?What is a convertible car seat?What are the disadvantages of a convertible car seat?What is a good, affordable convertible car seat?What is the sequence of car seats for a growing baby/child?What is the best convertible car seat for a newborn?Can your baby leave the hospital in a convertible infant car seat?Final Word

Best Convertible Car Seats

The Chicco NextFit Zip is our top convertible car seat choice because it is safe, easy to install, loaded with helpful features, like a zip-off seat cover. For a cheaper option that has a higher weight limit, the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 works in 4 modes and holds kids up to 120 pounds. The Diono Radian 3QXT is the best narrow convertible car seat option with great safety features. For travel or a second car, the Evenflo Sonus is a cheap and bare basics option.

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat - Carbon
Price$$$$
Quality
Popularity

If you have started researching for the best convertible car seat, you’ve likely come across the Chicco NextFit line of car seats. The Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat is a top of the line, all-in-one seat that offers the majority of features you’ll find on any convertible seat. I will tell you right off the bat, this car seat is a quality seat. Though it is expensive, it is worth it for the added features.

For use from newborn through preschool, this car seat accommodates both rear (5-40 lbs.) and forward (22-65 lbs.) facing children. The removable newborn positioner supports infants from 5-11 lbs. Both adjustable and comfortable, this car seat helps keep younger children in the rear-facing position until at least age 2. Afterward, it helps transition growing toddlers to ride in a forward-facing position like a big kid. The smooth, one-hand height adjustment with integrated no re-thread harness accommodates your growing little one in 9 different heights. This multi-functional car seat is available in 5 color schemes.

Safety

The Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat is designed to fit your vehicle. Their ReclineSure leveling system provides nine recline options to fit correctly in a variety of different vehicles. Another particularly useful feature is the Dual Level Indicators. Two RideRight bubble levels accurately indicate the degree seats are angled in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes. The SuperCinch is an attachment to the latch system that lets you cinch it up tight by pulling on straps. It makes it very easy to tighten the car seat up against the seat of the car.

With these features, you can rest assured that your car seat is properly installed. The easy pull harness tightener facilitates a secure fit for your child. This top-rated car seat has a steel-reinforced frame and the body contains EPS energy-absorbing foam which absorbs energy when there are side impacts.

What’s to Love

As a mom that is always on the go, three additional, unique features appeal to me. First, the fabric is easy to remove and is machine washable. Most car seat pads are difficult to remove, but not this one. It simply unzips – no confusing hooks or latches. Just unzip and toss in the wash. Secondly, this car seat has top-notch safety. It has not only a steel-integrated frame but a deep and rigid shell that provides side impact protection, together with energy-absorbing EPS foam. Finally, it has a dishwasher-safe flex cup holder.

There really is nothing bad to say about the Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat. It is a wonderful car seat – loaded with features for both the child and the parent. I do see value in the added safety features. Personally, I’m willing to spend extra money on certain things, and a car seat is one of them. Not only will these features protect your child in the event of an accident, they will also help ensure your child will be secured in their seat correctly for each and every car ride.

Pros

  • Easy to remove, machine washable cover
  • High number of recline positions
  • Bubble level indicator
  • SuperCinch tightening
  • Added safety features

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Heavy

Customer Reviews

  • 4.7 out of 5 stars, 456 reviews – Albee Baby
  • 4.6 of out 5 stars, 66 reviews – buybuyBaby
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars, 68 reviews – Target

See Chicco NextFit Zip Review for our full, in-depth review of this best car seat (and the new, extended use NextFit Zip).

For a side-by-side comparison of how this car seat ranks with its competitor, see Chicco NextFit vs Britax Marathon Which Comes Out on Top?

Check out the Chicco NextFit vs Britax Boulevard here.

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car Seat, Infant to Toddler Car Seat, with 10 Years of Use, Zagg
Price$$$
Quality
Popularity

There is a reason, or a few reasons, the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is one of the best selling car seats on the market. This convertible car seat is super safe, durable, fairly easy to install, and machine washable. It gives you ten years with just one car seat. This parent pick is available in 6 color schemes.

Safety

Graco also has a modified latch system called InRight to make it quicker and easier to cinch the car seat to the latch during installation. The seat has side impact protection and several layers of padding. The seat has a steel frame and all in all, is very safe.

A big part of safety is a proper fit. The 4Ever has a 10-position headrest that can be adjusted as your child grows without having to re-thread the harnesses. The harnesses themselves are easy to cinch up. There is a little compartment in the back of the seat that holds the ends of the harnesses that aren’t being used as they have to be quite long to accommodate older children.

Graco does extensive testing of its car seats. All manufacturers are required to do this and Graco claims that they exceed federal safety standards.

What’s to Love

Transitioning through four stages, this adjustable car seat is comfortable for your child and convenient for you. 

Stage 1 is for children 4 to 40 lbs. This is rear-facing only and children are secured by the 5-point harness.

Stage 2 is for children 22 to 65 lbs and is forward-facing. Stage 2 continues to utilize the 5-point harness as a seat belt.

Stage 3 handles children from 40 to 100 lbs. In this stage, the seat is converted to a high-back booster. The car’s seat belt is threaded through the booster and serves as the seat belt for the child.

Stage 4 is for kids 40 to 120 lbs. In this stage, the back comes off the booster seat and the vehicle seat belt is used as the restraint. 

Pros:

  • Tested and passed well over federal safety standards
  • Steel reinforced frame and energy-absorbing foam
  • Fairly easy to install
  • Machine washable padding that is easy to put back on
  • 4-in-1 design that lasts from newborn car seat to booster seat, up to 120 lbs

Cons:

  • Not very comfortable
  • Sweaty material

Customer Reviews

  • 4.8, 1083 Reviews Graco.com
  • 4.8, 2342 Reviews Babies R Us
  • 4.9, 1215 Reviews Target
  • 4.8, 1066 Reviews Walmart

See Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat Review for our full, in-depth review of this best car seat.

See the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit comparison in this article.

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Verve
Price$$$$
Quality
Popularity

The Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is a high-quality car seat toward the medium-upper end of the price range that delivers some benefits you would expect, and more that you don’t expect. This line of car seats is very solid across the board, and much of that is due to safety and usability. The Marathon can be used as both a rear-facing car seat for children 5-40 lbs, and as a forward-facing car seat for kids 20-65 lbs. Available in 13 color schemes, this convertible car seat will leave your little one both stylish and safe.

Safety

There are three reasons this car seat made our list of the best convertible car seats. First, it boasts safe and easy installation, every time. Britax car seats use a system called ClickTight for installation. The inner seat lifts up, you thread the latch belts, and then closing (clicking) and locking the inner seat tightens the belts.

Second, the fit and comfort is unmatched. The Marathon has 14 height settings to move through as your child grows. It is simple to adjust the harness upward by pushing a button and pulling up on the top of the seat.

Finally, safety is a priority. Britax has a system called SafeCell Impact Protection that includes several key components. First is the steel frame. Second is the car seat base which has mesh design to absorb energy. And last is a tether designed to break rows of stiches, one at a time during a crash to gradually release tension.

What’s to Love

The bottom line is that the Britax Marathon Car Seat is perfect for the mom on the go. Overall, you will have peace of mind in knowing that your child is as safe as possible while you are out. It is easy to operate, and will certainly be comfortable for your child.

Pros

  • Super easy to install without having to thread the safety belt through the back of the car seat
  • Added safety features
  • Comfortable car seat that you can feel good about putting your child in
  • Machine Washable

Cons

  • The crotch strap can be difficult to adjust
  • Recessed bottom release button
  • Must be disassembled in order to be washed

Customer Reviews

  • 4.7 stars, 155 reviews Google Shopping
  • 4.5 stars, 164 reviews Target
  • 4.6 stars, 327 reviews Toys R Us
  • 4.5 stars, 159 reviews Walmart

See Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat Review for our full, in-depth review of this best car seat. And here’s a review of the Marathon G4.1 version.

Britax makes several exceptional convertible car seats. Here are comparisons of the Britax models:

  • Marathon vs Boulevard. The Boulevard is a bit more expensive with some minor additional features.
  • Marathon vs Advocate. The Advocate is the top of the line, and has more side-impact protection, but probably not enough to warrant the extra cost.
  • Boulevard vs Advocate. The Advocate is slightly bigger, with more padding, and generally gets better reviews than the Boulevard.

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Car Seat, Blue Coral
Price$$$
Quality
Popularity

The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is a lower cost alternative to the 4Ever and Marathon that still provides a safe and comfortable ride.

This inexpensive favorite is available in 7 color schemes.

This car seat is built to grow with 3 stages of use. Stage 1: For newborns to growing toddlers, it can be used in the rear-facing position from 5-40 lbs. Stage 2: In forward-facing mode (up to 65 lbs), your child is protected in a harness. Stage 3: When your child is ready to use the vehicle seat belts, remove the harness to use the Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat in belt-positioning booster mode (up to 100 lbs).

Safety

Obviously, the biggest concern of having this car seat is safety. And while you might be more familiar with the safety of some of the big-name car seats, Safety 1st lives up to their name. They do put the safety of your child first. That’s why they completely exceed all of the requirements for use in the United States. They have incredible side-impact protection from the unique shape of the headrest. And this isn’t just for the two rear facing and forward facing modes. It’s also for the booster mode. You can rest assured that your kiddo will be completely safe if there is a crash, as many Amazon users can attest to.

What’s to Love

Three features of this car seat make it a parenting win. As your tiny baby grows into a big kid, messes are bound to happen, but this car seat pad makes clean up easy. Both machine washable and dryer safe, the car seat cover is also designed to come off the seat easily, with no need to remove the harness.

This seat comes with holders for the 5 point harness that leaves the ends out of the way while you are taking your child in and out of the seat. Not only are they out of the way, but they stay accessible so you don’t have to fish them out from behind the child.

The size of the seat allows for extra leg room for the child and more space in the car in rear-facing mode. Safety 1st says it provides 7 extra inches of legroom for parents in the front seat. 

You don’t always have to pay big money for a big brand to get a great car seat. This best car seat offers safety, convenience, and style at an affordable price.

Pros

  • 3 different modes for years of use
  • Safe and easy with a good latch system
  • Easy to adjust harness
  • Washable cover
  • Stylish and cute
  • Inexpensive
  • Added Leg Room

Cons

  • Bulky in back seat, especially when reclined
  • Cup holders in a weird spot and hard to clean
  • Tips around if you don’t get the latch right

Customer Reviews

  • 4.4 stars, 187 reviews – Walmart
  • 4.2 stars, 1,186 reviews – Target
  • 4.1 stars, 34 reviews – Bed Bath & Beyond
  • 4 stars, 119 reviews – Sears

See Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat for our full, in-depth review of this best car seat.

Graco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Graco Milestone 3 in 1 Car Seat, Infant to Toddler Car Seat, Gotham
Price$$$
Quality
Popularity

The Graco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat has received rave reviews for it’s near perfection as a convertible car seat. It has superb safety, a great latching system, a harness and headrest with thoughtful and useful design, unmatched comfort, and the ability to grow with your child. This convertible car seat is available in 2 color schemes.

Safety

Loose harnesses and seat belts are a bigger safety concern than the structure of the car seats themselves. Graco’s “Simply Safe Adjust Harness System” allows the height of the booster seat back to be increased by pulling the headrest from the top. The harnesses adjust more or less automatically. This keeps the harnesses snug as your child gets taller.

It’s so easy to use this convertible car seat, and you can make the adjustment with just one hand. The 5-point harness is extended, in order to fit children up to 65 pounds, keeping them harnessed even longer.

Like the 4Ever seat, the Milestone also makes use of Graco’s InRight LATCH system which makes sure the car seat is installed snugly against the seat of the car. The latches are pushed onto the anchors in the crack of the car seat. This is how all latch systems work. Then the Graco mechanism has straps you can pull to cinch it tight. It really is easy to use once you have the straps running the right way.

It is a good idea to watch their video the first time you do it so that you thread the straps correctly.

The Milestone makes use of a typical 5-point harness which is safe and easy to use once you’ve done it a couple of times.

What’s to Love

A couple of notable features were designed to make a parent’s life easier. Plush inserts keep your infant comfortable in the rear-facing mode and are removable to make room for your growing child.

There is a 4-position recline to keep your child at a comfortable position as their age and size changes. You’ll find that certain reclining positions work better in either rear-facing or forward-facing mode.

A removable cup holder keeps your child’s drink close at hand in the forward-facing and booster seat modes. The integrated harness storage compartment holds the unused harness straps while the seat is being used in the belt-positioning, booster seat mode, cutting down on the car clutter. The easy to remove, washable car seat cover makes quick work of cleaning. Even when it feels like you live in your car, it doesn’t have to look like it.

This car seat really impressed me. The Graco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat has all the safety features I want. Add the good features to the cute design and the reasonable price, and this adjustable car seat is a smart buy for any parent.

Pros

  • 3 great stages
  • Safe design
  • Simply Safe Adjust harness with storage space
  • Machine washable padding
  • Reclines
  • Removable Cup Holder
  • Easy Installation

Cons

  • Too big for smaller babies
  • Straps loosen easily
  • Needed to latch and strap it in for security
  • Recline button hard to access in the rear-facing position

Customer Reviews

  • 4.8 stars, 194 reviews – Walmart
  • 4.9 stars, 143 reviews – JC Penney
  • 4.8 stars, 160 reviews – Kohl’s
  • 4.9 stars, 100 reviews – Sears

See In-Depth Review of the Graco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat for our full, in-depth review of this best car seat.

The Graco Extend2Fit has the features of the Milestone and has greater weight limits for rear-facing (up to 50 lbs) and forward-facing (up to 65 lbs). To view the Extend2Fit vs Milestone comparison, see here.

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat, Charleston
Price$$
Quality
Popularity

The Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat is cute. But beyond its looks, it actually has substance! It was artfully engineered to fit babies from 5 to 65 lbs and works in both forward-facing and rear-facing modes. It exceeds all federal safety regulations, and has a fabulous latch and harness system. Kiddos will love the cup holders, padding, and other extras. This multi-use car seat is available in 3 color schemes.

Safety

This car seat has been crash tested to meet 2 times the safety standards for front impact and rear impact. It has Evenflo’s e3 safety engineering, which creates 3 different layers of protection in different zones. This means, according to Evenflo, that it’ll reduce any side impact forces by up to 50%. Plus, it’s designed to withstand both high and low temperatures and still maintain its safety and integrity. There’s nothing unsafe about this cute car seat.

What’s to Love

There is so much to love about this best car seat.

To prevent burns from hot buckles and to make it easier to find the ends of the buckles when you are strapping in your child, the seat comes with buckle pockets that make them easy to find and protect them from the sun. 

The Infinite Slide Harness provides an easy, safe, accurate fit and eliminates any need for harness re-threading as your child grows. Tension Right Adjusters quickly and easily tighten the harness by turning the knob.

Like the other seats in this list there are several recline positions. They are controlled by a button under the front of the seat.

A must for busy parents, the car seat pad is removable for washing without having rethread harnesses.

Finally, a removable head and body pillow allow for additional comfort and support.

The Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat is a great buy for a good price. Its unquestionable safety and amazing harness system won it a best car seat review by a leading consumer magazine.

Pros

  • Extremely safe
  • Really grows with child (big weight range)
  • Amazing adjustable harness
  • No rethreading straps
  • Reclines
  • Cup holders
  • Machine washable padding
  • Buckle pockets
  • Removable head and body pillow

Cons

  • Takes some effort to latch in
  • A bit bulky
  • Hard to recline when rear facing
  • Material seems a bit cheap

Customer Reviews

  • 4.4 stars, 23 reviews – buybuyBaby
  • 4.2 stars, 34 reviews – Toys R Us
  • 4.3 stars, 78 reviews – Walmart
  • 4.1 stars, 62 reviews – Target

See Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat: A Mommy Review for our full, in-depth review of this best car seat. The Evenflo Symphony Elite didn’t make our best list but is another solid convertible seat from Evenflo.

Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max All-In-One Convertible Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi Magellan Xp Max All-In-One Convertible Car Seat with 5 Modes & Magnetic Chest Clip, Nomad Black
Price$$$$
Quality
Popularity

For every new journey, the Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max All-In-One Convertible Car Seat has been designed with the utmost luxury, safety, and comfort in mind. The 5-in-1 seating system is your one-and-done solution for children from birth to 10 years (5-120 lbs). There are 5 color schemes to choose from, so your little one will ride in style on any new adventure.

This car seat can function as a rear-facing infant seat, rear-facing toddler seat, forward-facing toddler seat, child forward-facing seat, and belt-positioning booster. Because the seat works for children up to 120 lbs it has 14 height positions to use with the gradual growth of your child.

This means that no matter how tall they are, the seat adjusts to keep the straps snug. The headrest and harness heights are adjustable separately, which is different from the other seats we’ve reviewed. 

Safety

Part of the car seat’s job is to keep your child as safe as possible in any type of collision. When a side-impact collision occurs, it leaves your child’s head and chest extremely vulnerable to injury. In a side-impact collision, the shoulders take the impact, jolting the chest and head. To help remedy this, Maxi-Cosi’s AirProtect technology instantly protects that which matters most the child’s neck and head. The air-filled headrest absorbs the impact forces of a collision and helps slow down the child’s body as it travels as a result of these forces.

What’s to Love

This adjustable car seat includes a soft to the touch, easy to remove infant pillow system that comforts and cradles your new baby.

Children sweat and become uncomfortable in the hot summer months. This seat has self-wicking fabrics to wick away moisture and keep them dry and comfortable while remaining warm in the cold months. The fabrics have been tailored to fit, but in case of those unwanted messes, they’re machine washable and dryer safe. The two dishwasher-safe cup holders are dishwasher safe.

This is one of the most expensive car seats on our list. However, the versatility and longevity of this car seat make it a great investment.

Pros

  • Accommodates very small babies
  • 5-in-1 car seat
  • Machine washable cover
  • Dishwasher safe cup holders
  • Adjustable torso
  • Maximized side impact protection
  • Self-wicking fabric

Cons

  • Large, long term footprint
  • Expensive

Customer Reviews

  • 4.7 stars, 3 reviews – AlbeeBaby
  • 4.8 stars, 31 reviews – buybuyBaby
  • 4.9 stars, 35 reviews – Target

Diono Radian 3QXT 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat 

Diono Radian 3QXT 4-in-1 Rear and Forward Facing Convertible Car Seat, Safe Plus Engineering, 4 Stage Infant Protection, 10 Years 1 Car Seat, Slim Fit 3 Across, Jet Black
Price$$$$
Quality
Popularity

If you’ve ever looked into the narrowest car seats, then you’ve undoubtedly heard of Diono. The Diono Radian 3QXT is the original 3 Across Car Seat. But beyond having the right size, does it have the other right features you need? Absolutely. This is the only car seat you’ll need for your baby. It has 3 riding modes, impeccable safety, and a parent-friendly design. Your baby will be comfy, safe, and stylish in this space-saving car seat. This convertible car seat is available in 6 color schemes.

Safety

The full steel core is where the safety of the Radian 3QXT begins. It’s automotive-grade steel, meaning that your little one will get the same type of protection as you. While it does make the car seat a bit heavier, it’s much safer in the case of a crash because it won’t bend or break. This seat also features Side Impact Protection in the form of large wings for the headrest. 

The latch installation makes safe install super easy. A loud click lets you know that you have the seat connected to the LATCH hooks properly. They’re a bit difficult to get tight since the seat is so heavy, but once installed, you can rest assured that the seat is secure and totally safe.

All of Diono’s car seats undergo rigorous testing to make sure that they meet the highest safety standards. They meet or exceed all Federal safety standards, and they are also FAA Approved for flying.

Another feature that adds to the safety of this car seat is the fact that it can be used rear-facing for much longer. Keeping your child rear-facing up to 50 pounds means that they can be more protected if there’s an accident.

What’s to Love

This is a reliable car seat. It has a safe steel core and a simple latch system. The included infant liner makes sure that even the tiniest babies, at just 5 pounds, are comfortable and secure. The three modes span across 120 pounds, meaning that you’ll never have to buy another car seat again. And best of all, the narrow profile means that you can fit 3 across in any car. All of this is topped off by washable fabrics in fun or neutral colors, memory foam padding, and seat that folds up to get a flat fold for travel, and an unbeatable 10-year expiration date. 

Pros

  • Space-saving size
  • 3 ways to ride
  • Maximum safety
  • Easy to install and adjust
  • Steel core
  • Rear-facing for longer

Cons

  • Relatively complicated install
  • Have to move harness by hand
  • Too small/narrow for larger kids

Customer Reviews

  • 4.7 stars, 683 reviews – Target
  • 4.7 stars, 586 reviews – buybuyBaby
  • 4.8 stars, 50 reviews – AlbeeBaby

Check out our Diono Radian 3QX vs 3QXT comparison here.

Honorable Mentions

While the following all-in-one car seats didn’t make our list of top picks, they are great, high rated products that should be considered.

Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Mosaic
Price$$$$
Quality
Popularity

The Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat has a groundbreaking installation system that leaves you with no doubt the seat is safely and correctly installed. 3 layers of side impact protection, a snug harness indicator, an impact-absorbing base, and steel frame make for the best protection for your child. 

According to the NHTSA 75% of car seats are not installed correctly. Installation errors are primarily a failure to get the seat tightly installed against the seat of the car. This seat makes use of Britax’s ClickTight installation system (like the Marathon discussed above). After latches are attached to straps and they are threaded, you push down the seat on top of the straps until it clicks and then lock it. This puts pressure on the straps and tightens the car seat against the car’s seat.

Parents can choose from 5 color patterns when purchasing this convertible car seat.

Safety

Again, like the Marathon, the Advocate convertible car seat uses a honeycomb material in the base to absorb energy in a crash. It also has a steel frame and tethers that keep the seat from rotating in an accident. The tethers have the staged tearing feature we discussed early that absorbs energy in stages as each set of stitching releases.

Additionally, Britax has designed three layers of padding into this seat and head area for side impact protection. 

To address the safety hazard of loose harnesses which cause a substantial percentage of serious injuries, the Advocate has a very easy height adjustment mechanism. You pull up the headrest and the harnesses adjust automatically. There are 14 different height positions so that the seat has a good fit as your child grows.

Something to Consider

The Britax Advocate Clicktight seems like a great car seat. It gets great reviews, although not as high as some others. However, when you begin to dig deeper, you’ll find that they don’t last as long as they say they do. While they do hold up to serious car accidents, it is hard to get past the constant maintenance and the inability to clean it easily. Britax has some great models. However, this one leaves a lot to be desired.

Pros

  • The Britax Advocate ClickTight is easy to install
  • It is comfortable, and there is adequate padding to enable naps on long trips
  • The straps are easy to adjust
  • The height adjustments can be adjusted with one hand
  • High safety ratings

Cons

  • The Advocate has seen quite a few recalls, even if they do offer replacements, it is still disconcerting
  • The straps tangle easily, which make it harder to buckle your child
  • The best features, like the easy click system, are the ones that seem to break first
  • Spot clean only

Customer Reviews

  • 4.5 stars, 133 reviews – Walmart
  • 4 stars, 136 reviews – Babies R Us
  • 4 stars, 145 reviews – buybuyBaby

See Britax Advocate ClickTight Review for our full in-depth review of this best car seat.

See our comparison of the Britax Advocate vs Marathon here and the Britax Advocate vs Maxi Cosi Pria 85 here.

Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat

Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat, Static
Price$$$
Quality
Popularity

The Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat is a newer addition to the Britax line of seats that includes most of the high-tech safety and comfort features but is available at a lower price than its siblings.

The Allegiance convertible car seat operates in rear-facing and forward-facing mode. It is for children up to 65 lbs.

This convertible car seat is available in 4 color choices.

Safety

Here are the safety technologies included with this seat:

  • The Britax SafeCell Impact Protection system which includes side impact protection, a steel frame, impact-absorbing base, and forward movement reducing v-shaped tether.
  • An energy absorption layer that consists of a foam-lined shell
  • Foam padding and three recline positions
  • A 10-position headrest and harness adjustment system for tight harness fit as your child grows. The higher-end seats have 14 positions, but they convert to a high-back booster seat and this one does not.

Something to Consider

The Allegiance is similar to higher-priced Britax models in its safety and ease-of-use features. This convertible car seat features the same Safe Cell impact protection system as other Britax brand seats. The two main differences appear to be the quality of the seat fabric and the amount of side impact protection on the seat. While many Britax models offer two or three layers of side impact protection, the Allegiance only has one.

Parents who want the security and features of the Britax brand at an affordable price should strongly consider the Allegiance.

Pros

  • High safety ratings
  • Easy to adjust the harness
  • Comfortable
  • More affordable than other Britax models
  • Easy Installation

Cons

  • Large
  • Bulky
  • Not machine washable
  • Only one layer of side impact protection

Customer Reviews

  • 4.6 stars, 25 reviews – AlbeeBaby
  • 4.6 stars, 32 reviews – Walmart
  • 4.7 stars, 46 reviews – Target

See Essentials by Britax Allegiance Convertible Car Seat Review for our full in-depth review of this best car seat.

Britax Emblem 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat

Britax Emblem 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat, Dash
Price$$$
Quality
Popularity

Like the previous car seat, the Britax Emblem 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat is an all-in-one car seat that can be used for children weighing between 5 and 65 lbs. It can be used in rear-facing or front-facing mode and can be installed with either LATCH connectors or the vehicle seat belt. The Emblem also has three recline positions to help you correctly position the seat in your vehicle. This convertible car seat is available in 4 color schemes.

Safety

All Britax car seats feature SafeCell Safety Protection, a set of features designed to create a cell of safety around your child. These features include a stabilizing steel frame that absorbs crash impact and provides seat stability; an impact-absorbing base that compresses to absorb the impact of a crash and direct impact forces away from your child; and a V-shaped tether that reduces seat rotation and slows forward movement. It features many of the same safety and parental use features as the Allegiance but does offer an additional layer of side-impact protection over the Allegiance.

Something to Consider

The Emblem is a well-designed car seat that gives parents the security of the Britax name at a more affordable price. However, at this price point, I want to love my car seat. While washability is a minor concern, it’s enough that I’d look at options from other brands if I were going to spend this much on a new car seat. Also, the Emblem’s price point only leaves a forty to fifty dollar difference between it and seats like the Britax Marathon. The Marathon has a similar design to the Emblem, but the Marathon offers more harness positions and recline positions than the Emblem. The Marathon also appears to have a higher-quality fabric than the Emblem. Parents considering the Emblem should do a side-by-side comparison between the Emblem and the Marathon to decide which seat they really need.

Pros

  • High safety ratings
  • Easy to adjust the harness
  • Comfortable
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Not machine washable
  • Large
  • Bulky

Customer Reviews

  • 4.8 stars, 31 reviews – Walmart
  • 5 stars, 14 reviews – Target
  • 4.8 stars, 14 reviews – Kohl’s

For a side by side comparison of the Britax Convertible Car Seats, see Emblem vs. Allegiance vs. Boulevard vs. Marathon: Britax Convertible Car Seat Comparison.

Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat

Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat with Cup Holder (Moon Mist Grey)
Quality
Popularity

The Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat has your family covered from rear-facing baby to forward facing, with a range of 5-40 pounds.

This is the budget seat in our lineup. It is significantly less than $100 and provides basic comfort and safety.

Additionally, the Cosco Scenera Next is great when you have multiple kids, all in car seats, because it fits three seats across the back of most cars.

Stage 1 of this seat is rear-facing infant mode for babies up to 40 lbs.

Stage 2 is forward facing for kids from 22 to 40 lbs.

Unfortunately, this reliable seat does not have a booster mode, which is why it’s only an honorable mention on our list. 

This convertible car seat doesn’t have the large headrest that many of the other seats on this list have. Instead, it has 5 harness heights and 3 bottom buckle locations that can all be used by rethreading the straps in the back.

This convertible car seat is available in so many color schemes! From Minnie Mouse to Real Tree Camoflage to Candy Apple Red, not to mention some very neutral patterns and colors.

Safety

Each stage provides Side Impact Protection to keep your child safer during the ride, and has exceeded all Federal Safety Standards. Plus, it’s certified for use on an airplane and it has latch connectors.

Something to Consider

This car seat has removable pads and fabric that are washable, making it easy to maintain in the face of crumbs, stains and messiness.

Overall, the Cosco Scenera Next is a good option for forward-facing mode.  If you have an infant seat that your baby is growing out of between ages 1 and 2, and you’re looking for a seat to save space and money, this would be a great option. As a rear-facing car seat for infants and children under 2, the cumbersome installation and lack of padding is a deterrent.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable harness
  • Machine Washable
  • Great for travel

Cons

  • Difficult installation
  • No booster mode
  • High shoulder straps make it a poor choice for little babies

Customer Reviews

  • 4.4 stars, 146 reviews – Walmart
  • This car seat is sold at exclusive retailers, like Walmart and Amazon.

See our Cosco Car Seat Comparison to get a more in-depth view of this car seat.

Evenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Car Seat, Carson
Quality
Popularity

The Evenflo Sure Ride DLX Convertible Car Seat holds a rear-facing infant from 5 – 40 lbs, and a forward-facing toddler from 22 – 65 lbs. It is available in 4 color schemes. (I love the richness of the sugar plum color option on this one.) It’s hard to know exactly what you need, and often harder to stay within budget. This car seat is an affordable, convertible seat, but it may not have all the features you want.

Safety

Even though this is a lower-end car seat it does meet all the federal safety regulations. In fact, Evenflow claims that they use 2 times the standard energy level in side impact protection testing as part of their standard testing practices for all their car seats.  

The 6 shoulder strap positions and 2 crotch buckle positions on this all-in-one car seat allow it to accommodate growing children longer. The easy to access upfront harness adjustment and buckle release make it convenient for simple harness adjusting. An energy absorbing foam liner provides added safety.

Something to Consider

The SureRide isn’t the most convenient of car seats it’s harder to install than most. It isn’t super comfortable, and it is bulky. However, it will still do what it needs to do. It exceeds crash test ratings. It is lightweight, so it’s easy to transport.

The seat pad is removable and washable.

While I wouldn’t use this as my main car seat, I would use it as a secondary seat. That being said, the Evenflo SureRide DLX is a quality seat, and if it fits in your budget, I would recommend it.

Pros

  • Huge height range
  • 6 harness positions
  • Lightweight
  • Safe
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • Hard to install
  • Uncomfortable insufficient padding
  • Bulky
  • No bubble level

Customer Reviews

  • 4 stars, 139 Reviews, Target
  • 4.2 stars, 40 Reviews, Babies R Us
  • 4.3 stars, 45 Reviews, Walmart

See Review of the Evenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Seat for our full in-depth review of this best car seat.

Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat, Charcoal Sky
Price$$
Quality
Popularity

The Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat is small in size and lighweight. This makes it ideal if you have to switch between cars often.

The seat is not ideal if you are looking to buy only one seat for the life of your child. It only supports kids up to 50 lbs in forward-facing mode. So you will need to find a high-back booster after that. 

It comes in 4 different colors: Amethyst, Charcoal Sky, Deerfield, and Strawberry Pink. 

Safety

The Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat is a safe seat and long as it is installed correctly and you get the straps tight. It meets all the federal safety requirements as do all the commercially available car seats. It implements the standard side-impact protection design of other Evenflo car seats in its class. 

Something to Consider

Honestly, I think this is a great option for a second car seat or traveling car seat. If you are looking for a cheap and lightweight car seat to travel with, or just need a second car seat for the grandparents to keep, the Evenflo Sonus is worth considering. I personally wouldn’t use this as my main car seat just because of the lack of padding and the sharp edges. It does stand up to all federal crash test standards, but I like to see a little more protection to ensure the car seat I have is well above any standards out there. This is a great option for frequent travelers looking for a lightweight and inexpensive infant or toddler seat.

Pros

  • Great for travel
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Machine washable padding
  • Sleek look
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • No cloth guards for harness straps
  • Sharp edges on plastic
  • Doesn’t offer enough recline adjustment
  • Not enough padding

Customer Reviews

  • 4.2 stars, 58 Reviews Target
  • 4.5 stars, 65 Reviews Walmart
  • 4.5 stars, 4 Reviews diapers.com
  • 4.3 stars, 23 Reviews Kohl’s

Graco Recline ‘n Ride 3-in-1 Car Seat

Graco Recline N' Ride 3 in 1 Car Seat | Infant to Toddler Car Seat featuring Easy, One Hand On the Go Recline, Murphy
Quality
Popularity

The Graco Recline ‘n Ride 3-in-1 Car Seat is really nice, and it’s very unique. The base is strapped down and the seat can be reclined into any of 4 positions each in forward-facing and rear-facing mode. This design allows you to make needed adjustments without taking the whole car seat out. With this convertible car seat, you have the choice of 2 color schemes.

Safety

This car seat meets or exceeds all Federal Safety Standards. In fact, it withstands double the impact force that is required. It is crash tested under the roughest circumstances at Graco’s very own crash test facility in Atlanta, Georgia. To ensure that materials still react to how they are supposed to, this car seat is tested at extreme temperatures. Additionally, it is side-impact tested to make sure your little one stays safe. Built with a steel-reinforced frame, this car seat lasts 10 years from its manufacture date.

Something to Consider

This car seat is big, heavy, and takes up a lot of space in order to work correctly. It is not a great choice for those with small cars. For those of us who have already taken the minivan or SUV leap, it will work fine. The booster is nothing to brag about, but it does its job. Since you won’t have to purchase a new booster seat once your kiddo outgrows the harness, it makes it a really cost-effective car seat option.

The extras make parents sigh with relief. There are 2 cup holders for snacks and drinks. It features an easy-adjust headrest and harness, in one. The easy off, machine washable seat cover makes cleaning up messes a breeze. Overall, I think Graco made another great car seat, here. It’s safe. It’s easy to use, and it will keep your kid comfortable. This is definitely a great choice if your child rides with you for long commutes and sleeps in the car a lot.

Pros

  • Great, dependable safety
  • Convertible car seat with 3 modes
  • On the go recline can be adjusted without uninstalling
  • InRight latch and vehicle belt lock-offs for ease of use
  • 2 cup holders
  • Machine-washable seat cover
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Requires a lot of room
  • Many nooks and crannies to get dirty
  • Heavy

Customer Reviews

  • 4.8 stars, 33 reviews – Graco.com
  • This convertible car seat recently hit the market. We’ll keep checking as more and more reviews start to come in.

See Graco Recline N Ride Car Seat Review for our full in-depth review of this best car seat.

Comparing Convertible Car Seats

The table below compares only the recommended products on this page. A low or high Price means it is low or high compared to the other products listed. The Popularity Score reflects how often readers click on and buy the product. The Quality Score is our assessment of the overall performance and satisfaction with the product compared to others in the table.


Guide to Selecting a Convertible Car Seat

In studies by the NHTSA and the CDC, we learn that a leading cause of child fatality in the United States is injury from motor vehicles.

The studies point primarily to accidents caused by errors in car seat usage and installation. In fact, the NHTSA website rates car seats not on safety per se, because they are all safe, but on ease of use in these 4 categories:

  • Evaluation of instructions
  • Vehicle installation features
  • Evaluation of labels
  • Securing the child

That’s why we have discussed and emphasized the usability features of car seats throughout this article. Some of the best car seats are simply easier to install, easier to buckle, easier to tighten up, and easier to get in and out of cars than others.

Studies show that in 2016 more than a third of the fatalities where simply because the children were not even buckled up.

While the idea that vehicular accidents are the leading cause of death is alarming, the good news is that the mortality rate of children in accidents is quite low and the numbers seem to be improving over time.

Parents are becoming better educated and car seat manufacturers are making strides in improving safety technology and ease of use.

Child safety seats can greatly reduce the risk of a potentially fatal injury, especially for babies, but also for toddlers. Yet, many safety seats are used incorrectly. When choosing any car seat, following some general guidelines will help ensure your child’s safety.

According to kidshealth.org, convertible car seats are designed to protect kids from birth up to at least 40 lbs (18 kilograms) facing backward, and up to 65 lbs (30 kilograms) or even 80 lbs (36 kilograms) facing forward, depending on the model. Convertible seats are the only type of seats that are placed in different positions depending on a child’s age. They face toward the rear until a baby is ready to face forward, when they can be turned around and “converted” into a forward-facing seat.

Safety

Choose a seat with a label that states that it meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. This safety standard governs the performance and some design criteria for child restraint systems for children who weigh up to 65 lbs.

The standard includes requirements for restraint crash-worthiness, labeling and instructions, flammability, and buckle and release pressure. In 2014, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) increased the maximum weight limit covered by the safety standard from 65-80 lbs.

All car seats that are available on the market must pass certain crash tests and safety standards. That being said, there are features to keep an eye out for that add a degree of safety to a car seat. Typically, car seats with more safety features are more expensive because they have those added features, but don’t assume all expensive car seats are safer, and similarly, some less expensive car seats do come with additional safety features.


See our Complete Guide on Car Seat Safety


Installation

Once you select a seat, be sure to try it out, keeping in mind that store displays and illustrations might not show the correct usage. It is up to you to learn how to install a car safety seat properly and harness your child for the ride. See more information below about installing a convertible car seat.

Harness

Decide whether or not you prefer a car seat with a no re-thread harness. A no re-thread harness means that you can adjust the harness level without completely taking the harness out of the car seat. On car seats without a no re-thread harness, you must unthread the harness straps through the back of the car seat and then re-insert them back into the car seat at the desired harness height.

With a no re-thread harness, you simply squeeze a button at the top of the car seat, and the whole back of the car seat can move up or down until you reach the desired harness height. It may sound like a basic feature, but it is so much simpler to adjust a harness that doesn’t need to be re-threaded. Plus, it reduces the chance of re-threading the harness back into the seat incorrectly.

With my oldest children, we didn’t have a no-re-thread harness. However, with our most recent foster child, we were gifted a car seat that featured a no re-thread harness. It may seem like a small feature, but I will be the first to admit that this small feature makes a big difference.

Washability

Most car seat inserts are machine washable, however, some are spot clean only. If you anticipate spending a lot of time in your vehicle, or many potential messes, it is important to consider a machine washable option. Cleaning a car seat isn’t just a great way to make your backseat look (and smell) better, it’s also an important safety factor.

Over time, dirt and grime can accumulate and prevent a seat from performing up to the highest standard. It is recommended that you clean the car seat cover and buckle periodically to keep them in their best shape. Here are a few general tips for cleaning your car seat and buckle, but please refer to the user guide that came with your car seat for specific cleaning instructions.

  • Washing the Car Seat Cover
    • Remove the cover from the car seat. The user guide contains instructions for both removing and replacing the cover.
    • Hand wash or machine wash the cover using cold water and mild soap, per the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not use bleach.
    • Lie flat, line dry, or machine dry (only if it is dryer safe) to prevent the cover from shrinking. Do not iron the cover.
  • Cleaning the Buckle
    • Remove the buckle from the seat. The user guide contains instructions for removing and replacing the buckle.
    • Thoroughly rinse the buckle with warm running water. Do not soak the buckle or use soap, household detergents, solvents, or lubricants.
    • You’ll need to test each part of the buckle to make sure all of the debris has been removed and if functions properly. Fasten and unfasten each piece listening for the click sound to confirm that each component is clean and in working condition.
    • Dry the buckle with a towel and re-attach it to the car seat.

Weight Range

Weight ranges vary on convertible car seats, so it is important to consider a child’s height and weight before buying one. Some convertible car seats are rated for children up to 65 lbs, while others are rated for children up to 120 lbs. Please take your child’s size into consideration when purchasing an all-in-one car seat. Below, you will find two charts comparing the minimum and maximum weights of both the top rated and honorable mention convertible car seats featured in this article.

Top Rated Convertible Car SeatMinimum WeightMaximum Weight
Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat4 lbs120 lbs
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat5 lbs100 lbs
Graco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat5 lbs100 lbs
Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max Convertible Car Seat5 lbs120 lbs
Diono Radian 3QXT 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat5 lbs120 lbs
Honorable Mention Convertible Car SeatMinimum WeightMaximum Weight
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Britax Emblem 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat5 lbs40 lbs
Evenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Car Seat5 lbs65 lbs
Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat5 lbs50 lbs
Graco Recline ‘n Ride Convertible Car Seat5 lbs100 lbs

Budget

The best car seat is not always the most expensive one it’s the one that best fits a child’s weight, size, and age, as well as your vehicle. Convertible seats are heavy and not very portable. Yet they can be economical because it may not be necessary to buy a separate infant-only seat. Here are the best car seats referenced in this article in order by price. However, it is important to keep in mind that between market demands and discounts, prices can vary daily.

Size of Car Seat

All-in-one car seats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you have a smaller car, consider a narrow car seat option. If you anticipate needing to move your car seat frequently, choosing a lighter weight, convertible car seat will be a good choice for you. If you are having twins, this is a really important consideration, since you’ll need to place both car seats in the same vehicle. Check out our Best Car Seats for Twins article to learn more.

Below, you will find two charts with the car seat length, width, height, and weight for each of the top-rated and honorable mention convertible car seats featured in this article.

Top Rated Car SeatCar Seat LengthCar Seat WidthCar Seat HeightCar Seat Weight
Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat21 in19 in29.5 in25.1 lbs
Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat27 in21 in28 in22.8 lbs
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat23 in18.5 in23.5 in28.4 lbs
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat24 in19 in23.8 in18.7 lbs
Graco Milestone 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat19.7 in16.25 in25.5 in19.8 lbs
Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat32.5 in20.1 in18.4 in23.9 lbs
Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max All-In-One Convertible Car Seat25 in24 in19.75 in25 lbs
Diono Radian 3QXT 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat16 in17 in31 in25.8 lbs
Honorable Mention Car SeatCar Seat LengthCar Seat WidthCar Seat HeightCar Seat Weight
Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat23 in20.5 in23.5 in30.1 lbs
Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat21 in18.5 in26 in19.5 lbs
Britax Emblem 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat21 in18.5 in26 in19.5 lbs
Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat22 in17 in23.5 in10.4 lbs
Evenflo SureRide DLX Convertible Car Seat29 in20 in20 in14.5 lbs
Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat19 in19 in29 in13 lbs
Graco Recline ‘n Ride Convertible Car Seat21 in20 in28in30 lbs

Buying a Used Car Seat

Accept a used seat with caution. Never use a seat that is more than 6 years old or one that has been in a crash. Even if it looks okay, it could be structurally unsound. Avoid seats that are missing parts, are not labeled with the manufacture date and model number (you’ll have no way to know about recalls), or do not come with an instruction manual. Also, check the seat for the manufacturer’s recommended “expiration date.”

If you have any doubts about a seat’s history, or if it is cracked or shows signs of wear and tear, don’t use it. If you accept a used seat, contact the manufacturer for recommendations on how long the seat can safely be used, and to find out if it has ever been recalled. Recalls are quite common, and the manufacturer might be able to provide you with a replacement part or a new model.

Guide to Car Seat Safety

One of the most important jobs you have as a parent is keeping your child safe when riding in a vehicle. Each year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper use of car safety seats helps keep children safe. But with so many different seats on the market, many parents find this overwhelming. If you are an expectant parent, give yourself enough time to learn how to properly install the car safety seat in your car before your baby is born to ensure a safe ride home from the hospital. The type of seat your child needs depends on several things, including your child’s age, size, and developmental needs.

  • Rear-Facing Car Seats for Infants and Toddlers

    • It is a legal requirement that infants are securely buckled in a rear-facing car seat in their very first ride home from the hospital and thereafter.
    • The federal standard is now that all infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car seat until they exceed the weight and size limit specified by the manufacturer or until they are two years old, whichever is later.
    • Infants may use a forward-facing car seat when they’ve outgrown the rear-facing seat.
    • It is recommended (and in some states required) that parents get help from a child passenger safety technician (CPST) to ensure that their seat is properly installed.
  • Forward-Facing Car Seats for Toddlers and Preschoolers

    • It is wise to read the manual and watch the videos before installing a car seat.
    • Any child who has outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for his convertible seat should switch to a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by his car seat manufacturer. It is best for children to ride in a seat with a harness as long as possible, at least to 4 years of age. If your child outgrows a seat before reaching 4 years of age, consider using a seat with a harness approved for higher weights and heights.
  • Booster Seats for School-Aged Children

    • Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing seats. All children whose weight or height exceeds the forward-facing limit for their car seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically when they have reached 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. Most children will not fit in most vehicle seat belts without a booster until 10 to 11 years of age. All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.
    • Instructions that come with your car seat will tell you the height and weight limits for the seat. As a general guideline, a child has outgrown a forward-facing seat when any of the following situations is true:
      • He reaches the top weight or height allowed for his seat with a harness. (These limits are listed on the seat and also included in the instruction booklet.)
      • His shoulders are above the top harness slots.
      • The tops of his ears have reached the top of the seat.
    • High-back and backless are 2 standard types of booster seats. They do not come with harness straps but are used with lap and shoulder seat belts in your vehicle, the same way an adult rides. They are designed to raise a child up so that the lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly over the strongest parts of the child’s body.
  • Seat Belts for Older Children and Adults

    • Seat belts are made for adults. Children should stay in a booster seat until the adult seat belts fit correctly, typically when children reach about 4 feet 9 inches in height and are 8 through 12 years of age. Most children will not fit in a seat belt alone until 10 to 11 years of age. When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for the best protection. All children younger than 13 years should ride in the back seat.
  • Important Reminders

    • Be a good role model. Make sure you always wear your seat belt. This will help your child form a lifelong habit of buckling up.
    • Make sure that everyone who transports your child uses the correct car seat or seat belt on every trip, every time. Being consistent with car seat use is good parenting, reduces fussing and complaints, and is safest for your child.
    • Never leave your child alone in or around cars. Any of the following situations can happen when a child is left alone in or around a vehicle. A child can:
      • Die of heat stroke because temperatures can reach deadly levels in minutes.
      • Be strangled by power windows, retracting seat belts, sunroofs, or accessories.
      • Knock the vehicle into gear, setting it into motion.
      • Be backed over when the vehicle backs up.
      • Become trapped in the trunk of the vehicle.
    • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your car seat. If you do not have those, write or call the company’s customer service department. They will ask you for the model number, the name of the seat, and date of manufacture. The manufacturer’s address and phone number are on a label on the seat. Also, be sure to follow the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual about using car seats. Some manufacturers’ instructions may be available on their websites.

FAQs – Convertible Car Seats

How do I install a convertible car seat?

  • An infant or small toddler should be placed in the back seat preferably in the middle and must be facing toward the rear of the vehicle until 2 years of age, or until reaching the maximum weight and height limits recommended by the seat’s manufacturer. A child who reaches the height and weight limits before age 2 is safest in a bigger convertible seat and kept rear-facing. Kids who are small can remain in rear-facing seats even after age 2. (Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for when to turn the seat.)
  • Read the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find out how to use your car’s seat belts or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system with a child safety seat.
  • Read the entire child safety seat manual. Be sure to check the recommended angle of recline for the seat when it is forward-facing and rear-facing.
  • Use your knee to push down on the seat as you tighten the car’s seat belt (lap-only or lap/shoulder) or LATCH attachment belt through the child safety seat’s belt path. The seat should not move more than 1 inch (3 centimeters) side to side or forward and backward on the belt path. If the seat wiggles or moves on the belt path, the belt needs to be tighter.
  • Some seat belts may require a special locking clip designed to keep the belt from loosening. Locking clips are available from baby product stores, safety seat manufacturers, and some car dealerships.
  • Be sure to check the tightness of the safety seat before each use.

Do car seats have an expiration date?

  • Most car seats will have an expiration date imprinted somewhere on the seat. Check the owner’s manual. This will provide you with the useful life of your seat. You will then need to check your seat’s Date of Manufacturer to determine the Month and Year you should stop use. When in doubt, the easiest thing to do is to call the manufacturer and ask them. Be sure to have your model number and date of the manufacturer on hand, both can be found on the seat bottom or seatback.

How will I know if my car seat gets recalled?

Remember to fill out and mail in the registration card that comes with the car safety seat. Each manufacturer places a sticker with the model number and date of manufacture OR serial number on every car seat. This information can then be used to register your car seat. Once your product is registered, your manufacturer can notify you in the event of a recall.

Can I use my car seat after a crash?

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you not continue to use a car seat that has been involved in a moderate or severe crash. Elements of the car seats’ safety mechanisms may be compromised in the crash and not show obvious signs of dysfunction. Not every accident requires the replacement of a car seat, so judgment is required. 
  • NEVER use a car seat that has been involved in a moderate to severe crash. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • A minor crash is one in which ALL of the following apply:
    • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site.
    • The vehicle door nearest the car seat was not damaged.
    • None of the passengers in the vehicle sustained any injuries in the crash.
    • If the vehicle has airbags, the airbags did not deploy during the crash; and
    • There is no visible damage to the car seat.

Where should I put my car seat?

  • According to healthychildren.org, the safest place to ride for all children younger than 13 years of age is in the back seat. If possible, it may be best to ride in the middle of the back seat. However, it is sometimes difficult to install a car safety seat tightly in the middle if the vehicle seat is narrow or uneven. Also, many vehicles do not have lower anchors for the middle seating position. It is safest to put the car safety seat in a position where you can install it tightly with either the lower anchor system or seat belt. In some cases, this may be on either side of the back seat rather than in the middle. A child passenger safety technician (CPST) can help you decide which place is best to install your child’s car safety seat in your vehicle.

Should my child ride in a car seat on an airplane?

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the AAP recommend that children less than 40 pounds be securely fastened in certified child restraints when flying. This will help keep them safe during takeoff and landing, or in case of turbulence. Most rear-facing, convertible, and forward-facing seats can be used on airplanes, but booster seats and travel vests cannot.
  • Read your seat’s instruction manual and look for a label on the car safety seat that says, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” You can also consider using a restraint made only for use on airplanes and approved by the FAA. Larger children may use the airplane seat belt or continue to use their car safety seat on the airplane as long as it is labeled for use on aircraft, and the child has not exceeded the seat’s weight or height limit.
  • Remember that your child will need an appropriate car safety seat to use at your destination. For more information, visit the FAA Web site or the CARES Airplane Safety Harness for Children Web site.

Where can I find more information on car seat ratings?

  • NHTSA’s Car Seat Finder is an easy-to-use tool that lets you compare seats and ease-of-use ratings to find the right car seat for your child. Just fill out your child’s age, height, and weight, and you’ll be provided with car seat types that fit your child.

What else I can do to ensure my child’s safety while in the car seat?

  • Once your seat is installed, your child needs to be correctly and snugly fastened in to ensure their safety. Below are specifics for the harness system in both rear and front-facing seats.
    • Children shouldn’t wear coats, bulky clothing, or unnecessary layers.
    • Make sure your child’s bottom is up against the back of the seat without arching or slouching.
    • Make sure that straps are not twisted. They should be flat against your child. 
    • Straps should be snug but not too tight.
    • The chest clip should sit level with their armpits.
    • Shoulder straps should connect to the seat at shoulder level.

What are the car seat laws in my state?

  • Using a car seat (child safety seat) is the best way to protect kids when traveling by car. Every state in the United States requires that an infant or small child be restrained. And with good reason, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in children, and most such injuries are from automobile crashes. Here is a summary of the car seat laws for every state.

What is a convertible car seat?

A convertible car seat is a multifunction car seat that can meet safety requirements for a child at different weights and sizes (rear-facing and forward-facing, for example). It relieves parents of the job of shopping for a new car seat at each transition.

What are the disadvantages of a convertible car seat?

Convertible car seats, in order to provide multiple functions and to accommodate your growing child, can be bulkier and heavier than other car seats, especially non-convertible rear-facing infant seats (which can also double as baby carriers). If space or weight is critical, you might want to compare your options.

What is a good, affordable convertible car seat?

Experienced Mommy recommends as very good seats for the price:

  • Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1
  • Graco Milestone All-in-One Convertible Car Seats
  • Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

What is the sequence of car seats for a growing baby/child?

The following are the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics

  1. Your baby/toddler should ride in a rear-facing car seat until the weight or height limit for the seat is reached. The seat may accommodate children in the rear-facing position until two years or more.
  2. When your child can no longer ride in the rear-facing car seat, he/she must use a forward-facing car seat with a harness until the weight or height limit for that seat has been reached. The seat may accommodate children of up to 65 pounds.
  3. When your child can no longer ride in the forward-facing car seat, he/she should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s lap and shoulder seat belt fit properly, at approximately 57 inches in height and 8 to 12 years.

What is the best convertible car seat for a newborn?

  • There are several convertible car seats that provide an excellent fit for a smaller baby. Experienced Mommy recommends:
    • Chicco NextFit iX Zip
    • Britax Marathon ClickTight
    • Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
    • Maxi-Cosi Magellan XP Max All-in-One

Can your baby leave the hospital in a convertible infant car seat?

Yes, your infant should ride in a rear-facing car seat, and the convertible infant car seat can be installed to meet this requirement.

Final Word

Car seat shopping can be overwhelming. My sincere hope is that this article helped alleviate some of your stress. Like I said in the introduction, there are no perfect car seats. However, there is a perfect car seat for your family. Rest assured that all of the best car seats featured in this article are safe and stylish. All that’s left for you to do is choose a car seat that fits your car and budget.

With any of the options listed above, your little one is sure to experience safe, happy travels. 

Sources

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/child_passenger_safety/cps-factsheet.html, www.cdc.gov
  2. Car Seat Safety (for Parents), kidshealth.org
  3. Prevent Injury…, www.preventinjury.org
  4. Car Seat Use After a Crash, www.nhtsa.gov
  5. Car Seats: Information for Families, www.healthychildren.org
  6. Flying with Children…, www.faa.gov
  7. Flying with Children…, www.faa.gov
  8. KidsFlySafe.com…, www.kidsflysafe.com
  9. Car Seats and Booster Seats, www.nhtsa.gov
  10. Car Seat Ease-of-Use Ratings, www.nhtsa.gov

Brittany Spalding

Brittany Spalding is a wife, homeschool mom, writer, editor, and food allergy awareness advocate. She enjoys spending time with her family, gardening, restoring antique furniture, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, and fishing on the beautiful Kentucky Lake.



4 thoughts on “The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2022”

  1. i purchased the baby jogger city view car seat. i took it out of the box yesterday and the first thing i did was feel the padding. not good! it’s really thin! i was so taken back by it’s thinness i thought i may have gotten a defective seat. where’s the padding? i imagine that to a child this seat will feel like sitting on bare plastic. this car seat is expensive! it may have other good features but the thin padding is a deal breaker. it’s going back. i expected better.

    Reply

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