You want only the best for your baby. Selecting the right safety seat to protect them while traveling can be challenging, but it’s one of the most important items you will purchase. We are taking a risk each time we get into the car.
This page lists only the best baby car seats – they stand up to all of the important tests:
- Government crash ratings
- Parental comfort
- Baby comfort
- Ease of use
We have been testing car seats for a long time, and these are the seats that topped our lists multiple times, so you won’t see the newest products on the market on our site until we’re sure they pass our standards.
The retail market for infant and convertible safety seats is extremely competitive – marketing ploys and tactics have convinced parents can that one car seat is better than the other without having the facts to back them up. However, our reviews are completely unbiased and focus on what’s best for your child, not bottom lines or sales numbers.
Every one of the infant and convertible seats listed below is extremely high ranking. They all received a score of 8.0 (out of 10) or above in our testing, and most have received the highest rankings.
When you read through the reviews, pay special attention to the things that matter to you as a parent. You have to weigh the pros and cons of each car seat for yourself, your lifestyle, and your baby.
For example, some parents won’t mind an infant car seat that is difficult to install because it will stay in the same car for a long time. Others, who have to transfer it from car to car, won’t like that the infant safety seat is too difficult to handle. You must make smart decisions for yourself and for the safety of your child – now before it is too late.
Rear-facing that converts to a Front-facing position.
Rear-facing position: 0-2 years Front-facing position: 2+ years
Rear-facing position only, provides more support for the child’s head.
Age Limit: ~1 year
Best Seller Seat (2018 Moms’ Picks)
Graco 4ever All-in-One
The Graco 4ever All-in-One has been a tried and true favorite over the last few decades or so. It has stood up to the test of time. Many parents have bought subsequent models of this seat for additional children. Graco is known to make some significant changes, so do a little research before you buy.
It is a meant-to-last car seat, meaning that it fully transitions from rear facing (4-40 pounds) to forward facing (20-65 pounds) to booster seat (40-120 pounds) easily while retaining its reliability.
It has easy-to-use parts, a premium LATCH system and double cup holders. The LATCH system is actually one of the frequently updated features - in this model, it is the InRight LATCH System. Even better, this well-known brand has quite a few accessories on the market that you can purchase at big box stores or online.
Simply put, this is one of the top rated car seats on the market today. There is a lot built into this seat from both a safety and aesthetics standpoint. A steel frame, impact-absorbing padding, 6 recline positions, a 5-point harness and a 1-second LATCH system have made it a favorite for ease-of-use, comfort, and safety.
It comes in 4 colors to suit your taste - Matrix (gray/black), Basin (gray/teal), Cougar (gray/red) and Azalea (gray/fuchsia). The booster is also great, providing the padding that your child needs while giving him or her the height to sit comfortably using the car’s own seat belt. According to the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), it has a peak crash force that is approximately two times the Car Seat Standard.
The cup holders make it easy to travel long distances (just add a drink and some snacks) and the seat pad is machine washable for those inevitable accidents. The seat is also FAA approved for air travel.
In some cars, the rear-facing and booster positions proved to be a bad fit due to the larger size of this car seat. You may have to adjust the headrest of your seats, if they do adjust. If in doubt, consult a local car seat technician or call the Graco customer service number. The straps also tend to get twisted from time to time.
In older models, some toddlers were able to get out of the seat while buckled in, but Graco has since addressed this issue. Other minor complaints involved a rattling sound in the adjustable headrest and straps that can’t be removed for machine washing.
At the end of the day, this is a car seat parents tend to prefer above all the others. They love how simple it is, how durable the pieces are, and how well it really grows with your child. This is truly a forever seat that will become a regular fixture in your car.
Best Convertible Car Seats of 2018
A convertible car seat is the best option for parents so they don’t have to research and buy a new seat each time their child outgrows their current seat. When you see how quickly children grow, you will understand why convertible seats are a huge timesaver.
A convertible car seat starts as a rear-facing and transitions into a front-facing seat.
Some convertible models will even turn into booster seats. These models are specifically designed to take your child from infancy through elementary school.
Convenience and ease of use are the main reasons why parents choose convertible models. Still, you must do your research to choose the best option for your child. The best baby seats absolutely must meet government safety standards, should work easily in your vehicle and be light enough to switch from car to car. Extra accessories are also a nice bonus, since your child will have changing needs as they grow (e.g. cup and snack holders).
These seats are sturdier than your traditional car seats, so you might want to look at the weight of each seat as well – but remember, the more weight, the less jostling your child will feel.
We chose the best convertible car seats by looking at:
- User reviews
- Independent research
Using this research, these are the seats that stood out from the rest of the crowd.
Our 2018 Rating of Convertible Car Seats
|Graco 4ever All-in-One||Britax USA Advocate||Graco Milestone All-in-One||Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1||Diono Rainier All-In-One||Britax Marathon ClickTight||Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One||Graco Extend2Fit||Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max||Britax Roundabout G4.1||Graco Size4Me 65||Britax USA Boulevard||Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible||Chicco NextFit||Graco Contender 65||Evenflo Triumph LX|
Britax USA Advocate
With a higher weight capacity than most other car seats on the market today, with a forward-facing limit of 65 pounds, the Britax USA Advocate ClickTight is a convertible car seat that is perfect for the family who doesn’t like to stay at home.
With 14 harness positions, the lowest at 8.5” and the highest at 19.5” is quite a wide range compared with other models. It has an expiration of ten years, which means that it could last through a few children if you plan to have them close together and take care of the seat. Replacement parts can be purchased through Britax as needed.
There are quite a few advantages, especially for parents who intend to use their car seats frequently. The no re-thread harness makes this one of the easiest harnesses to readjust as your child ages or if you have more than one child.
The ClickTight installation makes it a simple seat to transfer between multiple cars and it stays put while driving, even on leather or vinyl upholstery, where other car seats sometimes slide around. It’s made to withstand impacts from any angle with Britax’s exclusive SafeCell impact protection system.
This has 7 recline settings in both the forward and rear-facing models, which means that it can have micro adjustments for overall comfort – and to better fit into different cars. It does take some time to learn how to adjust it comfortably, but once you do, most parents agree that becomes easier. If you travel long distances with your child, this is crucial because you can adjust it depending on the day, the sun, or your baby’s mood.
Coming it at almost 30 pounds, this car seat is a bit on the heavy side (which helps with stability). It also has a short crotch buckle, which makes it difficult to fit around diapers for people who have to double diaper. If this is an issue, you can use the release mechanism to lengthen the upper straps so they meet the crotch strap easier.
Some users had problems getting the LATCH system tight enough in the rear-facing position. Others noted uneven harness straps in the forward-facing position. It’s also a bit pricier than other models.
Overall, customers who have reviewed the Britax USA Advocate ClickTight have been very happy with this long-lasting and efficient convertible car seat.
Some customers found the weight to be difficult, but the ease-of-use makes up for it. This is a premier option for parents who want to keep their children in rear-facing car seats for a longer time in order to keep them as safe as possible while in the car.
Graco Milestone All-in-One
The Graco Milestone All-In-One is a promising car seat that, while relatively new on the market, parents are totally loving. This seat comes in a rear-facing mode from 5-40 pounds, a forward facing mode with a harness from 20-65 pounds, and a high-back booster for 30-100 pounds.
The Simply Safe Adjust Harness allows you to adjust the harness and headrest height at the same time, which makes it easier to secure your child properly.
The seat comes with an adjustable base in 4 recline positions (two each for rear-facing and forward facing). The frame itself is steel-reinforced with energy absorbing EPS foam. There are premium, push-on lower LATCH connectors and a cup holder included. You can also purchase some extra accessories online and, occasionally, in stores.
Almost all parents who have tried this seat talk about the no rethread harness which makes it simple adjust the strap positions as your child grows. Another The LATCH system also installs extremely easy in many different types of cars - from SUVs to sports cars.
The seat itself is easy to use all around. Converting, installing, cleaning, and even using the seat is extremely easy. For first time parents, this will be a huge benefit. Sometimes, with All-In-One seats, you end up with one mode that is easy and others that are difficult, but that doesn’t happen here. The seat cover is easy to remove and machine washable. Everything else is wipe-clean. The instruction manual is clear, and the customer service team is great.
When you don’t need the harness straps while in the booster seat mode, you can store them in the harness storage compartment built into the seat so you won’t lose them. Finally, it truly is a good value for the money when compared to other seats.
Though this seat meets or exceeds all safety standards in the US, it is made in China, so some of the materials aren’t that great. Some parents noted that food can get caught in the harness tension latch, which could hinder proper tightening. Always check the latch and clean any loose debris before using it. There is no backless booster mode, which some parents didn’t like.
Overall, customers really loved this seat, and so did we. If you need to frequently transfer the seat from car to car or you will be using the seat on airplanes or trains, you may want to move onto something else.
However, for anyone who just needs a good convertible seat that will grow with their family, this is the one for you.
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1
The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 definitely focuses on the “growing” and “going” feature. It is certainly for a family that is always on the move - from the time the baby is born to the time you don’t need a seat anymore.
Grow and Go transitions easily from a rear facing seat (5-40 pounds), forward-facing seat (22-65 pounds), and a booster seat (45-100 pounds). The manual explains everything in great detail, making it the perfect option for first time parents or for parents who prefer a simpler seat design.
Sometimes, you have to give and take on which aspects of the car seat are most important, but this affordable seat is a high performer in all areas. Removable infant padding and a shoulder belt positioner maximize comfort and safety for newborn to booster-ready children. Many parents loved the color and the breathable fabric. They also enjoyed the little details, including harness clip holders which makes getting your child in and out easier.
The slim vertical space means that your car will be able to carry more people in the back seat comfortably. Most car seats are safer in the middle of the back seat anyway, and if you have older children, they won’t be cramped on either side. In rear-facing mode, it also provides more front seat legroom than other seats on the market.
Though this seat is FAA certified, it’s not approved in booster mode, but only with the 5-point harness. The amount of padding and the side impact protection far surpasses industry standards but can be a bit too cushy, especially for younger children.
Some parents didn’t like the side cup holders because they added bulk and were not removable for easy cleaning. The seat and headrest covers are machine washable on a gentle cycle. Some parents have reported fabric discoloration after multiple cleanings.
With 3 recline positions and a rethread-only infant harness, getting your child strapped in correctly could pose a challenge. Some parents reported that the seat flopped around and they couldn’t get a proper incline angle to fully support the baby’s head when sleeping. This could be due to the type of backseat (i.e. bucket seats), so if you have a sports or compact car, this car seat may not work well for you.
For new parents, this one isn’t the best option. We’d recommend starting with an infant seat, then switching to this one. It’s definitely a good option for toddlers and up. One mom even reported that her 18-month-old slept through a 45 mph crash.
Diono Rainier All-In-One
Foldable and easy to store, the Diono Rainier is a bit of a revolution within the convertible car seat industry. With its tall, skinny profile, it still offers up all of the protection that you could possibly want. The side headrests, EPS foam, extra-deep sidewalls for more impact protection, and fantastic 5-point harness makes it one of the safest options around. Memory foam makes it really comfortable.
The seat has a rear-facing weight limit of 5-50 pounds, forward-facing weight limit of 20-65 pounds, and a booster seat weight limit of 50-120 pounds – wide ranges compared to most seats.
The seat itself is pretty heavy at right around 30 pounds. If you have trouble lifting that much, this might not be the best choice for you. However, if you are a new parent who wants a seat that is easy to use, this might be a good choice for you.
Since this seat has a high rear-facing weight limit, your child will be able to stay rear-facing for a longer amount of time, which is what most child-safety experts recommend. The amount of padding 3-position crotch strap, and adjustable head support with 12 height positions provides a comfortable and safe ride for your child at any size.
The seat is narrow enough that you can fit it comfortably in the backseat with other car seats or older passengers. A longer seat bottom and expandable sides provide extra leg room so that your child isn’t cramped. The best thing is that the seat folds flat for storage and comes with a protective bag so that you can easily transport it for plane rides or store it until you need it again.
New parents will appreciate the Superlatch system with an audible click and visual indicator that simplifies proper installation. An easy-to-use rear-facing tether provides extra stability to prevent seat rotation during a crash. Plus, the seat comes in 4 Euro-inspired designs and colors that complement your modern car interiors.
Coming in at 29.79 pounds, the seat is quite heavy. It can sometimes be difficult to adjust the harness while it is already on your child. Installation could be challenging for some car models. Be sure to consult the manual, watch some videos on YouTube and call the customer service number if you need help.
Note that the Diono team isn’t well known for being able to troubleshoot installation issues over the phone. Consulting a local car seat technician is probably the best choice should problems arise. This particular model is a very new design that improved an older recalled model, so there isn’t a lot of customer feedback yet.
Parents have commented on how easy it is so load and unload your child from the seat. They also love that it grows with your child for an extremely long time, prolonging their safety. Many parents have commented on the extra side protection on the head support.
Britax Marathon ClickTight
The Britax Marathon is one of the best convertible seats that we’ve come across. From the many safety features to the 18 color/pattern options, it's a considerable but worthwhile investment.
This seat fits children rear-facing from 5 – 40 pounds, and forward-facing from 20 – 65 pounds (up to 49" tall). Though it's not without a few flaws, the ease of installation and safety record far outweighs the negatives.
Like all Britax car seats, safety is the number one priority. A steel frame, impact-absorbing tether, and energy absorbing base are all part of Britax’s exclusive SafeCell impact protection. We love that it has been proven effective in real-life crash situations. This seat is made in the USA and is top-rated by the NHTSA.
The ClickTight installation system is easy to use, or “idiot proof”’ as one parent noted, so you should have no issues with that. With the smooth, non-skid base, the seat won’t leave marks in your car as easily as some other seats do.
Besides offering a safe ride, you can match the seat to pretty much any color of car interior or personal preference. A full range of 18 color/pattern combinations is available, from pink to Azul and polka dots to cow patterns. It also has 14 harness strap positions and 7 recline positions to offer a comfy ride as your child grows.
Finally, this seat feels a little more luxurious than many other seats. Everything is finished extremely well and doesn’t show signs of aging like other seats do. Customer service is also top-notch. So if you have any issues, they should be resolved quickly.
The crotch straps may be too short. Several parents reported they were too tight on their child's legs. However, there are 2 crotch buckle positions, so it could be that they were unaware of how to adjust the crotch position.
Instead of rear-facing top tethers, which are no longer included, Britax recommends an anti-rebound bar, but doesn't come with the seat. While not a necessity, it would be nice if they included that since they recommend using it.
Other issues included harness straps that don't adjust to equal tightness, crumbs accumulating in the ClickTight release button, seat padding coming loose and a jammed recline handle. How it fits in various vehicles is widely debated. It will depend on how you use it and how big your car interior is.
Parents generally had positive reviews of this car seat. It's questionable as to which vehicles it may fit in, so you'll want to measure your car interior before purchasing. For a premium priced seat, the easy ClickTight installation and safety features make the ClickTight Marathon well worth your investment.
Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One
The Evenflo Symphony is an all-in-one convertible car seat with a lot of details that make it a winner for many parents, no matter their lifestyle. Features include a ton of side-impact protection, buckle pockets, FAA approval, a 5-position adjustable headrest, 3 recline positions, and many more. This is certainly one of the best car seats on the market right now.
The weight limits are: 5-40 pounds for rear facing, 22-65 pounds for forward-facing, and 40-110 pounds in booster mode. With a 60-second installation, it’s great for a busy, on-the-go family.
Coming in at just under 25 pounds, this is one of the lighter options for those who need to frequently transfer seats from vehicle to vehicle. The wide weight range helps keep your child secure longer than other seats. An Infinite Slide harness system provides an accurate fit as your child grows.
It is also on the smaller side, which means that it should fit in your car. The cover is machine washable, and there aren’t as many “nooks and crannies” that can accumulate crumbs and other gross debris. The cover itself is durable, machine washable and protects the seat when in storage.
Parents of older toddlers and school-age children will appreciate the expandable cup holder that fits any size of cup. Finally, there is a good deal of legroom when in rear-facing mode, great for taller kids and for parents who might need a little extra room in the front seat.
While there aren’t a lot of problems with this seat, there have been a few issues. Some parents noted a lot of wear and tear on the straps after several months of use. The harness isn’t replaceable either, and other replacement parts may be difficult to obtain. Other parents had difficulty getting their child at the proper recline position, so their child’s head fell forward when sleeping.
Parents appreciated that the seat was made in the USA, which often means higher quality. Customer service is also based in the USA. The easy fitting harness and lightweight was a huge bonus for many parents.
The Graco Extend2Fit is a winner on the car seat market, especially for its affordable price. The 50 pound rear-facing weight limit is one of the highest for the Graco line. It comes with 4-position leg extension, adding 5” of leg room for children who are a taller and low weight.
Even better, the 10-position headrest allows for a great fit as your child grows. The seat itself has a 6-position recline as well. Included with this seat are Fuss Free Harness Storage Pockets, 2 crotch strap positions, steel reinforced frame, InRight LATCh system, two cup holders, and a machine washable cover.
Note that this seat has a 10 year lifespan and is FAA approved.
This seat is so easy to install that even new parents should have no issues. The compact size allows it to fit in even compact cars. The push-on LATCH system is really easy to use, and the manual is easy to understand. If you have any problems, customer service is always accommodating.
As far as safety goes, the performance is excellent. There are a lot of safety features built into the seats, including the Simply Safe Adjust harness that moves the harness and headrest height in one motion, no rethreading straps required. It also has a fantastic steel frame that feels sturdy but is still comfortable.
There are a few disadvantages to keep in mind when it comes to these convertible seats. It lacks a lock off device for the vehicle seat belt, but you can call Graco Consumer Care to order one. If you have a lock off device from another car seat, it may be interchangeable. The Extend2Fit is bulkier in width than other seats and takes up a lot of room in the back of your car. If you need to fit three children in the back seat, this might not be the best choice.
In forward-facing mode, you cannot use any recline position other than #4 if your child weighs less than 40 pounds, and you cannot use the harness strap covers at all. Other parents had issues with their child’s head slumping while they slept. You may have to adjust the recline to find the right angle for your child - positions 1-3 are for rear-facing and positions 4-6 are for forward-facing and booster settings.
Some parents had trouble getting the straps tight, but this tended to get easier with continued use.
On top of that, the seat is made in China, so there may be more quality control problems than with seats made in the USA. Always thoroughly inspect your seat upon arrival and call customer service if you encounter any defects.
Overall, customers have really loved this product and recommend it. But it may not stand up to the test of time, especially if you try to use it for additional children.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max
The Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Max is a fantastic seat that fits a wide range of children. In the rear-facing mode, it fits 5-40 pounds and 40 inches or less. In the forward-facing mode it fits 22-85 pounds and 29-52 inches. The lower anchor weight limits are 40 pounds. The highest harness position is 17 inches and the lowest harness position is 9 inches or 6.5 inches with the infant wedge.
The seat comes with a 3-position crotch strap, 3 recline settings, a no-rethread harness, an easy to remove cover, and 2 infant position inserts. It’s designed to be safe while providing a super quick in-and-out process for on-the-go families.
The inclusion 2 infant inserts is somewhat rare among car seats, but a welcome benefit for parents of preemies. With a number of adjustment settings all over the seat, it’s easy to get the proper fit as your child grows.
One huge advantage it has over other seats is that the seat pad and harness covers snap on and off easily without having to unthread straps or remove the seat. They’re both machine washable and dryer safe. Harness holders keep the straps out of the way so getting your child in and out is easier. The flip-away buckle and ClipQuik chest clip also make getting in and out quicker.
A cup holder, comfy cushions and premium fabric ensure a great ride for those long road trips. Parents will also appreciate the added leg room for front seat passengers. FlexTech construction works well to distribute forces in the event of a crash. With Air Protect side impact protection and thick padding, the Maxi-Cosi Pria meets or exceeds all US safety standards.
Premium quality means premium price. Easily twice as much as many of the popular brands, this seat may not fit in everyone’s budget. There aren’t a lot of colors to choose from (just black, pink and sage green), so if you’re a stickler for a certain color, it may not be available. The back of the seat isn’t covered at all, so you’ll see all the stickers and model info.
It’s wide profile could make adding additional car seats difficult and may prevent it from fitting well in smaller vehicles. There also seems to be fewer accessories available for this seat.
You tend to get what you pay for, and this is especially true with the Maxi-Cosi Pria. The pros far outweigh the cons for this seat. If you can afford to spend a little more, invest in this one. If you’re still expecting, add this one to your baby registry and ask your family and friends to buy it as a group gift.
Britax Roundabout G4.1
The Britax Roundabout G4.1 is another seat from the popular line that offers superb protection while still providing comfort that a baby needs. It has some of the best crash test results on the market today, while still looking stylish. From base to headrest, it’s designed for safety.
The seat has similar weight limits, in all models: rear-facing position (for babies 5-40 pounds) to a forward-facing position (for children 20-65 pounds). With no booster seat mode, it won’t grow with your child as long as some other convertible seats.
Once again, Britax is great when selecting their fabrics. This model is breathable so you don’t get a sweaty baby. At 17.6 pounds, it’s one of the lighter seats on the market, which helps when transferring between vehicles.
The safety features, like a fantastic harness, extra neck support, and SafeCell Impact Protection gives you peace of mind on long car trips. Britax is also well known for having clear, easy-to-follow manuals so set-up and conversion won’t be difficult.
The primary disadvantage is that the Roundabout doesn’t convert to a booster seat. Like most convertible car seats, it also doesn’t function as an infant carrier, so if you really need one of those, you’ll need to purchase an infant car seat. Though this may not be an issue if you already own a booster seat, it’s something to keep in mind.
Though the seat cover is washable, some parents said it fell apart after machine washing. Switching to a gentle cycle could help with this issue. Food may accumulate in the many nooks and crevices, so be sure to inspect buckle latches and clean debris from them when necessary. Other parents had issues with straps getting twisted and being difficult to tighten, so it may not be a great choice if you frequently need to switch cars.
Parents have loved Britax for generations, and the Britax Roundabout G4.1 continues that trend. Many parents have commented on just how easy the car seat is to use, especially during conversions. The seat is continually called “high quality” in that it doesn’t have weak parts that warp or fade. It’s a solid choice if you don’t need an infant carrier or a booster seat.
Graco Size4Me 65
Called “a seat for all families” the Graco Size4Me 65 is a fantastic seat that can grow with your child from 4 to 65 pounds. It fits preemies and newborns quite well, something that most convertibles will not do without an infant insert.
The seat uses InRight LATCH, which is standard on most seats nowadays, but this one is easier to use than most good design and quality control. Note that when your child is 45 pounds or over, the vehicle belt must be used instead of the LATCH system.
Parents love this seat because of the extremely generous height limits. For parents who have children that are on the taller side, this is the perfect seat! You don’t have to worry about your child being cramped or ruining the backs of your front seats. There is a lot of legroom with this seat in general, both for your child and for front seat passengers. The high size limits mean that most children can stay in the harness system until they are older, making it safer for them.
The seat is easy to install and works in a majority of cars, whether you have a compact car, an older car, or something new. The EPS foam, lined wings and side impact protection are top of the line and come standard with every seat.
For the price, it is one of the best values. The fabric doesn’t fade in the sun, which is great if you live in a warmer climate. The cup holder is fully enclosed, so you can use it for loose snacks if needed.
Some people have had a hard time tightening the harness straps, especially on smaller babies. The seat itself is a bit bulky even though it does fit into most cars - the bulk comes more in height than in width, so for low-profile cars, this could pose an issue.
Other parents had issues with the chest clip either being too difficult to open or too easy, so their toddler could open it. Some didn’t think the seat itself was padded or breathable enough. Be sure to provide shade for your child during hot conditions as you drive, dress them lightly and watch for overheating.
Though the seat cover is machine washable, it’s not dryer safe, so this could be a turnoff if you like to wash your seat covers frequently and don’t have a lot of time to spare. Overall, however, parents seem to be happy with this budget-friendly seat despite a few flaws.
Britax USA Boulevard
The Britax Boulevard has a rich-sounding name for a good little car seat. With a rear-facing weight limit of 5-40 pounds (and up to 49”), a forward-facing weight range of 20-65 pounds (and up to 49”), it is a great seat for your growing child.
The seat features seat belt lock offs, adjustable crotch straps, 3 adjustable recline settings, and a 14-position no-rethread harness. An anti-rebound bar is available to purchase from Britax, but it does not come standard with this particular seat. What does come standard is a positioning pillow for children under 22 pounds.
Some of the advantages to this seat include the ease of use. Britax provides exemplary customer support and a clear, easy-to-follow user manual to guide you through installation and conversion. The seat belt lock offs are incredibly easy to use as well. What we liked most was the easy ClickTight installation system that quickly secures the seat with just the vehicle belt.
A 14-position harness, 2-position buckle and easy-to-adjust headrest grows along with your child and is a lifesaver for those growth spurts. The seat doesn’t take up as much room from front to back as some other seats do, making it the perfect option for tall front seat passengers.
Parents love the cushioning, saying it’s much more comfortable than other seats they’ve tried, with better quality fabric that’s more breathable than older models.
If you have a taller child, you may want to look elsewhere. While this seat is roomy, it doesn’t offer the optimal amount of legroom like many other seats. This could mean that your child will outgrow the seat earlier than some of the suggested weight limits.
Lack of accessories is another mark against it. With no cup holder and rebound bar, you may want to shop around if having these extras is important to you. It also does not convert to a booster seat, so you’ll need to buy one of those when your child reaches 65 pounds. It’s also on the pricey side, but the great safety ratings and USA construction could make it well worth the investment.
Overall, customers have been impressed with this seat. Like other Britax seats, the lack of accessories has been a sore point for some parents, but if you’re happy with a quality seat with few bells and whistles, this one is a great option.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible is one of the older convertible car seats on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in quality. Peg Perego uses time-tested technology that other car seat manufacturers struggle to find. The design focuses on head, neck and spine stability, which is crucial in the event of a crash.
The generous size ranges are comparable with other seats on the market. It has a rear-facing capacity of 5-45 pounds, and a forward-facing capacity of 22-65 pounds. It comes standard with an infant cushion and harness covers.
The deluxe LATCH straps make this not only safer, but easier to use than other harnesses. Sometimes, buckles and straps can burn babies’ skin, but they are well-covered to avoid this, which makes it a good option for hot climates.
The conversion process is easier with a simple snap and twist motion. The 7-year expiration date means that it could last through a few children, but not as long as some of the 10-year models. The thing we liked most about it is that it stood up to several real-world crashes and kept the baby completely safe.
Criticisms vary but are fairly rare with this seat. Besides the higher price tag, some reported their child could easily unbuckle the harness while others had issues with the recline angles and bulk when placed beside other car seats. Other complaints were general quality control issues. Always do your research to make sure the seat will fit in your car or on an airplane seat, and thoroughly expect all parts before using.
The rear-facing belt path is unique and will take a little while to get used to, which also means that installation may take longer. Initially, tightening the harness is difficult too because of the padding, though should get easier with continued use.
Oddly enough, there are important spec misprints in the instruction manual (i.e. states 30 lbs as maximum LATCH limit, but it’s actually 40) and other typos. Consult the website and call the company to confirm if these have been fixed. But it does have a holder for the manual so you can keep it with the seat at all times.
Overall, parents enjoy this convertible car seat. They say their children sleep better and that the ride is more comfortable. The typos in the manual annoy them, but they mentioned that there is an updated version on the website. It’s a pricey model, but we think it’s worth the investment.
For children up to 65 pounds, the Chicco NextFit is a great convertible seat for parents who prioritize safety. The sturdiness inside gives way to a comfortable outside as well - it is truly the best of both worlds.
This seat is a fantastic choice for parents who want something that is a high-quality car seat for the years through preschool and early elementary school. Several exclusive safety and installation features like the ReclineSure 9-position leveling system make it both safe and easy to use for busy parents.
The biggest advantage to the Chicco NextFit car seat is the steel frame. This makes it sturdier for use with additional children as well as safe in case of an accident. It also makes the seat sturdier to better stand up to some abuse that comes with travelling, so if you are going to fly with the seat or you are going to take longer road trips, this might be the best option.
It is also quite easy to clean because the seat cover is machine washable. You can even get a guide that shows you how to clean certain stains and spills.
The SuperCinch latch tightener makes proper installation a breeze. Nine recline levels, a height-adjustable headrest and automatic harness adjustment makes this a true grow-with-your-child seat.
The steel frame does make this a bit heavier (25 pounds) and bigger than your traditional car seat, so it’s better for those who don’t need to switch cars often. It will fit in smaller cars, but it won’t leave much room.
Another sticking point for some parents is that it can’t be used with a stroller, but this is true with most convertible seats. When rear-facing, it can be difficult to adjust and fit the straps, which was a major issue for some parents. Others noted the straps irritated their child’s bare legs, particularly if wearing dresses or onesies.
Overall, users love the safety features of this seat. For parents who have one car or don’t intend to move it, it’s a great option. Some users complained that it was too big for smaller cars. For parents who have children close in age, they have appreciated the durability so they can use it as younger siblings come along It is on the high end for price, but it can be a good investment for the right family.
Graco Contender 65
This convertible car seat works as a rear-facing seat for kids from 5 – 40 pounds and forward-facing from 20 – 65 pounds. Crash tests meet or exceed all federal regulations, especially with side-impact tests. It comes in three colors: glacier, sapphire, and chili red, although the latter is more of a light gray with red trim.
Besides the affordable price, the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System is one of the things parents appreciate most. It features a no-rethread harness you can adjust with one hand. In fact, you can adjust both the harness and headrest together. The 8-position adjustable headrest, along with the easily adjustable harness accommodates your child's rapid growth.
Other nice features are the built-in cupholder which keeps sippy cups in reach. The seat pad is machine washable. An easy-to-read-level indicator helps with proper installation. There are also accounts from parents who said the seat kept their child totally uninjured in some pretty severe car accidents.
The main issue several parents reported was that they couldn't get the LATCH and the harness system tight enough. They also felt it was too difficult to remove the LATCH when they needed to transfer the seat to another vehicle.
Other issues involved children being able to loosen straps on their own. A few parents noted that the crotch straps were uncomfortable on their child's legs, while others said the neck strap rubbed their child's neck too much.
While the testimonies from parents who were involved in crashes prove that the seat can protect as it's meant to, we were disappointed in the number of reports about the LATCH and harness being difficult to tighten and remove. This could be due to the model of car or perhaps the design of the back seat. Before buying, we recommend calling Graco to see if you your vehicle is compatible with this seat.
Evenflo Triumph LX
The Evenflo Triumph LX is a good-looking seat with a good height and weight range. The rear facing mode goes from 5-40 pounds, the forward facing mode from 22-65 pounds.The seat itself is about 19 pounds, 20” wide, and 23” high - making it a good fit for most cars, though smaller cars may have problems with the width of the seat.
Made in the USA, the seat has buckle pockets, 2 integrated cup holders, and is FAA approved.
This seat is quite easy to install in most vehicles and is pretty lightweight. The LATCH system can be used up to 45 pounds, which is higher than some other seats. The easy-off machine washable padding and removable head & body pillow make this seat extremely comfortable.
It’s been extensively crash tested, most notably for Evenflo’s side impact standard for structural integrity, which is almost twice the federal crash test standards. Most newborns will fit into the seat from the start thanks to the easy to adjust harness, head and body pillow, and plenty of strap positions The multiple recline angles can be easily adjusted with a button on the front of the base.
The seat is FAA approved and has dual, expandable cup holders that fit any size cup. Of course, the seat is made in the United States, so it tends to have higher quality materials.
There is no built-in lockoff system in place to help with seatbelt installation. It doesn’t have harness strap covers, and none sold separately. Some parents had issues with the straps irritating their baby’s skin. In fact, it seems that this seat lacks any accessories that you can buy for this model.
Finally, the seat is a bit wider than some seats, but usually leaves good legroom for the front passengers while in rear-facing mode. Some parents, however, found it difficult to turn the Tension Right adjusters (knobs located on the sides of the base) when installed in a smaller vehicle such as a Nissan Rogue.
Overall, parents like this seat, but they weren’t happy with the lack of available accessories which seemed odd to us, because Evenflo has many products, and some of their other seats offer many accessories.
Best Rated Infant (Rear-Facing) Car Seats of 2018
It may seem like a really simple purchase, but one of the most important decisions you will make for your baby is choosing the best infant car seat.
Though a convertible seat can grow with your child longer, some safety experts recommend starting with an infant seat as opposed to a convertible.
It is so critical to have a quality car seat for your newborn that the hospital will even send a nurse to your car to check the seat and make sure that it is installed properly. Simply put, if there is one thing to “splurge” on, it isn’t a cute outfit or a fancy crib – it’s the safety seat.
You need to find one infant car seat that will provide extreme comfort and safety for your child while still fitting into your budget. Choosing the right one is easier, when you do some research.
Look at the:
- Our rating
- Weight limits
Technology is quickly advancing everywhere, including the car seat market. Car seats have come a long way in the last few years and can accommodate a wider range of ages and sizes. Still, there are a few rules that you need to follow. Remember that you should never transition your child into a front-facing seat until he or she is at least 30 pounds and has mastered motor skills.
Some of the basics to look for in the seat are: a base that will stay put in the backseat, a detachable, lightweight carrier, and safe accessories.
Some seats will come with accessories like: infant head support, memory foam, stroller attachments, toy bars, cup holders.
The larger your budget, the better seat you’ll get (in most cases), but that doesn’t have to limit your options. Seats that come with all the bells and whistles will usually cost you more money. Do some research to see if you can buy accessories separately to get what you really want in your child safety system.
Some other things you should look into include wash-ability, comfort, and ease-of-installation.
Infant Car Seats Rating 2018
|Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat||Evenflo SafeMax||Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35|
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
Out of all the infant seats on the market today, the Chicco KeyFit is one of the most popular car seats for its safety ratings, adjustability, and comfort. Neonatal nurses have endorsed it for preemies and babies with other special physical needs.
The Chicco KeyFit is one of the only infant car seats recommended for premature infants. It adjusts to a very small size without sacrificing protection or comfort.
Parents love this seat for its easy installation, and the instruction manual is clear and easy to follow. Many of the features are smaller, making this a more compact and easy-to-use seat, especially for shorter parents or those who can’t lift a lot of weight.It’s also FAA approved and fits well in most airplane seats.
The fabric is easy to clean, but doesn't breathe well. If you live in a hot climate or don’t have a a good AC in your car, you may want to monitor your child for overheating. However, this is a very rare problem.
Parents love the easy installation and ease of use over other car seats they’ve tried. They report that it’s comfortable for their child and love the fabric color and pattern choices. If you are on the fence about infant seats, you won’t go wrong with this one.
Evenflo’s innovation and rigorous safety testing make it a brand parents can trust. The Evenflo SafeMax is the product of extensive research.
One great advantage is the anti-rebound bar which offers more support and safety. The lowest harness settings work well for preemie and newborn babies, but the model also fits bigger, taller babies (up to 35 lbs) so they can ride in a rear-facing seat longer. A wide range of settings for height and width make this a versatile fit for your growing baby.
The fabric of this stylish seat feels expensive while still being affordable. The generous canopy provides good shade on sunny days. For maximum safety, EPS foam wraps around the entire inside of the carrier, for better impact protection and jostling from potholes or other rough road surfaces.
The main problem parents noted is that the harnesses are sometimes difficult to adjust. Consult the user manual, watch video tutorials or call Evenflo customer service if you encounter this problem. The handle can also be stiff and hard to move. For taller parents, the seat needs quite a bit more front-to-back room, so you may have to scoot the front seat forward more than you normally would.
Overall, parents love the Evenflo SafeMax as a secure, reliable infant car seat for preemies and beyond. They appreciate the comfortable padding and like that it holds their babies at a natural angle.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35
Peg Perego seats are well-known for combining safety, luxury, and stylish features that you can’t find in most car seats. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is a superb seat you will love to use, although it is a big investment cost wise.
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio has a weight range of 4 - 35 pounds and is certainly worth considering if you frequently travel by car. The unique anti-rebound bar located on the base provides extra protection during a front or a rear collision. If you drive in stop-and-go traffic, the anti-rebound bar can steady the seat so the baby isn’t disturbed during sudden accelerating and braking.
Parents love that the seat is attractive with high safety ratings. Color-coded belt paths help assist with proper strap adjustment, and 6 adjustment levels protect your baby’s head and shoulders during side impacts, no matter how big they are.
Some parents don’t like that the seat is awkward to carry with canopy fully extended. Several reported that the material can be difficult to clean, so if your child will be eating while on the road, this might not be the best option.
For parents with a larger budget who want to invest in a quality seat, this one has satisfied most of them. If you drive a lot, the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio isn’t likely to leave you disappointed.
Our Top Rated Infant Travel System
Chicco Bravo Trio
The Chicco Bravo Trio is a top rated travel system that has a stroller, one of Chicco’s safest car seats and one base included. It was designed for parents who are always on the go.
For stroller-only use, has an upper weight limit of 50 pounds, but you’ll need to use the infant seat with the stroller until your child is 6 months old. However, you can remove the stroller seat until you need it to keep from getting it dirty in the meantime.
The large storage basket beneath the seat is accessible from both the front and the back. It also has a large canopy that really protects your child’s face. Setting up the car seat, whether in your car, in the stroller, or as a carrier, is extremely easy.
Parents love that it comes with accessories that are often sold separately with other travel systems. They really appreciate the parent tray for holding cell phones, drinks, etc. while out for a stroll at the zoo or mall.
Finally, the seat is much lighter (9 pounds) than other options in this category, perfect for parents who plan to take their baby shopping or those who have a long walk from car to home. The one-handed fold and carry handle makes transporting the stroller quick and easy, while the height-adjustable handle accommodates short or tall parents.
The car seat/stroller combo can be a bit difficult to maneuver until you get used to it. You have to use an attachment every time you put the car seat on the stroller, so if you lose it, you won’t be able to use the car seat with the stroller. Add-on tray for toddler drinks and snacks is not included and can be pricey to buy.
The Chicco Bravo Trio has some great reviews because of its comfort and versatility. You can move this seat from car to stroller easily, which parents like. For parents who jog, they found it to be one of the easiest to maneuver. For parents who live in cities, this is one of the top choices.
Types of Car Seats
In the United States, there are three main types of car seats available on the market. These seats are measured by Government Standards and meet all of the safety regulations set forward by car manufacturers, hospitals, and parenting groups. They are:
Infant: These are used for newborns and babies up to at least a year old (though not always preemie babies, depending on the weight) and are always rear-facing. Typically, these seats have a weight limit of 22 or 35 pounds before your child will have to move to a new seat. A benefit of this type of car seat is room for a head positioning pillow and a detachable base and carrier that makes it easy to move your child, even when he’s sleeping.
Convertible: These seats work for toddlers and babies in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes. The former has a weight limit of up to 40 pounds and the latter can have a weight limit of 70 pounds or more. Remember that it is safest to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. Also remember to check the lower weight limits. Some of these are actually 3-in-1 seats that can also convert into a booster seat.
Booster Seats: Use booster seats for children who are at least four years old and weigh at least 40 pounds. These seats lift your child so that the vehicle lap and shoulder belts fit properly. There are high back and backless varieties.
Infant VS Convertible Seat
Convertible or infant car seats? This is a decision that many new parents will make. At the end of the day, the choice is yours as to which is best for your family. You should note that both types of seats have extremely safe options and both meet state and legal standards, or they wouldn’t be for sale.
You do have to make sure you follow all the proper installation and weight limit guidelines when it’s time to change seats. If your child is on the higher or lower end of the growth scale for children his or her age, you have to take that into consideration when you make your purchase.
Convertible car seats tend to be more expensive, but they can be used for a longer period of time, especially the 3-in-1 models. If you start with an infant safety seat, it may only last for a few months before you have to upgrade to a convertible or forward-facing seat, which means you have to do the research all over again.
Make Sure the Car Seat is Compatible With Your Car
Before you purchase your first car seat, if you have a smaller, sporty car, you might worry that the seat won’t fit into your car. This is a valid concern.
Some models are bulky and take up a lot of room, making them nearly impossible to fit into smaller cars, especially those with bucket seats. Their width could prevent you from putting two or more car seats beside one another. And if you’re a tall parent, the front to back length of a rear-facing seat could seriously decrease your front seat legroom. Others are made for small cars, but may come at a cost of comfort or accessories.
Other seats work better with the LATCH and ISOFIX systems in your larger car, which is something you should note. If you have a more expensive or luxury car and are worried about marking the interior, you can purchase protectors for your seats so that the upholstery stays clean and undamaged.
What is LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Сhildren) and ISOFIX?
Today’s baby car seats come with an attachment system that keeps them in place using built-in anchors and tethers in your car. However, most seats can still be used with the vehicle belt alone. Car seat manufacturers usually recommend using one or the other (with the exception of a booster seat). So always read your user manual or consult a local car seat technician to make sure you’re using the correct attachments.
With the LATCH system, you use a the car’s built-in top tether or a top strap and the lower anchors (or the seat belt in older cars). The top tether is a strap located above your backseat and helps secure the car seat into the vehicle, making it less likely to move around if you have make a sudden stop or turn or when you are in an accident. It also helps to keep the car seat in place on slick upholstery like leather or vinyl seats.
ISOFIX: This is the same thing as LATCH, but it is called ISOFIX in Europe.