A convertible car seat is the middle ground between an infant rear-facing seat and an All-In-One that eventually converts to a booster for kids up to 120 pounds. One of the benefits of a convertible car seat is that it will take your child from a rear-facing newborn to a 65-pound forward-facing child.
The first stage of a convertible car seat is the rear-facing infant seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children stay in rear-facing seats as long as possible.
Therefore, convertible car seats are designed with extra space in mind for taller children. Most rear-facing modes are designed for 5-50 pounds, although you should read the manufacturer’s information carefully to ensure the right fit for your child.
The forward-facing configuration of convertible car seats is usually designed for 22-65 pounds. These forward-facing seats typically have 5 point harnesses and adjustable headrests so that they continue to grow with your child.
You should also take into account the expiration date on your car seat. Some models are rated for 6 years while others are good for 10 years. The expiration date is based on extensive manufacturer testing.
They test for normal wear and tear, and exposure to extreme temperatures as car seats are left in cars during extreme heat and cold. Over multiple years the materials can weaken as they are stressed by these conditions. If you are planning to put an older child in a booster and pass the convertible seat to a younger sibling, you need to pay attention to the expiry date.
Our research brought one convertible car seat to the top of the list. The Chicco NextFit Max Zip Air Convertible Car Seat is the best choice for a convertible car seat. This seat is rated for a child 4-50 pounds and up to 49” in height as a rear-facing seat.
This is 10 pounds more than most other rear-facing car seats. In the forward-facing configuration, the seat is rated for 22-65 pounds and 49 inches. The seat installs securely with the LATCH connection system and the LockSure steel reinforced seatbelt locking system.
It has 9 headrest and reclining positions to best fit your child as they grow. In addition to all of the safety features, the seat cover zips on and off for easy washing.
While you will need a separate booster seat after your child outgrows this one, it is an excellent investment in safety and convenience. We have compiled information about your best options for convertible car seats. Continue reading to compare details about these top-quality choices.
- Top 15 Convertible Car Seats
- 1. Chicco NextFit Zip – Top Rated Convertible Car Seat
- 2.Britax Advocate – Safest Convertible Car Seat
- 3.Evenflo Tribute LX – Best Inexpensive Convertible Car Seat
- 4.Evenflo EveryStage LX – Best Convertible Car Seat For Tall Babies
- 5.Baby Jogger City View – Best Convertible Car Seat For Infant
- 6.Britax Boulevard Clicktight Ultimate Comfort Seat – Provides Extra Protection
- 7.Britax Marathon Clicktight – Easy Install Convertible Car Seat
- 8.Peg Perego Primo Viaggio – Easiest Seat To Install
- 9.Evenflo Symphony Elite All-in-One – Most Color Variety
- 10. Evenflo Triumph LX – Super Budget-Friendly
- 11.Safety 1st Grow & Go – Best Convertible Car Seat With Cup Holder
- 12.CYBEX Sirona M SensorSafe 2.0 – Special SensorSafe Technology
- 13.Evenflo Sonus – Comes With Air Ventilation
- 14.Evenflo SureRide DLX – Super Comfortable
- 15.Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 – All-in-One Seat
- Buyer’s Guide
- The Difference Between Infant & Convertible Car Seats
- What Are Convertible Car Seats?
- LATCH Technology
- How to Install LATCH?
- How To Properly Install a Convertible Car Seat?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Which Convertible Car Seat To Choose?
Top 15 Convertible Car Seats
|Name||Weight Limit||Height Limit||Mode|
|Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat||5-65 lbs.||49"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Britax Advocate Convertible Car Seat||5-65 lbs.||49"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat||5-40 lbs.||40"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Baby Jogger City View Convertible Seat||5-100 lbs.||52"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible Seat||5-70 lbs.||49"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One Car Seat||5-110 lbs.||57"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Disney Baby Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat||5-50 lbs.||43"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat||5-65 lbs.||49"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
|CYBEX Sirona M Convertible Seat||5-65 lbs.||49"||Both Rear-Facing/Forward-Facing|
1. Chicco NextFit Zip – Top Rated Convertible Car Seat
For parents looking for a high-end seat, the Chicco NextFit Zip is one to look out for. This seat can accommodate a rear-facing child up to 50 pounds and forward-facing up to 65 pounds.
It offers 25 percent more legroom when rear-facing and gives added calf support when forward-facing. It also comes with a force-multiplying LATCH tightener to give the seat a more secure fit to the vehicle.
The NextFit Zip is really convenient because it comes with a full-body newborn positioner to keep the baby in place as well as a 9-position headrest and a non-rethreading harness that can accommodate your child’s growth. We really like this seat for its ease of installation. Chicco uses trademarked tightening and belt locking technology to ensure a secure installation.
You can install this seat using either the LATCH system or with the vehicle’s seat belt. Chicco’s trademarked DuoGuard provides two layers of side impact protection and uses EPS shock-absorbing foam. The seat’s shell is also reinforced with a steel frame for added protection.
The seat’s pad can be unzipped and thrown in the washer in the case of a mess and the seat itself comes with a breathable 3D AirMesh backrest. To add to the convenience factor, this seat comes with two detachable and dishwasher-safe cup holders too.
When washing the fabric, keep in mind that this should be hung up to dry. Do not attempt to put this in the dryer or use an iron. The heat can cause the fabric to shrink and shrivel.
- Extended Rear-Facing
- Easy to Install
- Uses Trademarked Technology to Add to Safety
- Can Use LATCH or Seatbelt
- Cupholders are Dishwasher-Safe
- Can’t Be Put Through the Dryer
- The Steel Frame Makes it Heavier
2.Britax Advocate – Safest Convertible Car Seat
This Britax seat comes with several safety features to ensure your child is properly protected in the car. It comes equipped with three layers of side-impact protection. The base is impact-absorbing and it compresses to reduce the force felt in an accident.
It’s also reinforced with an impact-stabilizing steel frame. This one also comes with the Clicktight installation system to make installing super quick and easy.
To ensure the safety of your child, the Advocate comes with a Click & Safe Snug Harness, auto level indicators, and multiple recline positions. These recline positions come in handy for comfort as well.
The harness is quick to adjust and comes with 14 different positions to choose from as your child grows. This seat is equipped with Safecell impact protection. This comprises of three features: an impact-absorbing base, an impact-stabilizing steel frame, and a patented V-shaped tether.
All three of those features work together to ensure the safety of your child. The Advocate can accommodate rear-facing babies between 5 and 40 pounds and rear-facing babies and toddlers between 20 and 65 pounds.
- Easy to Install
- Harness Adjusting Isn’t Difficult
- Grows With Your Child
- Easy to Clean
- Fabric Wears Down After a Few Washes
- Instructions are Hard to Follow
3.Evenflo Tribute LX – Best Inexpensive Convertible Car Seat
Lightweight. Budget-friendly. Super compact. What more could you ask for? This Evenflo tribute seat is a really good option for anybody who needs a seat they can transport from car to car easily.
It weighs in at only just over 9 pounds and is compact. This is also really nice for people with smaller cars. This seat can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing. Its rear-facing ability can be used until your child reaches 40 pounds and can be forward-facing until your child reaches 40 pounds as well.
This may not be a great option if you’re looking for a seat that can last with your child, but it’s a great back-up seat or seat for extra cars. It comes with an upfront harness adjuster and has four different harness positions to grow as your child grows from infant to toddlerhood.
The seat pad is removable and can be used in the washing machine. It’s made of polyester which adds to its durability and makes it a really breathable car seat. It’s also certified for air travel too.
- Great for Air Travel
- Super Easy to Clean
- Super Easy to Install
- One of The Best Affordable Car Seats
- Only Accommodates Up to 40 pounds
- Straps Get Twisted
4.Evenflo EveryStage LX – Best Convertible Car Seat For Tall Babies
For those of you looking to do a one-and-done shop, this is definitely one to consider. The EveryStage is an all-in-one seat that accommodates your child from infancy up to 120 pounds.
It’s fully adjustable and has up to 10 different positions to grow with your child. This seat allows you to rear face your child up to 50 pounds which is perfect if you believe in extended rear-facing. When rear-facing, it offers different angles to help keep the baby’s airways open and the infant insert can be removed as your child grows.
You can forward-face your child up to 65 pounds and then use the belt-positioning booster option until they hit 120 pounds. When your child grows to the next size, you don’t need to worry about rethreading the harness at all. All you need to do is adjust the headrest and the harness will adjust in the same step. There are five different recline options.
Both the seat pad and the cupholders are removable and can be washed by a washing machine and dishwasher respectively. This seat has met and exceeded federal safety standards and the company even offers real-time support and installation advice. It has been rollover tested, side-impact tested and is certified for air travel along with regular federal standards.
- Meets and Exceeds Federal Safety Standards
- Has Gone Through Additional Safety Testing
- Allows for Extended Rear-Facing
- One-And-Done Purchase
- Hard to Tighten When Installing
5.Baby Jogger City View – Best Convertible Car Seat For Infant
This is another all-in-one pick that ensures your child’s safety throughout their car seat journey. It can accommodate babies as small as 5 pounds up to 100 pounds.
It also comes with the SecureStop anti-rebound bar for added safety when rear-facing. This rebound bar reduces the amount of car seat movement in the event of a frontal collision by more than 45 percent.
The harness doesn’t need to rethreading as your child grows because it simply adjusts automatically when you adjust the headrest.
We like this seat because it’s super easy to install. It has large, color-coded belt paths to guide you if you choose to use the seatbelt to fasten. It’s also equipped with LATCH technology if you prefer that method. This seat has been side-impact tested and has gone through Baby Jogger’s specific TRUE test as well.
If you’re looking for convenience and compactness, this is definitely one to consider. It’s designed to be space-saving to keep from taking up the entire back seat. It also comes with a detachable cup holder that can be attached to either side of the car seat.
This is convenient if the space between your door and back seat is narrow so you don’t need to worry about crushing it with the door. This seat’s rear-facing ability maxes out at 40 pounds and as a forward-facing car seat at 65 lbs. After that, you can use it as a high-back booster until your child reaches the maximum weight limit.
- All-In-One Seat
- Cup Holder Can Be Attached to Either Side
- Equipped With an Anti-Rebound Bar
- Space Saving
- Can Hold Up to 100 Pounds
- Buckle May Pinch Skin if You Aren’t Careful
- The Fabric Feels a Bit Rough
6.Britax Boulevard Clicktight Ultimate Comfort Seat – Provides Extra Protection
If safety is your biggest priority, as it should be, this is a good car seat to add to your list. It comes with two layers of side impact protection and a Click & Safe Snug Harness Indicator to help you get the harness to the proper tightness. To add to its safety amenities, the seat has an energy-absorbing shell and a foam-lined headrest.
The frame is reinforced with steel for stabilizing impact in the case of an accident and is most secure right where it’s fastened in your vehicle. Installation is super easy with this seat because it’s equipped with ClickTight technology.
It’s also reclinable, so you’re able to keep a rear-facing baby at the safest angle and your front-facing child can be comfortable too. There are seven different recline positions in total. To adjust the harness, this seat doesn’t require rethreading.
It easily adjusts as you adjust the seat’s headrest. This particular seat has 14 different positions as well as two belt positions for maximum comfort. If you’re worried about messes, no need. The seat’s pad is removable and can be run through the washing machine.
- Removable Seat Pad for Easy Washing
- 14 Different Height Positions and 7 Different Reclines
- Easy to Install
- Places a Big Focus on Safety
- Fabric Isn’t Super Soft or Squishy
7.Britax Marathon Clicktight – Easy Install Convertible Car Seat
The Clicktight technology makes this car seat super easy to install. In addition, this seat comes with plenty of safety features to ensure the utmost protection while on car rides.
The Britax Marathon Clicktight comes with a deep energy-absorbing shell that offers side-impact protection. The base is made of Safecell technology to reduce the force of a collision.
It also comes equipped with an impact-stabilizing steel frame with the most support at the base where it attaches to your vehicle. Their patented V-shaped tether minimizes seat rotation when in an accident by further reducing the impact of a crash.
This seat is super simple to install and comes with built-in lock-offs and a push-button LATCH release. The seat comes with three recline positions and a quick-adjust harness that has 10 different height positions.
Once your child has grown out of the infant position, the infant pillow insert can be removed for optimal comfort. The Britax Marathon Clicktight accommodates rear-facing children from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing at 20 to 65 pounds. It comes with a one year warranty and should last up to seven years.
- One Year Warranty
- Easy to Install
- Special V-Shaped Tether Adds to Safety
- Not an All-in-One Option
- Crotch Area May Be Tight
- Clicktight System Can Easily Be Used Incorrectly
8.Peg Perego Primo Viaggio – Easiest Seat To Install
If you’re all about the imported goods, check out this Italian based car seat option. This seat can be used either rear or forward-facing and accommodates children up to 65 pounds.
This seat is unique because its side-impact protection is also adjustable. The seat is made of high-quality materials and offers extra safety features including both shock-absorbing foams as well as Polystyrene energy-absorbing foam.
We like Peg Perego Primo because it comes in seven different colors and has a sleek and chic design. The back of the seat has a contoured steel backplate to minimize flexing and reduce forward movement. It also has a contoured base to provide extra stability in both rear and forward-facing positions.
The head panel along with the removable seat cushion are made out of breathable fabric that absorbs moisture. This will help keep your child cool and comfortable even on hot days. The wide padded seat also includes a special infant insert to keep your newborn snug and safe at all times. This seat is aircraft certified as well.
- Breathable Fabric
- Has Several Added Safety Features
- Encourages Extended Rear-Facing
- Seat Cushion is Machine-Washable
- Not Made in the USA
- The Seat is Taller Than Other Car Seats
9.Evenflo Symphony Elite All-in-One – Most Color Variety
Evenflo Symphony Elite is an all-in-one car seat so it’s definitely a one-and-done option. It can accommodate babies from infancy up until they reach 110 pounds.
These seats are also made in the United States so if you like to buy American, this is a good one for you. This seat can rear-face up to 40 pounds, forward-face between 22-65 pounds, and be used as a booster between 40-110 pounds.
To install, this seat uses SureLATCH which clicks and pushes into place once installed. It’s also equipped with a foam liner around the head and neck area for added protection. It has also been through several different safety tests on top of the regular federal standards.
These tests include side-impact testing, aircraft certification, temperature testing, as well as Canadian safety standards. The seat’s pad can be removed and put through the washing machine and the rest of the seat can be wiped clean with mild soap and warm water.
The car seat’s cup holder is expandable as well so you don’t need to worry about their water bottle not fitting. The Symphony Elite is available in eight different color options.
- Plenty of Colors to Choose From
- Expandable Cup Holder
- Easy to Clean
- Exceeds Safety Standards
- All-In-One Option
- Harness Straps Have Been Known to Tear After a Few Years
10. Evenflo Triumph LX – Super Budget-Friendly
Evenflo boasts optimal safety and comfort with this car seat. It comes equipped with Comfort tech padding, which is three layers of soft cushion.
Evenflo Triumph LX also has an easily slidable harness to help give an accurate fit with every ride. It comes equipped with a quick connector latch system that allows you to quickly and safely transport the seat to and from different vehicles.
This seat is unique because it comes with side knobs on the bottom to tighten the harness. This makes buckling and tightening super easy as you can do so with one hand. It also has an up-front adjustment if you want to change the recline position of the car seat. If you are looking for the best convertible car seat for tall babies then look no further then Evenflo Triumph LX!
It also comes with two cup holders to help fulfill all of your child’s drinking and snacking needs. The headrest is adjustable and the pillow it comes with is also removable once your child doesn’t need it anymore.
The walls of the seat are deep and have been side impact tested. Your child can rear-face in this seat from 5 to 40 pounds and forward face from 22 to 65 pounds. These are also certified for aircraft use so you don’t need to worry about purchasing another seat for traveling.
- Unique Harness Tightener Makes Getting Baby in Easier
- Reclinable Seat
- Easy to Install and Uninstall
- Aircraft Certified
- The Seat May Be Hard to Angle When Installing
- Harness Adjusters May Be Hard to Turn
11.Safety 1st Grow & Go – Best Convertible Car Seat With Cup Holder
Another all-in-one option on our list is this Grow & Go seat by Safety 1st. It allows extended rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds.
Forward-facing from 22 to 65 pounds, and belt-positioning booster mode from 40 to 100 pounds. The convenient thing about this seat is that it doesn’t take up too much room when it’s rear-facing as other car seats do.
The company boasts that parents will have an extra 7 inches of leg space when this is used in rear-facing mode. This seat comes with special Air Protect technology in the headrest area that offers added protection to the most vulnerable part of the body.
The seat also has a quick-fit harness and comes with harness holders to keep straps out of the way when getting in and out of the seat. The Quickfit harness is nice because it allows you to adjust the height of both the headrest and harness with one hand.
The seat’s cover is machine-washable and dryer safe and it can be detached and reattached via the snap buttons it comes with. These buttons make taking off and putting back on much easier and less of a hassle.
- Grows With Your Child
- Added Air Protect Technology
- Lots of Padding for a More Comfortable Ride
- Easy to Remove the Cover to Clean It
- Doesn’t Take Much Space
- Grows With Your Child
- Your Baby May Get Warm if They’re Prone to Sweating
12.CYBEX Sirona M SensorSafe 2.0 – Special SensorSafe Technology
If you want a car seat with a futuristic design, consider this CYBEX seat. This seat can accommodate children up to 65 pounds.
The seat’s rear-facing ability is to be used up until your child hits 40 pounds and then they can be switched to forward-facing.
The seat also comes with unique SensorSafe technology that you can access right from your phone. SensorSafe is a monitor that can help keep track of your child’s wellbeing while you’re driving.
It’s integrated right into the chest clip and will send an alert to either your phone or vehicle when an issue arises. This can really come in handy if you have a chronically ill child or to give you a reminder that you left your child in the car.
The seat comes with adjustable linear side-impact protection and has an adjustable headrest that has 12 different height positions. The harness doesn’t need rethreading either because it’s integrated with the headrest to adjust together. The seat has a removable newborn inlay so once your child grows out of that you can easily take it out.
- Futuristic Design
- Sensor-Safe Technology Gives Peace of Mind
- Removable Newborn Inlay
- Encourages Extended Rear Facing
- Adjustable Headrest and Non-Rethreading Harness
- Magnetic Strap Feature Isn’t Always Noticeable
- The Phone App is a Bit Flawed. Relies on Phone Proximity.
13.Evenflo Sonus – Comes With Air Ventilation
This is another budget convertible car seat to consider. It offers a compact design for a compact price as well. This seat can fit three across in most standard vehicles.
This seat can be used in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes. You have the ability to rear face with this one up to 40 pounds and forward-face up to 50 pounds. It comes with a wider seat base to fit a wider range of children as well.
It has up-front harness adjustment to get an accurate and snug fit.The cool thing about this seat is that it comes with air vents. This will provide constant airflow to your child to keep them comfy and prevent them from overheating on long rides.
It has five different shoulder strap positions to ensure that the seat grows with your child and the seat has been rollover tested for added safety. This seat is also approved for aircraft travel too.
- Super Compact Design Fits Three Across
- Has an Air Ventilation System
- Approved for Air Travel
- Lightweight Design
- Affordable Car Seat
- Crotch Buckle Might Pinch. There Isn’t Any Padding
- The Seat is Long When Rear Facing
14.Evenflo SureRide DLX – Super Comfortable
Comfort is key when it comes to a successful car ride.This is a really good option to consider if comfort is high on your must-have list. It’s made of premium soft fabric that is machine-washable as well.
The seat can be used in both rear-facing and forward-facing mode. This is good if you want something that will last a while. It has six harness adjustment ranges which also helps for growing with your child.
This car seat can be used in rear-facing mode until your child reaches 40 pounds and up to 40 inches tall. You can then change to forward-facing mode until 65 pounds and roughly 54 inches. The cupholder folds down as well so you can make more space for passengers if needed.
The seat is side-impact tested and its structural integrity has been tested on energy levels 2 times the federal standards. It’s also gone through Evenflo-specific temperature testing and is approved for air travel as well.
- Encourages Extended Rear-Facing
- Air Travel Approved
- Super Comfortable
- Slim Design
- Easy to Install
- Can Be Hard to Adjust After Awhile
15.Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 – All-in-One Seat
If you’re into one-and-done shopping, consider this convertible seat. It can be used rear-facing, forward-facing, or as a belt-positioning booster.
With this seat, your child can rear-face up to 40 pounds, forward-face up to 50 pounds, and use booster mode up to 80 pounds.
The seat meets or exceeds all federal, ASTM, and JPMA safety standards and comes with side-impact protection. It comes with convenient harness holders to keep the straps out of the way when getting your child in and out of the seat.
The seat pad is removable and can be thrown in both the washing machine and the dryer. The cupholder is also removable and dishwasher-safe too. This seat is equipped with a Quickfit harness, so you don’t need to worry about rethreading the harness straps.
They’ll automatically adjust as you adjust the seat’s headrest. It has three different recline positions to safely fit the back seat and keep your child more comfortable too.
- Removable Cupholder
- Different Recline Positions Ensure Proper Fit
- Hard to Install
Now that you have some general information on convertible car seats, it’s almost time to shop. Before we set you free to roam, there are a few key features we want you to look out for when choosing the best convertible car seat for your child.
Practically every brand is going to boast this comfort feature and that safety add-on, but how do you know which ones are actually legitimate? Consider these features when making your decision.
Most car seat brands take safety very seriously when they design their car seats. After all, the whole point of child safety seats is to keep kids safe during car rides. Lots of brands are going to boast that their seats are the safest, and they may even have their own added safety features.
Before choosing a convertible car seat for your child, check out all of their safety features. Make sure they come with adequate side-impact protection and the harness feels secure. A good indicator that the car seat is safe is if it has LATCH technology, so be on the lookout for that too.
Ease of Cleaning
How easy the seat is to clean should also play a major role in your decision. You can choose the safest, most durable car seat on the market but if it’s a major hassle to clean, you’re just going to be frustrated. A lot of car seats come with removable pads and covers that are machine-washable.
This is great for convenience but keep in mind that just because it can go in the washing machine, doesn’t mean it’s dryer-safe. If convenience is what you want, try finding a car seat that can be thrown in the dryer rather than hang drying. This will really come in handy if you’re constantly on the go.
You may also find that some car seats come with detachable cupholders as well. They’re usually dishwasher safe for more added convenience.
God forbid you ever get into an accident, but it does happen. Finding a durable car seat is going to ensure your child is as safe as possible in case this were to happen. Many car seats are made with steel or other metal frames to guarantee durability.
We know how expensive raising kids can be and car seats certainly don’t help on that front. It can be difficult choosing a seat, especially when the prices range from as low as $50 to as high as $400. Contrary to what you may think, expensive car seats aren’t always the best. You can get a great quality seat without having to take out a small loan.
The key is in the features. Price is important, but it should be the last thing you look at before making a decision. You may even find that some of the higher end car seats have the exact same features as more budget-friendly options.
Ability to Grow
When shopping for a convertible car seat, take note of the weight limit it goes up to. You’ll find that most convertible car seats can hold as little as 5 pounds up to at least 65 pounds. If you’re all about practicality like most parents are, some convertible car seats can hold up to 120 pounds.
This is super convenient if you only want to make a one and done purchase. Some seats may also come with extendable footrests and adjustable headrests too. These are a good feature to accommodate taller children.
Another major thing to keep in mind is how comfortable the car seat is. Safety features and the convenience factor are important for the sake of parents, but these mean nothing if your child hates their seat.
Consider finding a seat that comes with memory foam padding or another body shaping cushion. Not only are these more comfortable, but an ergonomic design will be much more supportive. In addition to that, the extra padding also adds to the safety effectiveness of a particular seat. No bubble wrap required.
This one is mainly for the parents. The size and bulkiness of a car seat can prove to be inconvenient in the installation process if it’s a bigger, wider seat. It can also prove to be disappointing if you’re a family of multiples and need to fit three across in the back seat.
When shopping around, take note of the weight and dimensions. If you aren’t good with technical stuff, you can always do a quick search to see if the company promises the ability to fit three across. If you still aren’t sure, it wouldn’t hurt to call the manufacturer and ask.
Another thing to consider is what all the car seat comes with. Are there cupholders? Does it come with a snack compartment? What about harness holders? All of these things will add to the convenience factor of convertible car seats.
With cup holders especially, keep in mind where they are on the car seat. Some protrude out of the side and that can be inconvenient if the backseat of your car is narrow. This can make shutting the car door difficult. If this is the case, check out if the cupholder is removable. In many cases, it will be but it’s worth making sure before buying and being disappointed.
Other car seats may also come with a snack compartment. These are basically cupholders but have a split down the middle to conveniently hold snacks. While it isn’t recommended to let your children eat in the car, nobody is perfect. As long as you drive responsibly and act quickly when you suspect your child is having issues, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Most convertible car seats will come with harness holders. These are a convenience item that will help make getting your child in and out of their car seat much easier.
Harness holders are located on the sides of the car seat near the top and are meant to hold the straps out of the way. These prevent the inconvenience of having to reach under your child to yank the straps free in case they sit on them. It also helps prevent the clips from getting snagged on your child’s clothing.
The harness can get really uncomfortable, especially if your child is wearing a shirt that doesn’t cover their entire chest. To help with this, see if a seat comes with harness pads for the straps. Not only will this help with comfort, but it can also help reduce bruising if you get into an accident.
If a seat comes with harness pads, they’re regulated and considered safe. It’s important not to buy any extra pads or accessories that didn’t come with the seat. Unregulated products can cause suffocation and other concerns. Unregulated harness pads can actually cause your child to slip out of their seat in a crash, which will cause more injury than necessary.
The Difference Between Infant & Convertible Car Seats
Infant seats are only meant for infants up until between 25-35 pounds depending on which car seat you choose. Convertible car seats are a more practical and convenient option because they will accommodate your newborn up until they reach at least 65 pounds (or more depending on the seat’s restrictions).
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, added safety features should always be taken into consideration. Some companies have patented technology that they use to exceed federal and other safety standards.
First and foremost, all car seats should offer side-impact protection. This is what protects your baby’s head and neck in the event of an accident. They’ll also come with LATCH technology to help keep the seat more secure. In addition to that, manufacturers may design their car seats with these extra safety features:
Depending on the weight restrictions, a convertible car seat should come with a certain number of recline positions. Infants obviously need to be on a less-upright angle than a booster kid, so this is a major safety feature to look out for.
Not only will breathable fabric make your child more comfortable, but it will also keep them from overheating on warm days too.
All convertible car seats will come with some form of lateral headrests. However, the larger they are, the more protection they provide. These are going to help keep your child’s head from being thrust to the side in an accident.
Infants need extra support in the car. If you plan on doing a one-and-done shopping trip, make sure the seat you choose comes with proper infant support.
5.Head Impact Protection
Some manufacturers have extra technology incorporated into the headrest to add more protection to the head and neck. This is certainly worth looking for if you want to ensure you’re getting the safest seat possible.
EPS stands for Expanded Polystyrene. This foam is rigid, closed-celled, and tough (source). Check and see if the car seat uses EPS foam in the base because this foam really helps with shock absorption.
What Are Convertible Car Seats?
One of the main points of a convertible car seat is to grow with your child. These seats are considered convertible because they can convert one of three ways: infant seat-convertible car seat, infant seat-booster seat, and convertible car seat booster seat.
In hindsight, you could purchase a convertible car seat and bypass the idea of the infant carrier altogether.
Benefits of Convertible Car Seats
These car seats are required for any type of car travel with older babies and toddlers. But what people don’t know is that convertible car seats offer so many other benefits besides your child’s general safety.
They’re the Only Seat You’ll Need to Buy!
Because these seats have the ability to grow with your child, they’re potentially the only seat you’ll ever need to buy. Convertible car seats come with both rear-facing and forward-facing abilities and typically can hold as little as 5 pounds.
This means you can bypass an infant carrier and only spend money on one seat for the duration of your child’s car seat days. The only downside to this is that convertible car seats are bulkier and they need to stay in the car. You won’t be able to carry your infant around in them.
Added Comfort Features
We’ve found that convertible car seats also tend to be comfier and have more padding than infant carriers. This really comes in handy to prevent unnecessary meltdowns when your baby can’t get comfy.
Most convertible car seats have memory foam padding or other body-forming material. These comfort features can also provide extra safety as well. For example, Maxi-Cosi convertible car seats come equipped with special air technology in the headrest to provide extra support to the head and neck.
This not only gives extra safety in a crash, but it gives your child extra comfort where it’s most needed.
Convertible Seats Are Safer
A recent study done by Consumer Reports found that the longer shells and the shape of convertible car seats provided more protection to an infant than infant carriers. Their test comprised of 30 different infant carriers and 25 different convertible car seats.
16 of the 30 infant carriers they tested showed the dummy suffering a head blow to the back headrest. This is opposed to only one of the 25 convertible car seat tests showing the same results. We aren’t saying that infant carriers aren’t safe, because they absolutely are. But what if you have a tall baby?
Most infant seats only have weight restrictions so you can only go off of whether or not your child’s head surpasses the back of their carrier.
If you’ve already started your hunt for a convertible car seat, you’ve probably seen the terms “LATCH system” and “LATCH technology” being bounced around. It’s marketed as an easier way to install car seats, but more than that it’s safer too.
What is LATCH and Why is it Important?
LATCH, or Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, was originally developed to make installing your child’s car seat safer and easier. It doesn’t require the use of the car’s seatbelt as it uses anchors in your car to keep the seat in place. It includes built-in straps and hooks on the safety seat that you hook to anchors provided in your car.
Is My Car LATCH Compatible?
LATCH technology can be found in all cars and car seats manufactured after Sept. 1, 2002.
Where is the LATCH Equipment?
If your car is LATCH-compatible, you will find two LATCH anchors on the rear of your back seat. These can be found right where the rear of the seat meets the back cushion. You will also find a top tether strap either on the rear shelf in your car or right behind the seat if you have an SUV.
Some points can also be found on the ceiling, floor, or underneath the seat. The LATCH equipment on your child’s car seat can be found in two spots as well. The lower anchors will have two straps and are located at the base of the seat. The top tether comes right from the top of the seat.
How to Install LATCH?
You can always find detailed instructions on how to install the seat’s LATCH system in the instruction manual, but here is a quick rundown.
- Attach the hooks from the base of the car seat onto their own lower anchor on the car’s back seat.
- Tighten and adjust the straps, push down, and push back on the seat in order to get a secure hold.
- Hook the top tether to the corresponding spot in your car.
- Do a final check. You shouldn’t be able to move the seat left or right more than an inch
How To Properly Install a Convertible Car Seat?
If you plan on purchasing a convertible car seat, it’s important to know how to properly install it. When installed properly, car seats can reduce the chance of death in infants under one year old by 70 percent and toddlers aged one to four by 54 percent (source).
There are a few different ways you can install a car seat depending on what it comes with. Most car seats will come with belt paths that you can feed your car’s seatbelt through and buckle on the other side. They may also come with the LATCH system in which you use hooks and anchors to secure it to your car. It’s important to note that not all cars are LATCH-compatible so using your car’s seatbelt completely safe.
If you still aren’t sure about whether or not you have a properly installed car seat, you can always go to your nearest inspection station. At these stations, you’ll have a certified car seat technician check your car seat to make sure it’s installed properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should I Put My Baby In A Convertible Car Seat?
If you don’t choose to go with an all-in-one or a convertible car seat from the start, you’ll switch your baby over once they grow out of their infant seats. A lot of infant seats accommodate babies until they reach 35 pounds. However, more and more manufacturers are designing their convertible car seats to safely hold newborns.
What are the best convertible car seat brands?
There isn’t really one “best” brand when it comes to convertible car seats. Our favorites are Maxi-Cosi, Safety 1st, and Evenflo. Each has its own reasons for being a favorite.
What is the best convertible car seat(safest)?
The Britax Marathon Clicktight Convertible Car Seat is the safest convertible car seat.
What is the most affordable convertible car seat?
The Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat is the most affordable convertible
What is next after convertible car seats?
After your child grows out of a convertible car seat, they may need a booster seat still. There are a few different types of booster seats: backless, high-back, harness, and belt-positioning. Most booster seats will be belt-positioning boosters, but the design will vary.
Your child will typically graduate to a booster seat once they reach four years old or they’re at least 4 feet and 9 inches tall.
Does more expensive mean a safer seat?
Not always. While higher-end seats may boast added safety features, many budget-friendly brands have similar or even the same type of technology incorporated into their seats. A car seat’s price is important, but it should be the last thing you consider when choosing a seat for your child.
Should I buy the car seat before the baby is born?
Yes! It’s better to be prepared with the car seat already installed than frantically trying to get it ready when the baby is born. The first few days of parenthood are a blur and the hospital won’t let you leave without a properly installed car seat anyways.
What If The Convertible Car Seat Won’t Fit in my car?
Chances are this won’t be the case. Car seats are designed to fit in virtually any back seat. While it may require some adjusting of the front seats depending on size, your convertible car seat should fit.
What if my child’s legs are squished when doing extended rear-facing?
Most car seats are actually made with a specific design to give the child more legroom while rear-facing. With guidelines changing to keeping kids rear-facing until at least age 2, car seat manufacturers are constantly upgrading their products to accommodate.
How do I know how safe a certain seat is?
All car seats have to undergo testing before they’re allowed to be sold on the market. When you’re shopping, the safety standards of any particular seat are typically easy to find. Some car seat manufacturers actually put their seats through additional tests to ensure it’s completely safe for babies and small children.
What does NHTSA Ease of Use mean?
This is a rating system done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine how easy the seat is based on four evaluations. These are evaluation of instructions, evaluation on labels, vehicle installation features, and securing the child.
What are the weight and height limits for rear, forward, and booster mode?
These will vary depending on the seat, so be sure to take note of what the manufacturer recommends. However, a good rule of thumb is rear-facing until age 2, forward-facing until at least age 5, and booster seat from age 5 until the seat belt can sit correctly across your child’s body.
Which Convertible Car Seat To Choose?
We went over a pretty hefty amount of information here for you but we hope that it was helpful in some way. Buying a car seat takes a lot of deliberation and can quite possibly be one of the most stressful decisions parents have to make.
How are you supposed to choose the safest seat for your baby when there are so many to choose from Our favorite is the Chicco NextFit Zip convertible car seat. We like this one for its different color options available as well as its number of safety features. The detachable and dishwasher-safe cup holder is also a plus.
So what are your thoughts on convertible car seats? Will you be bypassing the infant carrier? Which one of these convertible seats is your favorite? Let us know! You might want to check our character car seats post as well.