What’s the hardest part of a car journey when you are a parent? Keeping your children sit quietly! If you are not careful, there are numerous ways the little ones can hurt themselves during a car journey.
Buying a baby car seat is one of the most significant safety moves that you can make as a parent. It shelters them until they grow big enough to fit into an adult seat belt. Well, it won’t still stop the annoying choruses, “are we there yet?”, but you can at least drive easy knowing that they are safely strapped in. Read our complete guide about the best portable cribs.
The purchase of a baby car seat is overwhelming not only because there is a plethora of options but also a lack of knowledge about which features to focus on. Follow this guide to know about baby car seats, their variations, the features to look for, and a curated list of 20 best products in the market. Read our latest guide about the best baby playmats.
Main types of Baby Car Seats
As your child grows, you’ll need to transition from one car seat to another. We explain the different types to help you zero in on the right one for your needs.
Infant or Rear-Facing Car Seat
The new parents must purchase a rear-facing seat because all the newborns and smaller babies must be carried in it until they are 2 years old or older than that. It is because the neck of the babies is not strong enough to survive the pressure of a head-on collision. The weight range is from 4 to 40 lbs but most kids will grow out before they are too heavy for the seats.
The seats have only a rear-facing installation option. Its mechanism involves a detachable carrier that fits into a base installed in the car. Many of these models come as a part of a travel system complete with a pram, which is good for easy in and out of the sleeping babies without waking them up.
When the little ones outgrow the infant seat, the next step is to go for a convertible seat that you can install either rear- or forward-facing. It must be rear-facing when the child is less than 2 years. The CR and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend rear-facing seats for even more older children, if possible.
You can install the seat rear-facing when your child is an infant and switch the side when they grow up. They even have a rear-facing weight limit up to 50 lbs, which is higher than the infant seats, great for the parents who want their babies to keep rear-facing for a longer time.
The forward-facing capacity of these seats is 65 lbs or even more in some models. These are suitable for newborns but infant seats are a better option for babies too small.
Babies need a booster seat when they outgrow the size limits of the front-facing car seats. These have an elevated seating position, allowing the children to fasten the vehicle’s seat belt system instead of tethering a harness.
The seats have been designed in a way that allows the vehicle’s belt to strap the baby through the collarbones, over the sternum, and around the upper thighs.
Available in backless and high-back designs (some models have both functions). The backless ones are more portable and cheaper but the high-back units offer more protection and safety features.
The laws of some states in the US require children up to 9 years or 80 pounds (whichever comes first) to use a booster seat.
Toddler Booster Seat
The style falls somewhere between a forward-facing and a booster mode. These are suitable for the children who are grown enough to use a harness-system forward-facing seat but cannot cope up with a booster seat.
The seat can accommodate a baby between 20 and 90 pounds with the harness tethered and 30 and 120 pounds in the booster mode.
All-In-One (3-in-1) Car Seat
Almost similar to convertible seats in design and engineering, these seats are the most versatile of all the models available. They can accommodate babies weighing 4 to 50 pounds, 20 to 65 pounds, and 30 to 120 pounds in rear-facing, forward facing, and booster mode, respectively.
Know the Basic Guidelines for the Baby Car Seats
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and a few other agencies work relentlessly to find the best safety features for baby car seats. For this reason, the safety recommendations for these seats have changed a lot over the years. Here are the general AAP recommendations for the year 2018 but don’t forget to check the local regulations first.
- Babies should sit rear-facing in the car until they are 2 years old. It will be even better if you can keep that position for a longer time.
- When the baby becomes old enough to sit forward-facing, use the harness as long as possible.
- You should keep your child in the booster seat until s/he is 8 o 12 years old, or 57 inches tall, or the car seatbelt fits her/him.
- Children should be in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
- Change the seat if it was in a car crash (even if there is no visible damage). Also, never use a recalled seat.
- Second-hand seats are safe to use but never purchase any expired product. A seat remains usable for 7 to 10 years till the production date.
- All the vehicles manufactured after 2002 should have a safety system called LATCH (Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children) that makes it possible to install them without using the car’s belts. A seat should have at least one top tether and two lower LATCH anchors.
- The position of the harness buckle should be at or above the shoulders in a forward-facing unit and at or below the shoulders in the rear mode. Once you finish buckling up the baby, try to move the straps. If the move easily, everything requires a double check because the straps are slack.
Characteristics of Best-Quality Baby Car Seats
Once you determine the sizes of your car, the weight and size of your child, the frequency of travel, your budget, and local regulations, look for these features when buying a baby car seat. Remember that some units have a flexible mechanism that you can adjust to the growth of your child. Others need to be replaced with new models as the baby grows.
Ease of Use
The rating system of the National Highway Transportation System Administration (NHTSA) is the easiest way to find out whether a seat is easy to install or not. In the 5-star rating system, the more the stars, the better the seat is.
If there is no rating available for your chosen unit, there are other ways to determine this aspect. Most infant car seats have a plastic base that you install in the car. The base should be good-quality so that there’s no trouble snapping and unsnapping the baby seat into and from it. The base in some models comes with a few bells and whistles such as an adjustable foot for achieving your desired recline angle or an indicator to show the correct angle.
Currently, all the baby car seats have a LATCH system that makes installation easier than using the seat belts. The rigid LATCH style that sticks out of the seat back is easier to install than the flexible LATCH that threads a strap through the car seat.
You should know how to properly install a baby car seat. Incorrect installation is the main reason for the baby to feel uncomfortable. When set in place, the seat should not move more than one inch either way. Don’t forget to read the owner manual before inserting it into the base.
A baby car seat has to be comfortable. Otherwise, your little one will be in pain or can be injured during a ride. A well-padded seat with plenty of head support should be your first choice. The side-impact protection with energy-absorbing foam and a few other features is important too since it protects the chest and head in a side-impact accident.
Lateral headrests and neck pillows secure the positions of the head and spine and cushion these parts. The soft neck and brain of the babies are susceptible to injury. The headrest and pillow safeguard against injuries like seizures, swelling, and bleeding caused by a blow to the head.
You should look for a seat that has an adjustable harness and headrest because your child will grow up in no time. If the seat does not have the option, you have to purchase a new one after a few months. The good-quality ones are likely to have belt-adjustment and height-adjustable headrest options with quick-release buckles and no-rethread harnesses.
The comfort factor also relies much on the easy cleaning facility. Babies are messy but many car seats don’t offer a detachable cover. The cleanup chore becomes easier if you can take the cover off and put it in the washing machine.
Look at the model’s crash test safety rating to determine its performance during the event of an accident. If that is not available for your selected product, make sure that it has a LATCH system and a five-point harness design.
The seat’s straps should cross over five points on the baby’s body – shoulders, hips, and crotch. Straps should be comfortable enough that does not scrape or rub on the skin. These should be easy enough to tighten or loosen, preferably with one hand. The safety of baby car seats largely depends on the LATCH system. Its engineering should be top-notch so that it can anchor the seat to its frame tightly.
A chest pad is quite useful since it prevents the little one from lurching forward in the time of a hard brake. Also, it absorbs shock and diffuses forces during an accident, reducing the risk of injuries.
Here is a list of 20 car baby seats in the market that will help with fixing the choice if you are yet to make one.
TOP 20 BEST CAR SEATS IN 2020
|1. Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
||Rear-facing 5-40 pounds||$$$||4.8|
|2. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
||from 30 to 100 pounds and backless belt-positioning mode||$$$||4.7|
|3. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
||2-position carry-handle with comfortable grip||$$$||4.7|
|4. Cybex Sirona M SensorSafe 2.0, Lavastone Black,Car Seat
||5-point safety harness chest clip||$$$||4.6|
|5. Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Infant Car Seat
||built-in seat belt lock-offs||$$$||4.6|
|6. Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, Darcie, One Size
||child from 5-100 lb||$$$||4.5|
|7. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
||Belt-positioning booster 40-100 pounds||$$$||4.5|
|8. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat
||from 4 – 35 pounds; and up to 32″||$$$||4.4|
|9. Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat, Quartz
|10. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
|11. Evenflo Stratos Convertible Car Seat
||from 22-65 pounds||$$$||4.2|
|12.Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat
||child from 5-100 lb||$$$||4.1|
|13. Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
||children from 5-110 lbs||$$$||4.1|
|14. Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
||from 5 – 40 pounds||$$$||4.0|
|15. Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
|16. Eddie Bauer XRS 65 Convertible Car Seat
||from 22 to 65 pounds||$$$||3.9|
|17. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 Infant Car Seat
||from 4 – 35 lbs. and up to 32″||$$$||3.9|
|18. Evenflo Nurture Infant Car Seat
||2 crotch buckle positions||$$||3.8|
|19. Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat
||children from 40-110 pounds||$$||3.8|
|20. Disney APT Convertible Car Seat
||Dimensions: 23 x 21.5 x 24 inches||$$$||3.7|
The Britax Marathon is undoubtedly one of the best products on the market. The ClickTight technology makes installation a breeze while a handful of safety features transform the seat into a little fort for the baby. The seat has a high price tag but it makes that up with all the quality features it brings onboard.
Ease of Use
The great success of the Britax Marathon seat is that it has taken the guesswork out of the installation process. With the patented ClickTight technology, fitting it to the car seat is like buckling a seat belt.
The Marathon relieves you of all the frustration regarding the installation and the worries of whether you have done it correctly. For a forward-facing installation, lift the seat part, place the car’s safety belt over the back section, and snap it into its slot. Put the seat part back into its position and you will get a rock-solid seat that won’t budge during a ride.
The rear-facing process is similar except that you have to place the safety belt through the ports inside the seat.
The Marathon can accommodate a child from 5 to 40 pounds in a rear-facing position and 20 to 65 pounds when it is forward-facing. The product is super adjustable and is packed with some high-class comfort features.
If your child sleeps during the ride, the side cushioning protects its head from banging with every single bump. The seven reclining positions including one for the newborns support your baby’s head on any road. Change the position as the child grows and save hundreds of bucks that you would have to spend on another seat.
The fabric feels smooth to the bare skin and the portion in the head region feels more like velvet. The material is low-absorbent, so wiping clean is much easier. However, if you want to give it a proper wash, you have to disassemble the whole thing.
The harness can be tied in 14 different positions when the buckle has two. So, it is easy to secure a comfortable fit according to the child’s height even when s/he grows up. The good news is rethreading is not required each time you make some adjustments. For this reason, the Marathon is one of the most user-friendly car seats.
The entire seat is padded with cushion and the sides are sturdy. Even if the baby falls asleep, the head will be properly rested. The only concern is the crotch strap that can cut into the thighs if not properly strapped.
Finding a car seat safer than the Marathon will be difficult. Britax ensures the utmost safety of your little one with the SafeCell Impact Protection technology. It includes a steel frame and shock-absorbing base that can absorb a high amount of shock and is unlikely to bend upon impact. The tether is also equipped with staged-release stitches that slower the forward lunge during a crash.
All the straps have enough width to not to cut through the tender skin when the child is pushed forward. Also, the side impact protection in the head region creates a protective layer during a side crash.
Remember that accident can happen anytime and no car seat can guarantee 100% of safety. But, the Britax Marathon offers the best protection possible.
- Easy installation with ClickTight technology
- SafeCell Impact Protection for overall protection against injuries
- Both rear-facing and front-facing installation options
- The entire seat is padded and cushioned
- The fabric wipes clean
- The crotch strap is a tad hassle to adjust
- Proper washing needs a full disassembly
The Graco convertible seats have been a trusted name among the parents for a long time. The soaring popularity has made the brand one of the best sellers in its league. The 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat is one of the best in the market due to its comfort features and simple installation features. The adjustable unit grows with your child and provides you the best value for the money.
Ease of Use
The installation might not be the best in the market but the InRight system makes the entire process pretty simple. You have done the latch attachment right, you will hear an audible click, which is a relief for the paranoid moms who have a trust issue when comes to their baby’s safety.
The level indicator will let you know whether the position is right or not. The huge size is a drawback, though, especially in a small car where you have to move a couple of things to make room for it.
With the harness storage and no-rethread design, the 4Ever can accommodate a baby from 4 to 120 pounds. The limit is 4 to 40 in the rear-facing, 20 to 65 in forward-facing, up to 100 pounds in the buckle-in booster mode, and up to 120 pounds in the backless booster position.
The biggest draw of the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 car seat is that one seat is enough to accompany your child in his/her entire car-seat sitting life. There is no need to buy separate seats at different stages of your child’s growth.
But, is the 4Ever comfortable?
The entire seat has squishy padding with a plush insert in the head area. You can just remove the insert when the child outgrows it. The problem is it does not have enough recline in the rear-facing position, especially if you are riding a sedan. So, the baby may not have a comfortable sleep. The fabric material is not rough on the skin but it makes the baby sweat.
Additional features sound nice but what matters the most in a baby car seat is the safety. Graco went the extra length to make the 4Ever 4-in-1 one of the safest car seats.
The steal-reinforced frame and energy absorbing foam offer strength, durability, and protection from impact. The seat meets or exceeds the US standard FMVSS 213 crash test, the peak crash force of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), and side impact protection.
The five-point harness system firmly secures the child to the seat. It is also tested for extreme car interior temperatures, which means that a high level of temperature does not have any influence on its crash protection score.
- Adjustable; grows with the growth of your child
- InRight technology for easy installation
- Flexible harness without rethreading
- The cover is machine washable
- The fabric is sweaty
- Not enough recline
If you are looking for buying a car seat for the newest member of your family, the Chicco KeyFit 30 is the name to rely on. It stands out from a whole bunch of infant car seats and relieves the new parents with its top-class comfort and safety features. The seat is suitable for newborns and infants from 4 to 30 lbs and up to 30 inches in height.
Ease of Use
The KeyFit 30 comes with one detailed manual that provides the installation instructions with straightforward words and clear diagrams. There are also labels on the carrier and base, making it easier to understand which part goes into what.
The base is compatible with both car’s seatbelt and UAS connectors. The push-on UAS connectors fit into the vehicle’s anchors with an audible click. Tightening is a breeze too with the one-pull tightening strap.
Even without the UAS connectors, installation is quite simple with the Super Cinch LATCH, Recline Sure leveling foot, and Ride Right bubble levels. The 2-position carry handle is great for a comfortable grip. You can turn it into a complete travel unit by purchasing a Chicco stroller.
The seat offers cushy support with dense padding. It will take care of the little one’s back, head, neck, and bottom. The fabric is soft to the skin and you can also machine wash it, which is a relief because newborns and infants are all about continuous spit-up and blowouts.
There is an extra sun-visor that is polyester fabric and machine-washable. But, it’s still not enough to protect the baby’s feet when s/he is in a stroller. Adjusting the canopy is a bit hassle too as it is quite stiff.
The polypropylene shell lined with energy-absorbing foam and the presence of thick, plush padding throughout the frame provides the best support for your little one. There is a pillow or head insert for the newborns weighing 4 to 11 pounds to shield their tender head and neck from tilting side to side.
Snapping and unsnapping the 5-point safety harness is a cinch. The loosening and tightening of the straps depend on a one-pull tether, leaving no scope for pinched fingers.
There are options for adjusting the shoulder straps and rethreading the harness so that there is no problem when the baby starts growing up.
- Suitable for newborns and infants from 4 to 30 pounds
- Easy to install and wash
- Dense padding
- Head insert
- Sun visor is not enough for the stroller
- A softer fabric would be better
The Cybex Sirona M is a super-stylish and tech-savvy car seat. The latest edition comes with the SeonsorSafe 2.0 that is designed to be used with an app, making it a feature-rich unit. If you put the safety of your little one before everything else, the Sirona M SensorSafe 2.0 is a perfect choice. It will ensure the peace of your mind with some ingenious safety functions.
Ease of Use
The Sirona M SensorSafe 2.0 is for children weighing from 5 to 65 pounds. There is also a newborn insert but it will be better not to put on the seat until they are infants.
For the rear-facing installation, hook on the lower anchor connectors and then tighten on both sides by pulling the straps. Installing the seat with the car’s seatbelt is difficult because the manual does not have detailed instruction. You push the seatbelt through the belt path for the rear-facing mode. Finish the task by putting the shoulder strap of the vehicle’s belt through the lockoff.
The forward-facing installation is similar. You have to connect the lower anchor connectors but move them belt path designated for the forward-facing mode.
The no-rethread harness, magnetic buckle tongue holders, and 12-position headrest further help with securing the seat.
The Sirona M offers so much room to move around that your child won’t feel trapped even after nearing the weight limit. The removable newborn inlay makes the seat suitable for infants by providing an almost flat angle.
The 10 recline options seem to be an overkill but these ensure the best comfort for the child. You can use the 1 – 6 settings for the rear-facing option and the next four for the forward-facing position. The indicator is a bit tough to spot if you are not standing in the right place. However, there is a marked level to make the spotting easier.
The entire seat is padded and there is an extra thick padding that covers the whole body of the baby.
Sirona M’s head and shoulder protectors are parts of a Linear Side Impact Protection (LSP) system that is capable of absorbing 25% more impact in a side collision than other available technologies.
The biggest draw is the SensorSafe 2.0 feature that was aimed for preventing the hot car deaths of the infants. The seat’s chest chip is linked to an app that alerts when:
- You leave the baby in the car
- The backseat turns too hot or cold
- The child unsnaps the straps when the car is moving
- The baby is left on the seat for a long time
- The SensorSafe 2.0 feature ensures the safety of the baby
- The Side Impact system absorbs 25% more impact in a side collision
- Padded cushioning
- 10 recline settings
- Harnessing the car’s seatbelt is difficult
The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite is a combination of easy installation and top-line safety features. Parents just love this product because they can trust it with the safety of their newborns. The rear-facing seat is suitable for babies from 4 to 35 pounds and less than 32 inches in height.
Ease of Use
The well-designed B-Safe 35 Elite looks durable and feels smooth. Both LATCH and seatbelt installation is possible although the first one is much easier.
The SafeCenter LATCH system allows you to tether the seat with just a few clicks. With the center-pull straps and Easy-On/Easy-Off LATCH connectors, you can easily strap the seat to its base or directly to the car seat. Releasing the connectors is even simpler, requiring just the pushing of a button. There is also an option for seatbelt installation if your car does not have LATCH anchors.
The quick-adjust 6-position harness is no-rethread, so setting it to the correct height is less of a chore. How to know if you have set the seat up to the right angle? A pair of level indicators and a spring-assisted recline foot will help you with this.
The fabric that the B-Safe 35 Elite is made of is comfortable and does not irritate the tender skin of your little one. It has proper padding across the body and extra padding at the key areas so that the baby never feels uncomfortable.
There is a head insert for the tiny newborns. The reclining facility is precious since it holds the tender head and holds the neck in the correct position when the baby is sleeping.
The B-Safe 35 Elite is compatible with various stroller models, allowing you to slip the seat from the car to the stroller without waking up your child.
The steel frame and impact-absorbing base have laid the foundation of the solid structure that the B-Safe 35 Elite has. The head restraint is made of impact-absorbing foam that shields the two most vulnerable body parts – neck and head. The side impact protection mitigates the force if the car is in a side collision.
In a word, your baby will be safe as long as s/he is tethered to the B-Safe 35 Elite.
- Easy installation with both LATCH and seatbelt options
- First-class safety features
- The steel frame is durable
- Extra protection for head, neck, and sides.
- Installing the base can be tough
As the name suggests, Graco SlimFit is one of the most space-saving car seats in the market despite having plenty of features and two unique rotating cup holders. The seat grows with your child – from rear-facing to forward-facing and then a belt-positioning booster.
Ease of Use
With 19.77-inch of width, the Graco SlimFit fits into the back seat of most of the cars. It can hold babies from 5 to 100 pounds, and you just have to adjust the headrest with their growing heights.
The InRight LATCH system makes it easy to insert the LATCH connectors into the anchors and achieve a secure fit. You will hear an audible click when the connectors perfectly fit into their slots.
Moving the LATCH straps from the rear-facing to the forward-facing belt path is convenient and there is virtually no possibility to twist the belts in the process. What is even better is there is no need to remove the harness components when transforming it into the booster mode. There is a storage pod under the seat pad. Move the buckles and clips there and store in that compartment.
There is padded support across the entire SlimFit. If you want to put your infant in the seat, the soft, plush body support will come handy. It helps smaller babies whose shoulders are below the lowest harness position to sit comfortably. It is removable, so just ditch it when your child grows up.
The seat cover does not soak liquids well, which is great because children just keep spilling their drinks and food all the time. Fortunately, you can remove the seat cover without removing the harness and put into the washing machine.
The 4 recline positions support your child at different stages of growing up. To make your job easier, it is clearly mentioned which settings are for forward-facing and rear-facing positions
The steel-reinforced frame adds durability and strength to the whole structure. Also, the 5-point harness system ensures the safety of your baby by keeping it in the right position.
The SlimFit meets or exceeds all types of US standards for crash tests. Graco also claims it to be side-impact tested with the built-in harness system.
- Slimmer than most other competitors
- Extra padded support for infants
- LATCH system rear, front, and booster installations
- Meets or exceeds safety standards
- Not suitable for newborns
The Safety 1st Grow & Go Air 3-in-1 is a great convertible car seat that can be the trusted travel companion for your child from his/her infancy to until growing up. As a parent, you will definitely love its lean profile and fuss-free installation and your little one will also love it for the comfort it brings.
Ease of Use
The convertible seat is up for transformation into three different types – rear-facing (holding a baby 5 to 40 pounds of weight), forward-facing (22 to 65 pounds of weight), and booster (holding 40 to 100 pounds).
The installation is a cinch, no matter which type you select. However, when the bottom strap in the harness works fine, the top one is a bit problematic. It’s not rare to grip it the wrong for the first few times.
The back is not detachable so it will be a high-back booster chair. To make your child fit into it, it is possible to remove the extra padding and safety harness system. The headrest is also adjustable for older kids.
The entire car seat is padded and cushioned and there is extra padding for smaller children. The removable pillow, harness strap, and flexible headrest make sure that your baby is snuggly. The harness holder is a timesaver, relieving you from the chore of looking for the straps every time you put the baby into the seat.
The external polyester cover is removable and machine-washable. So, you do not have to worry about food or drink spills.
The safety aspect is the primary concern and the convertible chair won’t disappoint in this matter. It meets or exceeds all US safety standards for car seats. It is safe not only in the forward-facing and rear-facing positions but also in the booster mode.
The flexible harness system and headrest further enhance the safety feature and allow your kids to sit comfortably.
- Plenty of padding
- Slim structure
- Easy to install
- Meets safety standards in all modes
- The top harness can twist
- Does not have a sun visor
The SnugRide Click Connect 35 joined the extensive list of Graco’s inventory in 2005. It went through several modifications since then. The current version extends the weight range from 5 to 4 pounds, which means a better fit for small babies. It can hold babies up to 35 pounds of weight or 32 inches in height.
Ease of Use
The seat smoothly slides into the base and the LATCH connectors fit into the anchors with a click, just like the name suggests. The installation is a breeze. Just tighten the 5-point harness around the baby and click the straps into the base. There is no extra button or strap that you need to work on.
The click feature works like a charm when you pair the seat up with any Graco Click Connect stroller. It allows moving the sleeping baby from the car seat to the stroller without any hassle.
The problem is the car seat sometimes don’t get attached despite making the clicking sound, which could be potentially dangerous. Also, it wobbles sidewise from time to time for not being securely attached to the base.
Weighing just 7.5 pounds, the SnugRide Click Connect 35 is one of the lightest of its kind. Despite having a large frame, the lightweight nature makes it easy to maneuver and transfer to a stroller a snap.
Plenty of soft cushioning, extra padding in the back and head areas, and 6 recline positions make the ride highly comfortable for your little one. There is a pendulum level that indicates whether the car seat and base are installed correctly.
There is a canopy that protects the baby from sunlight. However, it runs on the short side and does not cover the baby from all around because it is fixed to the backside.
Graco claims the SnugRide Click Connect 35 to meet or exceed all the safety standards for infant car seats in the USA.
The base attaches to most modern cars with the assist of two metal hooks. You can even bring the seatbelt into the mix to make it more secure.
The supportive newborn insert gives ideal support to the newborns and preemies. It holds the neck and head to the right position. As the insert is detachable, you can simply remove it to make room for the growing baby.
- Clicks into the base and stroller
- Holds preemies and newborns
- Meets all safety standards
- False clicking
- Short sun visor
Safety 1st has tons of car seats in their inventory and Alpha Omega Elite is one of many that the brand takes pride on. The company claims it to be the one seat that you will ever need before your child turns big enough to sit on the car’s seat. Well, the seat does have options for holding babies from 5 to 100 pounds. But, does it stand up to the claims? Let’s find out.
Ease of Use
You can convert the Alpha Omega Elite into three modes – rear-facing that holds babies weighing 5 to 35 pounds, forward-facing that holds 22 to 50 pounds, and booster that accommodates 40 to 100 pounds. So, it appears that the seat is suitable for babies of all ages except for preemies and newborns.
Is the installation easy?
Well, the Alpha Omega Elite has a LATCH installation system and the QuickFit harness allows modifying the height without rethreading every strap. Do these things make installation a cinch? Not really!
The seat is huge and bulky, making it difficult to carry and hold at the right position at the time of putting it in place. The size does not fit easily into all cars. Also, the harness slots seem too high for the infants and too low for an average 4-year-old.
The good-quality fabric coupled with soft cushioning will keep your child comfortable during the ride. The cup holder for older kids and swiveling armrests further add to the comfort factor.
The 3-point recline is an excellent feature for achieving the best resting position for the child. However, a five-point reclining option would be better, especially for the infants who need more back support than others. There is a cushion insert for the little ones to keep their head and neck in the right position.
The Alpha Omega Elite fulfills all Federal and ASTM safety standards. It also passes the tests for side impact protection, keeping the child completely safe in the event of a crash.
However, the booster mode cannot keep up with the standards of the rest. The lap belt does not sit properly on the lap but goes around the abdomen. It is dangerous because the incorrect strapping will allow the brunt of the force in the event of a crash to direct into the abdomen area. Plus, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does not recommend this seat in the booster mode.
- LATCH installation
- QuickFit harness
- Rotating armrests
- Transforms into three different positions
- Comfy padding all across the seat
- Booster mode is not totally safe
- Harness slots don’t have the perfect elevation
Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat is the best choice when you are looking for a budget-friendly option with excellent crash test ratings. The lightweight structure can convert into three different modes to carry your child from infancy to toddler age.
Ease of Use
Whether you use the LATCH strap or the vehicle’s seatbelt, putting it in is really simple. The seat comes out of the box with the LATCH set in the rear-facing belt path and it has its own slot, so will never get twisted with the harness straps. To place the seat forward-facing, just lift the cover and put it into the forward-facing belt path.
The simple push-on style allows the attachment and removal of the lower LATCH connectors to the vehicle’s anchors with the push of a button. The harness storage is also a blessing as you can just shove the straps into the slot when you need to get the baby out in a hurry.
Your child will love to sit on the Extend2Fit because of the padding and extra inserts in the shoulder, head and body areas. There are 6 reclining points and four of them are compatible with the rear-facing position. However, don’t use the 4th reclining position for children weighing more than 40 pounds as it will cramp them for legroom.
The harness system lets you adjust the height and headrest without rethreading the straps. There is also a harness retainer, two cup holders, and a footrest to prevent dangling legs.
The steel reinforced frame keeps the seat in a good shape and takes much of the force during an accident. Graco has engineered and tested the Extend2Fit for meeting all US safety standards. Also, the seat is tested for the side impact protection with the built-in harness system.
- LATCH is a cinch
- Rear-facing weight limit is up to 50 pounds
- 6 reclining points
- Passes the crash tests
- 4th reclining position can cramp for legroom
There are plenty of choices when it comes to convertible car seats. But, you should always pick up the one that guarantees comfort and safety among other things. The Stratos convertible car seat from Evenflo boasts of a solid construction and some of the best safety features.
Ease of Use
The Stratos is up for using both rear and forward positions. The rear-facing mode is perfect for little kids weighing between 5 to 40 pounds. The forward-facing mode is for older kids who are between 22 and 65 pounds.
The inclusion of the SureSafe technology makes proper installation a no-hassle. You just literally have to do nothing more than press the LATCH connectors into the seat cracks and they will set into the slots with a click.
The 6-point shoulder strap position makes sure that the little one can sit with a proper fit. But, disconnecting the harness point is a real hassle and they feel stiff even after using both hands for that.
Unlike other seats in this list, the Stratos has an air flow ventilation system that regulates temperature around the car seat and keeps it cozy in both hot and cold seasons. No matter what the weather condition is, the baby will love to sit on the seat.
There is also a plush head pillow, a removable seat pad, a 5-point adjustable headrest, 6-point harness system, and front access for the harness tension. Although using the seat pad can mess with the strapping position, other features are absolutely spot on.
The Stratos passes the federal safety tests along with the Rollover Standard Test and the manufacturer’s standards. The seat will protect your baby in head-to-head, side-impact, and rollover collisions.
Another good news is it meets the FAA Inversion requirements for using in an airplane. Now you can carry the baby around the world.
- Easy to attach LATCH connectors
- No-fuss adjustment of the straps
- Airflow ventilation keeps the sweat away
- Passes several safety tests
- The rear-facing position takes up a lot of space
- Correct strapping is not possible with the seat pad on
The Graco Contender 65 comes with a few premium features with the high price tags of the good-quality convertible car seats. It’s an entry-level model that compromises with convenience rather than the safety features – to the relief and delight of the parents.
Ease of Use
Either you use the lower LATCH strap or the car’s seatbelt, installing the seat is simple. Just insert the connectors to the anchors for a rear-facing installation while forward-facing fixing will require engaging the top tether.
There is a metal bar at the left side of the car seat that holds the LATCH strap. It has no chance to tangle with the harness cords.
Also, reclining the seat has never been easier with the color-coded recline flip-foot. Flip he foot forward and match the blue sticker when the seat is facing the rear. For forward-facing, just flip it to backward and put together with the orange sticker.
Nobody wants a screaming child in the car when it’s a long trip. So, the car seat has to be comfortable enough to keep your little one snuggly and lull to sleep. The padded comfort of the Contender 65 will keep your baby cozy and relaxed. There are extra padding in the head and sitting areas, which you can remove when s/he grows up.
The 8-point headrest with no re-thread harness and 2-position crotch buckle make adjusting the seat to the comfort of the baby easier.
Also, the exterior cover is removable and you can put it into a washing machine.
All the parents can rest easy knowing that the Contender 65 passes all the crash tests of the FMVSS 213. The seat also has energy-absorbing foam that absorbs the shocks of jerks and bumps. The lightweight and FAA-approved seat is suitable for flying.
- Supports a child from infancy to toddler age
- Easy installation
- Compatible with air travel
- Color-coded recline
- The harness cannot be removed
- Entry-level convertible seat
Debuted in 2008, the Evenflo Symphony Elite convertible seat has gone through several modifications. This particular one, which is also known as DLX model, is going to accompany your child from infancy till s/he no longer needs a booster seat. Packed with features, it is a pocket-friendly and user-friendly convertible seat.
Ease of Use
Both rear- and forward-facing installation is quick with the SureLATCH connectors. Follow the instruction manual and you will find the process totally effortless. Don’t forget using the tether strap for the forward position and Evenflo recommends doing this for both modes irrespective of the baby’s weight.
The seat should not move more than one inch from side to side. If you can’t tighten it to your satisfaction, go for the seatbelt installation, which is quick and easy too. But, the Symphony Elite does not come with a built-in lockoff device, so you have to figure out how to lock the seatbelt in your car.
The Symphony Elite can accommodate 5 to 40 pounds infants in rear-facing, 22 to 65 pounds toddlers in forward-facing, and older kids from 40 to 110 pounds in the high-back booster mode.
The overall cushiness of the Symphony Elite will bring a smile to every parent’s face. Your kid will never complain about the seat being uncomfortable and hard.
There are 3 recline positions and you have to use the first level when the seat is facing the rear position. You can use it for an average-size newborn but has to put something soft to fill the gap between the baby’s body and the crotch strap.
The 5-level Infinite Slide harness system plays a key role in ensuring the safety of the child by securing a proper fit. The seat meets the safety standards and the e3 Side Impact Protection reduces almost 50% of force in a side-impact crash.
- Transforms into three different modes
- Easy to install in most cars
- Plenty of cushioning
- E3 protection blunt the force in a side crash
- No lockoff device
- Might be bigger for an average newborn
The Graco Atlas 65 has an uncanny similarity to the same brand’s Nautilus in terms of looks. However, the Atlas transforms into a high-back booster and has a slot to tuck the harness in that Nautilus lacks. It is also significantly lighter because of not having a steel frame.
Ease of Use
With the LATCH connectors, you will figure out within a minute how to install the Atlas 65. You can pull the LATCH strap through a slit in the cover to tighten the belts.
The seatbelt installation needs a bit of work, though. It needs time and a tad of tugging on the belt to have a secure fix. Another thing is you can use the lower anchors when the child is 45 pounds, which means seatbelt installation is mandatory for older kids.
One thing you will love about the Atlas 65 is the ease with which it transforms between the harness and booster modes. Instead of removing, you can just tuck the harness straps behind the cover.
The seat has padding throughout the body that your little one will find comfortable. The headrest contains lightweight, eco-friendly EPS foam.
The 10-point headrest and harness system make it a cinch to adjust the seat the way you want. Also, the dual cup holders will keep the baby’s drinks or toys close.
The buckle covers, harness, and seat pad are machine washable, which means less hassle for you.
Simply Safe Adjust Harness System allows you to tune up the headrest and harness height with one hand by pushing a lever. It also ensures that your child is properly harnessed to the seat.
The Atlas 65 is FFA-approved for the booster mode. You can use it in an airplane, so traveling with the baby will not be a hassle anymore.
- Functions in harness and booster modes
- Separate slot for the harness to tuck in
- Harness adjustment is a cinch
- Seatbelt installation takes time
- Booster mode is not backless
If you are looking for a cheap convertible car seat that costs less than $100, go for the Evenflo Tribute LX. It is a safe, comfortable car seat that offers premium protection in the event of various types of car crashes.
Ease of Use
You should be able to install the Tribute LX without any issue whether you use the LATCH connectors or the car’s seat belt. However, achieving the right incline could be tricky and you may have to use a pool noodle or a rolled up towel to set it to the correct position.
Evenflo claims the seat to be suitable for 5 -30 pounds infants in the rear-facing mode and 22 – 40 pounds toddlers in the forward-facing mode. But, you should be careful while putting a 5-pound baby there because there will be a big gap between the baby’s body and the crotch belt.
The Tribute LX has ample padding with an extra head pillow and seat pad. The pad and pillow are removable and can be put into a washing machine. But, their fabric seems to be polyester that will produce heat. The baby may feel uncomfortable during a long road trip.
The four shoulder harness positions allow having the right fit according to the size and weight of the kids. The upfront option for adjusting the harness is a bliss as you can do it with one hand.
The car seat meets all the federal safety standards. It also passes Eveflo’s side impact tests. It keeps structural integrity at the double force of the federal crash test standards.
The entire design and production procedures have been carried out in the United States. It is not a cheap China product that stops functioning after a few days.
- Easy installation
- Front-facing and rear-facing modes
- Front harness adjustment option
- Not suitable for a five-pound baby
- The head pillow fabric looks cheap
Eddie Bauer is not a renowned brand for producing car seats. But, the XRS 65 is actually a creation of the company that manufactures car seats for Maxi-Cosi and Safety 1st. if you are familiar with Safety 1st Guide 65, this model is almost similar except for the fabric.
Ease of Use
Both LATCH and seatbelt installation options are available, and both can be tricky while trying to tighten the seat to limit its movement side to side. As each vehicle is different, you should try both methods in your car to see which one works the best.
The reclining positions keep the angles perfect and the rear-facing position leans more than the forward-facing. There is no bubble level to indicate that you have set it at the proper angle. There is a level line though, but it is not the best thing to show the proper incline.
The XRS 65 is a 2-in-1 convertible seat that holds rear-facing infants from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing toddlers from 22 to 65 pounds.
The XRS 65 ensures comfort with a soft fabric and well-padded structure. There are extra paddings on the body and head areas that are removable to make room for older children. The seat cover is removable but does not come off easily and you can put it into the washing machine.
The upfront harness adjustment option is easily accessible but tightening it more than a chore. It requires force to pull the strap and the task is tougher when the seat is rear-facing because you have to put your hand in the small space between the car’s seat and the baby seat to access the strap.
It has plenty of adjustable options – 5-point shoulder harness and 3-point buckle system. You can change these straps without rethreading.
Like all other seats in this price range, the XRS 65 also meets all the safety standards including the NHTSA crash tests. The frame is solid and strong and is designed for withstanding side impact in the event of a side crash.
- Padded seat
- Plenty of adjustment options
- Meets all safety standards
- Side-impact protection
- Installation is tricky
- Tightening the harness is tough
The SnugRide Clock Connect 30 is another addition to Graco’s SnugRide line. This model is ahead of others in this line because of its low weight, compact structure, and ability to accommodate babies from 4 pounds. Plus, it is compatible with several Graco strollers – which means easy in and easy out.
Ease of Use
You have to install the car seat by pushing down the LATCH connectors to the anchors. There is an angle indicator on the base that makes setting up the right angle so much easier. You can rest easy when the indicator is green but do it again when it is red.
Releasing the car seat from the base is as easy as setting it up with a simple click. Just pull up the red handle on the back and lift the seat out of the base.
The SnugRide Click Connect 30 can hold babies from 4 to 30 pounds, up to 32 inches. It seems a good choice for the preemies and low-weight babies but you have to use an extra support like a rolled blanket on the outside of harness to achieve the right fit. The straps should be at or below the shoulders of the baby.
The SnugRide Click Connect 30 has a compact design, so it fits most vehicles. You can even pair it up with another rear-facing or booster seat in the same car.
Your little one will definitely love to sit on it because of the padding and additional head and body support. The headrest is great for providing a better fit for the smaller babies.
However, the canopy is a disgrace. It is not long enough to provide adequate protection from sunlight and the poor design makes it stuck sometimes.
Graco puts safety before all the other features. This particular model passes all the federal safety standards and side impact tests. Also, the SafeSeat Engineering ensures that the baby will remain unharmed during a nasty crash.
- Attaches to the base with a click
- Suitable for preemies
- Passes all safety standards
- Poorly designed sun visor
- Underweight babies may need extra support
The Evenflo Nurture is a pocket-friendly infant car seat without the bells and whistles. You often spend extra money on a car seat that has plenty of features, most of which are not even necessary. The Nurture keeps the price low by trimming those features but keeping the safety options.
Ease of Use
Setting up the Nurture is more than simple with the LATCH connectors. The level indicators help with keeping it at the right angle. But, there is no reclining option, which is a huge drawback.
Also, releasing the seat from the base is challenging since it involves tilting the seat forward. You may need to use your both hands for that purpose.
The biggest disadvantage of the Nurture is its weight limit is from 5 to 22 pounds, up to 29 inches in height. Most babies will grow out the seat’s specifications before being older enough for a forward-facing seat.
The vinyl fabric is not very breathable and comfortable. But, it is not absorbent and cleaning is a breeze. The seat is comfortable nonetheless because of the extra cushion contouring the bay’s entire body.
The adjustable harness makes it easier to achieve a cozy fit. Although, the shoulder straps can be a bit tough to adjust.
The canopy is a weakling as it is not long enough to provide full body covering. But, there is an option for attaching a separate canopy if you want.
The Nurture is equipped with all the standard safety features that every parent expects in the car seats. The energy-absorbent foam and 5-point harness system protect the baby during a crash.
The seat is FFA-approved for air travel. Its lightweight nature makes it easy to carry wherever you go.
- Offers padded comfort
- Standard safety features
- 5-point harness system
- Vinyl fabric
- The weight limit is 22 pounds
- No reclining option
The Evenflo Maestro booster car seat ticks all the right boxes when it comes to picking up a 2-in-1 car seat. It has a compact structure, budget-friendly, lightweight, and an attractive look. Apparently, there is no reason for a parent to not to choose this model when their child grows out of the rear-facing mode.
Ease of Use
The LATCH system makes it a breeze to install the car seat and transfer it to other cars. It can hold kids from 22 to 50 pounds with the harness system in use and 40 to 110 pounds when converted to a belt-positioning booster.
The 4-point shoulder harness option and 2 positions for the crotch buckle in combination with the auto-adjust belt path help with achieving a proper fit.
However, it could be a bit difficult to tighten the LATCH strap. You have to put your full weight on the seat to do it correctly. Also, the release button does not work smoothly.
Maestro has padding overall the entire body and the removable head pad is a nice touch that enhances the comfort factor. The seat pad is machine-washable, which is definitely a relief to the parents.
Some parents could feel that there should be more padding across the car seat. It is designed for older kids but extra comfort is always welcome, especially for the babies.
The seat is FFA-approved for air travel. Keep your kid happy during those long, boring flights!
Evenflo has designed Maestro as solid as a fort! It passes the tests for structural integrity, side impact, and Federal Cash Test Standards. It also receives the Best Bet rating from the IIHS.
It’s even better that the seat is rated for temperature safety too. The seat’s body and straps can withstand the lowest and highest temperatures that a car interior can reach.
- An excellent value for money
- Meets and exceeds all safety protocols
- FFA-approved for air travel
- Tightening the LATCH strap is a challenge
- There could be more padding in the body area
All parents look into the comfort and safety features but what the babies want in their car seat? This Disney APT convertible car seat is designed with that question in mind. Almost all the kids will love it just by looking at it. After all, who could say ‘no’ to Minnie Mouse? However, focusing on the looks does not mean that Disney has ignored the safety functions and other basic features.
Ease of Use
The car seat accommodates 4 to 40 pounds and 40 inches babies in the rear-facing position and 22 to 40 pounds and 43 inches kids in the forward-facing mode. The weight limit seems suitable but many children will grow out the height limit pretty soon.
Installation is easy with the LATCH system. But, tightening the straps could be a challenge. Be careful not to thread it through the bottom of the seat because it is the wrong path. Doing it for the rear-facing set up is even more difficult since the space between the car seat and the baby seat is tight. Also, you have to press hard on the button to release the harness strap.
The APT Minnie Mouse could be a great travel companion for your little one. The premium pink fabric looks cute and feels cozy to the skin. The mouse-ear headrest keeps the little head well rested.
However, the seat does not have any infant body support, neither does it have any padding for the shoulder straps. Although, you can purchase padded straps to replace the current ones.
The car seat meets the standards for all the traditional safety protocols. Also, it is engineered for providing better side impact protection.
Another impressive property is plenty of legroom in the rear-facing position. It allows the parents to keep the kid rear-facing for much longer.
- Provides a comfortable ride for the baby
- LATCH installation
- Plenty of rear-facing legroom
- Tightening the harness is a challenge
- Weight limitation could be higher
- No extra body support and pads for shoulder straps