There are so many products that your baby needs to stay safe, comfortable and healthy, and a compact convertible car seat is only one. With that being said, I’m here to tell you that buying a car seat is one of the most important tasks that you will have.
A mediocre seat just won’t cut it for your precious little one. I’ve taken the time to do the research and read tons of convertible car seat reviews.
It’s taken me a lot of work, but below, I offer you the top rated convertible car seats on the market. I want you to know that finding the absolute best convertible car seat for your child is possible!
Our Recommended Best Convertible Car Seats
- 1 What Are The Best Convertible Car Seats?
- 2 What Is A Convertible Car Seat?
- 3 Rear-facing Vs Front Facing Car Seats
- 4 How to Find the Best and Safest Convertible Car Seat: Most Important Factors
- 5 What Are The Best Convertible Car Seat Brands?
- 6 Car Seat Safe Installation Advice & Tips
- 7 Car Seat Safety General Advice & Tips
- 8 Best Convertible Car Seat For Small Cars Reviews
- 9 Car Seat and Child Safety Frequently Asked Questions
- 10 Summary and Making Your Final Decision
What Are The Best Convertible Car Seats?
Safest Convertible Car Seat: Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
The Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat is the best safety rated convertible car seat. The seat features safe cell impact protection, which goes beyond the federal safety standards to keep your child protected even in the worst crashes.
SafeCell impact protection is provided by way of a foam-lined shell that is deep and shock absorbent. It shields your child and either side from possible crash forces and from possible debris.
In addition to having the best convertible car seat ratings, this convertible car seat model is also extremely easy to install and put your child in. It comes with a 2-position buckle and a 10-position harness.
Best Rear-facing Convertible Car Seat: Chicco Nextfit Convertible Carseat
I love the Chicco Nextfit Convertible Carseat and recommend it as the best rear-facing convertible car seat on the market. Incidentally, it’s also a great convertible car seat for girls because of the fun, feminine colors options.
But the real reason that this is the to convertible car seat for rear-facing infants is that it particularly contours to the small bodies of infants. The seat features adjustable head support, front recline adjusters, side impact protection and a five-point harness system. The contours inside the car seat cradle even the smallest infants and preemies and keep them safe and protected at all times while facing the rear.
Best All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat: Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat
If you’re searching for an all-in-1 convertible car seat, look no further than the Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat. This car seat can fit a wide range of children. Use it with kids who are as small as five pounds or as large as 110 pounds. With this wide range of weight options, you’ll be able to save money in the long run and still never sacrifice safety.
The seat has a five-point Infinite Slide harness that easily adjusts for a perfect fit at all times. In addition, the Sure LATCH harness auto retracts to get it out of the way when not in use. Later, when you help your child into their seat, there’s no pulling necessary to lift it out again.
Easiest Car Seat To Install: Britax Roundabout G4 Convertible Car Seat
First of all, it’s important to know that you leave the car seat base in your car. The premium lower latch connectors make for simple and fast installation of the car seat itself. At this point, all you need to do in order to take the car seat out is press a button.
Installing car seats can be a pain in the neck, but it’s not something that you want to get wrong. Britax Roundabout G4 Convertible Car Seat takes care of this problem by being by far the easiest convertible car seat to install. It’s even one of the good car seats for small cars, which tend to be difficult to fit seats into.
Best Affordable Convertible Car Seat: Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
When you’re on a budget, the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat is the best affordable convertible car seat. But it’s also a great seat in and of itself, which means that overall, it’s the best convertible car seat for the money.
The seat is made in the USA and features hefty side impact protection as well as sound structural integrity. In addition to being made of high-quality materials, this product actually exceeds standard safety guidelines. It offers two times the structural integrity that is recommended by federal guidelines. You get all of this at a great price, and this makes it the best inexpensive convertible car seat.
Best Rated Convertible Car Seat: Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
The Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat is one of the best convertible car seats in terms of ratings. Reviews of convertible car seats continually praise this model. It’s also one of the best reviewed convertible car seat models to begin with, which means that a lot of people buy it.
This Graco can be faced to the rear for children from 4 to 40 pounds. For children from 20 to 65 pounds, the seat can be faced forward. In addition, you can use the seat as a booster for kids from 30 to 100 pounds. It easily converts between all three modes of use. The seat features the InRight LATCH system and installs and attaches with ease.
Best Convertible Car Seat For Newborn: Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat with Tiny Fit
Finally, for newborns, I always recommend the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat with Tiny Fit as the best baby convertible car seat. Convertible car seat reviews also recommend this model for preemies because it features the Tiny Fit system.
The seat is the ultimate in safety and protection, and it’s comfortable for all babies too because it features self-wicking, plush fabric and a soft foam cradling system. Remove the fabric whenever you need to with just a few snaps. When you throw it in the wash, it will come out as good as new.
Best Britax Convertible Car Seat: Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
Britax prides itself on safety, and this model is no exception. Complete back, top and side impact protection is guaranteed and the base easily absorbs impact energy for a smooth ride.
With this model, you also have easy adjustment no matter how you are using it. As a rear-facing or front facing seat, you always have the quick adjust 2-position buckle and the 10-position harness, which allows you to make your child as comfortable as possible.
Best Graco Convertible Car Seat: Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat
The best convertible baby car seat from Graco is the Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat. This seat features auto adjustment with a no re-thread harness, making it super simple to put your baby into.
Whether rear or front facing, the seat is always comfortable and snug fitting for your child. It also exceeds the US safety standards with side impact protection and an easy to use five-point harness system. There is even a cup holder and level indicator that helps you make sure that the seat is level and even.
Best Evenflo Convertible Car Seat: Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
Lastly, if you tend to prefer products from Evenflo, I would recommend the Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat. It’s a good convertible car seat for any family and can fit a range of heights and weights.
Evenflo is known for manufacturing top quality seats. This model features quality side impact protection, a five-point harness system and quality padding for a comfortable ride. This is also a great model because it can be used with children as small as five pounds and those as big as 110 pounds. For many parents, this is truly the only car seat that you will ever need to buy.
What Is A Convertible Car Seat?
As a parent, learning all of the lingo necessary to buy the right products and properly take care of your child can be a challenge. When it comes to purchasing a seat for your baby in the car, one of the terms that many parents struggle to understand is the convertible car seat.
The idea of convertible infant car seats is not referring to car seats made for convertible cars! That’s the first thing to get out of the way.
Instead, a convertible car seat is one that can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing in the backseat of your vehicle. These are different from booster seats, which are for older children, and they are unlike rear-facing only infant seats, which are only for small babies and can only face the rear of the car. Finally, unlike a 3-in-1 seat, a convertible seat cannot go on to become a booster seat.
It is vital that you know when to keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat and when to turn them forward-facing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old. If your child is tall enough and weighs enough, they can then make the transition to a forward-facing car seat.
When this transition occurs, parents who have read the proper convertible car seat reviews and found a top-quality convertible car seat will have little trouble.
Finding the Best Compact Convertible Car Seat
By far, the question that I get asked most of the time is: What is the best convertible car seat? And when I respond, most people don’t like the answer that I give!
That’s because I always tell people that the best convertible car seat is the one that fits all of your personal needs and the personal needs of your baby. The truth is that everyone is different and has different desires and necessities, so everyone requires a varied type of seat for their baby.
Rear-facing Vs Front Facing Car Seats
One of the main factors that you’ll need to consider when purchasing the best large or best small convertible car seat for your child is seat direction. The important thing that you need to know here is that smaller children need to be in rear-facing car seats, and as your child grows, they can switch to a forward-facing seat.
Naturally, most parents want to save money, and children grow fast. The idea of buying both a seat that faces the rear plus a seat that faces forward in the span of only about a year or two is daunting. Many parents can’t afford this.
That’s why companies put out top convertible car seats. Good convertible car seats can face the rear and the front, so they grow along with your child, and you only need to purchase one seat instead of two.
But there are pros and cons to even the top rated convertible car seat options, so some parents do prefer the rear-facing only seats or front facing only seats.
Types of Rear-Facing Car Seats
Rear-facing Only Seats
This is the most common type of rear-facing seat, and it is for small infants. You can use these seats for infants who are up to 45 pounds most of the time, but some of the seats will only work for children who are up to 25 or 30 pounds, so you need to check with the instructions that come with your seat.
Generally speaking, rear-facing only seats will come with a car seat base. You can install this base in your car and leave it there so that you don’t need to take the time to install it every time you want to drive with your child in the car. The seat then clicks into the base.
Convertible Seats (used rear-facing)
Convertible seats cannot be used as booster seats like the 3-in-1 models. On the other hand, they can be used as a forward-facing seat if you convert them. This is great because you can use these seats for a longer period of time with your child.
There are a few negatives of the convertible seats. First, because you are using them for bigger children as well as infants, they tend to be bulkier. They also do not come with separate bases that can be left in the car, and they usually don’t have carrying handles either.
3-in-1 Seats (Used Rear-facing)
A 3-in-1 seat is a car seat that can be used three ways. The seat can be used as a booster seat, or it can be used as a rear or front facing seat. It’s beneficial because you can use it for the longest period of time.
One thing that a 3-in-1 seat is usually missing is the separate base that can be left in the car. In addition, you usually don’t have a carrying handle with this type of car seat. I generally recommend a 3-in-1 for bigger babies.
Types of Forward-Facing Car Seats
Convertible car seats are by far the most common types of car seats available. These can face the rear, and they can also face forward. 3-in-1 seats are also considered convertible car seats because they can face forward and backward as well. The difference is that 3-in-1 seats can also become booster seats.
These types of seats are not for small infants, but they are for taller or heavier infants who can be in a forward-facing seat but not yet in a booster seat. Most children who sit in these seats are between 40 and 80 pounds, but it’s important to check the model guidelines. Today, forward-facing only seats are not manufactured, but some parents still have them from when they were commonly made.
Combination seat with harness
Depending on the model, a combination seat with a harness can be used with or without the harness that comes with the seat. These seats are for older children or those who weigh more. For example, when you use the harness with one of these forward-facing seats, your child might be between 40 to 90 pounds. For those children who are taller or between 80 and 120 pounds, you may not have to use the harness that comes with the seat, and you may instead use the car safety belt with the seat.
Some newer vehicles are now sold with built-in seats that face forward. It is important to remember that you may only use these types of seats with children who are at least two years old, and it’s essential to check the height and weight limits in the manual that come with these vehicles so that you do not put your child at risk.
Some children exceed the height and weight limits for typical car seats and booster seats. In this case, a travel vest may be used. Travel vests can also be used in vehicles that only have regular adult seat belts or in various other situations where car seats are simply unable to be used.
How to Find the Best and Safest Convertible Car Seat: Most Important Factors
When choosing the best rated convertible car seat for your child, there are a number of factors to consider. Naturally, safety will come first. Your child should be safe at all times while in their convertible car seat and have the utmost protection in any situation. Of course, you also want your child to have the most comfortable convertible car seat possible. They should be cradled by the seat insert and hugged by the inner padding, but it should also not be too much of a narrow convertible car seat so that your child feels uncomfortable.
In general, I recommend the following pieces of advice for choosing the best convertible car seat for your child.
Always choose safety over design. Be fastidious about checking the safety features.
Again, safety should be your number one concern when it comes to finding the convertible car seat for your baby.
Good convertible car seat has a number of safety features that will keep your child protected. First, it should have side impact protection in case of an accident. Second, it should have a five-point harness system, which is a safety belt system that keeps your baby completely stabilized in their seat. It hugs the baby gently against the seat at both shoulders and on either side of the waist and between the legs.
The best convertible car seat is naturally able to change positions as well. You can use it rear-facing or forward-facing. Additionally, your seat should have clear height and weight limits so that you know how to properly use it. And finally, it should be FAA Certified so that the baby seat can be used an aircraft.
Check how easy the seat will be to install. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to see how readable they are.
It is a well-known fact that even the best convertible car seats can be difficult to install. There are two things that I can recommend in this arena. First, be sure to read convertible car seat reviews from real parents who has owned the car seats that you’re considering. They will be able to tell you how easy it is to install each car seat.
In addition, I recommend the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. In particular, check out the section on ease and overall child safety seat ratings. Here, you’ll find standardized ratings on overall usability of the most popular seats.
Actually try out the car seat in your own vehicle by visiting a car seat checkup event.
I’ve had a number of parents tell me that they never knew car seat checkup events were available. These are great events for trying out various types of car seats in your own vehicle. Because your vehicle may be a unique shape or size, it’s good to be able to actually try out the car seats you’re considering before you make your final purchase. To find worldwide car seat checkup events, visit SafeKids.org.
Check the seat construction. Look out for the quality of the design and structural materials used.
Many parents tend to focus on the look and feel of a given convertible car seat, but they fail to focus on the structural content and materials used to create the frame of the seat. The frame should generally be made of lightweight steel and should be readily shock proof in case of a strong impact.
Always buy your car seat new. Choose only from the most reputable brands.
It is important to only purchase brand new car seats.
Be on the lookout for additional accessories and extra features.
Standard safety features should be on all car seats, but some additional features and accessories may make a car seat easier and more pleasant to use. For example, you might consider a seat with LATCH storage, on-board manual storage, an anti-rebound bar, a sun-shielding canopy, cup and food holders, toy and mobile clips and built-in blankets.
Check for crash test and safety ratings.
In terms of safety, look for ratings and scores from reputable websites. Consumer Report, Baby Gear Lab and other websites have official crash test ratings. And websites like Amazon also have individualized ratings from users who have actually purchased and used car seats that you are considering. With Amazon, just be sure to carefully see that 1-star ratings are verified purchases. If they are, these ratings may show the typical defects and problems with the products.
Get help from CSPT technicians.
If you continue to come back to the question of what is the safest convertible car seat to buy, I recommend that you go directly to the experts. CSPT Automotive Solutions has technicians that specialize in working one-on-one with customers to find the best solutions for various automotive-related challenges.
They are constantly asked the question: What convertible car seat should I buy? And because this is their area of expertise, they’ll be able to look at your car, assess your particular needs and recommend the absolute best convertible car seat model.
Pinpoint the model and buy from Amazon
I know that there’s a ton to consider before making your final purchase, but the last thing that I want to recommend is that you don’t put off the purchase of your convertible car seat. Narrow your search, pinpoint the model that you want to buy and go ahead and buy it. Don’t wait because this will only prolong the process, and you need a great car seat if you have a child.
I always recommend that parents buy their car seats from Amazon because they have the best prices, great comprehensive reviews and easy return policies.
What Are The Best Convertible Car Seat Brands?
As you’ve been shopping for the best convertible car seat for infants and beyond, you’ve naturally seen most of the top car seat brands in the market. But you might still be asking yourself: What is the best car seat brand out there?
There are a number of convertible baby seat manufacturers who tend to stick out as the best. And in order for you to get better acquainted with each brand, here are summaries of those that you should take note of.
In my opinion, Britax will always be one of the best baby car seat brand options for parents. Britax prides itself on being one of the safest car seat brands in particular.
The company began making accessories and safety equipment for children in 1938. Their headquarters is located in Chertsey, Kentucky, but they serve parents and children worldwide. Britax specializes in strollers, safety seats and high chairs.
Another one of the best convertible car seat brands is Graco. This company is one of the best car seat brands, but they make many other products for children as well. For example, Graco makes baby swings, backyard toys and climbable structures, strollers and many other items.
Graco headquarters is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States but they make baby products for countries all over the world. Graco was the first company to create an automatic baby swing that wound up in 1955. The company has been operating since 1942.
Another of the safest car seat brand options is Evenflo. This Company has its headquarters in Miamisburg, Ohio in the United States, but they serve stores and individuals all over the world. The product line from Evenflo ranges from stationary activity centers and doorway jumpers to infant carriers, high chairs, play yards, travel systems and car seats.
Evenflo was started in 1920 in the United States. Their first manufacturing plant was in Ravenna, Ohio. They now operate under Weston Presidio.
Chicco is a top brand car seats manufacturer, and they make a number of other products for children as well, including baby foods, protective products, sleep and relaxation toys, booties, shoes, clothes, hygiene products, traveling products, pregnancy and breastfeeding products and more.
Chico was founded in 1958 by a man named Cavaliere del Lavoro Pietro Catelli. Catelli was celebrating his first son’s birth. Because his son’s name was Enrico and the shortened nickname for Enrico is Chicco, his company was named Chicco. It is located in Italy.
Another one of the top convertible car seat brands is Diono. This company is slightly newer as it was founded in 1999 by Russ Berger. Diono has its central location in Sumner, Washington in the USA.
This consumer products company specializes in child safety seats, and they did not make many other types of products for quite a while. Diono has sold thousands of child safety seats in over 54 countries, and the company has also designed and sold products under the name Little Tikes.
Good car seat brands can be hard to come by, but Cosco always pulls through as one of the best brands for car seats. Cosco makes all types of baby gear and children’s toys and protective items.
The Company started 70 years ago. Cosco stands for Columbus Specialty Company, and it is principally located in Columbus, Ohio. Unlike many of the other larger companies that make baby products, products that come from Costco are made right here in the United States, and most of them are manufactured at the headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.
Maxi-Cosi is a popular car seat brand as well. It is actually owned by the same company as Safety 1st. Both brands are under the Dorel Industries umbrella.
Maxi-Cosi focuses on car seats unlike some of the other brands. They do also make some strollers and travel systems as well. The company has a great website with comprehensive information on each one of their car seat and stroller products. They are also easy to contact and have top of the line customer care.
Safety 1st is a great baby and child safety brand, and in terms of protection, it is one of the best brands for car seats. The high-quality products that come from Safety 1st run the gamut from home equipment and home safety products to accessories, car seats and strollers.
Safety 1st was started in 1984 and has been going strong ever since. Their goal is to keep your child safe at all times, and they have some of the best customer service.
Finally, another of the best brand of car seat options is Clek. This company was actually born out of one of the top automotive suppliers in the world. They focus on world class manufacturing, high-end design and engineering and high-quality seating.
They have a sleek line of stylish car seats for children. All of the products from Clek are manufactured in North America. The company is largely focused on keeping the earth safe, so Clek is always environmentally friendly and always gives back.
Car Seat Safe Installation Advice & Tips
Installing your convertible car seat for toddler or infant can be a challenge, and you should never feel silly for not immediately understanding the directions. They can be difficult for anyone!
For starters, it helps to know whether you will be installing a unit that only faces the rear or only faces forward or one that is a rear and forward-facing convertible car seat. The instructions for each of these is different. Below, we’ll be offering tips for the installation of a rear and forward-facing convertible car seat. It is essential that you closely follow this advice and the specific instructions that come with your product.
Anchoring the Car Seat: Seat Belts Vs. LATCH
There are two methods to install car seats. There is the LATCH system, and there are car safety belts. Naturally, it can be extremely difficult to understand these methods without some counseling. It is important to note here that neither the LATCH system nor the
Using the LATCH System With Your Car Seat
First, let’s talk about the LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower anchors and Tethers for Children. In this way, the LATCH system involves two components. First, there are the anchors, and second, there are the tethers. The lower anchors that this system refers to our in the actual car seat. The tethers are extra straps that connect to the top of the car seat to keep it safe and secure against the vehicle itself. You use the tethers to connect the top of the car seat to the vehicle’s frame.
Using the Safety Belt System With Your Car Seat
If you decide to use your vehicle’s safety belt with your car seat, this is a perfectly adequate way to keep your child safe while they are in a car seat and you are driving.
The thing that you must remember with this method of protection for your child is that the safety belt needs to be threaded through several key places on your car seat for the system to be effective. It is important to read your vehicle owner’s manual to make sure that you know how to properly use the safety belt with your car seat. Your car seat instructions booklet will also have information on this method of strapping your child in.
Is the LATCH System or the Vehicle’s Safety Belt Better?
Again, neither the LATCH system nor the vehicle safety belt system is superior. Both systems are super safe and secure for your child. The LATCH system was invented as a way to help parents install their car seats easier because you using a safety belt system with the car seat can be a challenge in some cases.
But it is important to remember that the safety belt systems in cars are all extremely safe, and you should never worry about using this system with your car seat and child as long as you know how to properly thread the safety belt through your car seat’s notches.
With that being said, LATCH systems in Europe tend to be slightly superior to those in the United States. There’s nothing to worry about if you use the LATCH system in the United States! This system keeps millions of babies and children safe every day.
But this particular LATCH system that is used widely in Europe and in some cars in the United States is able to connect more tightly to the car seat because it is rigid. In fact, this system is known as the Rigid Latch. The LATCH System that is used in the United States is usually a Flexible LATCH, and it is a little more flexible as the name implies.
Look for the level indicators first.
Once your car base has been put in the backseat of your car in the middle seat, you should anchor it down to the car’s anchors with the LATCH system and tethers if this is the system that you are using.
When you put the car seat into the car seat base, you will need to make sure that it adequately clicks into place. Most car seats have an audible click that you will be able to hear to know that the car seat is properly in the car seat base. Now you should look at the level indicators.
The level indicators will tell you whether or not the car seat is at an even angle. You should make sure that your baby is at the correct angle so that their airway stays open. The indicators will help you make adjustments. As your child gets older, these angles will change.
Adjust the shoulder height.
When you are putting in the harnesses on your convertible car seat, you will see that there are several options for where the shoulder straps hit the car seat. It is easy to know where to put through the threading system because you only need to put your child into their seat once to see where the straps would hit them at the back of the seat.
Once you have the shoulder straps thread in incorrectly, don’t assume that you should leave them at this height for the duration of the time that your child will be in their car seat. To the contrary, as your child grows in height, you need to be thread the shoulder straps so that they come out at higher notches in the back of your car seat. Make sure to periodically check the height of your child against where the shoulder straps hit them.
Ideally, the shoulder straps should go securely over the tops of your child’s shoulders and thread into the car seat back without being uncomfortable. The straps should never go up, over and back around to your child’s back as this will be extremely unsafe for your child. It will last so be uncomfortable for them.
Look and adjust the harness tighten and release.
The rest of the harness system goes around the body of your child. On most of the best car seats, there is a five-point harness system. This means that the harness secures around your child’s body at five points.
First, the harness goes over each of your child’s shoulders. These are the first two points. The harness will also fit around your child’s body on either side of their abdomen. These are the next two points. The final fifth point enters between your child’s legs, and this is known as the crotch strap.
Again, there are some kinds of car seats that have different types of harnesses, but the five point system is the best overall. When you adjust this system, you want to make sure that it is secure and tight. You should not be able to easily fit your fingers or hands underneath the harness. Your child may complain that it is too tight, but it needs to be tight to protect them in the event of a crash or large jolt. Your instruction guide will help you know when the harness system is tight enough.
Most five-point harnesses can be adjusted either in the center of the harness or at the bottom with a center pull. The best harnesses can be adjusted with only one hand, and most of the adjustments should be able to be made in a matter of seconds.
Key Installation Tips for Rear-facing Seats
- Do not ever place a baby in the front seat of your car, and this is true even if your baby is in a rear-facing car seat.
- Always use the harnesses that are level with or slightly below the shoulders of your baby.
- Ensure that the angle of the seat is positioned correctly so that your child does not flop forward at a bad angle. The instruction manual with your seat should tell you how to make adjustments to the angle of the seat.
- Make sure to read the owners manual to know whether or not it’s okay for the car seat to be in contact with the car seat that is in front of it
- The LATCH system can be used with any car seat, but make sure that you always use some kind of system even if the LATCH system does not work for the car that you are in. Seat belts in cars can always be used, and you don’t have to worry about them being less safe than the LATCH system. Both are perfectly protective for your child.
- The lower webbing or anchor web of any 3 in 1 or convertible seat should always be routed correctly. This is a common mistake that is made with these kinds of car seats
Installation Tips for Forward-facing Seats
- Vehicle instructions and car seat manuals should be referenced at all times during the installation process. Make sure that you know how to strap your child in safely according to the manufacturer’s guidelines first because all car seats are different.
- If you are using a forward-facing seat with a seatbelt, make sure that the belt is tightened and locked. If lower anchors are being used, the owner’s manual of your vehicle should be referenced first.
- Use the top tether of the car seat whenever it is possible. These tethers keep the seat in place against your vehicle’s car seat. The anchor point on your vehicle will be on the rear self or on the seat back of your car. These tethers offer vital protection and safety because they keep your baby’s head from going too far forward were you to stop suddenly or crash.
- Keep in mind that all SUVs, cars and vans need to have tether anchors according to a September 2000 regulation. Any type of forward-facing car seat will have the tether straps attached to them.
Car Seat Safety General Advice & Tips
ALWAYS check your car seat with the help of a CPST technician.
It is vital to check the installation of your car seat with the help of a professional CPST technician. Only a CPST technician will be able to tell you whether or not your car seat fits properly.
Know where to put your baby car seat for the absolute safest car seat location.
The absolute safest place for your child to be in the car is in the center rear of your car. First of all, you should never put your child in the front seat. But children’s safety seats should also not be placed on either side of the car. This is because a side impact could hit your child, and in the center, there is less likelihood of this.
Secure your newborn in their car seat properly.
After you have had your car seat for a while, you will better understand how to use the straps and restraints. But especially in the beginning, you must take extra time and care to make sure that your newborn is secured properly in their car seat. If they are not, injuries could occur in the car even if you do not get in an accident.
Ensure that you install your car seat with a tight fit.
One of the biggest safety factors when it comes to installing your car seat is making sure that you get a tight fit between your car seat and the actual seats in the back row of your car.
If you are having trouble getting a tight fit, it is recommended that you first refer to the owner’s manual to see if you are correctly using the safety harness.
You will also want to put your weight on the seat as you move about installing the latches. Rocking the seat back and forth slightly may help to make sure that you have a secure fit. There are some larger vehicles like vans and big SUVs that will allow you to move the seat backward or recline it slightly too. If you do this first before installing your car seat, you will have a tighter fit.
Use the right restraints for your child’s particular age and size.
As you can see from this guide, there are a number of types of car seats, and each one has a different type of restraint for different types of children. Types of restraints are created and recommended based on child age and size. Your owners manual should have detailed information about which restraints that you should be using for different child ages, heights and weights. Always follow these instructions.
Always watch your kids even when they are strapped into the back of your car.
You should not expect to be able to strap your child into their safety seat and not worry about them for the duration of your car ride. Instead, always keep an eye on your children even if they are safely strapped in and sleeping while in the car.
With that being said, you should never turn completely around and look at your child or try to help them with their seat or something else. If you need to do this, always pull over first. To keep an eye on your child, primarily use your rearview mirrors.
Talk with your kids about how to behave in extreme situations.
Even small children should know how to react in the event of a car accident or if they are suddenly left alone in the car. It is important for your kids to be prepared. In addition, explain to your children how they should feel inside their car seat. Sometimes, if a mistake is made, your child will be able to tell you if one of the straps is not fastened tightly or if a strap has come loose.
Drive with the utmost attention and care while your children are in the car.
As always, drive with the utmost attention and care when your children are in the car. If something is going on in the backseat or you need to reprimand your child or fix one of the straps, never try to do this while you’re driving as it will distract you. Instead, pull safely to a parking lot or the side of the road before helping your child.
Best Convertible Car Seat For Small Cars Reviews
Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
Overall, this is good convertible car seat for kids according to almost all of the convertible car seat reviews that I have read. Britax is known for safety and security, and they did not skimp when it came to this outstanding seat. It is easy to install, safe and sturdy. I also love the design and feel of the fabric. Babies seem to enjoy the comfort, and it’s even easy to get them to sit down in the seat!
Chicco Nextfit Convertible Carseat
The Chicco Nextfit Convertible Carseat is number one in Key Fit car seats. This seat was engineered with top notch convenience and safety features for the best ride possible with your little one. You will have a LATCH tightener to achieve super secure fits of the harness as well as bubble levels to help you make sure that the seat is even and comfortable. There is a 6-position head rest and a 2-position chest clip with the 5-point harness system.
Chicco is the maker of the special Key Fit zip system, which ensures an easy and super secure installation. This seat has many added bonus features, including a cup holder, bubble levels and a number of useful adjustments for added comfort.
Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat
The Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat is the first all-in-one seat on this list, which means that it can accommodate little ones from 5 to 110 pounds. This makes it a great seat for bigger or taller kids or those that are simply growing at a speedy rate! The seat is ultra comfortable and features Sure LATCH connectors for a secure and easy installation.
I love the Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One Car Seat. The e3 Side Impact protection is state of the art, and you know that it’s working to keep your child safe from infancy to booster-seat age. This is a comfortable seat that grows and adjusts with your child.
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
The Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat is a super safe and sleek car seat that fits children from 5 to 40 pounds. Use it first as an excellent rear-facing seat, and transition the seat to a forward-facing model with ease whenever your child is old enough. The high structural integrity and impact energy absorbing padding and fabric offer a safe ride every time that you and your baby get in the car.
This is certainly a top notch product from Evenflo, which is one of my favorite brands. It’s excellent for growing children as it can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with ease, and the harness adjustments couldn’t be easier with the center pull that sits up front.
Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
The Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat is perfect for parents who don’t want to take a long time messing around with harnesses and head rests. This is an all-in-one seat, so it also grows as your child does. It can be converted from a rear-facing to a forward-facing to a booster seat with just a few minor adjustments. Each level has the utmost safety and security as well as added comfort.
I love the Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat as one of the best convertible, all-in-one car seat options on the market. It’s an extremely practical seat with 2 cup holders, easy-to-read, color coated guides for adjustment and installation and top comfort for your baby.
Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat with Tiny Fit
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat with Tiny Fit is the perfect car seat for children from 9 to 70 pounds, but it also works with preemie because of the Tiny Fit insert. The fabric on this seat is high quality as it self-wicks to cultivate dryness and cleans easily when necessary.
Maxi Cosi makes some of the best car seats for children, and the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat with Tiny Fit is no exception. I love the added padding that can be added to the seat for extra tiny babies. I definitely recommend this seat to parents who have premature babies for this reason. You want to be sure that your little one is cradled and secure in their seat when they’re extra small.
Clek Foonf 2016 Convertible Car Seat
The Clek Foonf 2016 Convertible Car Sea features the REACT System, which is patented by Clek and stands for Rigid-Latch Energy Absorbing Crumple Technology. The Foonf model of car seat also has GREENGUARD fabric, which does not retain odors and is free is chemicals. It even prevents against stains.
I love the safety of this seat. In addition to being the ultimate in child safety and security, it’s also super stylish. The REACT safety system and patented side paneling offer top performance. These features can absorb even the highest impact energy, and the shock absorbing padding helps to eliminate forces to the child in the event of a crash.
Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat
The Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat is a wonderful product for a range of children. From 5 pounds to 65 pounds, the seat accommodates all sizes as either a rear-facing or forward-facing model. When installing and adjusting your child into the seat, adjustments can be made super easily with the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. With just one gesture, you can adjust both the headrest and the harness to create a secure fit for your little one.
I love the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System on this car seat, but I also like that you don’t have to rethread the harness when you want to make bigger changes either. You only need one hand to get the adjustments made, and children love the comfort.
Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
The Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat is the perfect seat for growing children. Accommodating babies as small as 5 pounds and children as large as 110 pounds, this seat always offers a safe, secure, comfortable and convenient ride.
The Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat is another great all-in-one seat. I recommend it highly as one of the best Evenflo all-in-one models. With the center insert, even the tiniest babies can fit snugly and comfortable inside. And when your little one grows, the seat grows with them. It can be adjusted and expanded easily with the center pull harness that auto-retracts and quickly latches to the Sure LATCH connectors.
Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Convertible Car Seat
The Safety 1st Complete Air 65 Convertible Car Seat is a convertible seat that can sit rear-facing or forward-facing, and both modes offer the utmost in protection and comfort. The QuickFit harness system has 3 buckle locations as well as 5 height options for the harness, which means that your child will stay comfy and secure at all times.
This is the perfect seat for a growing baby and child. With the side impact protection, Air Protect keeps your bodies head, neck and body secure at all times. In the event of a crash, you can rest assured that the durable frame and strong padding will do their jobs. I also love the easy to use harnesses on this model.
Car Seat and Child Safety Frequently Asked Questions
How long should a child remain in a rear-facing car seat?
This is the number one question that I receive from parents. They want to know how long they need to keep their baby in a rear-facing infant car seat. The quick answer is that children should be in rear-facing seats up until the age of 2 or until your child is between 35 and 45 pounds. Check the guidelines on your particular car seat model.
It is understandable that allowing your child to face the rear of the car while you’re facing forward and driving is difficult. Many parents worry about not being able to properly see their child while driving.
To this, I have several things to say. First, there are special mirrors that you can purchase so that you are better able to see your child while you’re driving and they are positioned in their rear-facing car seat. The mirror goes in front of your baby, and you will be able to look in your own rearview mirror and see them through their mirror.
And remember that you should never put your child anywhere but the middle of your back seat. This is true even if you feel you cannot adequately see your child while in the middle. The middle is absolutely the safest spot for your child to sit in a car seat. Unless you have to, do not strap your child into either side seat as a possible impact could be more severe there.
Finally, remember that babies need to be in the rear-facing car seats for as long as possible for their own protection. Overall, this is the safest way for them to drive in the car. If an accident were to occur, their best chance at safety is to be facing the rear.
Can my child ride without their car seat for short trips?
Even for the shortest car trips, your child should never ride without being properly strapped into their car seat.
When the weather is cold, what’s the best way make sure that my baby stays warm while in their car seat?
You should not put bulky outerwear on your child before strapping them into their car seat as this can cause harness routing and compression issues. It is recommended that you take big coats, sweaters and scarves off of your child before putting them into their car seat and add a blanket over their highness instead.
Are expensive seats safer than inexpensive seats?
This is another common question that I often receive. With many products, more expensive items tend to be better made, and they tend to last longer.
The general opinion where car seats are concerned is that an extremely inexpensive car seat is not the best choice because it naturally won’t have the best materials or be made with the highest quality and integrity. But super expensive products won’t be the absolute best either. You can get an affordable but not super cheap car seat that will last a long time and be made extremely well. Staying in the middle price range is the best idea.
When can my child ride in a booster seat?
Making the transition from a forward-facing infant car seat to a booster seat can be a challenge. In general, safety guidelines recommend that your child is at least four years of age before the transition to a booster seat. They should also be at least 40 pounds, but if they are not 40 pounds and are still too tall than their car seat, they can still move to a booster as well.
Summary and Making Your Final Decision
Having a baby will change your entire life. If you already have children, you already know this fact. If this is your first child, you’re in for the best and also scariest part of your life. You’ll be constantly worried about keeping your child safe, and to be sure, it’s a full-time job to do this.
But one place where you’ll need to put an extra amount of attention is in the car. Accidents can happen at any moment, and they often happen when you least expect it. For this reason, you must put your greatest effort into finding the absolute best convertible car seats for infants and the best convertible car seats for toddlers because they grow fast!
With that being said, I know from experience that as a parent, one of your jobs is also to keep up with a budget, and finding the best affordable convertible car seat should be a top priority as well.
My advice to you on both of these fronts is to simply do your research. Read all of the baby convertible car seat reviews that you can. Trust me, convertible car seats reviews will be your best friends. My guide will get you started, but you need to scour the net on your own as well to make sure that you are getting the rear and front facing convertible car seat that perfectly fits your needs.
Once you do all of this, you’ll have a few options that you’ll need to choose between. Weigh your options, and then, I urge you to purchase the most affordable and safest convertible car seat that you find. If you put in the work, the product will be worth it. Good luck on your search!