A car seat just might be the most important item you buy for your baby. Not only is it a newborn essential, perfect for adding to your baby registry, but if you buy the right one, it'll last until your little one is in school. Is there any other baby gear you can say the same about?
In short, when shopping for the best convertible car seat, it pays to invest in something great. And lucky for you, we've already done the research. We've rounded up the eight best options, including the best swiveling convertible car seat, the best budget option and one that accommodates a kid up to 120 pounds.
Each comes with excellent crash testing records and the best possible safety features.
While most car seats will focus on the maximum weight, it's also important to consider the maximum height as many kids will outgrow the height restrictions for their seats before they're too heavy. The convertible car seats below accommodate kids to at least four feet, often as a booster.
Consider how often you'll be moving the seat into and out of your car and base your choice on how easy the car seat is to install. Remember that convertible car seats aren't compatible with strollers so if you want something that's part of a travel system, you'll have to start with a newborn seat and switch to a convertible seat when your baby is a toddler.
"There are a lot of amazing convertible car seats to choose from these days, but before making your purchase I encourage you to consider a few extras—like your child’s stature," says Care Sinclair, certified car seat technician and parenting educator. "Are they petite? or are they tall? Some car seat models offer higher rear and forward-facing harness height limits and weight limits, so this is important. I also like to consider how easy the seat is to install, how easy it is to clean, and if the seat has a harness that’s easy to move and reposition as they grow."
Most importantly, all car seats, whether convertible or not, should be approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics or a similarly-qualified body of experts. National Highway Traffic Safety guidelines should also be followed for infant car seats in terms of height and weight limits. This goes for front and rear-facing car seats of all kinds.
This is considered the best overall convertible car seat for many reasons—including that it has five stars on Amazon with almost 69,000 ratings. Reviewers love the affordable price and how comfortable it is for even bigger kids to sit rear facing.
As Amazon-verified shopper Kyle Millerick says, "One of the best features of this seat is the Extend2Fit adjustable leg rest, which provides an additional 5 inches of leg room, allowing your child to comfortably sit rear-facing for longer. This feature is great as it allows your child to ride rear-facing up to 50 pounds."
Want a car seat that will take your baby from the newborn pacifier years through their moody tween era? This is the best convertible car seat for you. Babies as small as five pounds and kids as big as 120 pounds and 63 inches can ride in this comfy seat.
It offers 15 different positions and ventilation so your kid stays cool. It also has five stars on Amazon and reviewers love how easy it is to install.
This compact convertible car seat has a small footprint so it's great for compact cars. It's also lightweight and easy to travel with. Kids up to 40 pounds can sit rear-facing and the seat accommodates kids up to 65 pounds forward-facing
An affordable option, the Safety 1st 65 is often bought as a second car seat for grandparents or a second vehicle.
Tiny Disney lovers can ride in style in the family car in this colorful, Minnie Mouse-themed convertible car seat. But it's not all flash. This affordable Baby Grow option from Safety 1st offers many of the same safety features as other brands, including a five-point harness and a stainless steel frame.
The maximum rear-facing weight is 40 pounds and it accommodates kids up to 100 pounds and 52 inches tall as a big kid booster seat.
This is the most expensive option on our list of best convertible car seats, but people swear by it. It's not only sleek and modern-looking but it's built to look and feel like a part of your car. The manufacturers promise that it's so sturdy, "you’d swear the seat becomes one with your vehicle."
The Foonf accommodates children in rear-facing mode from 14 pounds, but you can buy an insert—called the "Infant Thingy Insert"—that will take babies as small as five pounds.
While keeping baby safe is a top priority, it can be a bummer when the adults in the car are riding with their knees up around their ears. This seat, which accommodates infants in rear-facing positions from five to 40 pounds, offers up to seven inches more leg room for those seated in the front seat.
Another seat that offers a long lifespan, this one converts into a booster and can hold kids up to 80 pounds and 52 inches. Plus the pads and cup holder are easy to remove and clean.
Gone are the days of babies crying instead of sleeping because the sun is in their eyes. And say goodbye to fussing with suction cups and window shades. This four-in-one convertible car seat comes with an adjustable UPF50+ canopy.
This seat also accommodates babies as small as four pounds and converts to a booster seat for kids up to 100 pounds and 57 inches tall. We also love that this infant seat is affordably priced at Walmart, so you can add it to your cart while scooping up Walmart twin mattresses and other budget-friendly items.
Keeping your little one rear-facing for as long as possible is so much easier if you can turn the car seat to put them in it. This swiveling seat means that you don't have to contort your body while your baby kicks their feet and arches their back. We can't promise that they won't still kick and arch, but it'll be easier on your back.
Amazon verified purchaser Amber A. Larsen says "This car seat is the Audi of car seats. It’s sleek, plush, and stunning looking. It feels very safe and solid without sacrificing baby’s comfort. Like all rotating car seats, it’s a beast so if you swap it between car seats a lot it’s probably not the choice for you."
This model also topped our list of the best rotating car seats on the market.
Our list of the best convertible car seats is based on car seat ratings on retail sites, first-hand testing, recommendations and car seats we hear about all the time. (The Foonf has a cult following.) Features like seat padding, a simple latch system and ease of installation also factored in.
We've tried to include a range of prices, features and designs so there's something for everyone and every budget.
"My biggest safety tip for parents when using any car seat is super basic, get out the car seat manual and the vehicle manual and review them both to ensure you are installing and using the seat properly. So many people skip this essential step," says Sinclair. "If you don’t feel up to taking on this job you can hire a CPST (child passenger safety technicians) to help you out."
For rear-facing children it’s important to ensure that the harness is at the appropriate level, coming from just at, or below the child’s shoulders. Forward-facing children should have their harness coming from just at, or above the shoulders. And, when a seat is used in a forward-facing position, it’s essential to use the top tether.
"Current scientific evidence has shown us that rear-facing is the safest position for young children while their bodies are developing. It is recommended that children remain rear-facing until they reach the limits of their convertible car seat set by the manufacturer," says Sinclair.
In North America, most convertible car seats can safely be rear-facing until 40 pounds, but you'll need to check each brand and model's height limits. Some models go as far as 50 pounds, which means kids can comfortably rear-face till till at least three or four-years-old.
We wish! "Unfortunately, not all car seats are compatible with all vehicles," Sinclair says, adding that, "It's always worth taking the time to research what car seat will work properly for your specific vehicle. Also, consider your budget and your baby's size and developmental needs."
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