In short, when shopping for the best convertible car seat, it pays to invest in something great. Lucky for you, we've already done the research. We've rounded up the best car seat options, including the best budget option and one that accommodates kids 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 is 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 for 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. We love the quick, effective installation and affordable pricing.
The profile of this convertible car seat is also somewhat slimmer than other contenders on the market. This makes it ideal for smaller cars and sedans.
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."
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. We love the modern styling, enhanced safety features and added impact protection that goes the extra mile. We tried this one with our own kids, who reported "loving" the soft cushions and deep cupholders.
This compact convertible car seat has a small footprint so it is great for compact cars. It is also lightweight and easy to travel with. Kids up to 40 pounds can sit rear-facing. The seat also accommodates kids up to 65 pounds forward-facing.
We love how easy it is to install and quick it is to clean. This lightweight model, easy-to-maneuver is great news if you switch your convertible car seat out between rides.
An extremely affordable option at about $99, the Safety 1st 65 is often bought as a second car seat for a second vehicle. We love it as the go-to convertible car seat for Grandma's car.
Tiny Disney lovers can ride in style in the family car in this colorful, Minnie Mouse-themed convertible car seat. It is not all flashy character design, though. 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 an older kid booster seat. If you've got a Disney enthusiast in the house, attractive design is affordable and downright exciting to sit in.
This is the most expensive option on our list of best convertible car seats, but people swear by it. It is not only sleek and modern-looking but it is built to look and feel like a part of your car. The manufacturers promise that it is 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. Parents rave about the perfect mashup of modern styling and vintage lines. Little ones report loving the supportive headrest and cushions.
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. It is a larger-format, boisterous model that takes significant room in the back seat, but it offers all the roomy bells and whistles of far more expensive convertible car seat options.
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. If you're driving at peak sun hours, added sun protection is worth every cent.
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.
Amazon verified purchaser Amber A. Larsen says "This car seat is the Audi of car seats. Its sleek, plush, and stunning looking. It feels safe and solid without sacrificing baby’s comfort. Like all rotating car seats, it is a beast so if you swap it between car seats a lot it is probably not the choice for you."
This model also topped our list of the best rotating car seats on the market.
Our guide to the best Walmart car seat options called this Graco TrioGrow model the top option at the affordable mega retailer. It installs quickly and easily, goes from an infant seat to a high-back booster in a jiffy.
It also has been rigorously safety tested—something we take seriously. A 4.5-star average rating, a great price and cup holders give it a solid win.
Walmart verified purchaser Bella wrote, "My daughter loves this car seat! I love that it works for up to 100 pounds. It was super easy to install, it is not super bulky so it fits well in my car and still leaves plenty of room in the back seat, and I didn't break the bank buying it."
This classic Chicco convertible car seat topped our list of the best toddler car seat designs on the market, and we think it is worth every penny. The NextFit has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon from parents who praise this popular pick for its easy installation, overall comfort and multiple safety features.
It is also easy to clean, which is key when you’re low on time and loaded with snacks. Zip seat pads right off (no buttons to fuss with!) and throw them directly in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. The NextFit features two layers of protection, EPS energy-absorbing foam and a steel-reinforced frame so your little’s head and torso are properly protected.
Other features to love are the nine-position recline in both rear-facing and forward-facing, adjustable headrest and loads of other goodies.
With two modes of use, this cozy, comfortable LATCH-equipped Cosco convertible car seat accommodates infants from five pounds up to toddlers weighing 40 pounds in rear-facing mode. Forward-facing mode handles children up to 65 pounds with ease. It is compact and easy to carry, which means it is a breeze to bring to the airport and get through security checks.
A five-point harness adjusts easily from the front of the seat and features several heights and three buckle locations, and, because it is relatively slim, you can easily fit three across in most car back seats. Yup—even the new Subaru Crosstrek can neatly squeeze three of these in the back row. Built-in side impact protection keeps your baby extra secure while a fool-proof seat belt install makes it easy for even the most novice parents.
We love the easy-to-clean fabric that's machine washable and dryer safe, as well as meeting federal, ASTM and JPMA safety standards. Oh, and it comes with a one-year limited warranty. That's a lot of value for a low price. The cup holders for the seats included here actually detach and clean with ease.
This chic Graco model made several of our other best-of car seat lists thanks to a moderate price point, easy cleaning and living up to its truly slim claim—it is just easy to fit several of these in a row in most standard cars. With over 42,000 positive reviews and an almost-perfect 4.9-average star rating on Amazon, the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 is a no-brainer.
It handles babies, toddlers, small and older kids alike thanks to a weight range of five to 100 pounds. Its slimmer profile makes it perfect for twins or multiples—or if you just want a little extra room in the back so passengers aren’t squished.
A four-position recline to get the best install makes it a popular choice. We love fuss-free installation and the 10-position head rest promises smooth riding.
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-like following.) Features like seat padding, a simple latch system and ease of installation also factored in when we chose the best convertible car seat for each category.
We've tried to include a range of prices, features and designs so there's something for everyone and every budget. We called in credentialed car seat safety experts to help us try each seat, discuss nitty-gritty details and evaluate.
"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 is 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 is essential to use the top tether.
And always check the expiration date on your car seats—yes, they have those. The Highway Traffic Safety Administration takes these dates seriously, too.
"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 at least three or four years old.
We wish! "Unfortunately, not all car seats are compatible with all vehicles," Sinclair says, adding that, "It is always worth taking the time to research what car seat will work properly for your specific vehicle. Consider your budget and your baby's size and developmental needs."
After rigorous testing and observation, we believe the Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat is the best convertible option this brand offers. We loved its durability and ease of maintenance.
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