There are a ton of benefits that come along with investing in a convertible car seat for your baby, but it’s probably best to look at some of the top all-in-one car seats before making a decision on which one to buy.
Most of them come from some of the best brands out there, which of course makes the decision that much harder, but it also means that most of the all-in-one convertible car seats on this list should work for your child for the long haul.
When looking at car seats in general, some of the most important qualities to consider are price, longevity, comfort, and safety. By being able to use these car seats for literal years, you get the most longevity out of them, and in some cases, they might offer superior safety features and reinforced frames.
But we know every parent has different priorities when shopping for a car seat, so we rounded up the best-of-the-best for various categories. Check out each of our top picks plus essential car seat dos and don’ts.
The best way to prevent traffic fatalities is to drive safely and use the right safety restraint for your kids. The correct seat for your child will depend on their height, weight, and age. The best car seats are comfortable for your kids and easy for you to install.
Follow these car seat dos and don’ts every time.
Always read the instructions before installing your child’s car seat for the first time.
Always check to make sure your kids are secured tightly before every ride. The car seat shouldn’t move more than 1 inch from side to side.
Always register new child safety seats with the manufacturer. This will keep you updated on recalls and important brand news.
Always match car seat harnesses to their designated slots as shown in your car seat’s manual.
Always use the top tether when securing a front-facing car seat.
Always buckle up with your kids. It sets a good example and keeps you safe too.
Never let your kids ride in the car without a safety restraint.
Never let your kids ride in another vehicle without the right safety restraints.
Never secure a rear-facing car seat in the front passenger seat.
Never buckle in your child while they’re wearing a bulky coat or outerwear. You can use the coat as a blanket or throw, but thick outerwear can make the seat less effective.
Never let kids under 13 ride in the front seat. Avoid letting them ride in vehicles with no back seat or active front-seat passenger airbags.
Never use an expired, recalled, or damaged car seat.
If you have a car seat in your vehicle, visit a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician in your community to double-check that it’s properly installed. Find a car seat inspection station in your area or learn how to become a licensed car seat technician.
Types of child safety restraints
As your little ones grow up, they need a car seat that fits them correctly.24 There are convertible car seats that shift and change with your child’s growth stages, or you can purchase a new car seat for every phase. Either way, the car seat needs to be easy to install and hold your child securely. No matter what stage your child is at, the best car seat is a properly installed car seat.
Infants to 3 years old: Babies and toddlers need to sit in a rear-facing seat until they reach the weight limit on the car seat. You can find convertible car seats that fit from infancy to 3 years old. Infant car seats have a shorter life span, fitting babies up to 12 months, while convertible models can fit older children up to 35 pounds (depending on the car seat model).
4 to 7 years old: Once your child reaches preschool age, they can typically sit in a forward-facing car seat. These seats generally fit kids from 40 to 60 pounds. When installing these seats, it’s especially important to fasten the top tether of your car seat to the vehicle’s seat. This can reduce head and neck injuries in case of a crash.
8 to 12 years old: This is typically when your child can transition from a forward-facing car seat to a booster seat. Depending on your child’s weight and height, they can use a belt-positioning booster or a backless booster seat. These seats are best for kids between 40 and 80 pounds and up to 4 feet 9 inches. See our recommendations for the best booster seats.
12 years and up: Until your kids are 13, the back seat is the best place for them to sit. Once your kiddos reach 4 feet 9 inches, they are generally big enough to use an adult seat belt in the back seat of your vehicle. This could be the back seat’s lap belt or lap and shoulder belt.
Car crash stats methodology
The SafeWise team evaluated car crash data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration to determine which states in the country had the highest and lowest numbers of child car crash fatalities per 100,000 children. We also examined state laws on child safety and pediatric recommendations for the best safety practices for children up to 13 years old.
Our pick for best child car seat is the Graco 4Ever DLX, but the other car seats on our lists are worth your consideration as well.
Every car seat passed the federal safety tests, but we love seeing extra features like a load leg or anti-rebound bar. And we know how important it is to have an easy-to-install seat with padding that washes up well.
That’s why we’re thrilled to see a variety of car seats that offer this blend of safety and convenience at different price points.
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