When my daughter started growing out of her infant car seat and it was time to get her a convertible car seat, I was instantly overwhelmed with the sheer amount of options there are on the market. I didn’t know how to find the best convertible car seats!
There are literally hundreds of options. Different brands, price points, safety features, installation mechanisms, etc. In general, it’s extremely confusing for anyone, but for a first time mom, it was mind-boggling!
I knew I could probably just randomly choose one, but winging it is not in my nature, especially in situations concerning my daughter.
Thus, I set out on a search through the good ol’ world wide web and found some incredible car seat roundups and reviews that ultimately led me to make a choice I felt really comfortable making.
That is why I decided to create this post which lists 7 of the best convertible car seats of 2018.
I read dozens of other best car seat lists and hundreds of reviews and compiled it all into one, hopefully, simple and helpful comprehensive list to help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Before you get to the list, please read the helpful information below!
WHAT IS A CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT AND WHEN DO YOU NEED ONE?
If you are completely new to the world of parenthood like I was you might be wondering what a convertible car seat actually is and when you will need one. So let me tell you!
A convertible car seat is car seat that can be used for infants as well as toddlers and older children. It is able to transition from rear-facing to forward facing and some are even able to convert to booster seats as your child grows.
Most convertible car seats can be used as soon as you take your newborn home from the hospital. However, many people prefer to use an infant car seat until their baby is a little bit bigger and then transition them to a convertible car seat.
Whatever you choose to do is up to you. There pro and cons to both starting with a convertible car seat or starting with an infant car seat.
Infant Car Seat vs. Convertible Car Seat
One of pro’s of starting with an infant car seat is that the car seat is smaller and designed for small infants. However, many convertible car seats also come with inserts specifically made to properly support newborns and infants and can be removed later on as your baby gets bigger.
Another pro of starting with an infant car seat is that they are meant to be removed with your baby still inside whereas convertible are seats are not. With an infant car seat, if your baby falls asleep in the car you can remove the entire seat and not wake them. If your baby falls asleep in a convertible car seat you would have to unbuckle and remove them from the car seat potentially waking them.
On the other hand, a pro of starting out with a convertible car seat is that you won’t have to buy two car seats within a years time. Most babies will grow out of their infant car seat around their first birthday. Because you will eventually need to buy a convertible car seat anyway, it’s much more cost effective to purchase a convertible car seat right off the bat.
Another thing to keep in mind is that infant car seats are compatible with travel systems whereas convertible car seats are not. Meaning most infant car seats can be removed from the car and clicked on a stroller base and your baby never has to be removed from their seat. Convertible car seats are innately bigger, bulkier, and designed to stay in the car and because of that not compatible with such travel systems.
Once again, it’s completely up to you whether or not to transition from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat or start with a convertible car seat from the beginning. There is really no right or wrong option. You just have to do what you think will work best for you and your family.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN SEARCHING FOR A CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
The first important thing to remember when looking for the perfect convertible car seat is that in general all of them are going to be safe. There is not one new car seat on the market that is unsafe for your child. All car seats must pass certain tests and gain certain certifications in order to be sold. If there is an unforeseen recall down the line, then that’s a different story, but of course, that cannot be foretold.
The only time you should be worried about the safety or effectiveness of a car seat is if you buy a used car seat or install your car seat improperly. (All car seats will come with instructions on how to properly install them and many car seat brands have video tutorials on their website.)
When you are trying to find the right car seat for your child you’re basically looking for a few things: user-friendliness, cost, personal design aesthetic, etc.
I am not saying that safety is not important, because we all know that safety is the MOST important feature of them all. I just want to get the point across that all car seats are made to protect your child and if you cannot afford to buy the “best” car seat out there that doesn’t mean your child will be any less protected.
While many convertible car seats do come with extra safety bells and whistles and that’s awesome, don’t worry that your child will be unsafe without them.
I hope that made sense!
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO FIND THE PERFECT CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
Besides safety features, there are a few questions you should ask yourself in order to make sure you find the perfect car seat for your family. Asking yourself these questions can really narrow down the options and help you make the best choice.
- What is your budget? How much are you willing to spend on a car seat?
- How big is your car? Will you need a smaller car seat for a better fit? Do you need to fit multiple car seats in a row?
- Will you be moving the car seat from car to car? Do you want it to be quick and easy to install? Do you need to make sure it’s not too heavy?
- Is the fabric or overall design important to you?
- Are you using it from birth? Do you need a car seat that accommodates newborns or has a newborn insert?
- Are you looking for any specific features? Machine washable cover, cup holders, reclining options, etc?
Ask yourself these questions and I promise it will help you make a decision much quicker!
7 of the Best Convertible Car Seats of 2018
THE BEST FOR COMFORT: MAXI COSI PRIA 85 MAX
I’m kicking off the list with the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max because this is the car seat my daughter Lily has and we love it! I chose this as the best for comfort because from personal experience and reading other peoples reviews, the general consensus is that this car seat is the plushest and comfiest of them all! It definitely lives up to its name of being “cosi”. I also love that when my daughter is in her car seat she seems so protected. Everyone jokes that it looks like she’s a race car driver or going to space.
1. The fabric is incredibly soft and not at all irritating for your child’s skin.
2. It is super duper cushy and comfortable.
3. It uses Air Protect Technology to provide major protection for your child’s head.
4. The fabric cover is easily removable and machine washable.
5. There is a cup holder! Maybe not a deal breaker but definitely great for your toddler.
6. Magnetic chest clip makes buckling your child in very quick and easy with no chance of pinching their skin.
1. This car seat is very large and wide. It takes up a lot of space in the back seat of my car which is actually pretty spacious.
2. It is pretty heavy. I struggle every time I have moved it in and out of the car.
3. Although installing the seat in the car is simple using the latch connectors, tightening the straps is difficult and making the seat tight and secure enough takes a lot of strength.
4. The price is on the higher end.
5. The back of the seat is open so it has an unfinished look (I never saw it as a big deal but many reviews pointed it out.)
Rear-facing: 5-45 lbs
Forward-facing: 22-85 lbs
THE BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: CLEK FLLO
Next on the list is the convertible car seat that is best for small spaces coming in at only 17 inches wide. Many parents have stated that they can fit three of these car seat’s side by side in the back seat. So this would be so perfect for parents with multiple small children still in car seats or even parents with triplets!
1. Small and compact with a total width of 17 inches and a base width of 13 inches.
2. This car seat could have actually qualified for the best non-toxic car seat because the fabric is GreenGuard certified and free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.
3. It comes with a Steel Anti-Rebound Bar, which improves stability and helps protect your child’s head from impact in the event of a collision.
4. It’s made for extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs! It’s one of the few car seats that allow your child to be rear-facing for that long.
1. The fabric is not removable or machine washable.
2. This car seat is very tall which may impair rear views if your car is small.
3. According to specifications, the Fllo is only 25 lbs, but after reading reviews many people said it was very heavy and not convenient for moving to and fro different cars.
4. This car seat is pretty pricey.
5. There are no cup holders.
Rear-facing: 14- 50 lbs
Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs
BUY: Amazon | The Tot ( Wool Edition made with ethically sourced non-toxic wool!) | Bed, Bath & Beyond
THE BEST FOR A BUDGET: EVENFLO TRIBUTE SPORT
I selected this convertible car seat as the best for a budget because it has all the basic things you could want in a car seat, tons of wonderful reviews, and it’s incredibly affordable!
1. This car seat is very budget-friendly so whether you just don’t want to spend a fortune on a car seat or you want an extra car seat for grandparents cars this is a great option.
2. Meets or exceeds all federal safety standards.
3. It’s approved for air travel so you can take it with you on a flight.
4. Very lightweight so it’s easy to move from car to car if need be.
1. The fabric is not as high quality as other car seats on this list.
2. Not as sturdy or durable as higher priced car seats.
3. The harness straps have no padding.
4. Not very easy to latch or install.
5. A little bit “bare” not extremely comfortable or padded.
Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs
Forward-facing: 22-40 lbs
THE BEST IN STYLE: NUNA RAVA
This top the line convertible car seat is my pick for best in style because not only is it good looking it has some really cool bells and whistles. It’s very similar to the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max, but it’s more narrow and has a closed back so its very sleek. I also had a really hard time finding any negative reviews and the consensus seems to be no one regrets purchasing this car seat and if you can afford it this is the best car seat to get.
1. One of the few car seats that your child can sit rear-facing up to 50 lbs.
2. Very quick and easy to install using their Simply™ secure installation.
3. It has to retractable flip-open cup holders.
4. This seat has 10 recline positions and adjustable head support.
5. You’ll be able to use it for a long time. It can be used rear-facing for newborns as small as 5 lbs and toddlers and kids up to 65 lbs.
6. Has energy-absorbing foam and SIP pods to offer side-impact protection.
7. The fabric is removable and machine washable.
1. The price of this car seat is a bit steep.
2. This car seat weighs over 27 lbs, so it’s on the heavier side.
Rear-facing: 5-50 lbs
Forward-facing: 25-65 lbs
BUY: The Tot | Nordstrom | Pottery Barn Kids
THE BEST FOR EASY INSTALLATION: BRITAX MARATHON CLICKTIGHT
I chose the Britax Marathon ClickTight as the best for easy installation because the simple way you install this car seat is it’s number one feature. Basically, the entire bottom of the seat lifts up so you can easily thread the seat belt through, then you click the seat back down and you’re done! If you are going to need to move your car seat from car to car than this is the seat for you.
1. Has ClickTight technology that makes installing this car seat super quick and easy.
2. It has a steel frame and energy absorbing base.
3. Much more affordable than many of the other car seats on this list.
4. Has a quick adjust harness so you don’t have to rethread the straps as your child gets bigger.
1. It’s very heavy, over 28 lbs, and not ideal for traveling.
2. Some people reported having to readjust the straps every time they put their child in the seat.
3. The fabric is removable but not meant to be machine washable (Even though many reviewers said they wash theirs on a cold gentle cycle.)
Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs
Forward-facing: 20-65 lbs
THE BEST IN SAFETY: SIRONA M WITH SENSORSAFE 2.0
I chose this convertible car seat as the best in safety because it not only keeps your child safe in the event of a collision but also during your average car ride. It has Sensor Safe Technology which monitors your child in unsafe conditions and alerts you if your child has unbuckled the chest clip, been left in the car, or is too hot. This is done through a sensor in the chest clip and an app on your phone. It was also 2018 Best of Baby Tech Award Winner for Baby Safety.
1. Has Sensor Safe Technology.
2. Has magnetic strap holder to make putting your child in their seat easier.
3. The shoulder straps have rubber backing so the padding stays in place
4. Has individually adjustable side impact protection, which absorbs over 25% of impact in the case of a collision.
5. Has an energy absorbing shell.
6. The seat has a removable and dishwasher safe cup holder.
7. This seat has 10 reclining positions for both forward and rear facing positions.
8. According to reviewers, it’s very easy to install using the LATCH system.
1. The Sensor Technology only works for cars 2008 and newer.
2. Some reviewers said that there was a gap between their children’s body and the straps which made it easy for their older toddlers to pull their arms through the straps.
3. The cup holder is in a weird place which makes it hard to reach for some children.
Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs
Forward-facing: 22-65 lbs
THE BEST ALL-IN-ONE: GRACO 4EVER 4-IN-1
I chose the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 convertible car seat as the best all-in-one because this one car seat can transition into 4 different car seats and last you up to 10 years. It goes from rear-facing infant car seat, to forward facing toddler car seat, to a high back booster seat, and finally a backless booster seat.
1. Fabric cover is removable and machine washable.
2. It has a steel-reinforced frame which provides strength and durability in the event of a collision.
3. Has 6 different recline positions so you can easily adjust the seat if your child falls asleep.
4. Easy to install using the InRight LATCH system
5. Has two cup holders.
6. You never have to rethread the straps even when you are adjusting the height or removing the padding.
1. While it’s easy to install using the Latch system, many reviewers said using a regular seat belt to install the car seat was a serious pain and to thread the belt properly they had to remove the cushion.
2. When rear-facing it is very hard to use the recline lever.
3. This car seat is very large and a few users reported having a hard time fitting it in their car.
4. Some reviewers reported a rattling sound in the headrest while other never mentioned it at all.
Rear-facing: 4-40 lbs
Forward-facing: 20-65 lbs
High back booster: 30-100 lbs
Backless booster: 30-100 lbs
If you don’t see any car seats on this list that you think will work for your family, don’t worry! Keep looking at other lists until you find the best convertible car seat for your family.
If you have any questions or if I can help you with your search in any way, please let me know in the comments below!