We are committed to bringing you the most updated information and thorough research possible to help you find the top-rated convertible car seats available.
We want you to find the right seat for your needs!
And on this page, we will cover both types of convertible car seats: The Regular Convertible and the All-in-One Convertible.
We strive to bring you the most comprehensive car seat guide possible! We cover installation tips, best practices, frequently asked questions, and so much more!
Join us in discovering all the best information about car seat safety that you always wanted to know but didn’t know what to ask!
Wondering which convertible car seats are the best on the market? Take a peek at this our list to find out!
For The Best Regular Convertible Car Seat
Our favorite convertible car seat is the amazing Graco Extend2Fit! The main reasons we came to this decision are that it has two unique features that are ideal for truly extended rear-facing and it is very affordable!
For The Best All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
The Graco 4Ever is an amazing seat with so many possibilities! We chose this seat as a Top Pick because it can last 10 years in all car seat modes, has tons of features, AND has an easy to remove cover so that you can keep it as clean as possible for its long life!
Two Types of Convertible Car Seat
A convertible car seat is one which can be used both rear-facing and front-facing, usually from infancy to the toddler years.
However, some convertible seats are designed to also transition to a booster as well. These are sometimes called 3-in-1s or 4-in-1s, but for the sake of simplicity, we will refer to these designs as All-in-Ones.
The question is:
Should you start with a regular convertible seat or All-in-one convertible car seat?
The answer to this can vary, depending on your particular needs.
Regular Convertible Car Seats
Many families prefer to start with an infant carrier due to the convenience of being able to separate the carrier from the base, allowing you to move the baby out of the car without unbuckling them. With a convertible seat, this is not an option.
If you prefer to babywear or use a separate stroller when you get out of the car, then starting with a convertible makes sense.
Making the decision to start with a convertible may also depend on the size of your baby at birth. Some convertible seats may technically be able to safely handle your infant, but it may be harder to get a comfortable fit.
All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
An All-in-One convertible car seat can accommodate your child from birth to booster-mode! It is not designed to snap in/out of a base (like an infant carrier), nor can it be used as part of a stroller system.
These seats are generally fairly heavy and bulky, so are meant to usually stay installed in your vehicle unless you need to move it to another vehicle.
These versatile seats really “grow” with your child, allowing you to reduce the number of car seats that you need to buy as your child gets older.
Please keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that they are always a perfect solution, however, because they may not always create the best fit at every stage of your child’s growth, may be more expensive than what they are worth, and may become obnoxiously dirty over many years of use, despite trying to keep them clean.
Best Regular Convertible Car Seats of 2020
Of the best convertible car seats, we found that the Graco Extend2Fit was our favorite because not only is it very affordable, it also allows extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs and has a pull-out extension for up to 5 inches of extra legroom!
Why it is our favorite convertible seat?
Our favorite convertible car seat is the amazing Graco Extend2Fit!
The main reasons we came to this decision are that it has two unique features that are ideal for truly extended rear-facing and it is very affordable!
One of the few car seats on the market with such high limits, the Extend2Fit allows rear-facing from 4-50 pounds. (Most other seats max out at 40 lbs.) Plus, it has a pull out section that literally adds up to an extra 5” of legroom for your growing child’s comfort.
With a 6-position recline option and a 10-position headrest, it is easy to accommodate every stage from newborn to toddler and beyond. In front facing mode, it allows for 22-65 lbs, with a top height of 49 inches. Designed with plush fabric and cushioning, plus two integrated cup holders, Graco really set out to make your child’s ride comfortable.
Easy installation is another factor that helps the Extend2fit Platinum stand out. With the InRight Latch System you get an easy, quick LATCH attachment as long as your child is 45 lbs. or less. Once your child is over 45 lbs., however, then you will need to install with the seatbelt.
Renowned for its unique ability to allow your child to safely stay rear-facing for an extended period of time, this seat fills an important role in the car seat world of choices.
The feature of the legroom tray is really what makes it a winner with many parents, along with its general comfortable feel.
Plus, with the upgraded EZ Tight Latch, installation is so fast and easy.
Also, this seat has two integrated cupholders for the convenience of parents and child and a machine-washable cover. And you get all these features for a very affordable price tag.
There is one drawback to this seat for those who are not committed to rear-facing to the extent of its weight limits.
If you choose to forward-face your child between 22-40 lbs., it is required to use incline position #4, which can feel fairly awkward to some older kids.
Also keep in mind that some vehicles may not be able to accommodate the extra length of the seat if the leg tray extension is pulled out to the full extent, especially at certain reclines.
The Bottom Line:
Really the main point of this seat is to allow and encourage extended rear-facing. If you don’t have the intention to do this, then this seat’s advantages would likely not be worthwhile, and may even prove to be a nuisance.
However, for parents who are looking for a long-term solution to keep their child facing backwards as long as physically possible, we highly recommend this seat!
Why it is our second pick?
Loved for its ease of installation & perfect for extended rear-facing, the Britax Boulevard Clicktight was an easy choice for our #2 pick.
It also features 2 layers of side impact protection & the SafeCell impact protection system for increased safety.
We wanted to test the installation and ease of use of this premium car seat for ourselves, so we purchased this seat and tested it in our vehicle. It is one of the easiest car seats to install that I have ever handled in my life.
Though all car seats on the market must pass the same safety standards when installed correctly, it is super important that the seat is, in fact, installed properly. That is the beauty of the Britax Boulevard Clicktight! It is so simple to get right and is as easy as buckling a seat belt!
This seat also never needs rethreading with its quick-adjust, 14-position harness that allows it to grow with your child. There is no need to even remove the harness belts when it is time to remove and clean the lining! Rear-facing weight limits are 5-40 lbs. and front-facing weight limits are 20-65 lbs., with a height limit of 49 inches. With 7 recline positions, it is easy to get your child in a comfortable position from babyhood to the toddler stage
Built with a steel frame and impact-absorbing base, it is packed with safety features. This is not a lightweight seat and weighs nearly 30 lbs., so keep that in mind. It does have plush foam and fabric, plus strap/crotch cushions, and is designed to feel soft & cushy for your child’s comfort. Cleaning the lining involves unhooking it from the base and handwashing it, so it’s not terribly difficult, but is slightly inconvenient. Overall, it feels like a premium seat.
Definitely the best part of this car seat is its ease of installation.
Just twist a small lever and the seat opens upward, revealing the area underneath and giving access to the seatbelt slots. Nearly anyone can install this seat without error.
Next up, the heavy-duty construction with extra safety features help give parents peace of mind.
It also provides a comfortable fit for most children which helps make car rides more enjoyable. Finally, it has moderately easy liner removal and average limits for height and weight.
The biggest drawback to this seat is the fact that it is heavy!
Of course, in some ways, that’s a good thing because it means it is well-built, but if you need something lightweight or easy to move around, this seat could prove to be quite challenging.
I also found it to be tricky to change the recline position and it required me to move the seat completely sideways (or take it out of the vehicle) to readjust it.
By the way, this seat does not come with any integrated cup holders, but an optional cupholder can be purchased separately. I also have noticed that over time installation gets a little bit harder because when I lift up the seat to access the belt path, it doesn’t stay up and out of the way like it did when it was brand new. For this reason, sometimes I use my elbow to hold it up out of the way or ask someone to hold it for me.
Also, I noticed that I only heard the “clicking” of the “Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator” when tightening the harness without my child in the seat, but never when she was in it. I have read that other parents also reported this feature not working for them and the company has responded that it is a bonus feature and doesn’t have to audibly click in order to be safe to use.
I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t perform like I expected because I was looking forward to that function. Instead, I simply employ the “pinch test” to make sure that the straps are tight enough.
Also, my daughter and a few other kids have reported that it isn’t comfortable for them or hurts their back/crotch on long rides, while others ride in perfect comfort. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what the issue is with my daughter and she only complains when we go on longer trips, but it is something to keep in mind.
The Bottom Line:
Though this seat is a beast to move around, it is worth it if you can physically handle it. Not only is it easy to set it up and install it in your car, it will be a breeze for you to teach other family members or caretakers how to properly buckle in your child, as well. For comfort, safety, and ease this seat really stands out from the crowd and is definitely a favorite with customers.
Do you dread dismantling a car seat in order to remove a dirty cover for washing?
This top rated convertible seat is loved by parents for its simple-to-remove padded seat cover that literally zips off in one motion.
It’s very innovative and makes it easier than ever to keep your car seat clean. The cover can even be machine-washed, which increases the convenience factor one notch more.
That’s not the only thing to love about this seat. It also has a SuperCinch Tightener with the Latch System so that a properly tight installation is easy to achieve. If you are installing with the seatbelt, it provides easy access to the seat belt path behind the seat cover. Merely unsnap the seat cover and fold it back out of the way! Plus has a seatbelt lockoff to keep it tightly installed.
With 9 recline positions with bubble, and 9-position adjustable headrest, you can get the perfect fit for your child. It accommodates children who are 5-40 lbs. rear-facing and 22-65 lbs. forward-facing, with a maximum height of 49 inches.
Besides the obvious ease of cleaning the seat cover and installation of this seat, it also has a few other great features.
It is well-built with safety features, such as Duo Guard protection with a deep rigid shell and energy-absorbing foam. It is also very plush and soft, making it a comfortable ride for most children.
Plus, it sits a bit higher up than other car seats, allowing most children to see outside better, which may help with keeping them more engaged and interested in their car ride.
A couple of things to consider with this seat is that because it has a steel-reinforced frame (a good thing!) it is quite heavy at 25 lbs. and quite bulky.
It also has fairly high sides, which some parents find more difficult for lifting their child over and some children feel too cradled in, but that is balanced by the extra-safety that the higher sides may provide.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, this is a parent favorite! It has many useful features that make it appealing to many families. The biggest complaint has to do with the higher sides, but if that doesn’t deter you, it is likely that you would love this seat. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have the highest limits for rear-facing weights, but is still a solid choice for extended rear-facing, especially because it has so many recline options.
This is a unique seat designed with certain features in mind that are quite different than other more popular seats.
First let’s talk about its weight/height limits. This seat, though a convertible, is not suitable for a newborn right out of the box.
Alone, it can only accommodate a rear-facing child between 14-50 lbs. and 25-43 inches in height. The instructions state that it is to be used by a child who is able to sit upright alone.
If you want to use it for a smaller infant, you will need to also purchase the “Infant Thingy,” which is basically an infant insert that makes it able to accommodate a child between 5-22 pounds. In order to use this insert, you will need to un-attach the headrest and then reattach it later when your child outgrows the insert. In forward-facing mode, it works for 22-65 lbs. and 30-49” in height.
The extra safety features of this Canadian-made seat include a steel anti-rebound bar, EACT (Energy-Absorbing Crumple Technology with aluminum honeycomb cores), and Advanced Side Wing Protection.
Plus, it is covered in Greenguard Select Certified Crypton Super Fabric, which is stain and moisture-resistant, plus free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants. For some families, it is becoming increasingly popular to choose non-toxic car seats, which reduce exposure to certain flame retardant chemicals that are possibly linked to health issues.
This seat is quite narrow at under 17” wide, making it a popular choice for families who need to be able to fit 3 seats across.
Plus, it accommodates extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs., which is a wonderful feature! The anti-rebound bar that comes with this seat limits its rotation in the event of an accident, providing improved stability and possibly better overall protection.
If you are concerned about the toxicity and off gassing of chemicals used in most cars seats, you will appreciate the Fllo. The non-toxic fabric is one of the major pros of this seat along with its ability to repel fluids, stains, and bacteria.
Though it does have latch hooks, a seat belt installation works best with the Fllo as the seat bottom easily pops off, revealing the inner seat belt path and blue lock offs. This allows you to get a tight fit with minimal effort. It also has adjustable feet under the seat to provide the correct recline.
This is a heavy seat so it is not ideal for easily switching from car to car. Some parents have reported having difficulty with install or getting a good fit, especially when using the latch system. The level indicators are merely lines, not bubble or ball indicators. Also, the harness straps must be rethreaded as your child grows, so are not easily adjusted.
Though the fabric is very high-quality, this is not a particular cushy seat, nor is the fabric easily removed for washing. It is expected that you will simply spot-clean it, which should be easier than on most seats. (Technically, if you dismantle the seat, you can remove the cover, but it is certainly not practical to do so.)
In order to use this as a newborn seat, you will need to purchase the additional infant insert, which adds additional cost in order to use it from birth. Also, because this is considered a modern luxury seat, it is quite pricey.
The Bottom Line:
This is not a typical car seat and its unique-ness has polarized many people either for or against it. It definitely has some great features and is engineered with a sleek, beautiful design. Because it has very high height and weight limits, it is a long-lasting car seat. If you choose to purchase it, be prepared to experience something different than most car seats on the market. It may take some getting-used-to, but if you are like many parents, you may just fall in love with it.
This is a luxury seat made in Italy with quality “Fresco Jersey” fabric that is easy to keep clean and plush padding throughout.
It is built with a Shock Absorbing Foam Element (SAFE) and steel back plate to reduce flexing, plus other safety features. It also has the option to top tether in rear-facing mode.
It accommodates extended rear-facing from 5-45 lbs., and forward-facing 22-65 pounds.
It has side impact protection and 10-position adjustable headrest with a no-rethread harness system. Plus it has elastic loop harness holders to make loading/unloading easier.
The install with latch system is fairly straightforward and easy with pull straps on both sides. Seatbelt install has been reported as difficult to fairly easy. Customers have also reported that the seat cover is easy to remove and machine washable.
- It is stylish and comfortable with multiple safety features.
- It works well for extended rear-facing with the 45 lb. limit and 47” height limit.
- It is stylish and comfortable with multiple safety features.
- It works well for extended rear-facing with the 45 lb. limit and 47” height limit.
- It is an average-size seat, so not one of the heaviest, bulkiest, or biggest seats on the market. So though it isn’t particularly slim (18.7”), you shouldn’t have any trouble installing it 2 or 3 across your vehicle.
- Plus, for a convertible built with a steel plate in the back, we were pleasantly surprised that it only weighs 21 pounds.
- For its price point, it doesn’t offer anything unique that other less-expensive options don’t have.
- It doesn’t boast any particular innovation in regards to easy install or fit.
- It appears to have a lock off for seatbelts, but in reality, it is considered only a stability clip and you must also use the vehicle-belt locking mechanism.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, I find that though this is considered a luxury brand of car seat, the features are all quite basic and in line with mid-grade car seats. It is comfortable and well-liked by parents and children, however, I feel that it is over-priced due to the lack of unique features to set it apart from the crowd. If style and comfort are most important to you though, I don’t think you will be disappointed in this seat, as long as you are aware of its limitations.
Britax Marathon and Advocate ClickTight Covertible Car Seat
Much like the Britax Boulevard, the Marathon is just a bit more basic. It basically only differs in a few areas. First, it only has one layer of side impact protection instead of two. Also, it does not have the “Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator” that tells you when the harness is tight enough. Plus, the “hugs” (the gray piece that keeps the chest clip in place) has a more simple pattern on the back. That’s it! It otherwise has the same size shell and same weight limits!
Also nearly the same seat as the Britax Boulevard, the Advocate is just the upgraded version. The only actual difference here is that it has a hard outer shell on the wings that provides one extra layer of side impact protection.
The reason we chose the Britax Boulevard as our top choice is because you get the best bang for your buck! We love the Click and Safe Snug Harness Indicator and the extra side protection, but it is still a reasonable price, so it is a clear winner in our book!
If you are in need of a budget car seat without the bells and whistles, this may be an option for you.
It is lightweight & easy to travel with, has premium fabric that is machine-washable, plus it is slim enough to fit 3 across in most vehicles.
Otherwise, it is a basic car seat with average limits, no recline adjustments, no easy adjustment or install features, and must be dismantled to clean the cover or adjust the straps.
The biggest caveat of this seat is that it is super difficult to get a good install at an appropriate angle when rear-facing. It has a tendency to either be far too upright or fall backward, nearly laying flat. In order to properly position it, you will need to be diligent during install and may need to use a tightly rolled towel or pool noodle to get the correct angle.
Best All-in-One Convertible Car Seats 2020
The advantage of an All-in-One seat is that it will last a long time and may eliminate the need to purchase multiple seats as your child grows.
Some parents, however, may be concerned about the upfront cost of some of these seats. It is true that it can, at times, be cheaper to purchase a regular convertible and a separate booster later on.
Plus, there is also the consideration that a seat that is used for upwards of 5-8 years may become so worn & dirty that it is preferred to simply get a new one when the child transitions to a booster.
Plus, though some seats technically “can” support a child through all of their car seat years, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily are the best or most comfortable seat for every stage.
Why it is our top pick all-in-one convertible seat?
The Graco 4Ever is an amazing seat with so many possibilities!
We chose this seat as a Top Pick because it can last 10 years in all car seat modes, has tons of features, AND has an easy to remove cover so that you can keep it as clean as possible for its long life!
Are you looking for one car seat that will keep your little one safe from birth to 10 years? This seat may be what you are looking for! It has 4 modes, including rear-facing, front-facing harness, high-back booster, and backless booster. This is why it’s called the 4Ever! It can take your child from 4 lbs. To 120 lbs., which is an amazing feat in the car seat world!
It also has an abundance of wonderful features that make it easy to use, comfortable, and safe! First off, it has the simply safe adjustable harness system with 10 positions, so that you never need to rethread the harness straps. Simply squeeze the lever and pull up or down to put the straps and headrest at the correct height. Plus it has a 6-position recline option for comfort & safety.
For installation, it has an integrated belt lock-off if you are installing with seat belts or if you can use the latch system, it has the upgraded 1-second Inright Latch attachment. One of my favorite things about this seat, however, is the RapidRemove Cover that makes cleaning it an absolute breeze! No more dismantling a car seat in order to wash it! That is worth a lot to this mom!
Ease of cleaning with the RapidRemove cover puts this seat at the top of the list for me. Not only can it be taken off/on quickly, but the cover is also machine-washable. The comfort features and simple adjustments are also pros of this seat, along with the ease of installation whether you use the latch system or seatbelt. Plus, it comes with Fuss Free harness storage, to keep the straps out of your way when getting your child in and out.
The other great thing about this seat is that it is manufactured to last 10 years and the expiration date reflects that. Even if for some reason, you decide to switch your child to another booster, it can be passed down to a younger sibling because it has such a long life span! Also, with ProtectPlus Engineering, it is designed to protect in crashes from any angle.
This seat is quite big and bulky, so if you need several car seats in your vehicle, this may not fit very well. It also has been noted that it isn’t as comfortable for tiny babies or big kids in backless booster mode, even though it technically holds them fine. Plus, if you decide to turn your child forward-facing before 40 lbs., the required recline is quite awkward for some children, so it is recommended to keep them rear-facing in this seat until they reach the limit of 40 pounds.
Keep in mind that choosing one car seat that is intended to go from birth to 10 years will likely lead to a seat that become fairly gross and maybe even worn out, despite efforts to keep it clean. Also, if you are choosing this seat to save money, consider your options carefully. Backless booster seats are not expensive, plus stand-alone models are lightweight, easy to move from car to car, and may be more appealing to an older child.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, this is a quality seat loaded with wonderful features. It is a favorite for many families and has the potential for keeping your child safe and comfortable for many years. Despite a few potential drawbacks, if you are looking for a seat that almost “does it all,” then this seat is truly in the running. For me, the RapidRemove cover definitely makes this seat really stand out from the competition!
Why it is our second pick?
This seat is one of the best convertible car seats and another favorite Top Pick for us because it has the capacity to rear-face up to 50 lbs. and includes the extendable leg tray that the Extend2Fit is known for.
Plus, it has so many other features, such as TrueShield Technology for safety, and the InRight Latch for easy installation.
For the family that is looking for an all-in-one that can accommodate extended rear-facing, this car seat really stands out among the competition. With a max rear-face limit of 50 lbs., plus an extra 5 inch extension leg tray, your child can ride comfortably and safely for much longer!
As a 3-in-1, this seat not only works for infants & toddlers in that rear facing position, but also for forward-facing harnessing and later as a high-back booster. You will never need to rethread the harness along the way, because it has the Safe Adjust Harness System with 10 positions, which allows you to adjust the height of the harness with a simple lever. Plus the 6-position recline allows you to control for just the right angle. Altogether keeping your child safe and comfortable from 4 to 100 lbs.
Beyond that, the TrueShield Technology that this seat offers provides unique shield-like side impact protection from head to hips for extra safety. This is a lot of car seat for a reasonable price and has most of the features you could ever want.
The true stand-out advantage is, namely, the “Extend2Fit” part of this seat for families who are committed to rear-facing as long as possible, especially for those with children who may exceed the weight/height limit of similar types of seats. The 5″ leg extension tray has 4 possible positions and has an upgraded fabric wrap to make it more comfortable for bare feet.
We also are impressed by the overall features, including the plush design, safety design, and ease of use. With the InRight Latch system and Fuss-Free Harness storage, Graco is obviously committed to making life easier on parents. It is also nice that the cover is machine-washable.
The biggest drawback to this seat, in our opinion, is that since the InRight Latch system can only be used if your child is 40 lbs. or less, at some point you will need to install it with the seatbelt and that’s where this seat gets tricky. The seatbelt paths are somewhat narrow and it doesn’t have a lock off feature, so installation may be more difficult. Also, please keep in mind that the forward-facing position requires a somewhat awkward recline if your child is less than 40 pounds.
The other main disadvantage to this seat is that it doesn’t have the RapidRemove cover, which is one of the reasons that it is trickier to access the seat belt path, as well as not being as easy to remove the cover for cleaning. It doesn’t require removing the harnesses, but has several steps involving elastic straps and button clips, which are somewhat cumbersome.
The Bottom Line:
Considering everything, if you are not too concerned about needing to move this seat in/out a vehicle very often after your child reaches 40 lbs., nor need to tackle seat-cleaning too often, then this seat is otherwise a very fine choice. It definitely gets tops for rear-facing accommodation, which makes it a very safe choice. Plus, with the ability to work as a high-back booster, it will last most families a very long time! Your child will definitely be riding in style and comfort if you choose this seat!
Graco Honorable Mentions
Graco Milestone All-in-One Convertible Car Seat 3 in 1 and Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Both the Milestone and Slimfit 3-in-1s are All-in-One seats that go from rear-facing to high-back booster mode. Their height/weight limits are the same and are: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing, and high-back booster from 30-100 pounds. They both have a 4-position recline and Simply Safe Adjustable Harness System to easily position the straps.
Their washable seat covers are fairly easy to remove, with no need to unthread the harness. They both have the InRight Latch System. They both have steel frames and similar safety features, as well as nice stylish fabrics.
Technically, the SlimFit is supposed to be slimmer, but that all depends on where/how you measure them, so ultimately that is not much of a difference.
Either way, these two seats are both solid options as Graco All-in-Ones if you don’t need the specific features of our Top Picks.
One of our favorite seats is now available as an All-In-One that can last up to 10 years!
The Britax Clicktight is known for its ease of installation with its unique “lift the seat bottom and thread the seatbelt” design.
This allows you to get a perfect and tight installation every time and is easy to teach your family and caretakers.
The height and weight limits are as follows:
It has a 15-position, quick-adjust headrest and harness for your growing child, plus a 9-position quick-push recline for their comfort.
It has 2 layers of side-impact protection, safe-cell technology to absorb crash energy, and a high-strength steel frame. It also has built-in cooling channels and ventilated mesh to keep your child cool, and the fabric is machine-washable.
A few other features that it boasts are: a patented V-shape tether, easy-read level indicators, and dual dishwasher-safe cup holders.
We love this seat because it installs so easily with the vehicle’s seat belt. Just pinch to open, thread & buckle, and click it closed!
No hassle or wondering if the seat belt is tight enough or locked. We also love that this seat accommodates extended rear-facing with it’s 50 lb limit!
This seat is heavy and big! It weighs 30 pounds all by itself! Of course, that also means that it is well-built, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you will want to be prepared when lifting or moving this seat around. And it is quite expensive, so you will want to be prepared for that, too.
Also, a few kids have reported that it isn’t comfortable for them or hurts their back/crotch on long rides, while others ride in perfect comfort. There may be something about how it is built that just doesn’t feel good to some children, so keep that mind.
The Bottom Line:
If you can afford this luxurious and beautiful seat, you will likely be very impressed with its fantastic features and the ease of installing it into your vehicle. If you are looking for a 3-in-1 that also rear-faces up to 50 pounds, then you will be happy that you found the Britax One4Life seat!
This is a basic budget all-in-one car seat that has all the elements necessary for a long-lasting, safe, comfortable ride.
It can accommodate 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. with the front-facing harness, and 40-100 lbs. as a highback booster.
The QuickFit Harness allows you to position the straps to your child’s height without removing them. Simply adjust the lever up or down. It also has 3 recline options for your child’s comfort.
It has handy harness holders that keep the straps out of your way when getting your child in/out of the seat and also comes with two integrated cupholders for your child’s convenience. One of the best parts about this seat is the easy-to-remove cover that is also machine-washable, so that keeping it clean is always a breeze.
This is an affordable seat that can take your child from infancy to booster mode, so that you can get many years of use on a budget. We like that it has an easy-adjust harness and handy harness holders, which make the strap usage more simple. Plus it comes with two integrated cupholders, which is handy.
Not as large as other convertibles, it is sometimes chosen for its smaller footprint for tiny cars. It is fairly comfortable and padded, plus the easy-to-remove cover doesn’t require dismantling the harness straps, so keeping it clean is easier.
This is a basic all-in-one seat and is not particularly luxurious or super plush and the incline options are limited. It has average height/weight limits, so consider what your goals are for rear-facing or forward-face harnessing before choosing this seat.
It does not have any features to make installation easier than usual. In fact, some parents have reported struggling to get it tight enough with the latch system. So keep in mind that installing it may be rather tricky depending on your vehicle.
The Bottom Line:
This is a step up from the most basic car seat models and it has a few nice features that make it a nice all-around seat. As a budget option, it is lacking some of the nicer qualities that come with some of the higher-end seats, but it is loved by many families and may be just the right choice for you with everything considered.
This All-in-One seat (Also called the Symphony DLX) has some unique features for a budget price.
The best part about it is the revolutionary and innovative SureLatch System, which automatically ratchets the seat tightly into place once you click on the hooks and push down on the seat. No pulling or tugging on the straps is necessary.
Don’t forget that the latch system can only be used until your child reaches 40 lbs., after which you will need to use a seatbelt for install.
This seat rear-faces from 5-40 lbs., 19-40 in., forward faces 22-65 lbs., 28-50 in., and works as a high-back booster from 40-110 lbs., 44-57 inches. Please be aware that some of the company advertising is promoting the high-back booster mode as “harnessed booster” which is incorrect terminology and may be confusing. Instead it should read “belt-positioning high-back booster” mode.
This seat boasts a no-rethread harness adjustment feature called the Infinite Slide Harness. It allows you to simply pull up or down on the straps to position them at your child’s shoulders. When not in use, they may not stay in the position last used.
This seat comes equipped with nice fabric, plus energy-absorbing foam for safety and comfort. It has 2 expandable cup holders that can accommodate larger cups. And it also has an easy-to-remove machine-washable seat cover held in place with plastic clips.
The upside to this seat is that it has such a unique retractable, ratcheting SureLatch system. The adjustable headrest and harness system is also unlike other carseats and an interesting variation of the no-rethread system that other companies use.
Plus, if your child generally has larger cups to use in the car, the elastic banding on the side of the cup holder is a fun feature. It is also nice that the seat cover can be removed without removing the harness and then machine-washed.
Large and bulky, this seat also lacks recline positions. In order for it to properly position a small infant, you may have to use a small tightly-rolled blanket or towel under the base to get it within the acceptable recline.
Plus, there are no level indicators, just a line to try to match to ground level. Also, this seat is lacking in height limits and the tallest harness slot may not allow a taller child to reach the weight limits. This means that this seat is neither ideal for newborn or younger infants, nor ideal for taller toddlers or children who may max out the height before getting full use of the seat.
Though this seat is super easy to install with latch, it is not as easy with the seatbelt install which is required as the child grows heavier. It doesn’t have a lock-off and the belt path is cumbersome to access. This shortens the lifespan of the “easy-install” feature that might propel someone to choose this seat. The cupholders are cool in some ways, but they don’t work for holding small items, such as crackers or crayons, so may be disliked.
Also, the seat cover is somewhat easy to get off, but since it is attached with plastic clips, it is more difficult than some brands.
The Bottom Line:
I do think this is a pretty cool seat in many ways. I would, however, reserve my recommendation for situations where someone may need a seat for an older infant and younger toddler, but not necessarily for someone who is looking for a seat to get them from birth to booster. It simply may not be able to accommodate those limits as nicely as other seats, plus it may not work very well for extended rear-facing, either.
This seat is designed to be safe, comfortable, and convenient to use for up to 10 years. It has some really cool features!
One of my favorites is the ClipQuick auto-magnetic chest clip that snaps together so easily and is simple to open for adults, but not for children.
It also has the Flip Away Buckle, which keeps it from getting caught underneath your child’s bottom, and handy harness holders to keep the straps out of the way for easy boarding.
The weight limits are broad for this seat, with 4-40 lbs. for rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. for front-facing harness, and up to 100 lbs. for belt-positioning booster mode. GCell patented foam and side impact protection are designed to absorb energy in the event of a crash. Plus it has a no-rethread harness and headrest height adjustment for customized strap fit, and easy-to-adjust recline lever on the back.
One of my other favorite features on this seat is the easy-to-remove, machine-washable cover which snaps on/off without even removing the seat from the car. It also comes with two integrated cup holders.
Installation with the Latch System is simple and can be used until your child is 40 pounds. After that point until you transition it to booster mode, you will need to do a seatbelt install, which is also fairly easy, since you are able to flip back the cover to access the seatbelt path.
Faster buckling with the Magnetic QuickClip and easy cleaning with the snap-off seat cover are the best stand-out features of this car seat.
It does have nice weight limits and fairly simple installation. It is definitely a cozy and comfortable seat with great padding and soft fabric.
The main downside to this seat to keep in mind is that this is a large, bulky seat.
Also some parents have reported having difficulty being able to pull the latch straps tight enough for a good install in the rear-facing position.
The Bottom Line:
This is a good solid choice if you are drawn to the great features or the comfortable feel of the seat. It is a favorite among many families and has plenty of advantages. It does come with nice infant inserts and will safely transport your newborn from 4 pounds and is designed to last until your child is 100 pounds or up to 10 years.
This gorgeous and luxurious seat has wonderful features and is designed to grow with your child from birth to the booster years.
The 5 Modes that are referenced are the following:
- Baby Rear-Facing (5-22 lbs.),
- Toddler Rear-Facing (22-40 lbs.),
- Toddler Forward-Facing (22-65 lbs.),
- Child Forward-Facing (40-65 lbs.), and
- Belt-Positioning Booster (40-120 lbs.).
It has an adjustable 3-position torso side-impact protection panel with a 14-position easy up/down headrest adjustment to help you get a perfect fit. The one-handed recline lever gives you 7 positions to choose from for ultimate comfort. The premium fabric is soft and comfortable, plus this seat has an easy-to-remove cover that snaps off in a jiffy and can be thrown in the washer! The two integrated cup holders are also removable and dishwasher safe.
Installation is fairly simple whether you are using the latch system or seat belts. Because the cover can be lifted out of the way, it is easy to access the belt path and it also a seat belt lock off to help you get a tight and proper install.
You will love the way this car seat adjusts! You will never need to rethread the harness to get a proper fit, nor to remove the cover. It has Air Protect Side Impact Protection for the torso and head, but low sides for easy in and out. The cupholders just twist out with a simple move and can even be put in your dishwasher.
The One-Click Latch Connectors help you get a quick install and if you need to install with a seatbelt, you can easily access the belt path. It can handle your child’s car seat needs from newborn to 10 years of age, so it could be the only car seat you ever buy!
Maxi-Cosi is known for some pretty awesome features, of which this particular model is lacking. It doesn’t have the magnetic chest clip or flip-forward buckle, or anything to keep the straps out of your way. It is also a fairly heavy, bulky seat, so be sure to double-check measurements to make sure your vehicle has enough room to accommodate it.
Finally, keep in mind that though installation is fairly easy, it does require that you remove the cupholders in order to lift up the cover and access the belt path. It only takes a moment to do so, but is one extra step that I wasn’t expecting. Also keep in mind that a few parents have complained about struggling with install or twisted straps.
The Bottom Line:
This is a premium seat that will definitely have your child riding in comfort and style. It doesn’t have all the features, but it is overall well-designed and easy to use. Most parents with this seat are happy with it, but with its price point it may not necessarily save you money in comparison to buying a similar convertible and separate booster.
This MAX model is the same as the regular Magellan all-in-one except for 3 important features.
It has the coveted QuickClip auto-magnetic chest clip that makes loading so fast. Plus it also has 2 other super cool features:
- One is the flip-forward buckle that won’t get lost under your child’s bottom
- and the other is the EZ Out Harness that is spring-loaded to hold it up and out of the way for easy and fast loading/unloading.
I have never seen this unique feature in any other car seat and definitely think that it makes this car seat worth considering if it is in your budget to do so!
This is a super-stylish, ultra-modern car seat with premium quality fabric and well-built integrated steel frame.
With memory foam seats and aluminum side impact walls with energy-absorbing foam, your child will ride in comfort and safety.
The limits of this seat include extended rear-facing from 5-45 lbs., forward-facing with harness up to 65 lbs., and as a belt-positioning high back booster from 50-120 pounds.
It is well-known for being very slim and able to sit 3 across in most vehicles. Plus, it can fold flat for travel.
There are some downsides to this seat that you should be aware of, however, before making your decision. Despite higher rear-facing weight limit, the height limit of 44” may not be sufficient to be able to use it to its full weight potential. Plus, since the booster can’t be used until 50 lbs., it may be outgrown in height before it can be used in that mode.
It also can be very difficult to get a good install or fit due to the intricacies of the install requirements, angle adjustments needed for infant use, extra parts needed for different stages, super low belt path, and myriad rules of use, not to mention the fact that you will need to rethread the harness as your child grows taller. It is not particularly known for being a hassle-free seat, so keep that in mind. Plus, though marketed as a travel seat, it is very heavy.
What Should You Look For In a Convertible Car Seat
- Ease of Installation: A properly installed car seat is a safe car seat. When your seat has features that make installation easier, you will struggle less and are more likely to get it right, plus you will have greater success teaching others to also install your seat correctly.
- Extra Safety Features: All car seats on the market are required to pass the same federal safety standards. Any extra safety features that are added cannot be proven, tested, or verified to increase the actual safety of the seat and thus are opinions only of the manufacturer.
- Comfort & Fit with Easily Adjusted Straps & Incline Positions: Especially important if your child spends a lot of time traveling, a comfortable seat can reduce a child’s aversion to being buckled in. Plus, easy adjustments help parents to get an accurate and safe fit which allows the seat to perform as designed in the event of a crash.
- Easy-To-Remove Seat Covers (For Cleaning): The reality is that kids tend to be messy and seats tend to get dirty. This feature is designed to help you not procrastinate the cleaning of the seat by making it a simple task instead of a monumental undertaking.
- Extended Limits for Rear-Facing & Harnessed Positions: It is now well-known that extended rear-facing is simply safer and laws are even being passed in many states that require rear-facing to age 2. Minimum standards aside, many parents are interested in rear-facing and/or forward-facing harnessing for longer periods of time and seat manufacturers are making this possible with extended weight limits on their seats.
- Car Compatibility: Not all seats get a great fit in every car. Check angle/reclines, plus sizes and dimensions carefully and consider how much space each car seat will need once installed. Also, check for placement of any latch and top tether anchors in your vehicle. Tiny cars may not have room for some of the bigger, bulkier car seats, so consider both the side-to-side measurements as well as the front-to-back ones.
- Budget: Since all car seats in every price bracket are safe when installed and used properly, you do not need to feel like you must break the bank to protect your child. Extra features are designed to make car seats easier to use and more comfortable, so consider your budget when making your decision and know that you will not be compromising your child’s safety if you choose a lower-end model.
Question and Answer Time for everything you want to know about choosing the right car seat!
What are my car seats choices?
Though there are hundreds of car seats on the market, all car seats fall into one of the following 6 basic types. To determine which kind is right for your child, you will first need to measure your child’s height and weight, as well as take into consideration their age, as well as any laws that apply for your state. Once you have that information, you will be able to narrow down your choice to the proper category or categories.
- Infant Carriers
These are used only for rear-facing newborns and infants and generally have a “bucket” type design with a carrying handle. They usually come with a removable base which can be buckled into the vehicle and left in place.
The portable bucket seat is then clicked in and out of the base for easily transporting your baby in and out of the vehicle without the need to unstrap them first. This is particularly handy for taking your child in/out of the house or store while they are sleeping.
Many infant carriers are sold with travel systems or strollers that allow you to move baby’s seat from car to stroller frame.
Also note: Most infant carriers can also be installed without their included base.
These seats are designed to both rear-face for newborns, infants, or younger toddlers, as well forward-face with the 5-point harness for older toddlers and young children.
They do not have removable bases or carrying handles and are not considered portable. They tend to be large, bulky, and heavy. Many parents are choosing to forego the use of an infant carrier and move directly to a convertible seat from birth.
Most convertibles have multiple recline positions to accommodate the large age range that their weight/height limits allow.
- All-in-ones (Convertible to Booster)
Much like the convertibles referenced above, these seats also are for both rear-facing and forward-facing.
The only difference is that these seats also can convert into a belt-positioning highback booster (and occasionally a no-back booster, as well), after your child no longer needs to use the 5-pt. harness.
These types of seats are designed to get your child from birth to nearly the end of their car seat days. Touted for their longevity, they generally have extended expiration dates and may (depending on your child’s size/age) be the only car seat your child ever needs.
- Combination Seats (Forward-facing Harness to Booster)
These seats are designed for older children that are past the rear-facing stage.
They come equipped with a 5-pt. harness, as well as the ability to be a belt-positioning highback booster (and sometimes a no-back booster also).
These seats cannot be used for infants or small toddlers and are not to be used in a rear-facing position, but only in a forward-facing position.
- High Back Booster
A high-back booster is designed for a child who can sit 100% of the time properly in a belt-positioning seat and no longer needs a 5-pt. harness.
This type of seat makes sure that the vehicle’s seat belt sits low across the child’s hips and properly across their shoulder for a proper seat belt fit. It can only be used forward-facing and only with a lap/shoulder belt combo seat belt.
- No-Back Booster
This type of booster positions a vehicle’s lap/shoulder seat belt across a child that is still too small to fit the seatbelt alone. It does not reposition the shoulder belt, as a high back booster does, but only ensures that the lap belt is low across the hips of the child and not across the soft part of their belly.
Many children are not mature enough to use this type of seat until they are much older as it does not restrict movement as much as other seats do. It should only be used by a child that has been trained to sit correctly and can maintain a proper position even if they fall asleep.
How do I know the weight, height, and age limits of the seats I am choosing from?
All car seats come with manuals that will specify the limits of weight and height that are appropriate for its usage.
Most car seats will even have it printed on the side of the seat itself, so that you can easily find this information.
Some car seats also have age requirements, and nearly all states also specify age limits for rear-facing, 5-point harness, and booster requirements.
Please always check to make sure your child adequately fits all three parameters, and remember that every seat should be used to its max capacity. This means that you should not switch to the next level (type) of car seat unless your child no longer fits in the safety seat that best fits their limits.
Should I choose an Infant Carrier Seat or a Convertible Car Seat for my newborn?
This is a personal choice that will vary depending on your family’s specific wants and needs. There is no right or wrong answer here.
Sometimes the convertible seat that you want to use may not give a great fit for your newborn and you might want to use an infant carrier until they grow a bit bigger.
Perhaps you like the idea of the convenience of clicking an infant car seat in/out of its base for moving baby to the house, store, or a stroller.
If you live in a very cold or hot climate, you may find it easier to strap your baby into an infant carrier while in the house and then merely click it into place once you get to the vehicle.
Some parents, however, prefer to only buy one seat (instead of two) and choose to either use a baby wrap for carrying their child when out and about or transfer their child to a stand alone stroller, eliminating the need for an infant carrier.
Will my car seat be compatible with my vehicle?
This is an excellent question that you will definitely want to get answered!
If you have any doubts, you will need to know the dimensions of the seat you are considering, as well as the dimensions of the vehicle seat.
Remember to also measure if there is enough room from back to front, as well as side-to-side. You cannot wedge a car seat between the vehicle seat in front of it, nor cross over a car seat that is installed next to it.
If you need to install more than one seat across, you may need to consider a slim-profile seat. If possible, see if a local store will allow you practice with their floor model so that can ensure a proper fit before you buy.
Also make sure to look for latch hook placement in your vehicle, as well as any top tether bars. These will be important considerations when deciding on your car seat placement. If you do not know where these are located, look in your vehicle’s manual.
Should my child ride in a car seat on an airplane?
Though not required by law or the FAA, it is certainly safer for your child to be properly restrained in a rear-facing car seat if 2 or under, or a forward-facing if they are older.
Most airplane accidents happen on the runway at great speeds and if not restrained, your child can become a projectile. If you harness a child to yourself, the child can become your airbag, which is exceedingly dangerous.
Apart from airplane crashes, turbulence is also a risk factor for injury on an airplane ride which a car seat can protect your child from. Make sure your car seat is rated as approved for aircraft use before using for this type of travel.
Should I choose a non-toxic car seat or be concerned about chemical flame retardants?
There are concerns that some of the chemicals used as flame retardants on car seats may present possible health risks to children.
As more and more people become aware of this issue, more research is being conducted and more manufacturers are recognizing the need to use safer materials and less-toxic chemicals.
If you are concerned with this issue, we urge you to take it into consideration when choosing your car seat. That being said, the benefit of using any car seat far outweighs the potential risk of using a car seat that has chemical flame retardants. Please always use a proper restraint system!
How long should I keep my child rear-facing?
The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) now recommend that your child remains rear-facing as long as possible, until they reach the maximum allowed height or weight of their car seat.
Most convertible car seats on the market today have limits that will generally will allow children to ride rear-facing to at least 2 years old or older.
Some car seat manufacturers have recognized the importance of extended rear-facing and have available seats that will accommodate a child up to 50 lbs. or 49 inches, regardless of age. That means that some 4-5 year olds are still rear-facing safely.
In many states, it is now becoming the law that you MUST rear-face until at least 2 years of age. There are no laws or rules that a child’s feet/legs cannot touch the back of the vehicle seat, but rather it is considered appropriate that older/taller children can place their legs/feet in whichever position makes them most comfortable while rear-facing.
It’s Question and Answer Time for everything you want to know about convertible car seats!
What is a convertible car seat?
It is a special kind of car seat that is designed to both rear-face for when your child is an infant and small toddler, as well as forward-face when your child is big enough to be turned around but still needs a 5-point harness. Many parents choose to buy a convertible for when their baby is born, while others choose to wait until their infant outgrows their infant carrier car seat.
What is the safest convertible car seat?
All car seats currently on the market are safe when installed and used properly and must pass the same minimum U.S. Federal Safety Standards and Crash Test Performance Standards. That being said, the safest and best convertible car seats are the seats that best fit your child and your vehicle and are properly installed and used every single time your child travels.
Extra safety features that are referenced by any manufacturer are not tested against a national standard and it is impossible to verify whether they actually provide extra protection or not. Thus, these claims are to be taken as opinions, not facts. Parents should never feel guilty for buying a less-expensive seat because it doesn’t have claims of extra safety features.
Do convertible car seats have bases?
Convertible car seats do not have removable bases that detach from the seat. Some models have an attached base that holds a mechanism that allows the seat to be reclined to various angles.
Are convertible car seats portable?
No. They are designed to be left in the vehicle, not carried into the house or store, nor used with a stroller or travel system. They tend to be large, bulky, and heavy. Plus, they do not come with carrying handles. (They can, however, be moved from vehicle to vehicle, if necessary, or brought into the house to be cleaned or stored.)
When should I put my baby in a convertible car seat?
Some parents prefer to start using a convertible car seat when they are taking baby home from the hospital. Other parents prefer to wait until their infant is a little larger and may use an infant carrier car seat in the interim. Most convertible car seats on the market today are rated for use for babies as small as 4-5 lbs., but you will need to verify that your baby is able to get a proper fit with the harness, as well as a proper recline angle before buckling your baby in for their first ride in a convertible car seat.
Are convertible car seats safe for newborn/infants?
Most car seat manufacturers have created their convertible car seats to accommodate newborn infants. Many include special infant inserts to properly cradle your baby in the proper position. Please make sure that your baby’s weight falls within the limits of the seat. Also, check to see if they get a proper fit with the harness straps before using any convertible car seat. Some car seats are difficult to install at a proper angle for a newborn, so read your manual carefully to assure a proper and safe recline. If all these factors are ascertained, then yes, most convertible car seats are safe for newborns/infants.
Do convertible car seats expire?
Yes, all car seats have an expiration date and must not be used once that date has passed. All car seats deteriorate over time and become unusable and safe once they reach that date, even if they have only been stored and not used.
Tips to Install, Use, and Care For Your Car Seat Properly
Did you know that 9/10 car seats are improperly installed?
That is an alarming number! Always take the time to carefully read the manual that came with your car seat for proper installation and use instructions.
Most car seats can be installed with either the LATCH system or with the vehicle’s seat belt.
Find a local CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) to guide through the process of how to properly install your seat in your particular vehicle. Remember that the best car seats are properly-installed car seats!
- Make sure that none of the straps and belts are twisted during install.
- Make sure that the seat is tight enough that it does not move more than inch side to side or back to front at the seat belt pathway.
- Make sure that you do not use the LATCH system if the weight of the seat + the child exceeds 65 pounds.
- Make sure to always use the Top Tether on a front-facing seat in which you are utilizing the 5-pt. Harness.
- Make sure that seat has proper clearance in regards to other car seats or the vehicle seat in front of it.
- Make sure the base of the seat is level and the seat is within the accepted recline angle for your child’s age/maturity.
- Make sure your child fits the height/weight limits of the seat.
- Make sure that a rear-facing child has their harness straps at the level of their shoulders or slightly below.
- Make sure that a front-facing child has their harness straps at the level of their shoulders or slightly above.
- Make sure that the 5 pt. harness is fully buckled, including having the chest clip closed and at armpit level.
- Make sure that harness straps pass the “pinch” test, meaning that it is tight enough that you cannot grasp it in an up/down motion between two fingers.
- Only use either the LATCH system OR the seatbelt to install the seat, never both.
- Only wash your seat and seat cover according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Some seat covers are not machine-washable, while others are. Harness straps generally can only be spot-cleaned. Please resist any temptations to hose down your car seat.
- If you are involved in ANY accident, please refer to your car seat manual or call the manufacturer to determine if you will need to replace your seat. Some manufacturers require replacement in minor accidents, while others have certain crash criteria that require replacement.
- Never use an expired car seat. They deteriorate over time and can become unsafe, even if stored. If your car seat expires, cut the straps and properly dispose of the car seat. Some stores have annual events during which they will allow you to trade-in old car seats for a coupon towards a new one. This is a great way to get rid of an old car seat.
- Never buy a used car seat. If you don’t know the history of a car seat, you cannot know whether it has been involved in an accident (damage is not always obvious). Nor can you know if it has been properly washed according to the manufacturer’s specifications.