Convertible car seats comparison
What are convertible car seats?
Convertible car seats are preferred by many parents because they represent a great investment, since there is no need to purchase a different car seat each time the baby outgrows the one they are using. But what are convertible car seats? They are simply car seats that can be used in the rear facing position during the first stage of the baby’s development, then in the forward facing position, and after that, can even be turned into boosters. The most reliable models available can accompany the baby from the moment they are born until they are old enough to travel in a vehicle without using a special car seat.
A great trait of such car seats is that they allow the babies to travel securely with their parents inside a vehicle for a longer time. The upper weight limit for the rear facing position is up to 40 pounds in good quality models, so such car seats provide better safety than others. Because the baby’s spine does not ossify completely until they reach 4-5 years old, it is a good thing to be able to let them travel in this manner for as long as possible. There are many popular models that come with a wide range of safety features, the 5 point harness being the most common.
For the forward facing position, the weight limit can go up to 80-90 pounds, and from there it is easy to go to a booster seat. If the child is a fast grower, they may not need a specific car seat at a certain point of their development. Still, convertible car seats represent a great opportunity for parents to save some money on car seats. Of course, in case there is an accident, the car seat should be replaced, but, otherwise, convertible car seats are sturdy and reliable.
Convertible car seats are very popular and all the important manufacturers are having at least a few models up for sale. If you want to learn more about this type of car seat or get the best convertible car seat 2017 has in store, the following buying guide will take you through all the important steps for identifying a good and reliable product. Some considerations are more important than others, and this guide will be focused mostly on them.
There is no other more important aspect than safety when it comes to selecting a convertible car seat. Fortunately, most convertible car seats sold right now come equipped with a 5 point harness that makes sure that all the delicate areas of a baby’s body are properly protected. But the manufacturers’ care for safety does not stop at the safety harness, although this used to be an important issue when the first car seats were made.
A solid base and frame are very important, because they guarantee that the seat will remain inside the vehicle. Also, if you are reading the convertible car seat reviews 2017 written by owners, you will notice that many emphasize the importance of having the car seat properly installed. According to NHTSA, many car seats are not properly installed inside vehicles, and this leads to important safety issues. Convertible car seats are installed using guides and tethers and the vehicle must have the proper installation system in place, too. In the US, the system is called LATCH, while in Europe, it goes under the name ISOFIX.
Besides all of the above, new convertible car seats also come padded with a special type of foam whose main role is to absorb some of the energy generated by a crash. This means that less of this energy will have an impact on the baby’s delicate body, therefore ensuring a higher protection. The general design of the car seat can contribute to safety, too. Side impact protection is essential, and if the sides are properly padded, and are carefully designed, no debris will hurt your baby in case of an accident.
Ease of use
In order for a car seat to serve its purpose, it needs to be easy to use. For parents, this means that the seat should be easy to install. Since a convertible car seat will be used in both rear facing and forward facing position, changing from one position to the other should be easy, as well. Parents should not be forced to struggle with complicated instructions, and all the connection points should work as intended.
Checking to see if the car seat was properly installed with a professional is possible, and it is highly recommended if you do not want to risk anything. Also, when it comes to placing the child inside the car seat, there should be no guessing work about how to best use the safety harness. As far as ease of use is concerned, ease of cleaning should be listed here, as well. Babies tend to make a mess, especially if you supply them with snacks and beverages throughout your trips. A car seat whose cover can be removed and washed is a better choice than others from this point of view.
Comfort for the baby
While parents are concerned about a lot of things when they are buying a car seat for their child, for the baby there is one and only one important matter of concern and that is comfort. The overall design of the car seat should make sure that your little one is enjoying the best conditions. The padding should be soft and comfortable, and it must also ensure that the baby will not sweat excessively during summer, or be kept cold when traveling in winter.
There are some other features that can contribute to the baby’s overall comfort. For instance, a head rest is a must if comfort is on top of your list. One that is adjustable is even a better option. The harness should be comfortable, too, and it should not chafe the baby’s skin, when they are wearing lighter clothes. The guides for the harness must be easy to use and they should easily fit the height of your baby.
Since we are talking about convertible car seats, it is very important to see for how long your child can actually use the car seat you intend to purchase. In case you want to make one solid purchase that will grow with your child over the years, see one that has higher weight limits for all the three stages: rear facing, forward facing and booster seat. In this case, it is equally important to check the expiration date on the car seat.
One that will expire before your child grows old enough to have no more need for a car seat is, obviously, not such a great choice. It is important to find a model made by one of the reputable manufacturers now making car seats because these usually offer the best of the best and their products come with the longest lifespan. Keep in mind that once a car seat is involved in a traffic accident, its safety can be severely compromised. The best advice is to replace it right away, so you can make sure that your little one receives the best protection possible from such a device.
Top 5 Products
Diono Radian 16930
This Diono Radian model is undoubtedly one of the best convertible car seats in 2017 as it gives parents the versatility and convenience they might require.
Every prospective buyer is aware of the fact that these products can be quite expensive, so it pays off to invest in an all-in-one alternative that one can utilize as one’s baby grows. The Diono Radian can accommodate the ever-growing needs of the child as it can be used for infants and toddlers with weights ranging from 5 to 120 pounds.
The orientation of the car seat should be changed in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturing brand and based on current laws.
Thanks to its 5-point harness and side impact protection, the Diono Radian 16930 is one of the safest options out there. It’s also worth noting that it will allow your child to rest comfortably during any car journey as it features support cushions and memory foam.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Graco Size4Me 1976712
The core difference between the Graco Size4Me and other models in the same line consists of the fact that this one can be utilized for children with weights up to 65 pounds.
While it might be less versatile or convenient on this account, it’s certainly reassuring to know that the Graco unit has been designed to restrict the movements of the child and keep him or her safe all throughout the driving trip.
What’s more, this unit has been crash-tested and found to meet and even exceed all US safety standards currently being utilized in the country. Packed with EPS, a harness system, and a head rest, this model is a winner when it comes to keeping your baby safe.
Since installing and uninstalling such a car seat might be a nuisance, the manufacturing brand has included an InRight LATCH attachment in this product. Since over 1,000 people praise its build and features, the Graco Size4Me has gathered the best convertible car seat reviews in 2017.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
Graco My Ride 1813074
Although it’s one of the most budget-friendly alternatives available for sale nowadays, the Graco My Ride 1813074 comes with all of the features of a high-quality car seat that’s worthy of your consideration.
The rear-facing seating of this model can be utilized with infants weighing five to forty pounds whereas the forward-facing orientation allows parents to use the product for children weighing in between 20 and 65 pounds.
The energy absorbing foam utilized in the construction of this model makes it possible for the child to remain safe in the hopefully unlikely event of an impact.
Nothing beats a five-point harness when it comes to safely restraining the baby, and this model has just this. Because the car seat also features two cup holders, things are bound to get messy or wet at some point or the other, which is why it’s reassuring to know the cushions are machine-washable.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($90.55)
Chicco NextFit Matrix
Chicco is a world-known brand in the industry of manufacturing accessories and even toys for children of young ages, which is why it goes without saying that this product is in compliance with the company’s quality standards. Thanks to its LATCH tightener, you’ll be able to install and uninstall the model in a timely fashion without worrying about whether it’s fitted securely or not.
As with other products available these days, this one is a great fit for infants and toddlers, given that the minimum weight requirement is 5 lbs and the maximum capacity is 65 lbs.
Both the harness and the headrest are adjustable, therefore allowing you to customize the product to your baby’s physical attributes.
Another reason you’ll have to include this unit on your shopping list is that it has been designed to fit the vast majority of vehicles currently utilized in the United States of America.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Britax USA Circa
Investing in a safe and sound car seat is always a good idea, and the Britax USA Circa is just that. Unlike some of the other models we have showcased earlier on, this one does not feature the LATCH system.
Instead, it comes with a ClickTight Installation System which has been proven to be even more secure than the formerly mentioned one. Performing a rock-solid installation process is a breeze thanks to this model, and all you have to do is utilize the belt in your car.
The Britax USA Circa is a winner when it comes to offering impact protection for your child. It has a safety system composed of an energy-absorbing base, a V-shaped tether, and a steel frame, which all work together in preventing any damages caused by a crash.
The harness can be customized as the child grows, in that you’ll be able to adjust it using the 14 available positions.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($330)
The best convertible car seats manufacturers
Britax – if you want a really great car seat, Britax is the name you should look for. The company has gathered over 100 awards and accolades for the impressive safety standards their car seats have. NHTSA granted Britax a maximum of 5 stars for ease of use, and parents truly love these car seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also endorses Britax for the high quality of their booster seats that work much better than others with the car seatbelts that are known to not have been specifically designed for booster seats. All their convertible car seats come with the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association certification.
Evenflo – the wide range of convertible car seats they offer make Evenflo one of the best manufacturers on the market. Their all-in-one version ensures that the baby will travel in the same car seat for years and years. Their convertible car seats can accommodate babies weighing as little as 5 pounds, and older children weighing up to 110 pounds. When you purchase an Evenflo convertible car seat, you can rest assured that the highest quality and performance are supplied. All kinds of product awards were offered to the company over the years, as a sign of their superior quality.
Graco – whenever you are looking at various tops including the safest convertible car seats on the market, you will surely find at least one Graco product. Their product longevity recommends them, as kids can use their convertible car seats from the first days of life until they are old enough to travel inside a vehicle without the need for a booster seat. Graco car seats are innovative and stylish, and they have years of experience backing the expertise of those who are making such car seats. An international company enjoying tremendous popularity among parents everywhere, Graco is a top notch supplier of convertible car seats.
Chicco – Chicco is known as the biggest brand for making baby products in Europe and its popularity is growing overseas, as well. Their travel systems made them famous, and now Chicco convertible car seats are among the most coveted worldwide. From infancy to school, children can travel safely in the convertible car seats made by this company. Besides being sturdy and reliable, these car seats are very nice looking and easy to love. With a focus on wellness and wellbeing, this company continues to innovate and offer customers great products for baby safety.
How to install a convertible car seat
It is particularly important to install correctly the car seat your baby is going to use, since, otherwise, its safety could be severely compromised. Because convertible car seats can be installed in different positions, it is very important for parents to learn how to install a convertible car seat prior to purchasing one. Fortunately, there are many good resources on the Internet teaching parents how to install such car seats in order to enjoy perfect protection for their babies.
One of the important issues that parents want to learn about is how to install convertible car seat in rear facing position. As you know, if your baby is too small to be riding forward facing, you will need to install the convertible car seat in the rear facing position. All vehicles made after 2004 come with the LATCH system installed, so what you will need to do is to properly connect the straps and tethers on the car seat with the LATCH tethers inside the vehicle. When you place the car seat on the back seat of your vehicle, make sure that you are placing it at the right reclining angle. This will not only ensure maximum comfort for the baby, but will also contribute to achieving perfect safety. Check all the seat belt straps for twists, as this is an important aspect.
For forward facing, you will need to follow about the same steps, except for the one regarding the reclining angle. Always make sure that the belts are tightly secured in place, and that they cannot come undone during your family trips by car. Secure the baby using the safety harness supplied by the car seat, and see if they are comfortable enough. When you are using the car seat in its booster form, just make sure that the seat belt goes over the child’s thighs and chest.
Frequent questions about convertible car seats
How safe are convertible car seats?
Many parents wonder about the safety of convertible car seats and the answer depends on a few important aspects. First of all, convertible car seats made by reputable manufacturers come equipped with the latest safety features and they are built to be durable and to offer superior protection. Some of these models even exceed federal standards for safety, which is an important aspect to keep in mind. Convertible car seats are built to last for a longer time, so the best models you can find are certainly exceeding the safety rating of other seats for children. All in all, if you intend to purchase a convertible car seat from a reputable manufacturer, you will surely get one of the safest car seats you can find on the market.
Do convertible car seats expire?
An important question for parents who purchase a car seat for the first time is related to the expiration date. Usually, manufacturers imprint an expiration date on the seat itself, but, if you cannot find this information readily available, you may have to consult the manual. Many car seats sold on the market have an average lifespan of 6 years, but convertible car seats have a longer lifespan, as they need to accompany the baby from a very young age until they no longer need a car seat at all. Models with a lifespan of 10 years or even 12 years can be found, and they are the best you can find.
How long do convertible car seats last?
Durability is something to keep in mind when you are shopping for a car seat for your little one. Car seats usually last for several years, but convertible car seats tend to be more durable. As showed a bit earlier, their expiration date can be up to 10-12 years from the date at which they were produced. When you are asking about the lifespan of a convertible car seat, the answer depends on a few factors. For instance, if the car seat is involved in a traffic accident, do not be surprised to learn that manufacturers advise you to replace it, since its structure may have been affected. Natural fatigue of materials also occurs over the years, but car crashes are the ones that damage the structure extensively.
Are convertible car seats safe for newborns?
Some of the convertible car seats sold right now are a good choice for newborns, too, since they can accommodate babies weighing as little as 4-5 pounds. Can parents use convertible car seats for newborns without fearing for their safety? This is a question that experts tried to find a solid answer for. Some say that it is better to get an infant car seat for your newborn, since better protection and comfort are offered by the cocoon style of these models. However, convertible car seats have come a long way and there are now models that offer the necessary extra padding for accommodating a newborn during their first months of life.
Do convertible car seats fit in strollers?
In case you want to use the convertible car seat you are purchasing with your stroller, you should look if such a feature is readily available. The thing is that car seats fit in strollers only if they are designed in such a manner. Some manufacturers create veritable travel systems that make possible for you to attach the car seat to the stroller when the need arises. But you must keep in mind that these travel systems are a bit expensive and they usually work better with infant car seats. Moving a convertible car seat around is not very practical, either, so you may have to search around a bit in order to find a convertible car seat that fits in a stroller.
Which convertible car seat is best?
There are many aspects to consider when you are shopping for a convertible car seat. If you are wondering which convertible car seat is best, the answer is not exactly easy. First of all, you need to make a list with all the features you need the convertible car seat to have. Do not forget that safety is paramount and a model that comes with all the accolades and certifications recommending it as being extremely safe is the most indicated to purchase. Comfort comes right after that, as well as ease of installation, so the best answer would be that the best convertible car seat is the one that manages to offer all this in the same package.
Can convertible car seats be used for infants?
When you are trying to find an answer to the question above, you will need to pay attention to a few aspects. First of all, you need to find out whether the model you intend to purchase is indicated for infant use or not. The weight limits for the rear facing position are a good indicator for this. If you see that a convertible car seat has an inferior weight limit for this position of 4-5 pounds, it is clear that the model is recommended to be used by infants. There are some people who think that infant car seats are better, but with the latest advancements in comfort and safety employed on convertible car seats, the latter can also be the answer.
What convertible car seat is best for small cars?
When you are trying to find out which convertible car seats would work for a small vehicle, you will have to keep a few things in mind. First of all, this kind of convertible car seat needs to be more compact and lightweight than other models. The manufacturer may offer comprehensive information on what vehicles can accommodate a certain model and, with this information at hand, you will find it much easier to get the car seat you truly need for your kid. Such a convertible car seat should not lack in safety and comfort features, though, since just its size must be different to fit inside a smaller car.
Do convertible car seats fit in airplane seats?
There are certain considerations to remember if you intend to use a car seat for your baby while traveling by air. First of all, you may wonder whether regular car seats like convertible models can fit in airplane seats. That depends on the model, but, the more important issue is that the car seat is approved by the FAA. Not all companies agree with the use of car seats on planes, so you will have to do your homework in advance if you want to help your kid travel more comfortably by using their car seat. Minor nuisances can be averted, as the baby will sit more securely inside their car seat in case there is turbulence, or the plane is forced to do a hard landing.