Best Convertible Car Seats of 2017

Best Convertible Car Seats of 2017

Last Updated: January 2, 2017
Best Convertible Car Seats of 2017Need some advice to help you pick the best convertible car seat? Here are the 7 best convertible seats of 2016 - based on our own research + input from thousands of parents. There is no one must have car seat. Every family is different. Use this guide to help you figure out the best one for your family’s needs and priorities.

Building up an epic pile of baby gear can feel staggering. So when you finally find something that multitasks (and cuts down on the mountain o’ plastic), it can feel like your best day ever. Convertible car seats are just like that.

Do you need a convertible car seat?

A convertible car seat starts in a rear-facing position for babies and then can be switched to a front-facing position for older children. Some can even be used as a booster seat for school-age children. They can take you from day one through the preschool years and beyond.

Because of the convenience of it, many parents do choose to use an infant car seat initially and then transition over to a convertible car seat later on. Check out our Best Infant Car Seats of 2016 guide to learn more. But eventually when infant seats are outgrown, you will need a convertible car seat.

All current models on the market meet government safety standards, but how long you can use them and how many extra goodies they have varies. Try to purchase a brand new convertible car seat in order to minimize risk. If you do end up selecting a used car seat, make sure you get it from someone you trust, so you’ll know about any previous accidents or damage the seat has been through. You should also research possible recalls and check the model’s expiration date (usually physically printed somewhere on the seat or found in the owner’s manual).

When do you need a convertible car seat?

Convertible car seats are generally heavier and bulkier than infant car seats. They can’t easily be transferred out of the car and carried around like an infant car seat. But still, most of them can be used from the get go. If start with convertible seats and your little one will be frequently riding around in more than one vehicle, you might want to buy multiple car seats. Trust us, transferring a convertible car seat is not worth the headache!

Also good to note: although a convertible car seat can face front or back, it’s safest to keep your child in a rear-facing position for as long as possible (at least until age 2) regardless of height.

How we chose our best picks

We asked thousands of real BabyList families about the baby products they love the most, now that their little one has arrived. We took the top products they shared with us and added our own research and insight. Here are the top convertible car seats we think you and your baby will love.

Babylist Best Picks

Easy Install

WHY WE LOVE IT

Car seats are known for being a pain to install with lots of tugging and heaving to get them secured- even then you still feel iffy about it being safely in place. But not so with the NextFit. There are two bubble level guides - one on each side of the car seat - that show when you’ve got it right. With nine recline positions, it also fits in a wider range of cars than other seats. For a little more moola, you can get the Next Fit Zip ($349.99) which has a seat pad that you can just zip off for easy cleaning and an insulated cup holder

“beautiful and easy to install”

KEEP IN MIND

The deep walls of the seat can trap heat making your little one all sweaty in warmer weather.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS HAVE TO SAY

“The Nextfit is beautiful and easy to install but the cover does not come off for easy cleaning and the fabric pilled after 6 months.” -Megan F.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines
Fits babies from 5 to 65 lbs. and less than 50 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.


Extra Protection

WHY WE LOVE IT

The Boulevard gets our thumbs up for its bonus safety features including an extra layer of side-impact protection and steel frame. Plus, the harness clicks when you’ve adjusted the straps to just the right tightness. Too loose and your baby isn’t safe. Too tight and your wee one is uncomfortable. Like the Goldilocks of the car-seat world, the Boulevard tells us when it’s just right

KEEP IN MIND

The Boulevard is large and bulky, so most backseat benches won’t be able to accommodate more than the car seat and one other person.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS HAVE TO SAY

“We love the Britax Boulevard so far. It feels very safe and sturdy.” - Anna C.

“With the Boulevard, I like how easy it was to install. And, to adjust the shoulder straps, I don’t have to re-thread it.” -Amy S.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines
Fits babies: from 5 to 65 lbs., up to 49 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.


Space Saver

WHY WE LOVE IT

Unlike most seats, the Radian is narrow enough to squeeze it and two other people on a backseat bench (in most mid-size cars). You can also fold it flat and carry it on your back, making it ultra-convenient for trekking down airport terminals. Plus, this car seat takes you from newborn days through the booster seat years.

KEEP IN MIND

Because the Radian is so tall and may require moving the front seat forward, it’s not for compact cars where the front-seat legroom will get squished.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS HAVE TO SAY

“We like that the Radian is narrow since we have twins. Also, we picked it for its ability for extended rear-facing seating for my tall kids.” -Michelle N.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines
Fits babies from 5 to 120 lbs., up to 57 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.


Ultimate Comfort

WHY WE LOVE IT

The Pria 70 seems to have it all: a small shape that fits into compact cars, a removable infant insert that keeps babies snug, and extra protection against side impacts. It also has three harness levels (adjusted with a handle in back - no rethreading of straps!) and 11 height adjustments to grow with your child. Even better? The cushy seat fabric draws liquids away from the skin (bye-bye, sweaty back) and can be snapped off and thrown in the washer.

“so easy to clean”

KEEP IN MIND

It’s harder to tighten the harness straps in the rear-facing position, and the removable pads on the straps can be ripped off by little ones.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS HAVE TO SAY

“It’s so easy to clean, and can stay rear facing until prom.” -Jamie K.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines
Fits babies from 9 to 70 lbs., up to 52 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.


Your One & Only

WHY WE LOVE IT

This all-in-one seat has four modes - infant rear facing, front-facing toddler chair, highback booster seat and backless booster - that work from the first to the last days of your child’s seat-needing days. You never have to worry about purchasing another kid-carrying contraption for your car again!

KEEP IN MIND

This car seat can be difficult to install. But, once you do, it’ll be there for a very long time. And, while it is on the pricier side, the seat pays for itself in the long run.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS HAVE TO SAY

“I got the Graco 4ever when my baby outgrew her Chicco KeyFit because it lasts for 10 years, and I like knowing I won’t have to buy another one.” -K.C.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Fits babies from 4 to 120 lbs., up to 57 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.

Honorable Mentions


Sleek Safety

WHY WE LOVE IT

This slim car seat measures a mere 17 inches wide, so go ahead and opt into the carpool group. You can fit three across in the back seat! The bonus? You can keep your child in the rear facing (read: safer) position for much longer than other car seat models: until she reaches 50 pounds, or around five years old.

KEEP IN MIND

You can’t start using this seat until your little one can sit upright unassisted. That means you’ll have to purchase another car seat that works for infants, in addition to this pretty pricey one.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines Fits babies from 14 lbs. to 65 lbs., up to 49 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.


Bargain Buy

WHY WE LOVE IT

What this seat lacks in bells and whistles, it makes up for in price. Surprisingly lightweight, this pick meets all the standard safety requirements and for this sum, you could outfit your partner, mother-in-law, and nanny’s vehicles, too.

KEEP IN MIND

Your infant may seem like she’s swimming in the seat, and a wee bit insecure, without any additional cushioning that often comes with other car seats.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Guidelines
Fits babies from 5 to 40 lbs., up to 40 inches tall

Find more information from BabyList and Amazon.


Choosing what’s right for you

As with infant car seats, be sure to test out how well your convertible car seat fits in the backseat of your vehicle as soon as you get it. That way, if it ends up not working out you can exchange it and get a new one installed before your wee one arrives.

Some questions to consider once you place the seat in your car are: Is there legroom left in the front? Are you able to easily adjust the harness straps from the rear-facing position? Do you feel confident that you’ve properly installed it? Any issues that arise can be addressed by choosing a different car seat model. Give yourself enough time and patience, and you can make sure all your roadies - big and small - have a comfy ride.