8 Best Convertible Car Seats of 2019

Best Convertible Car Seats of 2019

June 13, 2019

Best Convertible Car Seats of 2019

These seats get bonus points for safety, style and ease-of-install.Best Convertible Car Seats of 2019

It’s easy to build up a lot of baby gear. So when you find something that multitasks (and cuts down on the mountain o’ plastic), it can feel like a big parenting win. Convertible car seats are just like that.

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. Many can even be used as a booster seat for school-age children. (Some parents prefer to buy a separate booster to maximize back-seat space or use their convertible for a younger sibling.) They can take you from day one through the preschool years and beyond.

In this article:

Do You Need a Convertible Car Seat?

Some parents use a convertible car seat from the get go while others choose to use an infant car seat initially and then transition over to a convertible car seat later on. That’s because 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 eventually infant seats are outgrown, and you need to switch over to a convertible car seat.

When Do You Need a Convertible Car Seat?

You can use convertible car seats from birth or after your child outgrows an infant car seat, usually around baby’s first birthday or 22 to 35 pounds, depending on the seat. If you opt for a convertible car seat from day one 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!

What Should You Look for in a Convertible Car Seat?

The good news is all car seats must meet the same government safety standards, but some car seats come with extra goodies or can be used for longer. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a convertible car seat:

  • Safety indicators: Some car seats come with built-in leveling systems and indicators to signal they’ve been correctly installed.
  • Ease of installation: Many car seats can be installed using the regular seat belt or the LATCH system, which is an easier way to secure the car seat using built-in anchors and tethers (available in cars made after 2002).
  • How it fits in your car: Car seats range in size and shape. Some are wider or narrower than others.
  • Fabric: Besides looking for a style of fabric that suits your taste, consider its durability and how easy it’ll be to wash if any oopsies happen.
  • Safety extras: Some car seats include additional shock absorption, padding and materials that are higher quality.
  • New vs used car seats: Used car seats may not meet current government safety standards and could have damage from previous incidents. It’s best to buy new if possible, but if you do end up selecting a used car seat make sure it’s from someone you trust so you know what it’s 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).

For more tips about car seats, check our How to Choose a Car Seat guide.

How We Chose Our Best Convertible Car Seats

We asked thousands of real Babylist families about the 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 convertible car seats we think you and your baby will love.

Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!

Best Convertible Car Seat with Extra Protection

Why We Love It

Feeling nervous about having a “baby on board?” This car seat provides peace of mind with superior safety: two layers of side-impact protection, a durable steel frame and an impact-absorbing base that compresses to reduce the force of a collision. Better yet, you’ll always know when the harness is just right thanks to a trusty click sound it makes when it’s been properly tightened. The no-rethread harness is easy to adjust and has 10 positions that grow with your kiddo.

Keep in Mind

All those extra safety features mean extra weight, so this isn’t the seat you want to lug from car to car. Your backseat will most likely only fit the Boulevard and one other person or car seat.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Heavy car seat but has a great crash test score. Super easy to install with ClickTight technology.” -K.O.

“Love the no-rethread harness and how easy install it is with ClickTight. It’s super heavy but that makes me feel it’s safe. It’s easy to clean, and my 39” daughter is still comfortably rear facing.” -Emily G.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 5-40 lbs; forward facing: 20-65 lbs and up to 49”

Best One and Done Convertible Car Seat

Why We Love It

One car seat that’ll work from birth to really big kid? Yes, please! The Graco 4Ever starts out as a rear-facing seat that can be used when your baby is just four pounds. Then, at age two, your toddler can sit forward facing from 20 to 65 pounds. Beyond that, it converts to a highback booster and then a backless booster that pairs with your car’s seat belt until your child is up to 120 pounds and 57” (we know that’s hard to imagine!). Other great features include a six-position recline, 10-position no-rethread harness and two attached cup holders.

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 think about all the time and money you’ll save not having to research and swap seats out over the years.

What Babylist Parents Say

“I’ve used this car seat since we brought my little 6 lb son home from the hospital! I love that it will fit him for the length of his car seat-sitting days, which makes this the economical choice. The no-rethread harness makes changing the size of the headrest super easy.” -Katie R.

“I love that it grows with my son and it seems comfortable. But it is heavy” -Bethany C.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 4-40 lbs; forward facing: 20-65 lbs and up to 49”; highback booster: 30-100 lbs and up to 57”; backless booster 40-120 lbs and up to 57”

Best Convertible Car Seat with Extra Legroom

Why We Love It

With a higher weight limit and 25% more legroom than other Chicco seats, you can keep your little one in the safest position (rear-facing) for longer. Besides letting your child stretch out, the NextFit Zip Max has a “Super Cinch” strap, which makes installing using the LATCH system easy (no tug-of-war with straps and seats). Bubble levels indicate when you’ve nailed the correct seat angle in rear-facing and forward-facing modes. And nine recline positions allow this seat to fit in a wider range of cars. The bonus? A zip-off seat pad you can throw in the washing machine after an epic diaper blowout or a car-sick kiddo.

Keep in Mind

This features-loaded car seat runs on the bulky side and might not be a good fit for smaller cars.

What Babylist Parents Say

“It’s super easy to unzip and wash the cover of the car seat. The harness is simple to buckle and secure. I love the material of the seat, it’s soft and smooth.” -Lori L.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing 4-50 lbs; forward facing 22-65 lbs and up to 49”

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Best Splurge Convertible Car Seat

Why We Love It

It’s not often that you can describe a car seat (most likely covered in Cheerios) as chic. But here goes. The Nuna RAVA is beautifully designed and packed with thoughtful features for optimum safety and ease of use. And just like the Clek, your child can sit rear-facing until they reach 50 pounds. Kiddos will be extra comfy with the extendable calf rest that adds two extra inches of legroom when rear-facing. And installation with your car’s seat belt (Nuna’s preferred method) is a breeze.

Keep in Mind

Many parents surveyed say this seat gives front-seat passengers more legroom, which is especially important for a tall mom or dad who doesn’t enjoy being crunched up in the front seat.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Fabric comes off easily to clean. Looks really nice. Fabric breaths well to keep baby from sweating. Cup holders are nice. Easy to adjust.” -A.S.

“It has a very high weight limit for rear facing, which is important to me because I have a very large baby.” -Aline H.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 5-50 lbs and up to 49”; forward facing 25-65 lbs and up to 49”

Best Slim Convertible Car Seat

Why We Love It

This sleek, narrow seat helps families maximize backseat space (a hot commodity when you have kids!). The width is just under 17 inches, so you can comfortably fit three of these seats across the bench. Cleks are designed to allow your little one to sit rear-facing longer, thanks to a 50-pound weight limit and extra tall seats

“It is easy to install, narrow and solid.”

Keep in Mind

Compared to the Foonf (Clek’s original), the Fllo is more affordable, a bit more compact and uses a slightly different LATCH system. Also important to note, the Fllo can’t be used until your little one is 14 pounds and able to sit upright, unless you use their Infant-Thingy insert for babies over 5 lbs (yes, that’s the actual name!).

What Babylist Parents Say

“No complaints—really nice-looking car seat and narrow, so we can fit our infant car seat in the middle right next to the Clek.” -Colleen N.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 14-50 lbs and 25-43”; forward facing: 22-65 lbs and 30-49”

Best Budget Convertible Car Seat

Why We Love It

A good car seat at a great price is what you get with the Grow and Go. It has three recline positions, two cup holders and a seat pad that snaps on and off for when you need to throw it in the wash. You can easily adjust the harness and headrest in one step, and built-in harness holders keep bothersome straps from getting in the way when you’re trying to pull your little one out of the car seat. Lots of parents choose this as an affordable secondary car seat for a caregiver or grandparent’s car too.

Keep in Mind

Some parents say the headrest on this car seat doesn’t go as high up as other brands and the seat can be difficult to install—watching a few videos on how to do it might help!

What Babylist Parents Say

“I like the low price for a high-quality car seat. The seat is durable and easy to use and clean.” -C.W.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 5-40 lbs; forward facing 22-65 lbs; and booster 40-100 lbs

Worth the Weight

Why We Love It

The Diono Radian 3 RXT is a slim pick that allows you to fit three car seats across the back seat. The best part about this convertible car seat is that it can be used starting at birth and converts to a big-kid booster. The Radian 3 RXT is made with a steel alloy frame, aluminum reinforced sidewalls, energy-absorbing EPS foam and a reinforced adjustable head support that has 12 positions.

Keep in Mind

All those extra safety features make the Radian 3 RXT heavy, so you won’t want to move it out of the car often. And although the car seat cover is removable, you have to wash it by hand.

What Babylist Parents Say

“I love this car seat! It’s very comfortable for my daughter and also narrow, plus you never have to buy another one for the rest of your child’s car-seat years.” -Maggie N.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 5-45 lbs; forward facing 20-65 lbs; converts to a booster for children from 50-120 lbs and 57”

Best Comfy Convertible Car Seat

Why We Love It

Babylist parents are big fans of the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70, and there are even more reasons to love the higher-end Pria 85 Max. Not only can you use this car seat from birth, it can also be used forward facing all the way up to 85 pounds—the highest weight range offered for a convertible seat. So, rather than switching to a booster, you can can keep your big kid surrounded in a cushioned safety system a lot longer. Another great perk is the self-wicking fabric to keep your kiddo cool.

Keep in Mind

Given that it’s designed to fit kids for a longer time in the front-facing position, it’s no surprise that the Pria 85 Max takes up a hefty amount of backseat legroom.

What Babylist Parents Say

“It’s a great-quality, good-looking car seat. My little one is comfortable in it. It is on the larger size, which makes it a tight fit in my car when needing to be rear facing.” -M.G.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear facing: 5-40 lbs and forward facing 40-85 lbs

Choosing the Right Convertible Car Seat for You

Once you select a convertible car seat, be sure to test out how well it 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 include:

  • 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? If not, you can get it checked.

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 travelers—big and small—have a comfy ride.

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