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Best Convertible Car Seats of 2024
Updated on
March 29, 2024

Best Convertible Car Seats of 2024

By Jen LaBracio | Fact Checked by Rebekah Kimminau
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Best Convertible Car Seats of 2024.
Best Convertible Car Seats of 2024

Choosing the best car seat for your baby or toddler is a big decision.

This is especially true when you’re shopping for a convertible car seat. Once it’s time to make the switch to a convertible car seat, you’re in it for the long haul. Even the best infant car seats usually only fit babies up through 14 to 18 months—convertible seats, on the other hand, last for years, which is great (yay for less baby gear!), but that’s exactly what makes the choice all the more important, and you want to make sure you make the right pick.

We researched dozens of seats, spoke to a Child Passenger Safety Technician, read hundreds of reviews and asked thousands of Babylist parents which seats they loved and why to narrow our list down to the best convertible car seats for your family.

Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best Convertible Car Seats

Babylist’s Picks for the Best Convertible Car Seats

Best All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

The Scoop
  • One seat, 10 years of use
  • Easy to install correctly
  • Tons of safety features
What Our Experts Say

All-in-one car seats are loved by parents for their cost and convenience, and Britax’s One4Life is a standout favorite for several (really impressive) reasons.

This convertible car seat will take your child from birth well into the elementary school years. It easily converts from a rear-facing infant seat to a forward-facing five-point harness seat and then eventually into a high-back belt-positioning booster seat. One seat over ten years means you’ll save money, time and the hassle of having to uninstall and reinstall multiple car seats throughout the years.

Safety-wise, this seat is also top in its class. ClickTight technology—Britax’s patented installation system that uses your vehicle’s seat belt and an effort-free belt tightening system—makes it easy to get a proper, secure install every time. (According to experts, more than half of car seats are installed incorrectly, so this is a pretty great feature.) Other safety features include a steel frame, crumple zone and a V-shaped tether to help absorb energy in the event of a crash. There’s also two layers of side impact protection.

What’s Worth Considering

The One4Life is on the heavier side, but since the idea with an all-in-one seat is that you won’t be uninstalling and reinstalling it on the regular, we don’t think this is too big of a deal.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Super easy to adjust for growth spurts. Very sturdy. Crash test ratings at higher speeds than other brands. And with the click tight system, I don’t have to get my husband to try to tighten down the seat belt to keep it in place. Once I snap the seat down with the click tight, I know it’s not moving an inch!” -Teri

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 5-50 lbs; forward-facing 5-point harness seat: 22-65 lbs; highback booster: 40-120 lbs

Best Convertible Car Seat According to Babylist Parents

The Scoop
  • Favorite seat among Babylist parents
  • Works from birth through big kid years
  • Tricky to install, tough fit in smaller cars
What Our Experts Say

A top covertible car seat choice of parents polled in our Best Baby Products survey and a bestselling seat in the Babylist Shop and with thousands of popular reviews, parents love this one-and-done seat that works from birth through the big kid years.

The Graco 4Ever is an all-in-one car seat that starts out as a rear-facing seat that can be used when your baby is just four pounds. When they hit the maximum limits for rear-facing, the seat turns to the forward-facing position and works from 22 to 65 pounds. It then converts to a high-back booster and finally a backless booster that pairs with your car’s seat belt until your child is up to 120 pounds and 57 inches.

Other great features include a six-position recline, a 10-position no-rethread harness (and harness storage areas) and two attached cup holders. There’s also something called a RapidRemove cover system for easy cleaning. Each piece of the five-piece seat cover can be removed independently, making cleaning the seat after a mess lot easier. (Just note that if you do have to remove the entire cover, you’ll have five pieces to put back together once you’re done!)

What’s Worth Considering

The 4Ever doesn’t fit newborns very well, and Child Passenger Safety techs (AKA car seat experts) will tell you that this seat is very tricky to install correctly, so be sure to read your manual thoroughly and get your seat double-checked by an expert if possible. (You also may want to check out the 4Ever DLX SnugLock model of this seat that features special technology to help make the install easier than with the standard model.)

This is also a very long seat, which may be a concern if you have a sedan or smaller car. It’s usually fine in most SUVs though.

What Babylist Parents Say

“This is an excellent car seat and its versatility for use as our child gets bigger/older is fantastic. Right now it is being used rear-facing and it was very easy to install. We’ve also had to wash the cover after a carsick incident and they came off and went back on easily, which is a huge plus. The only reason I’m not giving 5 stars is because it is a large seat and will only fit in our Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla (we bought 2 seats to put 1 in each car) if it is in recline position 1– the bubble is in the safe line– and made me adjust my driver’s seat so that I have to sit in a uncomfortable upright position when I drive. It’s not the car seat’s fault that it is a little too big for our cars, so overall we are very happy and would buy this again, but want to let other parents and would-be buyers know that it’s a tight fit in a normal sedan when rear-facing.” -Grateful Dad

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 4-40 lbs; forward-facing: 22-65 lbs and up to 52”; highback booster: 40-100 lbs and up to 57”; backless booster 40-120 lbs and up to 57”

Best Affordable Convertible Car Seat

The Scoop
  • All-in-one-seat at a great price
  • Lighter weight than many similar all-in-ones
  • Fits a wide range of babies and kids
What Our Experts Say

It’s definitely possible to get a safe, all-in-one convertible car seat at a great price.

The Grow and Go works as a rear-facing, forward-facing and eventually a belt-positioning booster seat. 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, a really nice feature for a convertible car seat at this price point. You can easily adjust the harness and headrest in one step, and built-in harness holders keep annoying 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.

What’s Worth Considering

Some parents don’t like that the headrest on this car seat doesn’t go as high up as other brands. There are also less recline positions than lots of other seats. And the Grow and Go can be difficult to install, so 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 and 19-40”; forward-facing: 22-65 lbs and 29-52”; belt-positioning booster: 40-100 lbs and up to 52”

Best Convertible Car Seat for Extended Rear-Facing

The Scoop
  • Good for extended rear-facing
  • Clean, modern design
  • Easy to install with seatbelt
What Our Experts Say

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 modern and beautifully designed. It’s also packed with thoughtful features for optimum safety and ease of use. It has one of the highest height and weight maximums for rear-facing on our list, with a 50-pound weight limit and a 49-inch height max. (And remember, longer rear-facing equals a safer ride for your little one.) There’s also an extendable calf rest that adds two extra inches of legroom for added comfort. Seat belt installation (Nuna’s preferred method) is really easy, and there are retractable cup holders, 10 recline options (good for both comfort and making sure you can get a good install in all different types of vehicles), a no-rethread harness and breathable knit fabric with ventilation panels.

What’s Worth Considering

Many parents surveyed say this seat gives front-seat passengers more legroom, which is especially important for a taller parent who doesn’t enjoy being crunched up in the front seat. Car seat experts say it can be tough to get a good fit for newborns.

If you’re a Nuna loyalist but prefer an all-in-one car seat, check out the Exec. It’s expensive, but it will take you from the newborn days all the way through elementary school. It’s also GREENGUARD Gold Certified.

What Babylist Parents Say

“It will last us several years, it is extremely safe and was very easy to install.” -Robin

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

Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Cars

The Scoop
  • Great choice for smaller vehicles (but not for three-across)
  • Built for extended rear-facing
  • Affordable choice, easy to install
What Our Experts Say

The Extend2Fit 3-in-1 is an affordable, all-in-one convertible car seat that’s a consistent favorite for three main reasons: a high rear-facing weight limit, easy installation and a great fit in almost any type of car.

One of the biggest selling points for this seat is its 50-pound weight limit, allowing kids to stay rear-facing for longer than many other convertible seats. There’s also an extendable leg rest (as the seat’s name implies) that gives an extra five inches of legroom to make extended rear-facing more comfortable. Since the seat can sit almost upright when rear-facing, it allows for taller parents or those with smaller cars to still get a good fit. It also tends to fit all ages of kids really well, from smaller newborns to school-aged kiddos.

This 3-in-1 version offers three modes of use—as a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing harness and a highback booster—so you’ll get years and years of use out of it.

What’s Worth Considering

The seat’s cup holders are required to be attached, making the seat on the wider side and not a great choice if you’re looking for more room in your back seat or need to install three seats across. This seat is also not a great choice if you plan to forward-face your child before they reach 40 pounds thanks to a strange rule that requires the seat to be at a specific incline setting, resulting in an install that’s almost impossible to get right. Car seat experts also note that it can be a tough fit front-to-back in a smaller car when the extension panel is in use.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Love how you can use it as they grow! Plus, it is super comfy.” -Victoria

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 4-50 lbs, top of head must be 1” below headrest adjustment lever; forward-facing: 22-65 lbs, up to 49”; highback booster: 40-100 lbs, 43-57”

Best Rotating Convertible Car Seat

The Scoop
  • Seat swivels 360 degrees for easy in and out
  • Install it once and you’re done for up to 10 years
  • 3 modes: rear-facing, forward-facing and booster
What Our Experts Say

Rotating car seats—seats that swivel from rear- to forward-facing with the touch of a button—are fairly common across Europe but have not been available in the US until fairly recently. The Evenflo Revolve360 was one of the first to hit the US market and is our favorite pick for this type of seat.

What’s so great about a swiveling seat? So many things. What we love the most is how easy it is to get your little one in and out of this car seat, especially when it’s rear-facing. (The seat swivels to the side and eliminates the awkward reach that’s needed for standard rear-facing seats.) The easier this is, the more likely you are to keep your kiddo rear-facing (and safer) even longer. (This version, the Extend, gets extra points; it offers extended rear-facing up to 50 pounds and 48 inches.) We also love that you don’t have to reinstall the seat when it’s time to make the rear- to forward-facing switch. The Revolve360 even works in high-back booster mode once your child is old enough (and mature enough) to ride in that position.

Other features to brag about here include a foolproof installation system, premium fabrics and a top tether anchor that’s used in both rear- and forward-facing modes.

What’s Worth Considering

When using any rotating car seat, always take a moment to double-check that the seat is fully rotated and locked into the proper position, either rear- or forward-facing. You can’t drive safely with your child in a car seat that’s in a rotated position.

Evenflo has recently expanded its lineup of revolving seats with even more options. The Evenflo Gold line of revolving car seats includes SensorSafe technology to alert you in real-time via your phone if the seat’s chest clip comes unbuckled, the temperature gets too warm or too cold, you’ve left your child unattended in the car or your little one has been in their car seat for too long. For a rotating seat with a slimmer profile, you’ll want the brand’s 360 Slim model, which is also available with SensorSafe for a bit more money.

What Babylist Parents Say

“This is definitely a game changer in car seats. I love all the extra safety features. It has extra plush cushioning. Plus, the design is revolutionary! The swivel feature works flawlessly.” -Sean

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 4-50 lbs, 17”-48” tall; forward-facing: 22-65 lbs. 28”-49” tall; booster: 40-120 lbs, 44”-57” tall

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Best Convertible Car Seat for Travel

The Scoop
  • Weighs just 10 pounds
  • FAA-approved for plane travel
  • Affordable
What Our Experts Say

Convertible car seats and travel are two things that sadly don’t go well together. Most convertibles are bulky, heavy and not designed to easily go in and out of vehicles. So what are you supposed to do if your little one is ready for a convertible but you don’t own a car or travel frequently?

Meet the Costco Scenera NEXT, the seat you’ll hear about again and again from parents who are looking for a convertible travel car seat. Weighing in at about 10 pounds, it’s super easy to sling over your shoulder while you’re walking through an airport and to install either in an airplane seat or a ride share. (It’s FAA-approved for plane travel.) It works rear- and forward-facing up to 40 pounds and has a removable, machine-washable seat pad for those away-from-home messes you’ll surely encounter. And did we mention it only costs about sixty bucks?

What’s Worth Considering

This is a no-frills seat, so don’t expect super luxurious fabric or lots of padding. The seat’s weight limit is on the lower side, maxing out at 40 pounds. And while the Scenera NEXT isn’t hard to install, it does take some practice to get comfortable with the process and to get a secure fit. We recommend watching the install videos and doing some practice rounds before you head out on your adventure.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs and 19-40”; forward-facing: 22-40 lbs and 29-42”

Best Slim Fit Convertible Car Seat

The Scoop
  • Slim lines, modern look
  • Tons of extra safety features
  • Built for extended rear-facing
  • Expensive
What Our Experts Say

“Built like a tank” is probably the most common thing parents and car seat safety experts note about the iconic Clek Foonf convertible car seat—and that’s exactly what they love about it. But did you know it’s also one of the slimmest convertible car seats on the market? (You can fit three across in many back seats.)

A slim profile doesn’t mean this iconic seat is short on any safety features, however. It’s packed with features that both parents and car seat safety experts swoon over, and for good reason. For starters, it’s the only convertible car seat in the U.S. with true rigid LATCH. (True rigid latch gives the absolute tightest installation, meaning your child’s seat will move as little as possible in the event of a crash, according to the Car Seat Lady.) It’s built for extended rear-facing for up to 50 pounds and has a nine-year lifespan. Install is easy using either the rigid LATCH system or your vehicle’s seat belt, and the seat’s fabrics are GREENGUARD Gold Certified. The frame is constructed from a steel and magnesium substructure and two layers of energy-absorbing foam for side-impact protection, adn there’s an anti-rebound bar and an aluminum crumple zone in the base to absorb energy in case of a crash.

What’s Worth Considering

There’s no getting around the fact that the Foonf is a beast; it’s not a seat you’re going to want to be taking in and out of your car a lot. It’s also a high seat, so if you’re on the shorter side, it may obstruct your view out whichever back window it’s installed near. It does not feature a no-rethread harness and the seat fabric isn’t removable for washing. And it’s expensive. For a lighter and cheaper option, check out the Clek Fllo.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Great safety features and it can rear face until four—comfortably! It’s a great car seat. We travel (airplane) with it, our kids are growing with it and it checks all the boxes. Expensive but worth every penny. We have three!” -Val

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 14-50 lbs and 25-44”; forward-facing: 22-65 lbs and up 30-49”

Best Convertible Car Seat for Three Across

The Scoop
  • Graco’s slimmest seat, specifically made for three across
  • Works three across in any configuration (rear, forward and booster)
  • Steel-reinforced frame and energy-absorbing foam
What Our Experts Say

While the thought of three little ones across the back seat of your car may feel very far away at this point, if you’re planning on a larger family, it’s probably something you should consider as you shop for car seats—especially convertible seats, which tend to run quite wide. Graco’s SlimFit3 LX is a good choice if you’re looking for a seat that fits three across or if you’re simply in the market for a convertible seat that won’t overtake your vehicle’s back seat.

This seat grows with your child from rear-facing to forward-facing and then eventually into a high-back booster. Graco tested the seat in every configuration (including kids of different ages in different seat modes) to be sure that it works three-across so you don’t have to worry when you’re trying to find the best setup for your family. There are thoughtful features that allow you to both maximize space and make easy adjustments, like a belt lock-off for forward-facing mode and a no-rethread harness that’s effortless to adjust. And like many other Graco seats, this one also features a RapidRemove cover that comes off easily for washing (and in separate pieces, depending on where your mess is) so you don’t have to uninstall the seat or remove the harness. There’s even two cup holders!

What’s Worth Considering

Graco also makes a more affordable slim seat model, the SlimFit All-in-One. Just keep in mind that it’s a few inches wider than the LX model, so fitting three across with this seat is hit or miss depending on the width of your car’s back seat.

What Babylist Parents Say

“We have a preschooler and we’re blessed with twins last year. We were only able to upgrade one vehicle, so finding seating solutions to accommodate three was a challenge. The SlimFit rose above and beyond! We were able to do a seat belt install on two SlimFit seats for our rear-facing twins and fit them alongside our older child’s forward facing seat We can even get the passenger seat all the way back with the seats in rear-facing mode, which is a huge plus for my tall husband.” -KV

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

Best Convertible Car Seat for Infants

The Scoop
  • Snug fit for newborns
  • Affordable
  • Easy install
What Our Experts Say

If you’re planning on using a convertible car seat from day one, you need to be sure the seat you choose fits your infant correctly. According to our car seat safety expert, the best convertible car seats for infants are usually those without no-rethread harnesses. That’s because a no-rethread harness, while convenient, tends to push most newborns’ heads forward and cause an unsafe chin-to-chest position.

The Emblem does have a no-rethread harness; however, it doesn’t affect positioning and is a highly recommended seat for newborns. It’s well-priced, easy to install using LATCH and has a solid range of safety features like a steel frame, side impact protection and an impact-absorbing base. The seat comes with a removable body pillow to help newborns fit snugly in the seat. We also like that the cover comes off easily for cleaning and that the car seat is fairly compact from front to back.

What’s Worth Considering

Many car seat experts note that the Emblem doesn’t offer much leg room, so keep that in mind. Two additional car seats our safety expert recommends for infants: the Nuna REVV Rotating Convertible Car Seat and the Clek Foonf with the Infant-Thingy Insert (sold separately).

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 5-40 lbs, head 1” from the top of the headrest; forward-facing: 20-65 lbs, up to 49”

Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

The Scoop
  • Under 16 pounds
  • Easy-to-adjust harness
  • Slim design
What Our Experts Say

With some weighing upwards of 30 pounds, convertible car seats aren’t typically known for their light weight. The Contender from Graco bucks this trend nicely. It weighs just under 16 pounds and saves not only your back but your legroom—it’s a slim seat designed to give you more space in your back seat.

The Contender has two modes, rear- and forward-facing, two recline positions and a user-friendly harness system that adjusts the headrest and harness together in one motion. There’s also a level indicator for easy install, a cup holder and a machine-washable seat pad. It’s a good option if you’re looking for a lighter seat or if you’ll be frequently transferring your car seat from car to car.

What’s Worth Considering

The Contender Slim is also a great choice for airline travel, as it’s FAA-approved.

What Babylist Parents Say

“This is a great convertible car seat that saves space yet fits great in the car as well as with other car seats. My 8 month old fits great in it and seems quite comfortable and will grow with him as he gets older.” -EM

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

Easiest to Clean Convertible Car Seat

The Scoop
  • Zip-off seat pad for easy washing
  • More legroom and higher rear-facing limits than other NextFit models
  • High sides make it tricky to get kids in and out
What Our Experts Say

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of cleaning a car seat after a big mess or other, shall we say, incident (baby barf, we’re looking at you), you know what a pain it can be. The NextFit Zip solves for this with a completely washable seat pad that’s removable with a quick zip. The better news? It’s just as easy to reattach as it is to zip off, something that can’t be said about lots of other car seats.

There are other things to love about this seat. The Max model features 25% more legroom than standard NextFit models (not a safety issue, but a comfort one) and a higher rear-facing weight limit, two huge pluses. The seat also features something called 3D AirMesh on the backrest, a breathable material designed to enhance airflow. The “Super Cinch” strap makes installation using the LATCH system easy (no tug-of-war with straps and seats), and 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.

What’s Worth Considering

The NextFit Max has high sides. While some people don’t find this to be an issue, others do, especially older caregivers who may not have the strength to lift a child easily in and out of the seat. This seat also is on the bulkier side and may not be the right choice for smaller cars.

What Babylist Parents Say

“4th, 5th, & 6th purchase of this seat (3 vehicles to equip)! It has worked wonderfully for our 2 year old so when our 10 month old was ready to transition, no brainer to get him one! Love the adjustability of recline and head rest to get that perfect fit for either child. We have this set in both vehicles! Absolutely LOVE that we are able to keep each kid rear facing longer with weight, even tho I think our height is going to kick us forward facing sooner.” -Lizzy

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Rear-facing: 4-50 lbs, less than 49” tall; forward-facing: 22-65 lbs and up to 49” or until child’s ears exceed the top of the headrest

How We Chose Our Best Convertible Car Seats

  • We analyzed results from Babylist’s Best Baby Products survey, which polled 6,000 Babylist users and asked them to share the baby products they love the most and why.
  • We consulted Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) and founder of The Baby Gear Consultant Rebekah Kimminau and researched information on infant seat safety and reviews from several leading car seat experts, including Car Seats for the Littles and The Car Seat Lady, as well as information from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • We utilized insight from the Babylist editorial team, including Gear Editor Jen LaBracio, an expert in the baby space for over six years and a mom of two who has written hundreds of baby gear guides and personally researched and tested hundreds of baby products, including many convertible car seats.
  • We reviewed customer reviews from hundreds of real Babylist parents.

What Is a Convertible Car Seat?

A convertible car seat is a car seat that can be used with children of various sizes and can change from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat.

A convertible seat starts in a rear-facing position for babies and toddlers and is then turned forward-facing as your child gets older. A convertible car seat can take you from day one through the preschool years and beyond. Some convertibles even turn into booster seats for school-age kids. 

When Do You Need a Convertible Car Seat?

You’ll need a convertible car seat at some point—but it’s a personal preference as to when.

Some parents use a convertible car seat from day one. Others choose to use an infant car seat initially and then transition over to a convertible car seat when their little one has reached the seat’s height or weight maximum, usually around their first birthday.

This is because convertible car seats aren’t nearly as portable or as light as infant seats. Unlike infant car seats that install into a base and are designed to click in and out of your car for easy portability, most convertible seats are large, heavy and fairly bulky. They’re designed to install directly into your vehicle using either the car’s LATCH system or seat belt.

If you opt for a convertible car seat from day one and your little one frequently rides in more than one vehicle, we recommend purchasing a convertible seat for each car as these seats are heavy and often take a bit of time to install.

What is the LATCH system?

The LATCH system is a safety system designed to secure child car seats in vehicles. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The system consists of two lower anchors and a top tether that connect the child seat to the vehicle. The lower anchors are attached to the vehicle’s anchor points, usually located in the back seat, while the top tether is attached to a designated anchor point on the back of the vehicle’s seat.

The LATCH system provides an easier way to install a car seat compared to using a seat belt, and can sometimes help you get a more secure installation. But it’s not always the safer way. (Read The Car Seat Lady’s informative explanation to learn why.) Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a convertible car seat using the LATCH system to ensure maximum safety.

Pro tip: Using LATCH to install a car seat is predicated on meeting certain weight limits. Once you exceed those limits, you’ll need to switch over to using your car’s seat belt for installation.

When to Switch from Infant Car Seat to Convertible

According to Rebekah Kimminau, CPST, your child can stay in an infant car seat until they outgrow the seat by either the height or weight restrictions.

“Or” is important to remember here. That means that even if your child meets the seat’s weight requirement but is over the height requirement, it’s time to make the switch—and vice versa.

Keep in mind that while many infant seats are being marketed to hold children up to two years because of higher weight limits (35 pounds and over), says Kimminau, most children will outgrow their infant seats by height long before they reach the weight limit. Consult your car seat manual for the exact height limits on your particular seat, but a good rule is that if the top of your child’s head is within one inch of the top of the shell of the seat, it’s time to transition. (The easiest way to check this is to find a board book that is one inch thick and place it on top of your child’s head while they are properly secured in the seat.)

What to Look for in the Best Convertible Car Seat

All car seats in the United States must meet the same government safety standards. While more expensive car seats may include features that go above and beyond what’s required, the safest car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your vehicle and can be installed correctly by you every time.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best convertible car seat for your child and your family:

  • Ease of installation. Many car seats can be installed using the regular seat belt or the LATCH system (available in cars made after 2002). Just be sure you’re still within the weight limits of your car seat’s LATCH restrictions and remember to switch over to a seat belt install once you exceed them.
  • Safety indicators. Some car seats come with built-in leveling systems and indicators to signal they’ve been correctly installed. A car seat that’s installed correctly is a safer car seat, so anything that makes installation easier is worth paying attention to.
  • Vehicle fit. Car seats range in size and shape, and so do vehicles and back seats. Be sure the convertible car seat you choose fits properly in your vehicle. Other factors to consider include the height of the drivers and the height of the car seat, if you’ll need to fit multiple car seats across your back seat and how many recline positions your car seat offers. (A convertible car seat with more recline positions has a better chance of fitting in different types of vehicles.)
  • Higher rear-facing weight limits: A growing body of research proves riding rear-facing is safer for babies and children than riding in a forward-facing car seat. If possible, always choose a convertible seat that has a high rear-facing weight limit so you can extend the opportunity to rear-face as long as possible.
  • Fabric: Besides looking for fabric that matches your style, consider its durability. Also consider if you prefer a car seat with removable, washable seat covers or if you’re okay with fabric that’s spot-clean only.
  • Safety extras: While all seats sold in the US must meet the same federal safety standards, some convertible car seats include additional shock absorption, side-impact protection and padding. An anti-rebound bar, a bar that helps halt the rebound of your car seat during a crash and causes the seat to come to a stop sooner, is another safety extra to consider.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

When should babies be forward-facing in car seats?

You should keep your child rear-facing in their convertible car seat until they reach the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission and many other top scientists, researchers and physicians all agree on the many benefits of extended rear-facing.

Are used car seats safe?

If possible, avoid used car seats. That’s because you can never be sure of a car seat’s past. A used convertible car seat may have sustained damage either in a crash or from being dropped or may not meet current safety regulations.

While we recommend new car seats, if you do end up selecting a used car seat, get it from someone you trust. Be sure to look up the seat’s expiration date and research if that particular model has ever been recalled. If the seat is dirty, be sure to strictly follow the manufacturer’s cleaning rules order to maintain the seat’s safety and integrity.

Do convertible car seats have strollers?

This is one of the most popular questions new parents have about convertible car seats and, unfortunately, the answer is generally no. (If you want to see what infant seats work with which strollers, go here.)

There’s only one convertible car seat on the market at the moment that’s compatible with a stroller. There are a few lightweight convertible seats that work well for travel, but the inconvenient reality is that once your little one outgrows their infant seat you’ll lose the ability to easily transfer their seat from the car directly onto your stroller.

How many years are convertible car seats good for?

Convertible car seats are typically good for around six to 10 years, depending on the specific model and manufacturer’s guidelines. However, it is important to regularly check the seat for any signs of wear and tear, and replace it if necessary. Additionally, it is recommended to follow the height and weight limits for each stage of the seat to ensure maximum safety for your child.

Do all convertible car seats fit in all cars?

Not all convertible car seats fit in all cars. Before purchasing or registering for a convertible car seat, check the seat’s specifications and compare them to the dimensions and features of your vehicle’s back seat. Some car seats are designed to fit better in certain types of vehicles, such as smaller cars or larger SUVs.  

What is the safest spot for a convertible car seat?

According to car seat safety experts, the safest spot for a convertible car seat is in the back seat of the car, preferably in the middle. This position offers the most protection from side impact crashes and reduces the risk of injury in the event of a collision. 

At what age should a child transition to a booster seat?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should transition to a booster seat when they reach the maximum height or weight of their forward-facing car seat. Car seat experts also add that children must be able to be mature enough to sit properly in a booster seat before making the switch. A convertible car seat has a five-point harness, which means that when it’s properly tightened, it doesn’t allow your child the freedom to move around all that much. A booster, however, does not. Things like leaning over, twisting or reaching over to poke a sibling are not safe positions for your child to be in while in a moving vehicle. Most kids aren’t mature enough to sit properly in a booster until at least five years old; most hit this milestone sometime between five and seven.

Jen LaBracio

Senior Gear Editor

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of all things baby gear with her love of (obsessive) research. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, spin, listen to podcasts, read and spend time at the beach. In her past life, she worked for over a decade in children’s publishing. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their two boys, Will and Ben.

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