Convertible Car Seat Reviews
Are you researching car seats for your child? I know firsthand how confusing this process can be! At one point during my research, I had dreams about 5-point harnesses, buckles, straps, and knobs! (No kidding!) Look no further: We have organized comprehensive reviews of the top convertible car seats and compiled comparison articles to help you make the best decision. Individual reviews and side-by-side comparisons can be found in the left sidebar of this page; please continue reading to understand 5 important factors to keep in mind while you shop for that perfect car seat!
5 Buying Tips:
- Who will be using this car seat? Will you use this seat exclusively for one child? Or, will this be used for car pools and play dates for a variety of children who are different heights? The reason why it is essential to understand who will be using this car seat before you buy it, is that not all convertible car seats are created equally! Some convertibles, such as the Britax Roundabout 55, need to be manually re-threaded to adjust the height of the shoulder straps. In that case, if the seat is forward facing, you will need to uninstall it in order to reach the back of the car seat and re-thread the straps each time you have a passenger in that seat who is a different height than the prior child who sat in that seat! For the sake of convenience — and your sanity — if you plan to use this car seat for multiple kids, look to buy one whose height can be adjusted without uninstalling it, such as the Britax Marathon 70, Britax Boulevard 70, or the Evenflo Triumph Advance. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself uninstalling and reinstalling it regularly to adjust the shoulder straps’ height while toddlers are waiting for you in a parking lot, possibly in very extreme outdoor temperature. If there’s one thing you definitely do not want to do, it’s uninstall and reinstall a car seat on a very hot or cold day… trust me on that one — it’s no fun!
- Which vehicle will house this seat? It is important to know whether you plan to have your car seat installed in a specific car at all times, or if it will be regularly transferred between Mom’s minivan and Dad’s truck on a regular basis.If you plan to regularly move this convertible car seat between mom/dad/grandma’s cars, then you’ll want to be sure that the car seat of your choice is easy to install. On the other hand, if you know that you will keep the car seat in one specific car and not have a need to move it, then ease of installation may not be a big factor on your list (as presumably, you’ll install the car seat once and leave it) so keep this in mind as you make your decision.
- Do you take long road trips? When you look at the vast array of car seats on the market, understanding the differences between them can seem overwhelming at first glance. That’s why we have written many car-seat-comparison articles for your convenience — check them out in the left sidebar of this page. Some seats are under $100 (see our post on the top car seats under a hundred dollars), while others are priced at over $300. Comfort is one of those factors (just like when you buy a new couch!) that generally increases as you move up towards the more expensive car seats. The cheaper car seats have little padding between the seat area and the hard shell. If you will be spending a lot of time in the car with your child, or you take long road trips, you will want to invest in a somewhat pricier model that has generous padding.
- Safety Ratings: It is important to realize that all car seats on the market in the USA have met or exceeded the government’s safety standards. As such, there really is no way to definitively prove that one particular car seat is safer than another.That being said, there are some things that objectively make sense that they would increase the safety of a child buckled into a car seat or sitting next to that seat. For example, the Britax Boulevard has extended headwings that the Marathon does not have. You can read about that at Britax Boulevard vs. Marathon. Another example is that the Britax Advocate has additional cushioning that the Boulevard lacks, which you can read about here: Britax Boulevard vs. Advocate.
- Seated shoulder height of your child: Many new parents are excited to see that most convertible car seats will accommodate their kids until 55 or even 70 lbs, and later are disappointed to see that their child has outgrown the car seat by height far before reaching anywhere near the weight limit! Aside from in the case of extremely hefty kids, convertible car seats are commonly outgrown by height rather than by weight. This does not refer to general height, but seated shoulder height, which is how tall your child is while seating measuring until the top of his shoulders. Some kids have long torsos and will outgrow car seats faster than other kids of the same height who have long legs. It is important to read reviews of the car seat you intend to buy (see our helpful articles in the left sidebar!) so that you won’t be disappointed when your 53 lb. child gets too tall for a car seat advertised to fit him until 70 lbs!
And one more thing… ask for help! Convertible car seats are a confusing category of products, especially for new parents. Don’t be shy about leaving questions in the comment section of this site. We’ll do our best to help you — you’re never alone!
Are you wondering where you can get the best price for a car seat? We’ve done the comparison shopping for you… and after researching many online retailers and offline stores, the best price has consistently been at Amazon – especially when you consider that you won’t pay shipping for any product over $25. Click here to view the most popular convertible car seats at Amazon.com.
Not sure where to start? Below is a list of some of our most popular articles.
We know that this can be a seriously confusing product to research, all those buckles, knobs, straps, latching clips… oh, my! Fortunately, we have done the research for you by finding the most up-to-date information from car seat technicians and experienced parents who have actually used these car seats.
Are you wondering how we compile our reviews? We get our information from several authoritative sources:
- Car seat technicians’ reports based on actual handling of these convertible car seats.
- Parents’ and caregivers’ reviews and experiences using these products.
- Third party reviewers, such as Consumer Reports reviews.
- Manufacturers of these car seats.
Few of the baby products you purchase will be nearly as confusing as car seats! There are so many different factors that you must take into consideration when you buy a car seat for your child: Child’s weight and height, the type of car you have, whether you want to use the seat forward-facing or rear-facing, how often you travel, and more! We’ve tried our best on this site to help you figure out which car seat would be the best for your circumstances. Take a look at our individual car seat reviews and side-by-side car seat comparisons in the left sidebar of this page so that you can get a clearer idea of which car seat would be best suited for your precious cargo!
This video will show you why finding a car seat with a high rear-facing weight limit (30 lbs. or more) is important, as riding rear-facing has been shown to be safer for young children than forward-facing:
To see our comparison chart featuring virtually ALL convertible car seats on the market, check out this chart.