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Best Convertible Seats of 2023

Convertible car seats that grow with baby.

Is your baby’s car seat starting to look a bit small? It might be time for a convertible car seat. Though you might shudder at the cost now, you’ll thank yourself later knowing that your baby is as safe as possible.

What’s more, convertible car seats probably are, in the long run, the most convenient and cost-effective choice. We’ve done the bulk of the research for you, and narrowed the endless options down to the 10 best convertible car seats available today.

Our Top Picks

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Product Comparison Table

Product Image of the Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat | Rear-Facing Seat for Infants 5-40 lbs....
Best Overall
Chicco NextFit Zip
  • Encourages extended rear-facing
  • Lined with EPS foam
  • Detachable cup holder
Product Image of the Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat, Convertible Baby Seat, Convertible &...
Grows With Your Child
Evenflo EveryStage LX
  • Air travel certified
  • Encourages extended rear-facing
  • One-and-done purchase
Product Image of the Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Verve
Built for Safety & Convenience
Britax Marathon ClickTight
  • One-year warranty
  • Easy to install
  • V-shaped tether
Product Image of the Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One Convertible Car Seat, 5-Point Infinite Slide...
Easy To Install
Evenflo Symphony Elite
  • Expandable cup holders
  • Easy to clean
  • All-in-one seat
Product Image of the Graco 4Ever 4 in 1 Convertible Car Seat | Infant to Toddler Car Seat, with 10...
Best 4-in-1
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1
  • Can last up to 10 years
  • Comfortable for long rides
  • 10 adjustable headrest positions
Product Image of the Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Mosaic
Easiest To Adjust
Britax Advocate ClickTight
  • Easy to install
  • Harness is easily adjustable
  • Impact absorbing base
Product Image of the Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, Rear-facing 5-40 pounds,...
One-Stop Shop
Safety 1st Grow & Go
  • Air protect technology
  • Lots of extra padding
  • Easily removable cover
Product Image of the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat, Chambers
Most Compact Seat
Safety 1st Guide 65
  • American-made
  • Air travel certified
  • Compact design
Product Image of the CYBEX Sirona S with SensorSafe, Convertible Car Seat, 360° Rotating Seat,...
Most Unique Safety Feature
Cybex Sirona S
  • SensorSafe technology
  • Non-rethreading harness
  • Linear side impact protection
Product Image of the Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat, Charcoal Sky
Budget-Friendly Choice
Evenflo Sonus
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Air ventilation system
  • Budget-friendly

The Best Convertible Car Seats of 2023

Here are 10 excellent convertible car seats for you to consider.

1. Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

Best Overall Convertible Car Seat

This excellent seat allows you to rear-face your child up to 40 pounds and forward-face up to 65 pounds. It gives your child extra leg room while rear facing, and comes with added calf support in the forward-facing position.

It comes with a newborn positioner that can be removed when your baby grows out of it. The seat’s pad can be removed and washed in the washing machine.

Trademarked with DuoGuard, the seat uses two layers of side-impact protection and comes lined with EPS foam as well. It also uses trademarked belt-locking and tightening technology.

This one is convenient because it comes with a nine-position headrest and a non-rethreading harness. You also get a detachable, dishwasher-safe cup holder.

Lastly, the harness is equipped with a “SuperCinch” tightener. This LATCH-friendly tightener uses force-multiplying technology to get a tight fit in your vehicle without extra effort. It also has a “LockSure” belt system to make sure the seat belt stays in place if you install via belt path.

The whole thing can be uninstalled at the push of a button which comes in handy if you’re regularly switching the seat between vehicles.

What We Like

Encourages Extended Rear-Facing

We’re all about extended rear-facing here so we love this car seat. It allows you to rear-face your child up to 40 pounds. This will keep them in the safest position for quite a long time.

Lined With EPS Foam

EPS foam has shock-absorbing qualities which could make all the difference in an accident. This foam will absorb the bulk of the impact, protecting your child.

Detachable Cup Holder

We like that the cupholder on this seat is detachable. It’s also dishwasher-safe so that adds to the convenience factor.

What We Don't Like

On the Heavy Side at 25 Pounds

A heavier seat can prove to be inconvenient if you need to uninstall and reinstall. It can also leave indentation marks on your vehicle seat, but those should fade over time.

Product Specs

Product weight 25.1 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 49 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 49 inches
Reclining Positions Nine
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders One

2. Evenflo EveryStage LX All-in-One Car Seat

Grows With Your Child

If you’re all about practicality, this might be the seat for you. This one is pretty much the ultimate one-stop-shop seat. It’s fully adjustable with five different positions and will accommodate your child up to 120 pounds.

It’s also a good seat for extended rear-facing because it allows rear-facing until up to 50 pounds. The forward-facing option works until 65 pounds and then you can transition to its belt-positioning booster mode.

The headrest and harness adjust together, so there’s no need for rethreading. The seat pad and cover are removable and can be washed in the washing machine, and the cup holders are dishwasher-safe.

The seat comes with a custom cradled fit with its in-seat reclining feature. This will angle your child so their head is in the right position, which help keep their airways open, too.

What We Like

Air Travel Certified

This seat is air travel certified which is nice for your child whether they’re rear or forward facing. This can make air travel safer knowing your child is secure in their own seat.

Encourages Extended Rear-Facing

More and more car seat manufacturers are designing their seats to encourage extended rear-facing. This is great since it’s been proven that rear-facing is the safest possible position for small children.

This seat allows rear-facing for your child up to 50 pounds as opposed to others on our list that only accommodate up to 40 pounds.

One-And-Done Purchase

This option is nice because it lasts the longest with your child. It’s like the ultimate one-stop-shop purchase. What’s more, it’ll potentially save you a good chunk of money in the long run.

What We Don't Like

Hard to Tighten

The harness on this seat might become hard to tighten after a few uses. This is inconvenient but can also become a safety issue if you can’t get the strap tightened enough to secure your baby properly.

Product Specs

Product weight 22 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 50 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 43 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds / 120 pounds booster
Forward-facing height limit 50 inches
Reclining Positions Five
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders Two

3. Britax Marathon ClickTight Car Seat

Built for Safety and Convenience

If safety is your main priority, this Britax seat is definitely one to consider, as the brand places enormous emphasis on the safety of their products.

The seat comes with a deep shell and its base is made of “Safecell” technology to help reduce collision force. The frame is made of impact-stabilizing steel with most of its support located at the base where the seat meets your car — this ensures your child is sitting safe and secure.

The harness has 14 different adjustable positions, just push a button and pull up on the headrest to adjust. This is convenient because you don’t need to worry about rethreading the harness.

It also has a patented V-shaped tether to help minimize movement in the event of an accident. This seat is able to be rear-faced up to 40 pounds and can be used forward-facing from 20 to 65 pounds.

Finally there’s the “ClickTight” technology to make safe installation it much easier. With ClickTight, you simply open the seat, thread the seat belt through, and then snap it back shut.

All Britax car seats are made and designed in the United States.

What We Like

One-Year Warranty

The company gives you a one-year warranty with this seat, so if you have any issues you can send it back without having to jump through hoops.

Easy to Install

This option is convenient for parents because it’s so easy to install. You can use the seat’s LATCH system or the convenient belt paths with your car’s seat belt.

V-Shaped Tether

The v-shaped tether on this seat is really brilliant because it further reduces how much the seat would move in an accident. The way it’s designed spreads the impact out between the two tethers and helps lock the seat in place.

What We Don't Like

Crotch Area May Feel Tight

Some people have complained that the crotch area is tight around their child’s legs. If your baby has thicker thighs, you may want to consider a different seat. There also isn’t much padding in the area so that may contribute to discomfort.

Product Specs

Product weight 27 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 49 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 49 inches
Reclining Positions Seven
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders None

4. Evenflo Symphony Elite All-In-One Car Seat

Easy to Install

This all-in-one seat will grow with your child up to 110 pounds and makes installation super easy with its “SureLATCH” system. It clicks and pushes into place when it’s properly installed.

With this seat, you can rear-face your baby until they hit 40 pounds, and forward-face until 65. After that, you can use the belt-positioning booster until they hit the max weight limit.

It has an infinite slide harness to give you an accurate, secure fit with each ride. It’s also lined with energy-absorbing foam to help lessen the impact.

Besides meeting federal and Canadian safety standards, it’s also been side-impact tested, temperature tested, and certified for air travel as well. It comes in eight different color options, so you’ll definitely find one that fits your car’s style and your own.

The seat pad can be removed and run through the washing machine, while the rest of it can be wiped down with water and mild soap.

Because the cup holders are expandable, you don’t need to worry about water bottles or other drink containers not fitting.

What We Like

Expandable Cup Holders

This is a super convenient feature. Drink bottles come in about a zillion different shapes and sizes, so expandable cup holders make life much easier.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten frustrated because my kids were screaming for their drink that couldn’t be with them in their seat, because the cup holder was too small. This feature would have saved me a massive headache!

Easy to Clean

We also like this seat because it’s easy to clean. The cover can be removed and put through both the washer and dryer. This is nice for anybody who doesn’t have the time to stand around and hand-wash the cover.

All-In-One Seat

We’re all about one-and-done shopping. The fact that this one is an all-in-one seat is optimal for those of us who thrive on practicality and stretching a dollar. While these may seem more expensive, they last much longer than regular car seats.

What We Don't Like

Harness Straps Have Torn After Extensive Use

Parents have reported that the straps on this seat have torn after a few years of use. This could be due to improper adjusting or lack of care, but it’s worth mentioning as it can become a safety issue.

Product Specs

Product weight 24 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 40 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds / 110 pounds booster
Forward-facing height limit 50 inches / 57 inches booster
Reclining Positions Three
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders Two

5. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Best 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

This super handy and durable car seat has four uses in one product.

1) Rear-facing car seat (for babies between four and 40 pounds).

2) Forward-facing car seat (for kids between 22 and 65 pounds).

3) High back booster seat (for kids between 30 and 100 pounds).

4) Backless booster (for kids between 40 and 120 pounds).

So you can use this car seat from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital, until they are 120 pounds!

Similar Articles
Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit Car Seat ComparisonGraco 4Ever vs. Extend2Fit (2023 Comparison & Review)

What We Like

Money Saving

Although this is quite a big investment from the start, it will last at least 10 years or until your child outgrows it. Suitable for children from four to 120 pounds, you can use this one seat instead of buying different types of car seats. This will save you tons of money in the long run.

Easy to Install

The latch attachment means this car seat is incredibly easy to install. All it takes is one click and one second. You’ll hear the audible clicking noise so you know it’s secure. Graco has performed rigorous crash tests to ensure children are safe in this seat, no matter what kind of crash occurs.

It’s Comfortable

Even if you have a super fussy baby, they should be comfy in this seat. It has six recline positions, 10 adjustable headrest positions and an adjustable harness system. Parents love how comfortable their kids are in this seat, even for long car rides. In fact, many parents praise how easily their little one falls asleep in this car seat which is bliss if you’re driving a long way.

What We Don't Like

Poor Tilt

Keep in mind that this carseat doesn’t have a good tilt, especially if your child can’t hold their own head up yet. Many babies’ heads tilted forward when they fell asleep. This is okay for older children, but for younger babies — this is a safety hazard.

Product Specs

Product weight 22.8 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 57 Inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 57 Inches
Reclining Positions Six
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders Two

6. Britax Advocate ClickTight Car Seat

Easiest to Adjust

This seat has three layers of side-impact protection. It also comes with an impact-absorbing base that uses compression to reduce the force in an accident.

It has “ClickTight” installation and the “Click & Safe Snug” harness along with auto level indicators and multiple recline positions. These features will ensure the seat is installing securely.

It’s also equipped with “Safecell” protection, which uses three different levels of protection for your child. These are the impact-absorbing base, a specially made V-shaped tether, and an impact-stabilizing steel frame. They work together to compress energy and absorb impact in the event of a crash.

The car seat has 14 different adjustable positions for the harness and headrest to grow with your child. These positions are easy to adjust as you simply push a button and pull to get the height you need.

It can be rear-faced between 5 and 40 pounds and forward-faced between 20 and 65 pounds.

What We Like

Easy to Install

This seat seems to be one of the easiest seats to install compared to others like it. It comes with ClickTight installation which ensures a safe and secure fit for your child without making you jump through hoops.

Harness Is Easily Adjustable

Unlike most car seats, parents actually praise the harness adjustments on this seat. They claim it’s easy to adjust and doesn’t get stuck or become difficult with use like other seats.

What We Don't Like

Fabric Wears Easily

The fabric on this car seat has been known to wear down after a few washes. This is definitely something to watch out for as worn down fabric can compromise the comfort and safety of your child’s car seat.

Product Specs

Product weight 30.6 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 49 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 49 inches
Reclining Positions Seven
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders None

7. Safety 1st Grow & Go Car Seat

One-Stop Shop

This all-in-one seat will accommodate your child up to 100 pounds. It takes up less space than most seats when it’s in rear-facing mode, so it’s convenient if you have a front seat passenger who doesn’t want to feel cramped.

It also comes with “Air Protect” technology which gives added protection in the headrest in case of impact. It comes equipped with a “QuickFit” harness which adjusts both the harness and the headrest at the same time. No rethreading is required.

The sides have harness holders as well to keep straps out of the way when getting in and out of the seat. These come in handy so your child isn’t snagging their clothing on the buckles.

The seat cover is removable, machine washable and dryer safe. The cover snaps on and off, so it’s easier to remove and reattach.

This option is practical if you’re passionate about extended rear-facing. Unlike most seats that cap their rear-facing limit at 40 pounds, this one caps at 50 pounds. You can then forward-face until 65 pounds and use the booster until the max weight limit.

What We Like

“Air Protect” Technology

We’re all about extra safety features. The fact that this one has specific technology meant to keep your child’s noggin safer in an accident is a major win with us. Air Protect technology creates a slower and softer landing for your child to avoid hard impact.

Lots of Extra Padding

The extra padding on this seat will keep your child more comfortable during car rides. As important as convenience is for us, the comfort level is important too. After all, your child is the one sitting in the seat.

Easily Removable Cover

The cover of this seat snaps right off so it’s super easy to remove and put back on. Most seats just have a cover that you need to stretch over the seat like a sheet, but we like this one’s cover since it’s so easy to clean.

What We Don't Like

Fabric Isn’t the Most Breathable

Parents have complained that the seat’s fabric isn’t breathable. The fabric is also darker, so it absorbs sunlight more than a lighter color would.

This can prove to be inconvenient for sweat-prone babies, or if you live in a warmer climate.

Product Specs

Product weight 20 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 50 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 49 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds / 100 pounds booster
Forward-facing height limit 49 inches
Reclining Positions Three
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders Two

8. Safety 1st Guide 65 Car Seat

Most Compact Convertible Seat

For those of you with smaller cars with limited space, this seat is quite compact and can fit three across in most vehicles. If you’re a parent of multiples, this is a godsend.

This seat will accommodate a rear-facing child up to 40 pounds and can be used forward-facing from 22 to 65 pounds. To ensure safety, the five-point harness has five different harness heights and three different buckle locations.

The harness has up-front adjustment for easy tightening and the seat itself is made with EPP energy-absorbing foam. There’s a multi-adjustable head support and lumbar pillows, too. On top of all that, it comes with anti-rebound bolsters.

On the downside, this seat lacks some of the extra bells and whistles that some of the other seats on this list come with. For example, the harness has to be rethreaded manually and the lower anchor connectors are standard hooks instead of the more convenient push-button connectors. These features don’t affect the safety of the seat as long as you use them correctly, but many parents prefer the premium features on other seats.

What We Like


This may not be a big deal to some people, but for those of you who like to support American-made products, this seat is handy. The brand, in general, makes all of its products in the United States.

Air Travel Certified

If you’re a family of jet setters, this car seat is air travel certified. This is cool because you don’t need to worry about airport personnel giving you a hard time about the seat. It’s also good because it’s not going to take up a ton of room in the seating area.

Compact Design

Because this seat is compact, it’s optimal for smaller vehicles or for parents of multiples. Plus, having the same seat design means they’ll fit more cohesively in your car.

What We Don't Like

Harness Adjusted Manually

Moving the harness up in this car seat as your child grows will need to be done manually. Follow the instructions in your manual carefully to ensure this is done correctly.

Product Specs

Product weight 15 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 40 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 52 inches
Reclining Positions Three
Machine Washable No
Cup Holders One

9. Cybex Sirona S Convertible Car Seat

Most Unique Safety Feature

If innovation is your jam, consider this seat. It comes with a “SensorSafe” monitor inside the buckle of your child’s harness. This connects to your phone and will alert you if your child is left in the car.

While this may seem ridiculous to some people, leaving children in cars is a real concern. The sensor also alerts you if the car is too hot or cold, or if your child becomes unbuckled.

The seat will accommodate your child rear-facing up to 40 pounds and forward-facing up to 65 pounds. It also comes with an adjustable headrest with 12 different positions.

With a 10-position recline, the seat can be easily adjusted with one hand which makes things easier for you. It also comes with a one-hand pull system for easy LATCH removal.

The side impact protection uses “Linear Side Impact Protection” which absorbs up to 25 percent more impact than seats without it. The seat also has an energy-absorbing shell to further protect your child.

Finally, there are the magnetic clip holders to keep the straps out of the way when getting in and out of the seat. The cup holder is removable as well.

What We Like

“SensorSafe” Technology

This seat’s SensorSafe technology is cool if you like having innovative things. No matter how unlikely you think you are to need it, mistakes can and do happen, so this gives some extra peace of mind.

Plus, anything that helps aid in child safety is okay in our book.

Non-Rethreading Harness

With my children’s infant seats in the past, we had to rethread the harness when they grew to the next level. This proved extremely inconvenient because we had to take the cover off, rethread, put the cover back on, and reinstall the seat.

We like this convertible seat because you aren’t required to go through all of those unnecessary steps to adjust the harness height.

Linear Side Impact Protection

Safety is the main priority of the manufacturer. It has both linear side-impact protection (LSP) and anti-rebound features which absorbs shocks of up to 25 percent should there be a collision. Furthermore, the load leg absorbs energy and reduces crash forces on the child by up to 30% in a front impact collision.

What We Don't Like

Tech May Malfunction

A number of parents have complained that the tech system goes haywire from time to time. This includes sending false alerts that may alarm you unnecessarily.

Product Specs

Product weight 30.4 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 49 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 65 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 49 inches
Reclining Positions Three
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders One

11. Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat

Best Budget Convertible Car Seat

While this seat is inexpensive compared to most other car seats, it still comes with plenty of features to make it a top contender. Not only is it budget-friendly, but it’s also compact as well.

The seat can fit three across in most vehicles and is approved for air travel as well. Because it’s so lightweight, it’s a good pick for air travel — you don’t need to lug a heavy seat through check-in.

You can set your child rear-facing until they reach 40 pounds and forward-facing until they hit 50 pounds.

To prevent sweat and overheating, this comes equipped with air vents for airflow. It has five different shoulder strap positions and up-front harness adjustment to get the best fit.

As far as convenience features go, this seat comes with two cup holders and an added pillow for more head support. Both cup holders are removable and dishwasher-safe.

Finally, the seat comes with buckle pockets to keep straps out of the way when getting in and out. This is nice on summer days when the buckle gets hot and you risk burning your child.

What We Like

Compact, Lightweight Design

For those of you with smaller vehicles, this 13-pound seat is good because of its compact design. Furthermore, we all know how cramped airplane seating is in general. Having a compact seat makes traveling less of a nuisance.

Air Ventilation System

This is the only seat we’ve found that comes equipped with its own air ventilation system. This comes in handy for keeping baby cool during the hot summer months, or if you live somewhere that’s warm year-round.

Not only is this a great convenience, but it’s a safety plus too. Having good air ventilation will keep your baby from getting overheated in the car.


Car seats are expensive! We like this one because it’s budget-friendly without compromising on safety. As expensive as raising a child can be, it’s nice to find big-ticket items like car seats for lower prices.

What We Don't Like

Seat Is Long When Rear-Facing

The only major downside to this seat is that it tends to be longer than others in rear-facing mode. This can prove inconvenient if the seat is directly behind you when you’re driving or if you have a front seat passenger.

Product Specs

Product weight 13 pounds
Rear-facing weight limit 40 pounds
Rear-facing height limit 40 inches
Forward-facing weight limit 50 pounds
Forward-facing height limit 50 inches
Reclining Positions Two
Machine Washable Yes
Cup Holders Two

Product Comparison Chart

Product Award Weight Rear-facing Weight Rear-facing Height Forward-facing Weight Forward-facing Height Reclining Positions Machine Washable Cup Holders
Chicco NextFit Best Overall 25.1 lbs 40 lbs 49″ 65 lbs 49″ 9 Yes 1
Evenflo EveryStage Grows With Baby 22 lbs 50 lbs 43″ 65 lbs 50″ 5 Yes 2
Britax Marathon Built For Safety 27 lbs 40 lbs 49″ 65 lbs 49″ 7 Yes 0
Evenflo Symphony Easy To Install 24 lbs 40 lbs 49″ 65 lbs 50″ 3 Yes 2
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Best 4-in-1 22.8 lbs 40 lbs 57″ 65 lbs 57″ 6 Yes 2
Britax Advocate Easiest To Adjust 30.6 lbs 40 lbs 49″ 65 lbs 49″ 7 Yes 0
Safety 1st Grow One-Stop Shop 20 lbs 50 lbs 49″ 65 lbs 49″ 3 Yes 2
Safety 1st Guide Most Compact 15 lbs 40 lbs 40″ 65 lbs 52″ 3 No 1
Cybex Sirona Unique Safety Feature 30.4 lbs 40 lbs 49″ 65 lbs 49″ 3 Yes 1
Evenflo Sonus Budget Pick 13 lbs 40 lbs 40″ 50 lbs 50″ 2 Yes 2

What Are Convertible Car Seats?

The entire purpose of a convertible car seat is to keep your toddler or young child safe in the car. Convertible car seats can actually accommodate infants, too.

With these designs increasing in popularity, you could even skip the infant carrier altogether. But should you? It’s completely up to you.

Both seats offer their own benefits, but convertible car seats mean potentially spending less money in the long run.

Convertible car seats are used rear-facing until your child reaches at least 2-years-old or until they outgrow the height and weight restrictions of that position (1). They’ll then be able to sit forward-facing until they grow out of the restrictions for that position.

You’ll find that these restrictions will vary with different seat designs and brands, for example, seats with higher backs will accommodate height for longer.

You’ll find that a lot of manufacturers also make “all-in-one” seats. These are car seats that can be used rear-facing and forward-facing and eventually as a booster seat. They typically have a weight capacity of 100 pounds and some even go up to 120 pounds.

Safety Benefits of Convertible Car Seats

Great aunt Mabel may come at you with the “We didn’t have those in my day and I survived” line, but this is misguided. These seats are a requirement for traveling with toddlers and for good reason.

Statistics show that children who are properly buckled in age and size-appropriate car seats are 80 percent less likely to sustain serious injuries in a crash (2).

A convertible car seat helps ensure that your child stays in the correct stage as long as possible. Most convertible car seats have higher rear-facing height and weight limits than infant car seats. This means the immense safety benefits of riding rear-facing (which is up to five times safer than forward-facing) will be available for a longer period of time when compared to an infant car seat–without having to buy a second seat!
Headshot of Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Editor's Note:

Kristen Gardiner, CPST

The weight restrictions for infant car seats generally range from 4 pounds to 22-40 pounds while nearly all convertible seats accommodate weights from 4 pounds to 40-50 pounds when rear-facing. When it comes to height, experts recommend switching to the next stage of car seat when their head reaches 1 inch below the top of the seat (3).

With convertible seats, there are usually special infant inserts that come with the seat to keep newborns safe and snug.

The extra padding and other body-forming material can also contribute to the safety of the seat as well.

Some brands even make their own additional head and neck support that keeps baby comfortable and safe.

Convertible Convenience

Besides the obvious benefit of safety, convertible car seats also prove to be pretty convenient too. They’re able to be rear and forward-faced, hence the convertible factor, and can potentially last longer if it’s an all-in-one seat.

This means you can do a quick one-and-done shopping trip which could potentially save you money as well.

However, convertible car seats don’t come with that handy dandy carrier handle, so they need to stay inside the car. Honestly, I’d much rather save money than have a convenient way to carry baby, though.

How to Choose a Convertible Car Seat

It’s almost time to make your own choice, but bear a few things in mind first. It doesn’t matter how amazing a brand says they are, you’re going to be disappointed if it’s missing the following key features.

Height and Weight Limits

Be sure to take note of the size restrictions of a particular seat. Convertible seats will accommodate infants, but the maximum weight will vary. Because they can be used both rear and forward-facing, they should have two different weight caps.

We suggest seats that encourage extended rear-facing as it’s the safest position for your child. Seats will typically allow rear-facing until roughly 40 pounds, but some go higher to around 50 pounds.

Once your child hits forward-facing time, you’ll find that most convertible seats will cap off at 65 pounds.

Don’t forget about the height limits, too. Many children will outgrow the seat by height before they outgrow it by weight. Your child’s growth curve should give you an estimate as to how quickly the height limits may be reached.
Headshot of Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Editor's Note:

Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Comfort Features

You should also lookout for any extra comfort features. These are going to give your child a more enjoyable car ride. If you don’t want a whining and screaming kid while you’re driving, comfort features are a must.

Here are some common comfort features we like to keep our eye out for.

  • Memory foam or other body shaping material.
  • Breathable fabric.
  • Harness pads.
  • Extendable headrest.
  • Extendable legroom.

Size and Weight of Seat

This is purely for your convenience. If you plan on regularly transporting the car seat between vehicles, you’re going to want a seat that isn’t super bulky.

Not everyone has the means to purchase more than one car seat, so a more lightweight option would work.

You’ll also want to keep in mind the size of the seat if you have a smaller vehicle. If the seat is really bulky, it may not fit correctly in your car. This can be frustrating because you’d have to return the seat and then go shopping all over again.

Added Amenities

Convenience features make car rides more enjoyable for your child and less stressful for you. For example, take note of whether the seat includes cupholders and how many.

We like seats with two cup holders because you can use one for snacks and the other for a drink. Another nice idea is harness holders. These keep the straps out of the way when getting your child in and out of the vehicle.

Holders will prevent buckles from getting caught in your child’s clothing as they get out. They’re nice too because you don’t have to worry about yanking the strap out from under them when they sit down.

Added Safety Features

Safety should be a major priority when making your decisions. Car seats all need to pass certain tests to be released on the market. Some manufacturers go above and beyond the testing standards to make their car seats as safe as possible.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Multiple recline positions: All cars are different and so are seats. Convertible car seats with multiple recline positions will ensure a secure fit in your car. All car seats will need to be installed at a particular recline angle, and having multiple recline positions helps ensure you can achieve that recline angle. Always check the manual.
  • Larger headrests: All convertible seats come with lateral headrests. The larger the headrest, the more padding it will provide to their head.
  • Infant inserts: If you’re doing a one-stop shop, make sure the convertible seat has proper infant inserts for a snug and safe ride for your newborn.
  • Impact protection features: All seats come with side-impact protection. Some manufacturers have more protection than others.
  • EPS foam: Expanded polystyrene foam is rigid and closed-celled. It’s known for its shock absorption qualities which make it great for lining car seats.

Recent Recalls

Lastly, check out any recent recalls on the seat. Find out when and why the seat was recalled and how the company responded to the recall. Was it voluntary? How did they handle the issue?

The way a company handles a crisis will tell you a lot about the brand in general. To find out if a seat has been recalled, contact the manufacturer for specific information.

Proper Seat Installation

While 96 percent of parents say their child’s seat is installed correctly, 72 to 84 percent of car seats aren’t properly used (4). In order for a car seat to properly do its job, you need to make sure it’s installed correctly.

But how can you tell if it is? Depending on which brand you buy, the directions may vary. You should always consult the owner’s manual to find the steps to proper installation.

Here are some general guidelines to follow for both rear and forward-facing convertible car seats (5).

  • Check installation options: Most car seats are equipped with LATCH but will also have the option for you to use belt paths as well, which is meant to be used with your vehicle’s seat belt. Choose to use either your vehicle seat belt or LATCH to install, not both.
  • Car seats should always be placed in the back seat.
  • If using the seat belt, make sure it isn’t twisted: It should be flat to ensure a tight fit.
  • Buckle the belt and begin tightening: While removing seat belt slack, make sure you’re firmly pushing down and in on the car seat.
  • Car seats shouldn’t move more than an inch side-to-side or front-to-back.
  • Make sure the seat is reclined correctly: This is especially important if you’re rear-facing your infant. Young babies need to be reclined in order to be in the safest position; your car seat manual should have guidelines for this.

What Is LATCH Technology?

LATCH stands for “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children” (6). The system was developed to help make safe car seat installation easier for parents. This technology should be found on all current car seat models as well as vehicles manufactured after September 1, 2002.

It works by using a built-in strap on the child’s car seat with hooks on the end. These hooks correspond to anchors provided on the vehicle’s back seat. There should be two hooks located on the lower part of the child’s car seat, as well as a top tether.

The two hooks will be latched to anchors that can be found where the seat cushion meets the seat back of your vehicle. The top tether will then be hooked to the anchor that can be found on the floor, behind the headrest or on the rear shelf of your car.

The top tether is only necessary for the forward-facing position. You don’t need to use the belt paths if you’re using the LATCH system. If you don’t use LATCH, you should still use the top tether when forward-facing along with your car’s seat belt.

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Reviewed by

Kristen Gardiner, CPST

Kristen Gardiner, CPST is a writer, wife, and mother to three boys. Kristen became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician by Safe Kids Worldwide in 2015 and loves to volunteer and help educate parents about car seat safety. She has a passion for all things related to child safety.