If you have young children, you will obviously want to do everything that you can to make sure that they are safe in the car with you. And one of the products which you should consider investing in is a convertible car seat. If you have never seen one before, this is the kind of seat which you can use rear-facing when your child is an infant, before switching to a forward-facing style as they get older.
Before you go racing off to buy one of these products, it is worth knowing a little bit more about what you are investing in. We have chosen 10 possible options for you to consider, and here is a little bit more information about each of them.
The Best Convertible Car Seat
Designed to ensure that your child rides safely and comfortably in the car alongside you, this convertible car seat features a 6-position recline to suit various toddlers and infants. Your child’s comfort is also important, which is why there is a 10-position headrest.
Simple to adjust, you can set the height of the harness and headrest in a single motion. It has been thoroughly crash tested for safety purposes, so you can rest assured of its quality.
Range of adjustable features
Plush, machine washable seat pad
Offers increased legroom
- Weight23.7 pounds
All it takes to install this Britax car seat in your vehicle is the simple buckling of a seatbelt. The harness adjusts to 14 different positions, and the buckle fits in two different positions to suit your growing child.
Obviously, one of your most crucial concerns when you are buying a car seat is that it is safe, and this Britax convertible car seat features an additional layer of side impact protection, a steel frame, and a base which absorbs impact.
Easy installation – no rethreading required
Seven recline positions
Several protective features
Removable pillow included
- Weight28.4 pounds
Made in this USA, the convertible car seat has been designed to meet or exceed all federal safety standards, as well as the Evenflo side impact test grade. Both compact and lightweight, several different designs are available, so you know that it will look good in your car.
Your child is growing quickly, and the makers behind this product have considered this by building in four different harness positions and two crotch buckle positions. The pad is fully machine washable, and the head pillow is removable for increased support and comfort.
Side impact tested
Upfront adjustable harness
Removable head pillow
- Weight9.29 pounds
Safety and comfort have been combined in this convertible car seat. First of all, it has been tested to offer side impact protection. There is also plenty of padding and cushioning to ensure a comfortable ride, as well as two integrated cup holders.
The QuickFit harness has been designed so that you can adjust the harness and headrest in a single movement. The seat pad is both machine washable and dryer safe when you need to clean it.
3-in-1 car seat designed to grow
Side impact protection
Harness and headrest both adjustable
Padding and cushioning for comfort
- BrandSafety 1st
- Weight18.7 pounds
This convertible car seat is designed to give you years of usage as your child grows. There are four different positions which the seat can take depending on the size and weight of your child. Whichever one you choose, it features a six-position recline for maximum comfort.
When you come to installing the car seat in your vehicle, you can either use the seat belt or latch system, as both are equally safe to use.
4-in-1 adjustable car seat depending on child size
Adjust the harness and headrest with no rethreading
Keep your child comfortable with six-position recline
- Weight23 pounds
Featuring a brand new LockSure vehicle belt-tightening system, you can adjust the fit to suit your growing child. The head rest adjusts into nine different positions, and tightening is as easy as a single pull.
There are two levels which allow you to properly indicate the seat angle. When you need to wash the seat, you can simply zip off the seat pad and put it in the machine.
Nine different recline positions
- Weight25 pounds
A great adjustable car seat for smaller vehicles, it has been designed to accommodate children ranging between 5 and 65 pounds in the different rear and forward-facing modes. Security is obviously one of your primary concerns, and this seat offers a high level of side impact protection
As for the head rest, it is straightforward to adjust as required. At the front is a five-point harness which helps to ensure that your little one is strapped in nice and tightly.
Adjustable five-point harness
Side impact protection for additional security
Removable body pillow and cup holder
- BrandSafety 1st
- Weight15 pounds
Since this car seat accommodates children weighing between 5 and 110 pounds, it promises to be the only car seat that you will ever need. Put the seat into three different positions depending on the size of your kid.
You can install it into your vehicle in a matter of 60 seconds. It also comes equipped with an expandable cup holder which is designed to fit drinks of all sizes. The foam liner is energy-absorbing and designed to increase comfort and security.
Designed to be a long-lasting car seat for as long as you need it
Advanced energy absorption and protection zone
Installable within 60 seconds
- Weight24 pounds
A car seat which adjusts into three different positions to suit children weighing between 5 and 120 lbs, the head and side impact protection offered is designed to give your child an extra layer of protection while you are traveling with them in the car.
You can install and adjust this car seat easily, and it also folds away for easy storage. The fabric which it is created with is also easy to remove and wash in the machine.
Adjustable car seat in three different positions
Head and side impact protection
Easy to install and clean
- Weight28.1 pounds
As you can see from the design of this car seat, it is extra-comfortable and offers a highly cozy place for your child to sit while they are riding in the car with you. The chest clip is easy to secure and unlock just using one hand.
The AirProtect system is designed to offer side impact protection. As well as premium fabrics and padding, the seat cushions are designed to offer a high level of comfort.
ClipQuik auto-magnetic chest clip
Useful handle holders keep straps out the way
High-quality fabrics, cushions, and padding
- Weight23.7 pounds
Best Convertible Car Seat Buying Guide
What is a Convertible Car Seat?
Before you choose to invest in the best toddler car seat, it makes sense that you have a better idea what one actually is in the first place! Obviously, you will have an idea about what a child car seat is, but this one adjusts into two or more different positions. First of all, you can use it in rear-facing mode when your baby is an infant. When your kid starts to get bigger, you can switch it to the forward-facing toddler car seat mode.
Most either have two different belt-routing systems or a LATCH belt. Some of the above models which we have discussed adjust into one or two further positions, converting to a booster seat so your child can keep on using it until they no longer need a car seat.
What to Consider When Buying a Convertible Car Seat
Before you click that button to buy your convertible car seat, it is worth taking a step back to make a few crucial considerations, as well as looking at the convertible car seat reviews. After all, you want to end up with a product that you are happy with, and not one which you have to return.
- Vehicle Compatibility
The last thing that you want is to purchase your shiny new car seat, only to find that it is not compatible with your vehicle. Older cars are likely to not have the LATCH (Lower Anchors & Tethers for Children) system, so you should check if the seat only attaches in this way or it needs something else. Also, you should properly check the dimensions of your car interior. This is where a bit of measuring will go a long way. Compare your vehicle dimensions with the car seat dimensions. If you are in doubt, you should get in contact with the manufacturer for confirmation about compatibility with your specific vehicle make and model.
Obviously, one of the most crucial considerations to make is that you buy the safest convertible car seat. So, check to see what sort of safety features are included to look after your child’s life. Also, it is worth looking at the specific tests which have been undertaken in more detail, as well as checking the convertible car seat safety ratings. This way, you will have peace of mind that the product you have bought is the right one.
- Compare with Your Lifestyle
The lifestyle you lead is also going to have an impact in your decision-making process. For example, if you switch between different cars all the time, you are going to want one which is easy to take out and install from one vehicle to the next. On the other hand, if your child travels in the same car with you all the time, you may well be comfortable with a car seat which is more complex and stable in its installation. If you plan on passing down the car seat from one child to the next, you will want to choose one which stands the test of time.
- Know Your Child’s Size
You will know only too well that your child is growing every day and it can be very difficult to keep up with their height and weight. But convertible car seats come with these guidelines, and it is important that you have these measurements in mind. Sure, a convertible car seat has the natural advantage of being suitable for children who are all sorts of sizes, but you will still want to know whether they will be in a forward or rear-facing position, and a rough estimate of when you will need to make the switch.
- Understand the Installation Basics
A lot of child seats are not installed properly, which is a scary fact if you are unlucky enough to get into a car accident. So, it is worth looking how easy the seat is to install. If there are some online videos, it is worth giving these a watch as well. A properly installed car seat should not wiggle around too much. As for the harness straps, they should be at or below the baby’s shoulders, while chest clips should be positioned at armpit level. So, another feature which is worth examining in more detail is the adjustability of the straps and how well you are going to be able to secure your child.
One of the main drawbacks of convertible car seats is that they do not offer the same level of portability as some of the other options on the market. So, you need to look what other features are going to up the convenience factor of investing in a seat such as this one. For example, you should check how easy the seat is to install and convert into the different positions. A lot of advancements have been made over recent years in this area. Also, you should look at the parts can be washed in the machine, which again makes the task of maintenance just a little bit more straightforward.
While your child is in the car seat, you want them to be as comfortable as possible. Not only is this great for them, but it will also make your drive easier as they won’t be fussing all the time! So, check for the pillows, cushions, padding, and other comfort features which promise a cozier ride. Some of the car seats above also offer increased adjustments for greater leg room, neck support etc.
Why You Should Buy a Convertible Car Seat
There are a number of benefits which convertible car seats offer ahead of other car seating options for kids. Here are just a few of them which could help you make your mind up.
- Higher Weight Rating
Convertible car seats need to meet the federal safety requirements of other car seats, so you can rest assured that they have been tested to offer protection to your child in the event of an accident. Of course, you should always make sure that they fit comfortably within the specified weight and height limits which the manufacturer provides. Also, you should follow the instructions closely to ensure that it is properly installed in your vehicle. Generally, they offer a higher weight rating, so your child can stay in the rear-facing position for a longer period of time. Research has shown that this is a safer position for young children to be in, and it provides them with additional protection in the event of an accident.
- Years of Usage
One of the major advantages of convertible car seats is that you won’t have to keep buying new ones as your child grows. The rear-facing position is suitable for when they are infants, while the front-facing system is designed to accommodate toddlers. There are even some which promise up to 10 years of usage, so it will end up being the only car seat that you will ever need. Always check the product description closely to determine how long the seat can be used for.
Following on from the previous points, since you won’t always be changing your child’s car seat all the time, you will start to develop a sense of familiarity with it. This means that you won’t have to keep learning how to make the adjustments, how to secure your child etc. This sense of familiarity is also important for kids too. They will feel comfortable when they know where they will be riding year after year, and you won’t have to go through any potential upset which occurs through the switching of car seats.
- Budget Friendly
Since a convertible car seat is designed for long-term usage, you don’t have to worry about continually buying a new one as your child grows up. In fact, some of the above products make the promise to be the only car seat that you will ever need. So, if you are on a tight budget, a convertible car seat could prove to be the better option than some of the other similar choices out there.
How To Clean a Convertible Car Seat
We all know that kids can be messy. Making sure that your child’s convertible car seat is properly cleaned is an important task. Dirt, debris, and other harmful bacteria can start to accumulate – especially if your child is eating and drinking while using the seat. So, here are a few cleaning tips that you can follow.
- Take the Seat Out of the Car
First up, you should remove the seat from your car entirely. Most convertible car seats are easy to unclip, so this shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge. A lot of dirt and debris can gather underneath the car seat, as well as in the seat itself.
- Check for Machine Washable Parts
Many of the convertible car seats that we have discussed above have certain parts which can be thrown in the washing machine. These are usually detachable and clearly marked, so make sure that you only put in the parts which are suitable for machine washing as you don’t want to risk causing any damage. Also, you should check what sort of cycle they are suitable on, and whether you can put them in the dryer or if you can hang them out to air dry.
- Vacuum Up Crumbs
To get rid of the larger dirt particles, you can simply use a vacuum cleaner to suck them up. It is easier if you use one which comes with handheld attachments as this will really allow you to get into all the creases and crevices where crumbs could be hiding. Don’t forget to hoover your car as well, especially if your child has been eating in this spot.
- Use a Gentle Bristled Brush for Scrubbing
As for the main part of the car seat, you can use a gentle bristled brush and some laundry detergent to give it a good scrubbing all over. An easy place to do this task is in your bathtub as you have access to water, and you can simply wash away the dirt and debris which you clean off. Check for creases in the cover to make sure that there isn’t anything trapped inside. To do a thorough job, you are going to need to take care of all the straps, harnesses, and anywhere else which is easy to overlook.
After a proper cleaning session, your car seat is bound to get wet, so you need to choose the best spot to dry it in. You should try to choose an area which is well-ventilated. Otherwise, it is very easy for mold and mildew to accumulate. Since this is a big, chunky item, it is likely to take a long time to dry, so you are better off starting the task of cleaning in the morning and giving yourself a whole day for it to properly dry.
Best Convertible Car Seat FAQ:
Q: Are convertible car seats safer than infant car seats?
A: Infant car seats are a good choice for new-born babies, but they don’t have the advantage of being switchable, meaning that you will have to buy a new car seat after they have outgrown it. Many new-born babies of average or larger size can fit inside a convertible car seat, and as long as they are secure, they are perfectly safe inside. Check to see if the convertible car seat comes with new born padding. It is important that your child fits comfortably within the harness straps available. Of course, infant car seats are designed to contain the smallest of children safely, so if you would like to make the switch from infant seat to convertible seat, this is a perfectly viable choice to make.
Q: When should I put my baby in a convertible car seat?
A: If you have chosen to put your baby in an infant car seat, you need to switch them over at the right time. They will eventually get to the point when they have outgrown the highest height and weight of the infant car seat set by the manufacturer. Generally, this comes between nine and 18 months, but check the guidelines to be certain. Babies should be rear-facing in the back seat until the age of two, as research has shown that they are much less likely to be severely or fatally injured.
Q: How long do convertible car seats last?
A: Most convertible car seats are designed to last between six and 10 years. Of course, every seat has a different expiration date, so it is worth checking beforehand or contacting the manufacturer for some more details information. You may be wondering why car seats expire in the first place. There are a number of different factors at work here. Firstly, there is the natural deterioration of materials due to heat, humidity, and age. Secondly, rust can form on the metal sections, which will impact how the seat performs in the event of a crash. There is also the general wear and tear which occurs through regular washing, tightening of straps, and switching from front-facing to rear-facing positions. It is very easy for parts and pieces to get lost over the years, and as certain models are discontinued, you may no longer be able to get replacements from the manufacturers.
Our Top Pick
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
Suitable for children weighing between four and 65 lb, this Graco car seat is our pick of the bunch. The four-position extension panel allows for an additional five inches of leg room, which is ideal for a quickly growing child.
To keep your child comfortable, there is a 6-position recline feature and a 10-point headrest which is easily adjustable. You can adjust the harness and the headrest in a single motion. The LATCH system allows for straightforward installation.
For us, it ticks all the boxes, which is why it comes firmly at the top of our list.