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Convertible and all-in-one car seat selection tool
USA 🇺🇸

What's new,
and what's coming soon!

If these tools have helped you, please consider sponsoring my morning coffee ☕️ as I continue onto the most ambitious phase of this project yet: video tours for each seat I can get my hands on.

### July 16, 2024 ###

It’s Prime Day! Use the Prime Day Deals filter to view what’s on deal during Prime Day 2024.

### July 13, 2024 ###

New tools 🎉


General notes:

  • If these tools have helped you,


New features and updates by request
(thank you for your feedback, it benefits us all!):

  • [Convertible, FF Only and Booster] Updated expiry filters to now be a more fluid range selection. These changes will be made to the Infant tool within the week.
  • [Convertible, FF Only and Booster] Updated price filters to now be a more fluid range selection. These changes will be made to the Infant tool within the week.
  • [Convertible, FF Only and Booster] Adjusted layout of filters and added expand, collapse and reset buttons. These changes will be made to the Infant tool within the week.


### June 30, 2024 ###

  • The convertible car seat tools are now live for both US + Canada!
  • Forward facing-only and dedicated booster tools launching by the second week of July.


### May 31, 2024 ###

  • Added this Changelog (lol so meta)
  • Added Features coming soon! section
  • Added Requests and feedback section
  • [All] Video tours for each seat
  • [All] Detailed write-ups on each seat’s View details page
  • [All] Center vehicle seat install with lower anchors compatibility

 

  • [Infant] Filter by seats that allow newborn harness routing (currently available on Convertible tools)
  • [Infant] Filter by seats that have self-retracting lower anchor installation aide feature
  • [Infant] Filter by seats that can be tumble-dried after washing (currently available on Convertible tools)
  • [Infant] Filter by recline/lounge feature

    The best car seat is the car seat that: fits your child, your vehicle, your budget, and that you can use correctly every single ride.

    What should I consider when purchasing a convertible or all-in-one car seat?

    A better term here may be “multi-mode” car seats, if we’re being honest. These seats are made to be multifunctional: “Convertible” car seats come with rear facing and forward facing modes included. However, with more manufacturers trending toward the “all-in-one” car seat, you’ll notice roughly half of the car seats on this list also include a booster mode.

    Here you’ll find more information about some of the common features to help your decision making process.

    If you only read one note from the table, please read the first note: “Is a more expensive car seat safer?

    It’s an understandable assumption: if a car seat is more expensive, it must be better, right? Well, “better” is open to interpretation, and honestly… not necessarily!

    Here’s the truth: all car seats sold on the US market meet the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS 213). To be more specific, car seats that are sold *legally* are safe to use; please avoid purchasing car seats off discount marketplace websites, or second-hand car seats from someone you don’t know and trust on a personal level. You could end up with a seat that doesn’t meet today’s safety standards, or you could end up with an expired or otherwise compromised car seat.

    What we know for sure: when car seats are installed and used correctly, they can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by up to 71%*

    Not at all crashes are survivable. However, in a survivable crash: if a car seat is installed correctly, and used correctly (proper harnessing, etc.) it will do its job.

    What’s with the additional safety features, then?

    Well, the car seat’s job is to save a life. The additional safety features are great, and don’t get me wrong: I’m so glad we have them! They could mean the difference between a very minor injury and a more serious one – but our first goal is to ensure that the child survives in a recoverable way.

    When I train new Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs, aka “car seat techs”), I always come back to this point: we don’t get to choose the crashes we have.

    If it’s within budget to get extra safety features, and you’ll see many of those fully-featured seats right on this page, that’s great! If it’s not within your budget to purchase one of the more expensive car seats please hear me and take this to heart right now: you are not risking your child’s life by buying a less expensive seat. What is most important is that you know how to safely and correctly install and use your child’s car seat, and that it is used correctly for every single ride.

    I have publicly stated this many times, and will continue to do so: both my girls have ridden in car seats ranging from $90 to $800. I wouldn’t hesitate to put them in a $90 car seat because I know that if I’m installing and using it correctly, it’s going to do its job. And in some cases, those less expensive seats may be better for certain vehicles because of space constraints, or because you need something more lightweight for travel. Don’t feel guilty for a second: they all pass the same tests.

    *Statistic via https://cps.ca/documents/position/child-and-youth-injury-prevention

    Short answer: Yes. But the responsible answer? Maybe.

    With a few rare exceptions on this list, most convertible and all-in-one car seats have a starting weight of about 4 or 5 lbs for a rear facing child. However, this does not always equate to a *good fit* for a newborn, or even just a petite infant.

    When a baby is born, they lack the tone in their neck to hold up their head. We also know that babies have very small, flexible airways. When they get into a chin-to-chest position, this can block their ability to breathe freely, and poses significant risk to a child without head control.

    There are two things that work overtime to protect a baby’s delicate airway in a car seat:

    • a properly positioned and snug-fitting harness, to avoid slouching or slumping
    • the car seat being installed at an appropriate recline angle, to keep baby’s airway open and prevent chin-to-chest positioning

    Not all convertible or all-in-one car seat harnesses can be adjusted down to get a snug fit on smaller babies. (Trust and believe, friends, my babies were very petite!)

    Additionally, consider that convertible and all-in-one car seats tend to be larger than many infant car seats (although, the reverse can also be true in a few cases!). This may take up more room in your vehicle; and while you could feel tempted to install it more upright: remember the importance of keeping baby’s airway safe.

    Some features that can make getting a good fit from birth more likely:

    • harnesses that can be adjusted/”routed” to a smaller size for smaller infants (we often call this “newborn routing”)
    • infant padding/cushion/inserts – though, some padding is more effective at helping to position baby, while some is mostly for comfort 
    • car seats with multiple recline level options to give you the best chance at getting a supportive angle

    Over the years I have learned some hard truths about car seats as I’ve met with families who found themselves incredibly remorseful about their past purchasing decision.

    When you’re trying to justify a steep price tag on a car seat, it’s common to consider how many years of use you’d get out of it and how many different modes/stages a car seat says it can do.

    I personally try to avoid thinking about how many stages a seat will do as my top factor, and instead focus on features first – especially safety and convenience features. 

    Why?

    • Just because a car seat says it can do everything doesn’t guarantee it will do all those things WELL:
      • Fit could be poor in some stages, or you could get stuck in limbo, being outgrown harness mode before reaching the height or weight minimums required for booster mode.
      • This is child-specific (growth), and it’s often hard to predict this scenario because it may be 3, 4 or 5 years into using the car seat when the problem becomes evident.


    Thankfully, I see less of this as the years go on and car seats consistently improve year over year.

    On the other hand:

    • We know car seats save lives when they are installed and used correctly.
    • Some car seats are easier to install and use correctly, thanks to convenience features like seat belt lock-offs or no-rethread harnesses. But don’t get me wrong, I love a “regular” threaded harness, and my younger daughter’s current car seat has one. Traditional “threaded” harnesses are more likely to be adjustable for smaller infants, too. If you know you’re a person who is unlikely to uninstall a car seat to adjust the harness height and instead put the task off for weeks or months (be HONEST with yourself)… a no-rethread harness is worth it. We have to use car seats correctly for them to do what they’re designed to do.
    • If you’re absolutely set on a particular safety feature, sticking with a convertible (no booster mode) may help balance cost vs. features. Not always, but maybe 😅
    • Booster seats are traditionally the least expensive of all the car seats, and if you do end up having to buy a dedicated booster-only seat, at least there’s that.

     

    If you’re buying a car seat for a grandparent (or other caregiver)’s vehicle, please read the next section.

    If you’re purchasing a car seat that is going into a grandparent’s vehicle, another caregiver’s vehicle, or especially a caregiver who may use the same seat for multiple kids of different ages and stages – here’s what I want you to consider:

    • Focus on ease of use and ease of install. As I’ve said a few times above, car seats save lives when they are installed and used correctly.
    • If the car seat is used every now and then, and will be coming out of the vehicle when it’s not needed: ease of install is everything. Seats with built-in lock-offs can help to get a solid seat belt install, quickly and easily.
    • Similarly, if they ever need to make adjustments, we want them to be easy and straightforward. A no-rethread harness can help get the perfect harness height without needing to uninstall the seat. 
    • Consider a rotating car seat, specifically with a tether attached to the base portion: Evenflo Revolve series, Maxi-Cosi Emme, Safety 1st Turn and Go, Nuna REVV all allow for the car seat’s top tether to be attached when in rear-facing mode. This means you can rotate from rear facing to forward facing without needed to adjust the install. When my youngest was still in daycare, we had her set up in a rotating seat for this exact reason: she was rear facing, but I still needed to use the car seat forwarding facing on a regular basis when driving my older daughter’s friends. On those days where I was driving an older, forward facing kid, I would simply swivel the seat into forward facing position, quickly adjust the harness (no-rethread) and if needed, the crotch buckle. It would take me all of 10 seconds (truly) to adjust the same car seat to two very different kids.
      • and for accessibility reasons, it can be physically helpful for anyone who otherwise has difficulty lifting a rear facing child sideways into their car seat.

    Unfortunately, there’s no magic way to know this without actually trying it.

    Even if it may fit in the same vehicle for another family – families are different! My husband and I aren’t big people, we have small kids, and we don’t need the leg room that taller families do. We didn’t have issues fitting rear facing car seats in our fairly compact vehicle. Whereas, other families with the same vehicle and taller drivers/passengers would certainly feel the squeeze. 

    Questions to ask yourself:

    • Who drives the vehicle?
      • If there’s multiple drivers, consider who is tallest and where the front seats may be positioned for them to drive safely. This can impact backseat space and therefore limit car seat options.
    • Who else is in the backseat?
      • Fitting other riders, whether in car seats or not, could prove challenging. Sometimes it starts to feel like a game of Tetris (much less fun than it sounds)
      • If you’ve got a full vehicle, can you actually get everyone into their car seats and still reach to harness them? If you’ve seen a caregiver loading a child through the back hatch of an SUV in a grocery store parking lot, you know what I’m talking about.

     

    My advice:

    • Use this tool to narrow down some options that meet your needs and budget.
    • Then, head to a local baby store and try them for fit in your vehicle. Most baby stores, especially independent/boutique stores, will allow you to test-install a car seat to determine if it will work.
    • If your child is “on the outside” already, take them with you, too, to see how it fits them. If not, be sure to have their height and weight recorded before you go.

     

    Let's find you a car seat!

    Use the filters to help find a seat that best fits your needs. Your results will update in real-time.

    Prime Day
    Price

    Drag the circles to adjust the price range.

    Convertible – new pricing - slider
    01200

    note: the price range filter is based on each seat's regular retail price -- sale prices may be lower!

    all seats on this page will rear-face and forward-face, but many additionally have booster mode included

    Convertible car seats: mode features
    Convertible car seats: size and weight
    Convertible car seats: safety features
    Convertible car seats: child fit and fabrics
    Convertible car seats: convenience features
    Convertible car seats: install features

    Drag the circles to adjust the expiry range.

    Convertible new expiry - slider
    6 years12 years

    Or, alternatively:

    Convertible car seats: expiry

    Most seats expire a defined number of years from the seat's date of manufacture (the number of years is typically outlined in the seat's user guide, or indicated on a label on the seat itself). However, some manufacturers base a seat's expiration date off the date of purchase of the seat, provided the owner maintains proof of purchase (receipt).