Buying the BEST CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS for your child is perhaps one of the most important decisions you can make as a new parent. How tight is enough? forward or backward? To find the best car seats, we spoke to car seat safety experts, including Lorrie Walker, safety and education advisor at Safe Kids Worldwide.
In the early stages of your baby’s life, you will notice how quickly he develops in certain elements.
Unlike infant car seats, convertible infant car seats are usually an integral part of a family car. (If smooth transportation of a newborn is a priority, consider a car seat.)
The parenting and product experts at Suggestmeshop Little Lab test everything for babies, toddlers, and kids, from strollers and safety rails to toys and everything in between. Last year, we tested over two dozen convertible car seats to find the best ones, and to rate company safety, customer service, ease of installation, angle adjustment, and seat belts. We run our tests on vehicles of different sizes in every configuration described in the owner’s manual. These are the best convertible car seats to buy:
How to Choose the Best Convertible Car Seat?
All child seats in the United States must meet uniform state safety standards.
Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best convertible car seat for your child and family:
Fabric: In addition to finding a fabric to your taste, consider its durability and how easy it is to wash if it gets dirty.
Safety Indicators: Some car seats have built-in adjustment systems and indicators to show that they have been installed correctly.
Height And Weight Restrictions: Each convertible child seat has height and weight restrictions for rear and front facing and, where applicable, supportive configurations.
Correct installation of a child car seat is critical to safety, but a great deal of force may be required to properly secure the seat. Many seats are compatible with LATCH (Children’s Low Harness and Harness), an easy-to-use system that includes straps, cuffs, and hooks on both the car seat and car for a secure connection. If your vehicle is not LATCH compatible, you will likely have to install the car seat using your vehicle’s seat belt. If you need help adjusting your car seat according to the instructions, get a professional.
Viechle Size: Measure the available space in the back seat of your car before deciding which car seat you want to purchase.
Easy To Clean: Keep it simple, and look for models with removable seat cushions and machine-washable covers.
Seat Adjustment: Since a convertible car seat can accommodate your child from newborn to toddler, find a seat that can grow with them with headrests and multiple reclining positions. Wireless seat belts allow easy seat adjustment without the need to reformat the seat belt.
Expiration Date: If you plan to use the same chair for years or for several children, consider the recommended use. Never use an expired or accident car seat. This is especially true when purchasing a wheelchair car seat.
What is a Convertible Car Seats?
The convertible seat begins in a rear-facing position for infants and toddlers, then rotates forward as your child grows. (Some convertibles even convert to booster seats for school-aged children.) This convertible car seat can take you from day one to kindergarten.
When Do You Need a Convertible Car Seats?
At some point you need a convertible car seat; It is only a matter of time.
Some parents use convertible car seats from day one. Others choose to use a car seat first and then switch to a convertible child seat when their young child reaches the maximum seat height or weight, usually on their first birthday.
This is because convertible car seats are not as portable and lightweight as car seats. Unlike car seats that mount directly to the base and are designed to fit inside and outside the vehicle for easy transportation, convertible seats are mounted directly to the vehicle using a LATCH system or vehicle seat belt. The latch stands for lower anchors and lower child harnesses and is a system designed to facilitate proper attachment of child car seats without the need for a seat belt. Please note that the use of the latch to secure the car seat is subject to certain weight limits. You can read more about it here.)
Do Convertible Car Seats Have Strollers?
Currently, there is only one convertible car seat on the market that is compatible with a stroller. There are some lightweight convertible seats that are good for travel, but the inconvenient truth is that as your little one grows out of his booster seat, he will lose the ability to easily move the car seat straight into the stroller.
When to Switch from Infant Car Seats to Convertible
According to Rebecca Kimenau, a child registry consultant and child safety specialist (CPST), your child can stay in a car seat until they are older on the seat with height or weight restrictions.
It is important to remember the “or” here. This means that even if your child meets the seat weight requirements, but exceeds the height requirements, it’s time to replace it and vice versa.
Consult your child’s seat manual for the exact height limits for your particular seat, but a good general rule of thumb is that if the top of your child’s head is an inch away from the top of the car seat, it’s time to replace it. (The easiest way to test this is to find a picture book about an inch thick and place it over the child’s head while they are sitting firmly in the seat.)
1. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Great choice for smaller vehicles (but not for three-across).
- Built for extended rear-facing.
- Affordable choice, easy to install.
In our crash test, Graco Extend2Fit ranked second after Britax. It’s not as easy to install as the Britax ClickTight system, but our testers managed to get a fairly snug fit without much effort. The 22-pound Graco Bench is lighter than the 28.4-pound Britax Bench, which means the Graco is a bit easier to move around. It also has a much higher rear-facing weight limit than the Britax Marathon ClickTight (50 pounds versus 40), which means you can keep an older child rear-facing in this seat for longer if you like. † And unlike Britax, the Graco stool has not one cup holder, but two integrated cup holders.
What Our Experts Say
Extend2Fit is an affordable convertible child seat and a consistent favorite for three main reasons: high rear-facing weight limit, ease of installation, and good compatibility with nearly all types of vehicles.
One of the biggest advantages of this seat is its 50-pound weight limit, which allows kids to stay rear-facing for longer than many other convertible seats. There’s also a retractable footrest (as the chair’s name implies) that provides an additional five inches of legroom to make the extended rear swivel more comfortable. Since the seat can sit almost vertically when facing backwards, this means that taller parents or those with smaller cars can sit well. It also works well for children of all ages, from newborns to school-aged children.
What’s Worth Considering
The seat cup holder must be attached, which makes the seat wider and is not the best option if you are looking for more space in the back seat or if you want to put three seats side by side. This seat is also not a good choice if you plan to turn your child forward before they weigh 40 pounds, due to a strange rule that requires the seat to be at a certain angle, resulting in a configuration that is nearly impossible to sit on right.
Both the AAP and the NHSTA advocate that children stay in their car seats in the back for as long as possible, and broader height and weight restrictions make safe seating longer. Graco’s Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat has one of the highest height and weight limits, with a maximum height of 49 inches and 50 pounds, which is over the 90th percentile for a 5-year-old. Plus, the adjustable extension bar gives your growing child up to two inches of extra space, eliminating the fear of foot cramps. The 10-position headrest and 6-position backrest ensure a comfortable sitting position, regardless of your child’s height. And at just over $234.99, it’s one of the most affordable options out there.
What We Liked
As for safety tips to keep kids behind for longer, this convertible seat offers more legroom and an ergonomic footrest to keep feet from getting stuck. We love the fact that it also performs great in crash tests.
2. Graco Slim Fit 3 in 1 Car Seat -Slim & Comfy Design Saves Space in Your Back Seat
- Stowable cup holders.
- Smaller dimensions for smaller cars.
- Ample seat cushioning.
- Cushion safety sticker gets hot in direct sun.
- Harness straps tough to clean.
- Only four recline positions.
The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 booster seat is a popular choice for smaller cars, and its compact design fits three seats in the back of a standard vehicle. A convertible car seat has all the features you’d expect from a Graco car seat, but with more room in the back.
This 3-in-1 convertible seat grows with kids from 5lbs to 100lbs. Rear-facing children support weight limits from 5 to 40 lbs. and Forward-facing children from 22 to 65 lbs. Third place are high-back benches that weigh 40 to 100 pounds. A growing family will benefit from the versatility of the seats, which can accommodate children of all ages.
The built-in cup holders sometimes take up extra space, reducing the available space in the back.
What Our Experts Say
This seat grows with your child from front to back and eventually transforms into a booster seat with a high backrest. Graco has tested the seat in all configurations (including kids of different ages in different seat positions) to make sure it works three times, so you don’t have to worry about finding the best configuration for your family. There are thoughtful features that allow you to make the most of space and make easy adjustments, such as a front belt clip and easy-to-adjust strap with no movement. You can also remove the seat cover for washing without removing the seat or removing the straps. There are even two coasters!
Graco convertible car seats are engineered with ProtectPlus technology, a combination of crash tests to protect children from frontal, side, rear and rollover impacts. The steel-reinforced frame provides durability and strength for years of use. Correct installation is a major safety concern for children; The InRigth LATCH handle is easy to install in seconds. The 4-position recline helps parents adjust better and keeps children comfortable as they grow.
With a 10-position adjustable headrest, parents can adjust the car seat for safe and comfortable use. Simply Safe Harness threaded height adjustment system helps parents adjust harness and headrest in one motion.
The Graco SlimFit car seat also has a machine-washable cover, an easy-to-read level indicator and a built-in storage pocket.
Convertible Car Seats Specs
Height And Weight Limits: Rear-facing 5-40 pounds; forward-facing 20-65 pounds and up to 49 inches tall, high back booster 40-100 pounds; Car Seat Weight: 19.47 pounds; Dimensions: 21.5 x 19.9 x 25.5 inches.
The Graco SlimFit car seat has a 4.9 star rating on Amazon after over 33,000 reviews, and the design is guaranteed 3-in-1 years of use. This car seat uses the InRight LATCH system, which allows it to tap directly onto your vehicle’s anchor for quick installation. You can also check your settings again thanks to the level indicator built into the seat.
For ease of use, the headrest and strap can be adjusted in one motion without threading. Plus, this car seat features a slim design to maximize back seat space (even the cup holders are foldable to save space). Despite the steel structure, this car seat weighs less than 20 pounds, making it easy to move between cars as needed. According to the brand’s website, the seat cushion is machine washable, and there are also removable head and body attachments for baby rockers. This model is available in three colours.
Enthusiastic Amazon review: “Recently installed on my Ford Focus; I needed something tight as there isn’t a lot of space in my compact car. It fits perfectly upside down and very easy to install.
What’s Worth Considering
Graco is also launching an affordable SlimFit All-in-One with slim seating. Please note that this seat is solid or not suitable for 3 people depending on the width of the back seat of your vehicle.
Slim Fit 3-in-1 is an easy-to-install option at a relatively modest price, designed to support your child from birth to growth with useful features such as a 10-position headrest and 4-position recline. Revolving door is not moving. Unlike other convertible car seats, this model can convert from rear seats to a booster seat, giving a total weight range of 5 to 100 pounds. Plus, swivel cup holders make this already slim design even more compact, freeing up space in the narrow back seat.
3. Britax Boulevard Clicktight Convertible Car Seat
- Easy to install
- No rethread required
- Plush foam padding
- Good build quality
- Worry-free harness adjustment
- Heavy and bulky
- Difficulty cleaning in cracks/crevices of seat
- Cannot transition to a booster seat
This Britax pick features a 7-position, 14-position and 2-position adjustable buckle with no strap for movement, making it easy to maintain the perfect fit as your child grows. Our lab experts love that the Click Tight mounting system makes it easy to tell if a seat is tight, and even if it’s heavier and larger, this pick feels very secure.
At Britax Boulevard Clicktight ARB Convertible Car Seat School, he easily earned the honorary title. This is a top-notch car seat according to Consumer Reports when it comes to safety and ease of use, the main reason for both being the secure fit. Mounting Britax Boulevard securely is as easy as putting on a seat belt (it really is) thanks to the ClickTight system (simply lift seat, buckle and fasten). Easy installation isn’t the only area where this chair gets the highest ratings. Features like anti-rebound strap, V-cable, high-strength steel frame, and SafeCell technology make this convertible seat one of the safest on the market.
What We Liked:
Your child will sit comfortably and safely in the convertible car seat. It features 14-position quick-adjust straps to ensure the perfect fit every time. There are also two layers of side protection and a shock-absorbing base for added safety.
Enthusiastic Amazon review:
“This is a great car seat! Perfect for moving from one car to another. Easier to install and my son seems to like it.”
We also recommend the Britax Marathon with the ClickTight system, which is easy to install in the car. For this reason, Britax was generally a popular choice among parents surveyed. Kenny Fried, Vice President of Brotmans | winter | Fried tells me, “I transfer car seats from a car to a truck, and the sheer simplicity of the ClickTight system makes it special.
Instead of having the seat belt worn behind the seat and having it fixed by a professional, raise the inner seat (as if it pivots) and pull the seat belt into place. Installation takes about 30 seconds. This belt has also been attached by Walker to accommodate your child as they grow. Labrasio agrees that the wireless necklace is a plus.
- Weight range: 5-40 pounds rear-facing, 20-65 pounds forward-facing.
- Height range: Up to 49 inches.
- Carrier weight: 29.4 pounds.
- Carrier width: 18.5 inches.
4. Britax Allegiance 3 Stage Convertible Car Seat
- Car seat lasts from childhood up to 65 lbs or 7 years.
- Britax exceptional quality and security with patented systems that exceed federal standards.
- Three tilt positions and 10 harness positions for an adjustable safety as you go.
- The cover can be removed for cleaning without the need to refill the belt.
- The cover is not machine washable and must be hand washed.
- To determine if the car seat is aligned correctly, you will need to measure a visible line on the car seat with the floor under the car (not the car itself), which is a bit cumbersome and may not be true.
If you plan to use a convertible car seat from day one, make sure the seat you choose is the right one for your child. According to our car seat safety expert, the best convertible infant car seats usually don’t have seat belts. This is because the cordless sling, while comfortable, tends to push most newborns’ head forward and create an unsafe chin-to-chest position.
Loyalty has a wireless harness; But it does not affect the situation and is highly recommended for newborns. It is affordable, easy to install with LATCH and has a wide range of safety features such as a steel frame, side impact protection and a shock absorber base. The seat comes with a removable cushion to allow newborn babies to sit comfortably in the seat.
The Britax Allegiance is an affordable Britax car seat and includes many of the most popular Britax features and technologies.
Britax Allegiance is a great car seat at a low price from Britax. This chair got the best result in the main sensor crash test, is easy to use, and the best quality at a reasonable price. We love that the Allegiance has LATCH button locks, belt buckles, and an easy-to-use wireless belt height.
The Allegiance has less padding than other Britax options and it can be a little tricky to install, especially with a belt. But given the impressive crash test results and overall ease of use, we think it’s a great buy for the price. If you think you need more protection for your potential comfort or safety, the Britax sticker may be your best bet for just $40. Learn more about our favorite car seats in each category.
How do you install a Britax Allegiance?
How to Install the Britax Allegiance Since this is one of many convertible car seats, you can install it facing forward or backward. Conversely, the tape must be fed from below. You can secure it with plastic clips. For the forward-facing position, you need to pass the tape across the top. You pull down to make it tight. That’s it.
What kind of side impact protection does this Britax car seats offer?
This is called Britax Safe cell Impact Protection. As you know, side collisions are among the most dangerous collisions you can encounter. Our bodies are not made to handle it. That’s why we have car seats that make us shock absorbers. Safe cell side impact protection is designed to provide the best possible side impact protection. The cells absorb energy so it does not enter your child’s body. This is why you need good side impact protection.
5. Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car Seat, Infant to Toddler Car Seat
- Can be used for up to 10 years.
- Easy to use straps.
- Quick installation.
- Tough to fit in small vehicles.
- Infant insert and shoulder pads easily lost.
If you never want to worry about buying a car seat again, this is the car seat for you. It starts backward and then shifts forward. When your child is old enough, he will switch to a high back seat and then to a backless seat. The cloth lids are easy to remove for cleaning, as are the dual cup holders, which older kids will love to store drinks and snacks.
The Graco 4Ever DLX is Graco’s premium convertible car seat at a price that fits. The 4Ever features a beautiful 10-position belt height adjustment without refueling and two cup holders. This chair has relatively average test scores across the board with uninspiring design choices and features that struggle to keep up with similarly priced competitors.
While the Graco may look good at first glance, it doesn’t offer enough performance or features to justify the price compared to the competition. There are higher-rated sites with better scores in all dimensions and better prices than Graco, such as Graco Extend2Fit.
What Our Experts Say
The Graco 4Ever starts as a rear-facing seat that can be used when your child weighs just four pounds. When they reach their rear-facing limit, the seat swivels forward and operates 22 to 65 pounds. Then it converts to a high back booster seat and finally a backless booster seat that attaches to your car seat belt until your child weighs 120 lbs 57 inches.
Other great features include 10-position tilt, 6-position tilt capability, and two connected cup holders.
The Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat is a 4-in-1 car seat that grows with your child up to 120 pounds from birth. This means that it can support your child up to the age of ten with four applications.
It can be used first as a rear-facing car seat (4-40 lb) and then as a five-point front seat belt (22-65 lb). When your child is ready for a booster seat, they can convert to a high back booster seat (40 to 100 lbs) and eventually to a non-rear booster seat (40 to 120 lbs).
What’s Worth Considering
4Ever is not suitable for newborns, and child safety experts (also known as infant car seat experts) will tell you that this seat is difficult to install correctly, so read the manual carefully and check your seat with a professional. † Expert, if possible. (You can also check out the 4Ever DLX SnugLock model of this chair, which has proprietary technology to make installation easier than the standard model.)
It’s also a very long seat, which can be a problem if you have a sedan or a smaller car. However, this is usually fine on most SUVs.
The Graco 4Ever DLX car seat has a wireless harness system, making it easy to adjust and harness the headrest with one simple movement. The headrest has 10 height positions, so you can position your child as safely as possible while they grow.
Finally, the DLX has three new features not found in the original Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 car seat. These include RapidRemove protection that can be removed from the car seat in 60 seconds, an integrated belt buckle for easy belt installation and easy belt storage that allows your child to get in and out of the car seat.
The Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 car seat comes in a huge box with everything you need to customize the seat for children from 4 to 120 pounds. Lovely. There are bumpers for younger children and parents can convert the seat into a booster seat for the older children in their lives. It is truly an all-inclusive seat that “grows with your child”. Graco estimates that this car seat can serve your family for the first 10 years of a child’s life.
Convertible Car Seat Specs
- Height And Weight Limits: rear-facing 4-40 pounds, 1-inch below handle.
- Forward-facing 22-65 pounds and up to 52 inches.
- High back booster seat 40-100 pounds and up to 57 inches.
- Backless booster seat 40-120 pounds and up to 57 inches.
- Car Seat Weight: 22.8 pounds.
- Dimensions: 20 x 21.5 x 24 inches.
This convertible car seat is a quadruple threat. It is a rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back and forward-facing convertible car seat. Basically, your child can use it from the day they are born until the day they are ready to ride in your car without any seat. Additionally, Graco’s In right latch system makes installation quick and easy for 1 second, while a simple secure harness system automatically adjusts belt height and headrest without reaching. For $300 you get a four-seater car in one. Win win win!.