Best car seat 2018

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Choosing and using the right convertible car seat can be a matter of life and death. Literally.

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of preventable child deaths and injuries. And that means you can’t afford to compromise on the safety of the seat, or on its quality.

So in this article, we’ve done the legwork for you.

The 8 Best and Safest Convertible Car Seats

We’ve analyzed each of the best seats for safety standards and easy installation, to present you with the 8 best convertible car seats of 2019…

including the exact information you need in order to decide which car seat is the best and the safest for your child and for your specific needs.

Our priorities, in order, were:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • How it installs in a vehicle
  • Ease of use
  • And the seat’s height and weight limits

Let’s get to it right away.

Here are the 8 best and safest convertible car seats, in descending order:

#1. Britax Marathon ClickTight (best overall)

Britax’s Marathon ClickTight has everything going for it: easy installation for both forward- and rear-facing positions, an anti-rebound bar which can be bought together with the seat, a no-rethread harness, and a crash protection rating of “better.”

The Marathon ClickTight’s main advantage is its super-easy installation, no matter what position, no matter what car. This is because the ClickTight series has a unique seatbelt threading system and a very clear indicator showing when the car seat is properly installed and when it is not. It’s not just fail-safe – it’s practically impossible to mess up the installation.

In addition, Britax’s Marathon offers a “no-rethread” harness, so you won’t have to rethread the entire belt every time your child grows and you need to adjust the straps. This is a huge advantage, because many parents rethread the harness wrong, twist it, or simply leave it too loose.

The Marathon is comfortably padded and shaped, so kids are comfortable sitting in it for long rides. It also uses the least amount of flame retardant chemicals, offers easy cleanup, and is just 18.5 inches wide, making it one of the easier car seats to fit in a three-car seat back row.

The Pros:

  • Less flame-retardant chemicals
  • Relatively slim fit
  • No-rethread harness
  • Easy to clean

The Cons:

  • Anti-rebound bar purchased separately

What We Like Best:

  • The fail-safe installation system

#2. Clek Fllo (best in safety & comfort)

The Clek Fllo offers several important safety features: An anti-rebound bar for the rear-facing position, seatbelt lock-offs, easy installation, and a Consumer Report crash protection rating of “better.”

Clek’s anti-rebound bar is a unique feature which adds stability during a crash, lessening the impact of the rebound and reducing the seat’s rotation and movement during and immediately following the impact.

When used forward-facing, the Fllo offers an easy installation system which holds the seat tightly and requires minimum effort to install properly. Plus, the seat includes seatbelt lock-offs, which not all seats have. (A lock-off is a little clip which prevents the seatbelt from moving or adjusting due to pressure.)

The seat also offers longer extended rear-facing, since it has a weight limit of 50 lbs instead of the standard 40 lbs – so even slightly heavy children will be able to rear-face until about age five. Another bonus: Clek doesn’t use toxic flame retardants on its car seats.

When it comes to comfort, this Clek is also a star: Even though the seat is relatively heavy, it’s narrow and can fit easily into a back row with another booster or car seat. Plus, the Clek Fllo is easy to clean, soft, and very comfortable to the touch.

One more thought: Clek’s website has all the information you need, easily accessible. And the company offers transparency with regards to its crash statistics – and none of the others do.

The Pros:

  • No toxic flame retardants
  • A slim fit
  • Extended rear-facing
  • Anti-rebound bar

The Cons:

  • Relatively heavy

What We Like Best:

    • The easy installation

#3. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 (best if you want one car seat for all ages)

The Graco 4Ever is a convertible car seat which seats babies and children from birth until they can go booster-free.

Like most Graco car seats, the Graco 4Ever fits babies as small as 4 lbs. However, the 4Ever can only be used rear-facing until your baby reaches 40 lbs. That’s not bad, but it’s not unusual, either – there are seats which allow for rear-facing up to 45 or 50 lbs.

What makes the 4Ever unique is that it’s pretty much the only safety seat on the market which can be used as a rear-facing and forward-facing car seat, and as a high-back and backless booster. Sure, there are other convertible (and combination) seats, but they don’t offer all four options – they either skip the rear-facing option or they skip the backless booster option.

The Graco 4Ever offers easy headrest and harness adjustment, allowing you to adjust both with a single pull or push. The seat also offers an easy LATCH installation system, which means parents have a higher chance of installing the seat correctly. However, this seat doesn’t have seatbelt lock-offs.

Comfort and ease are prioritized: The Graco 4Ever is well-padded and comfortable for kids in all four positions.

Parents are well provided for, too: The 4Ever can transition from forward-facing car seat to high-back booster without being taken out of the car. There’s a place to store the harness, user manual, and LATCH tethers when not in use – and it’s super-simple to access the belt paths and snap the fabric back into place.

The Pros:

  • Fits babies weighing 4 lbs and up
  • Easy headrest and harness adjustment

The Cons:

  • No lock-offs
  • Rear-facing only up to 40 lbs

What We Like Best:

  • You can switch from forward-facing car seat to booster without removing the seat from your vehicle.

#4. Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One (highest weight limit for booster)

This three-in-one convertible car seat is a win on several counts: First of all, it converts from a car seat capable of keeping a five-pound newborn safe, to a forward-facing car seat and then to a harnessed booster.

Secondly, the seat is relatively easy to install and includes an automatically retracting “Sure LATCH” system which tightens the seatbelt around the car seat – so you don’t have to. And third, the harness is easily adjustable, saving you the hassle of rethreading it every time you need to adjust for a growth spurt.

It’s also nice that the Evenflo Symphony offers cup holders and has a sleeve to cover the buckle so it won’t get too hot. Plus, the seat has shoulder strap indicators to aid you in adjusting the straps properly, both to fit your child and the seat’s orientation.

Bear in mind, though, that this seat doesn’t have seatbelt lock-offs, and your child may become too tall for it before he grows out of the booster stage.

The Pros:

  • Shoulder strap indicators
  • Easily adjustable harness
  • Offers cup holders
  • Buckle sleeve

The Cons:

  • No seat belt lock-offs
  • Relatively low forward-facing height limit

What We Like Best:

  • The automatically retracting LATCH system

Rated Consumer Report’s top pick, the Chicco NextFit was given a crash protection of “best,” and its SuperCinch easy-installation feature makes LATCH installations easier.

The NextFit’s SuperCinch system helps tighten the straps so the seat doesn’t move – whether you use the car’s seatbelt or the LATCH tether system. And considering how hard it is to properly tighten a car seat’s belt so the seat can’t move – the SuperCinch is pretty revolutionary.

One of the other benefits of the Chicco NextFit is that it can rear-face a child up to 49 inches – by which time he will probably have outgrown the weight limit as well.

When it comes to comfort, there’s no question this seat is a good pick: The padding is comfortable, kids like the seat, and it’s easily adjustable. The NextFit seat also offers nine reclining positions and a zipper feature allowing you to easily remove the fabric for washing.

It bears mentioning, though, that it was slightly difficult to find solid information on the safety of Chicco’s NextFit car seat – despite the seat’s popularity and high ratings.

The Pros:

  • Top crash protection rating
  • Easy to remove fabric for washing
  • Easy installation system

The Cons:

  • Some parents had difficulty installing this seat, despite the easy-install system.

What We Like Best:

  • The super-high rear-facing height limit

#6. Graco Extend2Fit (best for budget)

Graco’s Extend2Fit is a convertible car seat that allows babies and toddlers to ride rear-facing or forward-facing. It does not, however, convert from car seat to booster.

This seat isn’t listed on Consumer Reports’ site, but its rear-facing weight limit is 50 lbs – higher than that of several other seats, and allowing children to remain rear-facing for longer. It doesn’t give a rear-facing height limit, though, other than that the top of the baby’s head needs to be at least 1″ “below the red handle.”

Its seat cushion is machine-washable, but the harness needs to be spot-cleaned with a damp cloth.

It’s worth taking into consideration that while this seat does have an easy LATCH installation system, seatbelt installation may still be difficult.

The Pros:

  • Easy LATCH installation
  • High rear-facing weight limit
  • Fits babies weighing 4 lbs and up

The Cons:

  • Seatbelt installation can be difficult
  • Does not convert to a booster seat

What We Like Best:

  • The seat cushion is machine-washable.

#7. Safety 1st Grow and Go (lightest weight)

At just 19 inches (48 cm) in width, Safety 1st’s Grow and Go convertible car seat is a slim car seat which allows children to ride rear-facing, forward-facing, or using the seat as a high-back booster.

While it’s relatively easy to use forward-facing, Consumer Reports notes that a rolled towel needs to be used to adjust the rear-facing recline, and using it rear-facing with just a seat belt is not the easiest.

The Grow and Go’s harness system is easy to adjust without rethreading for larger children, but for small infants, adjustment is more complex, requiring several steps. Consumer Reports also noted that when used as a booster, the shoulder belt sometimes slips out of the guide.

This car seat is machine washable and dryer-safe, and the cover comes off easily – there’s no need to remove the harness to wash the seat. It also has an easily-adjustable headrest and side impact protection.

The Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy harness adjustment
  • Easy headrest adjustment

The Cons:

  • Rear-facing recline adjustment requires a rolled towel
  • Rear-facing seatbelt installation can be difficult
  • Rear-facing height limit is relatively low

What We Like Best:

  • The fabric is machine-washable and dryer safe

#8. Diono Raidan R100 (best for traveling)

Like the Evenflo, this car seat is a three-in-one and can be used as a rear-facing car seat, as a forward-facing seat, or as a booster.

The Radian R100 is narrow, which means you’ll have an easier time fitting multiple safety seats into the back row.

The seat has a crash protection rate of “very good” (it’s not listed with the other convertible seats, for some reason), but it doesn’t have an easy, no-fail installation system – or a seatbelt lock-off.

Also, it might be hard to properly install this car seat in a rear-facing position, and rear-facing installation requires the use of a separate platform (which is included when you buy the seat). However, the Radian R100 does work very well as a booster seat.

One of the cool things about this seat is that it has a “backpack” option. Though the seat is on the heavier side, you can fold it up and strap it onto your back. Think: Walking through airports, trips abroad when you want to ensure your child is strapped safely into a taxi, and so on. Note, though, that the backpack straps are sold separately.

The Raidan R100 also offers a machine-washable cover, an option to add a cup holder or two (these are sold separately), and a comfortable plush fabric.

The Pros:

  • Good crash protection
  • Slim fit
  • Machine-washable cover

The Cons:

  • No seat belt lock-off
  • No easy installation system
  • Rear-facing use requires a platform
  • Slightly heavy

What We Like Best:

  • It can be carried as a backpack

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Want to see how the technical details compare?

It’s true that we’ve gone over the safety and comfort features of each seat – but there’s more to choosing a convertible car seat than just words.

In the table below, you’ll see the “specs” of each seat, including child height and weight, seatbelt lock-of info, and a summary of what we wrote about installation.

Car Seat Rear-facing weight range: Forward-facing weight range: Height limit: Installation method: No-fail installation? Seat weight: Seatbelt lock-off? Good from birth?
Clek Fllo 14 – 50 lbs
(6.4 – 22.7 kg)
(from 5 lbs with infant thingy)
22 – 65 lbs 25 – 43 in
(64 – 110 cm)
Rear facing
30 – 49 in
(76 – 127 cm)
Forward facing
(infant thingy supports rear-facing from 19”)
Rear facing using base
Both seatbelt and LATCH capable
LATCH and seatbelt installation are not mutually exclusive
No, but if you watch the video, you’re not likely to mess it up. 25 lbs,
28 lbs with anti- rebound bar
Yes. Yes, but needs their “infant-thingy” insert.
Britax Marathon ClickTight 5 – 40 lbs 20 – 65 lbs 49” or less Seatbelt installation and LATCH (using lower anchors only)
Both Australian and Swedish tethers are supported
Yes, proprietary ClickTight installation. 28.5 lbs Yes – the ClickTight button. Yes.
Chicco NextFit 5 – 40 lbs 22 – 65 lbs Up to 49 “ rear facing Complete support for both LATCH and seatbelt Claims to be easiest and simplest, but users have reported failures. 25.5 lbs Yes. Yes.
Diono Radian R100 5-40 lbs 20 – 65 lbs
Converts to booster for up to 100 lbs
Rear facing Forward facing Seatbelt and Latch Unique super latch system “that makes installation easy.” ~26 lbs No. Yes.
Evenflo Symphony DLX 5 – 40 lbs.
(2.3 – 18 kg)
22 – 65 lbs
(10 – 29.4 kg)
As booster 40 – 110 lbs
(18 – 49.8 kg)
19 – 40 in
(48 – 102 cm)
rear facing
28 – 50 in
(71 – 127 cm)
Forward facing
as booster 44 – 57 in
(112 – 145 kg)
Both Seatbelt and latch No, but has an automatic retract system. ~21 lbs (9. 53) No. Yes.

What is a convertible car seat?

Convertible car seats convert from rear-facing infant car seats to forward-facing car seats for toddlers. Rarely, the same seat will convert to a high-back booster. These seats will have detailed guidelines on how tall and heavy your child must be in order to use the seat in a forward-facing position, and will have instructions for both rear- and forward-facing installation.

It’s important not to confuse convertible car seats with combination seats:

While convertible car seats can safely restrain newborns (check your seat’s minimum weight), combination seats are forward-facing only. These seats convert from forward-facing car seat to high-backed (and sometimes backless) booster seats.

What else do you need to know?

For this article, I checked each car seat (except the Symphony DLX, which wasn’t listed) on Consumer Reports, but wasn’t happy with the amount of detail they gave.

The reason is this: Consumer Reports writes “crash protection” and rates each car seat with a score of “best,” “better,” or “basic” – but doesn’t tell us what those scores mean. The Car Seat Lady said it perfectly when she pointed out that each of these crash tests was done rear facing, forward-facing, with a seatbelt, with LATCH, etc., but Consumer Reports don’t provide us with all the information.

Consumer Reports also doesn’t tell us if the dummies that faced forward were simulating children under or above age two.

Why does this information matter, anyways?

Even though infants can technically be placed in a forward-facing seat from about the age of nine months, the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends leaving your child rear-facing *at least* until age two, or until they outgrow their safety seat.

Convertible seats have an inherent advantage over infant car seats when it comes to rear-facing children. This is because they’re made to accommodate taller children and are usually able to accommodate heavier children rear-facing longer than a regular infant seat.

However, Consumer Reports doesn’t give us any of the specific info which could help us decide on an appropriate safety seat.

Their general “better,” “basic,” or “best” rating does not tell us if a specific car seat works well rear-facing but is not worth using forward-facing, or if it flunked the test rear-facing but is great as a forward-facing seat or as a booster.

The other issue is that even “basic” crash protection will properly protect your child. However, even the “best” crash protection will ONLY protect your child if the seat is installed correctly.

Statistics show that 73% of car seats and 95% of parents make at least one mistake when using car seats. So it’s safe to say that the most important aspect of buying a car seat is not what Consumer Reports rated its crash protection as – but how easy it is to correctly install and use it.

That’s why easy installation is so important.

Which is the best convertible car sat for newborns? Which is best for toddlers?

That depends on what you need. If you’re okay with using an infant insert, you can choose pretty much any of the convertible car seats listed for your newborn. However, if you prefer to avoid inserts, you’ll want to choose Graco’s Extend2Fit, Chicco’s NextFit, or Britax’s Marathon ClickTight.

If your baby was born slightly early (or if you’re at risk for delivering a preemie), you’ll want a seat with a minimum weight limit of 4 lbs, not 5. For that, choose the Graco Extend2Fit, or the Graco 4Ever.

Toddlers will enjoy the extra legroom offered by Safety 1st’s Grow and Go.

Which is best for tall kids?

Parents of tall children will want to go with Chicco’s NextFit, which can rear-face children up to 49″ tall.

Next in line for tall toddlers is the Diono Radian R100, since it has a forward-facing height limit of 57″. For tall babies, the Diono has a rear-facing height limit of 44″, and the Clek Fllo’s limit is 43″.

Which is the safest?

If you’re looking for the safest convertible car seat out there, the prize would have to go to either Britax’s Marathon ClickTight (or their Advocate or Boulevard ClickTight seats), to Clek’s Fllo, or to Chicco’s NextFit.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that Chicco’s seat is slightly harder to install than the Britax and Clek seats.

Which seat is best for airline travel?

The easiest car seat for airline travel would be the Diono Radian R100, since it offers the option to wear it as a backpack. However, another good option – which is somewhat safer in general – is the Clek Fllo.

Bear in mind that you don’t need to buy a special car seat for airline travel – all you need to do is ensure that the seat you buy (or the one you already have) is approved for air travel.

If your child is big enough for a booster, there are inflatable backless boosters which are safe, lightweight, and convenient.

Which is best for parents on a budget?

Parents on a budget are in a tight spot: On the one hand, you don’t want to skimp on safety. On the other, you really do need to choose the best car seat for the least amount of money.

If you’re tight on cash, choose either the Safety 1st Grow and Go or Graco’s Extend2Fit.

Which is the most compact? Which is best for small cars?

For parents who need to fit three safety seats in the back row, each additional inch of width is crucial. If you’re looking for a compact convertible car seat, Clek’s Fllo wins hands down, at less than 17″, followed by the Britax Marathon ClickTight at 18.5″ and Safety 1st’s Grow and Go at 19″.

If your vehicle is small in general, go for the Clek Fllo.

Which is the most lightweight?

If you’re looking for a lightweight, portable car seat, you’ll want to choose Safety 1st’s Grow and Go. At just over 18 lbs, it’s about 2.5 lbs lighter than its runner-up – the Evenflo Symphony DLX.

How do you choose a convertible car seat?

Choosing a car seat, especially a convertible car seat, is complicated. Here are some points to take into consideration before making a purchase:

1. Easy installation: As we mentioned earlier, the vast majority of children use car seats which aren’t properly installed. The best way to prevent improper installation is by buying a car seat with a fail-safe installation system.

2. Safety: Be sure your car seat meets or exceeds safety guidelines. Register your seat with the company, so that you’ll be aware of any recalls or “fix it” kits the company provides.

3. Easy adjustment: Harness adjustment can be tricky! Try to find a seat with easy harness adjustment, and be sure you can’t pinch the harness between two fingers when your child is strapped into the seat.

4. Side impact protection: Be sure the seat you choose has proper side impact protection. It doesn’t have to be cushy, but it needs to be there.

5. LATCH: Most cars today are equipped with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). LATCH makes it significantly easier to install safety seats properly. Whether or not your current vehicle is LATCH-equipped, be sure the car seat you choose offers that option.

6. Expiration: Many seats today expire after 10 years, but some expire after only 7 or 8. Never use a car seat which has passed its expiration date, even if it looks perfectly fine. And, check how long you have before the seat expires: If you plan to have only one or two kids, you should be able to buy each of them a single convertible car seat, to last from when they’re born until they’re ready for a backless booster or a seatbelt.

The bottom line?

If you’re looking to buy a car seat, make a list of your priorities first. What do you *need* to have, and what can you do without?

If you own a car and are looking for the sturdiest, safest seat out there, with fail-safe installation – your best bet is the Britax (either the Marathon ClickTight, or its wider sibling Advocate ClickTight).

If you need to fit three safety seats in your back seat, you might not be able to fit the Marathon ClickTight or the Symphony DLX.

In that case we recommend the Chicco NextFit:

And if you don’t have a car, but are willing to practice installing your car seat on someone else’s, the Radian R100 might be just right, since it folds up compactly and can be carried on your back.

What do you think? Have you owned any of these? Have a question we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments.

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The Best Baby and Toddler Car Seats

We make some things needlessly convoluted. Car seats shouldn’t be one of those things. The guidelines, issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are clear: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing only or rear-facing convertible car seat until the age of two.

You can choose between two types of car seats when it comes to your newborn. Rear-facing only car seats generally fit babies weighing up to 22 to 35 pounds, depending on the specific model, usually have a base that remains in the car, and have handles so you can lift the car seat in and out of the car.

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Convertible car seats can be converted to forward-facing car seats for older children, once they outgrow either the weight or length limit for rear-facing seats, so they’re the more economical option. However, they are meant to stay in the car and do not have handles. Car seats can be installed with either the vehicle’s seat belt or it’s LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) attachment system.

See more: Best Travel Strollers

“It doesn’t have to be that complicated in terms of seats,” says expert Dr. Benjamin D. Hoffman, the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. “The convenience aspect of the rear-facing only car seats that come in and out of the car using a detachable base, that is invaluable. If the family doesn’t have the means to purchase two car seats, the convertible seat is fantastic. I know it can feel intimidating and complicated.”

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When kids outgrow the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat, they should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, per the AAP. Once they outgrow forward-facing car seats, they can switch a belt-positioning booster seat until the car seat belt fits properly, usually when kids are about four feet, nine inches tall, or about 8-12 years old.

These are some of the best rear-facing car seats for newborns, according to the AAP, as well as convertible car seats that can be used with newborn inserts/adapters. All of them meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 for safety. As for accessories to attach to your car seat to entertain your kid, like plastic mirrors, opt out. These items are not regulated and have never been crash-tested.

Best Infant Car Seats and Best Toddler Car Seat

One of the Chicco car seat’s claims to fame is its easy installation process. This car seat clicks easily into the included stay-in-car base.

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The Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat has a quick-remove seat pad for machine washing, and a breathable 3D AirMesh backrest. There’s a five-point harness with one-pull tightening to help keep your baby secure, and the carrier shell is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam for improved impact protection. The car seat also features a large zip-off canopy with a zip-on visor.
Weight: 4-30 pounds
Height: Up to 30 inches in height.

This top-tier convertible car seat alerts you if you accidentally leave your baby in the car.

When synced with the installed vehicle receiver and the driver’s smartphone, this car seat monitors the wellbeing of the child and lets you know if you left your kid in the car. It has an adjustable Linear Side-Impact Protection (L.S.P.) System, which can reduce side impact forces by up to 25 percent when used properly, and a 12-position height adjustable headrest with integrated no-rethread harness.
Weight: 5-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

If you’re looking for a car seat that’s lightweight and easy to carry, the Cosco option is right for you.

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The Cosco DX car seat includes an infant insert that gives smaller babies a more snug fit, and it weighs just over 10 pounds. It has a five-point harness with up-front adjustment.
Weight: 4-22 pounds
Height: 29 inches

This car seat is one of the easiest to install, period, and takes up the least amount of space.

This innovative beauty of a convertible car seat has some very cool features, like an anti-rebound bar, a steel magnesium frame, and GreenGuard Select certified Crypton fabric. It has an easy to install rigid LATCH system for the forward-facing configuration, and equally easy LATCH anchors for rear-facing use. Plus, it’s narrow enough to fit into smaller cars. The brand uses the most eco-friendly fabrics and materials possible, which is a huge bonus for parents to whom this stuff matters. Do note that you need to buy what the brand calls the infant-thingy if using this as a rear-facing infant car seat.
Weight: 14-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

The Evenflo LiteMax car seat is ideal for smaller babies. It has an adjustable support leg with easy-to-read indicators that helps stabilize the seat base, meaning fewer installation mishaps.

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The Evenflo car seat has easy-to-slide harness straps to enable instant adjustment for your baby’s growth without removing and re-threading the annoying harness straps. It’s stellar quality for the price.
Weight: 4-35 pounds
Height: 32 inches

The Graco car seat has an adjustable base with four recline positions. Plus, there’s an indicator that lets you know when the car seat is installed correctly.

Another car seat that has easy installation cred, the Graco grows with your infant. The brand’s Click Connect system provides a one-step secure attachment to all Click Connect strollers to create a handy and no-hassle travel system.
Weight: 4-30 pounds
Height: 30 inches

The Mesa car seat can accommodates babies as small as four pounds, up to tots weighing 35 pounds. It comes with an infant insert for smaller babies.

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The Mesa car seat has a tightness indicator and self-retracting LATCH connectors for fast, accurate and easy installation, to minimize user error.
Weight: 4-35 pounds
Height: 32 inches

We like this car seat because it fits three across in most vehicles, so it’s ideal for families with multiple kids.

The Sonus convertible car seats features an air flow ventilation system that provides a temperature-regulated, comfortable traveling experience for your kiddo. They theoretically won’t overheat. It has removable pads for easy machine washing, plus two cup holders, and a head pillow for support.
Weight: 5-50 pounds
Height: 50 inches

You don’t need to waste time and energy figuring out installation with the Britax convertible car seat, thanks to its push button LATCH connectors and built-in lock-offs.

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The Britax car seat has a quick-adjust 10 position harness with a headrest that grows along with your child. You can remove the car seat cover and clean it.
Weight: 5-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

This Britax rear-facing car seat has the brand’s SafeCell impact protection, plus an impact-absorbing base and easy installation.

We like this Britax car seat because of its simple installation. It has center-pull straps and quick, push-button, lower LATCH connectors. It’s compatible with any Britax or BOB stroller.
Weight: 4-35 pounds
Height: 32 inches

If you really want to buy one car seat, this is it. The The Magellan convertible car seat grows with your child from birth to 10 years.

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The Maxi-Cosi Magellan convertible car seat has 14 height positions and seven recline positions you can choose from, and it transforms into a booster seat when needed. The cover is machine-washable.
Weight: 5-120 pounds
Height: Adjustable

This convertible car seat accommodates kids weighing up to 65 pounds. Only the lower seven positions can be used in rear-facing mode. It weighs 28 pounds, so it’s definitely on the heftier side for lugging around.

Peg Perego’s car seat comes with EPS side foam in the shell and in the head panels for extra side impact protection. It also has adjustable LATCH connectors to add stability and simplify installation.
Weight: 5-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

Graco’s convertible car seat has dual cup holders, and can be customized to fit just about any child to make sure they ride in plush comfort.

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The Graco convertible car seat has a six-position recline, and a four-position extension panel that adjusts to provide five inches of additional legroom, meaning your child can sit more comfortably when he or she is rear-facing. Most deluxe of all is the 10-position headrest, which will keep that noggin happy.
Weight: 4-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

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Bringing your baby home from hospital may well be one of the most joyful experiences of your life, but it’s also the most nerve-wracking, so you definitely don’t want to worry about whether you have the right car seat.

Choosing the best car seat can be tricky, whether you’re looking for an infant seat or booster seat, there are a myriad of designs to navigate and confusing classifications for age to get your head around.

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We’ve rounded up a list of the best-rated car seats around, and also included some important safety information you need to know.

How to buy the best car seat

Before you look at any seats, it’s best to get an understanding of the law. In the UK, all children need a car seat from birth until 12 years old or until they are 135cm tall (whichever comes first). Of course, your car seat needs to meet EU safety standards (shown by the E symbol on the label) and it’s vital that you make sure your child’s car seat is the right category for their age and size.

There are lots of categories or ‘Groups’ that tell you whether a car seat is suitable for a newborn or toddler. For example, Group 0+: 0-13kg is suitable from birth until around 12 months, while Group 0+/1: 0-18kg, last from birth to around 4 years. So once you’ve worked out which groups are suitable for your child a given weight or age, you have a decision to make about longevity – whether you want to pick one that you might keep for as little as six months, or invest in a long-term seat, which can be more expensive, but might save you money overall.

While the weight or height of your child is the primary thing to take into account, new mums, in particular, may want to investigate the weight or a car seat. Most Group 0+ seats weigh around 3.5kg and can be clipped into a travel system (buggy with benefits) so it’s easy to move a sleeping baby and not put your back out. However, Group 0+/1 car seats tend to weigh more and may be a lot larger to lug around – which may or may not be a concern, depending on your lifestyle.

Another big consideration is the system you choose to safely fasten a car seat to your car – and this requires a bit of rooting around in your motor.

Isofix (International Standards Organisation FIX) systems work by the base of the car seat being hooked onto two small metal bars, or anchor points, in your car, making it quick and easy to attach and detach seats. Alternatively, there are traditional systems that make use of your car’s seat belt to hold a car seat in place.

Whatever system you choose, it’s important to make sure the seat is fitted correctly, and this is where buying your car seat from a shop may be handy, because some stores have experts to help fit them.

1. Cybex Sirona S i-Size Car Seat

An excellent rotating car seat that will grow with your child

Specifications

Age band: Birth up to 105 cm, approx. 4 years Group: 0+/1 Weight: 15kg (33lb) Direction: Rotating Fitting: Isofix

Reasons to buy

+Looks great+Easy, one-hand rotation+Comfortable for child+Lots of protection

Reasons to avoid

-Heavy

The Sirona S i-Size car seat from Cybex offers seriously comfortable rear-facing travel for children up to 105 cm (or approximately 4 years). It features an intelligent design that means even taller kids have plenty of legroom to sit comfortably, and is combined with plenty of soft memory-foam-style padding resulting in lots of compliments during our review period.

The Sirona S features a simple 360-degree rotating mechanism, which makes it easy to switch between rear-facing and boarding position. The seat also offers five reclining positions when rear-facing and 3 reclining positions when forward-facing. This can all be operated with one hand, which can come be incredibly useful.

For your child’s safety, the seat features an Integrated Linear Side-Impact Protection System, which reduces the force of a side-impact by approximately 25-percent, and Driving Direction Control, which prohibits forward-facing use until the child has reached 16 months of age.

  • Full Cybex Sirona S I-Size car seat with Sensor Safe review

2. Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus i-Size

A Group 0+ car seat for easy movement

Age band: Birth up 13kg/29lb or approx 12-15months Group: 0+ Weight: 4.5kg (9.9lb) Direction: Backwards Fitting: i-Size regulated Isofix compatible +Compatible with loads of buggies+Isofix compatible with extra safety features -Base and adaptors cost extra

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus i-Size infant car seat is a Group 0+ seat, perfect for new mums on the go, as it weighs a manageable 4.5kg. Suitable from birth to 12 months (or up to 13kg/29lbs), the i-Size car seat can be easily clicked into a pushchair to create a flexible travel system, meaning you can move your sleeping baby from car to pushchair or carry the whole infant seat into the house, without waking them… or that’s the idea.

The popular car seat is Isofix compatible and can be used with a 2wayFix base (sold separately). Like all newborn seats, this one is designed to be rear-facing, but also features a high tech impact-absorbing side protection system at the top side wings to provide extra comfort and extra support in the unlikely but terrifying event of a side-impact collision. There’s also a comfortable baby-hugger inlay for a tailored fit and a removable machine washable cover, which as all parents know, is important.

To make life easier, the harness and headrest can be adjusted simultaneously to suit the height of your child and there’s a one-pull, three-point harness adjustment and a memory button for easy release from your pushchair, which could be a Bugaboo, Quinny, Maxi Cosi, iCandy and Uppababy thanks to adapters sold separately. The seat itself doesn’t cost too much, but it’s worth bearing in mind that an Isofix base and any adaptors you may need will make this more expensive.

3. Cybex Pallas m-fix in Blue Moon

Colourful seat built to last

Age band: 9 months to 12 years (9-36kg) Group: 1/2/3 Weight: 9.3 kg (20.5lb) Direction: Forward Fitting: Isofix +For children 9 months to 12 years+Loads of safety features -Statement colour isn’t for everyone

The Cybex Pallas m-fix car seat is a great option for parents who need to replace a newborn car seat they used with a travel system, but want something that will last. This is because the seat is group 1/2/3, which means it’s suitable for toddlers aged from 9 months to 12 years (or 9-36kg).

While the car seat looks fun with its vibrant colour scheme, it has tonnes of safety features, including a reclining headrest that prevents your child’s head from falling forward while an L.S.P. system to absorb the force of a side-impact collision, reducing the risk of injury. Best of all, these features also make your baby more comfortable. The seat uses an Isofix system, making it potentially unsuitable for older cars.

4. BeSafe iZi Go

Lightweight, ergonomic seat for new borns +

Age band: Birth to 12-15 months Group: 0+ Weight: 3.7kg (8.1lb) Direction: Backwards Fitting: Seat belt or Isofix base +Lightweight at 3.7kg and ergonomically designed+Part of a modular system for flexibility -Buying into a modular system is a commitment

BeSafe iZi Go Modular i-Size is a Group 0+ infant seat for babies up to the age of 12-15 months or 75cm tall. It’s designed to be easy to carry, which is a godsend if your lifestyle involves getting a baby from A to B in a car. With an ergonomic handle that’s comfy on the hip and at a light weight of 3.7kg, the infant seat is very easy to carry. The innovative egg shape also makes it easy to lift in and out of the car – something that cannot be underestimated.

The seat has extra side impact protection and a unique ‘SIP+’ shock absorber you can place either side of the seat next to the car door. When it comes to comfort, the seat boasts a soft, padded memory foam inner seat and sides as well as unique head cushion inserts for your child’s safety and comfort, which can be removed as soon as baby’s head fills the head area snuggly.

Rear-facing, with a wide 5-belt harness and handy extra grip blue belt guiders that make it easy to secure when you’re using a car seat belt, the seat also has magnets to keep the internal harness out of the way so they don’t get stuck under your baby when you place them in it. Removable double cushion inserts allow the seat to grow and there’s even an SPF50 sun canopy included, which is great if you’re having a summer baby. The car seat is part of a modular system so you can use the same base for the next seat (available separately), and even extend the base for extra legroom up to 4 years, but it is one of the slightly more expensive options.

5. Britax Römer DUALFIX

The car seat that swivels 360°

Age band: Birth to 4 years old Group: 0+/1 Weight: 14.7kg (32.4lb) Direction: 360° rotation Fitting: Dualfix +Flexible from newborn to toddler+Swivels so you don’t need to reinstall it -At the more expensive end of the spectrum

Britax Römer Dualfix’s USP is its ability to rotate 360°. This means it’s easy to change from rear to forward-facing when your child’s big enough, without reinstalling it. You can use the Group 0-1 car seat in the rearward position until your baby weighs 9kg, then you have the option to either keep them facing the rear (which has safety benefits in the event of a collision) or turn them forward-facing. Whatever you choose, the seat is designed to give you flexibility from the birth of your child until they are a toddler.

The car seat includes all the safety features you’d expect, such as Isofix and a 5-point safety harness, which has a one-pull adjustment that distributes the impact forces out across the car seat and away from your baby. The newborn insert provides extra comfort and support for your baby, while the height-adjustable headrest and harness with easy single-handed adjustment allow the seat to grow with your child without the need to remove and re-thread the harness.

Deep, softly padded full side wings provide optimum side impact protection for your child, while multiple recline positions allow a comfortable sleeping position for your child that you can adjust without disturbing them – a godsend for parents of babies who are not keen on napping.

6. Maxi-Cosi AxissFix

A 360° swivelling seat with AxissFix

Age band: 4 months to 4 years Group: 1 Weight: 12.5kg (27.5lb) Direction: 360° rotation Fitting: Isofix +Greater longevity for babies from 4 months to 4 years+Super swivelling feature -Your car needs to support a top tether

The Maxi-Cosi AxissFix car seat is a Group 1 seat, making it suitable for babies 61cm to 105cm in height (or approximately 4 months to 4 years). The 360° swivelling seat makes securing your toddler a breeze thanks to AxissFix. Parents don’t need to lean over and squeeze in between the car seat and the back of the front seat, because it allows front-on access by just turning the seat towards you. The company claims this means you can buckle up your child and rotate the seat either rearward or forward-facing in seconds.

The seat uses the Isofix system and also needs a top tether, so you’ll need to check your car has a top tether anchorage point in order that it can correctly installed. The padded seat has an angled base, providing additional leg room to keep your baby in the safer rearward facing position for longer and has four recline position in both directions. There are adjustable harness hooks and one-pull harness system to make strapping in your child easy and harness strap hooks, keeping the harness out of the way to make it easier to place your child in the seat.

7. Joie Every Stage

One car seat from birth to 12 years

Age band: Birth to 12 years Group: 0+/1/2/3 Weight: 8.2kg (18lb) Direction: Backwards and Forwards Fitting: Seat Belt +You only need buy one seat+Grows with AutoAdjust features -May not be the most comfortable

The Every Stage car seat from Joie is suitable from birth to 12 years (or 18kg) and adjusts as your child grows. While it comes in lots of colours, the two-tone black is a versatile and ‘serious’ choice for people that don’t want their cars to become an extension of the nursery. The seat is technically Group 0+/1/2/3 and has AutoAdjust side wings that widen as the headrest is adjusted for a custom fit and maximum protection through every stage of your child’s life. Meanwhile, the ‘Grow Together’ multi-height headrest and harness system also adjust simultaneously and require no re-threading of the harness.

The car seat has compartments that store the 5-point harness when it is being used as a Group 2 booster seat, as well as side mesh storage pockets for toys and snacks. After all, anything that helps keep the car tidy is a bonus. The Joie seat has plush deluxe cushioning and fabrics and inserts can be easily removed and washed, which is a must for a seat designed to last. While the car seat is one of the more basic options available, parents on a budget can invest in just one car seat for not very much money, which has all the necessary safety features.

8. Cybex Solution Z-Fix in Autumn Gold

Isofix toddler seat has 12 positions

Age band: From 3 to 12 years Group: 2/3 Weight: 7.6kg (16.7lb) Direction: Forward Fitting: Isofix +Seat offers more freedom for children than adaptive baby ones+Ventilation system for hot days -From around 3 years

The Cybex Solution Z-Fix car seat in Autumn Gold is for 3-12-year-olds (15-36kg) or Group 2/3. Unlike adaptable baby seats, it’s designed to cater to the needs of slightly older children and is slightly less restrictive, while offering lots of safety features. In combination with the energy-absorbing shell (L.S.P. System), forces from a side-impact collision are reduced by approximately 25% and the child’s head is actively guided into a safe position thanks to the Cybex Safety Pads. The booster seat is Isofix compatible for easy installation and extra stability and safety but can also be used in older cars that don’t have the necessary attachments.

The booster seat has a three-position reclining headrest that prevents the child’s head from tipping forward while sleeping, while the seat itself can be used in 12 positions, because the head and shoulder protectors can be adjusted in height with automatic width adjustment to meet the individual space requirements of the child. For those shopping for a good car seat for the summer months and holidays, the car seat has an integrated ventilation system providing a comfortable seat temperature for your child even on hot days.

9. Cosatto Zoomi Miss Dinomite

Fun cars seat for toddlers to 12 years

Age band: 9 months – 12 years Group: 1/2/3 Weight: 5.7 kg (12.5lb) Direction: Forward Fitting: Seat Belt +Fun character is enticing for kids+Suitable from 9 months to 12 years -Design may become uncool for older kids

Cosatto’s Zoomi ‘Miss Dinomite’ character booster seat is a great option if you have to fight your toddler into their car seat for every outing because it’s so enticing and fun. The Group 1/2/3 car seat will give your child a secure ride from nine months until approx. 11 years (9-36kg) and fits forward-facing with a standard 3-point vehicle seat belt. It also features an exclusive 5 point plus anti-escape system – great for keeping little wrigglers in place – plus side impact protection for in-car security.

The comfy padded seat has an adjustable headrest to grow with your child and it’s easy to clean with removable washable padded liner and covers, which is important for a car seat designed to be used for years. The car seat comes with a 4-year guarantee, which is longer than most and is amazing value. The only drawback may be whether your little one will want to sit on a pink dinosaur forever, as what’s cool and fun at four may well not be at 11!

10. Cosatto Skippa with Magic Unicorns

A magical Group 2-3 car seat

Age band: 4 to 12 years Group: 2-3 Weight: 7.4 kg (16.3lb) Direction: Forward Fitting: Isofix +Fun car seat for 4-12 year olds+Isofix and seatbelt compatible -They’ll only love unicorns for so long

The Skippa Fix Group 2-3 Booster Seat from Cosatto has been designed to keep your child safe during car journeys between the ages of four and approximately twelve years (or 15-36kg). It’s great for plenty of cars old and new because it can be secured with a standard 3-point vehicle seat belt or, for further peace of mind, via your vehicle’s Isofix points.

But perhaps it’s the seat’s appearance that will appeal to your child the most, and make every journey magical thanks to its unicorn pattern…well, you can but dream. The Skippa car seat has a luxury padded seat to keep your child comfy on long journeys, and a convenient drinks holder to keep refreshments close to hand and hopefully off your upholstery. It also makes for a neat crayon and toy holder.

Of course, there are the usual safety features too. Deep side-impact protection offers advanced safety and security on every trip. And there are two seat recline positions as well as armrests for comfort. It comes with a four-year guarantee and has a removable and machine washable seat cover, which if you have a toddler, you know is worth the money.

11. Mothercare Palma high back booster seat

Value option for toddlers to tweens

Age band: 4-12 years Group: 2-3 Weight: 12.2 kg (26.8lb) Direction: Forward Fitting: Isofix +Isofix compatible+A simple, plain and value option -It’s sponge clean only!

The Mothercare Palma high back booster seat has been designed to keep older children safe on car journeys. Suitable from 4 years until they no longer require a seat at approximately 12 years – (or more accurately 15kg/33lbs to 36kg/79lbs) the booster seat has an adjustable headrest and side-impact protection. It also comes with a two-year guarantee and a removable hand-washable cover, although the main body is sponge clean only.

Sure. It’s not the most eye-catching option out where when you compare it to car seats emblazoned with colourful patterns or shaped like characters, but if you’re after a discrete car seat for a nice car, or simply a solution that’s unlikely to date and go out of favour with your child, like so many fads from Peppa Pig to the joy of sitting on tractors, this option may be for you.

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The best car seats from 9 months

MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices.

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How to find and choose the best car seat for your 9-month-old

Once your baby weighs more than 9kg (often around the age of 9 months), you can use a Group 1, Group 1/2 or Group 1/2/3 car seat.

  • A Group 1 car seat is suitable for a baby weighing from 9kg to 18kg, which is roughly 9 months to 4 years.
  • A Group 1/2 combination or multi-group car seat is suitable from 9kg to 25kg, roughly 9 months to 5-6 years, but isn’t a very common option
  • A Group 1/2/3 combination car seat is suitable from 9kg to 36kg or when your child is 135cm tall, which is roughly 9 months to 12 years.

When is my child ready for a forward-facing seat?

Children can start to sit forward-facing when they move to a Group 1 car seat, so from around 9 to 15 months. Group 1 seats have traditionally been forward facing, but this trend is changing with the new i-Size laws and following research that shows facing rearwards is a safer option.

There is also a growing trend of rear-facing for longer seats on the market, meaning there’s no need to move your baby on to a forward-facing seat as soon as they reach 9 – 15 months, in fact they can sit rear-facing up to 5 years.

What is i-Size?

In a few years (thought to be 2020) all new infant car seats sold in the UK will have to be i-Size (ECE R129) seats, which enables children to sit rear-facing until they are at least 15 months. You can find out more about i-Size legislation here.

What is ISOFIX?

ISOFIX is a system that allows you to fit a car seat into your car. An alternative to fitting a car seat with a car seat belt, ISOFIX car seats have two metal connectors on the back of the seat that anchor onto small metal bars fixed to the frame of your vehicle. It makes it easy to install your car seat correctly, as you simply click the seat in, and most ISOFIX car seats also have colour indicators to let you know you’ve fitted the seat correctly.

Can I still use seat belts to fit a Group 1 car seat?

Yes, there are still seat belted chairs, they are called Universal fit seats, and they can be fitted in most cars. It is worth noting that these kind of chairs are gradually being replaced by ISOFIX chairs.

Booster seat law and changes:

A new law on backless booster car seats (booster cushions) has come into force. The regulation says that children shorter than 125cm tall (4ft1) or weighing less than 22kg (3 stone 6.5 pounds) should not sit on booster cushions. It’s important to note that this rule only applies to brand new products, it does not affect any booster seats that you may currently be using.

How does a toddler car seat fit in a car?

Not all car seats fit in all cars. So you need to check if the car seat you like can be fitted correctly in your car. Most manufacturers have a quick online checking service, such as Britax’s Fit-Finder or Maxi-Cosi’s car fitting list. Have your car’s make, model and year of production close to hand for fast checking. And remember, not all cars have ISOFIX – so check your car’s compatibility for ISOFIX too.

How much can I expect to spend on a Group 1 or Group 1/2/3 car seat?

Like anything when it comes to parenting products, prices can vary from budget to luxuriously expensive. But on average a second stage car seat costs around £200. While price is important, and not actually an indicator of how safe a car seat is, it’s more important to choose the right seat that works best for you, your car and your child. Remember, don’t settle for second best – or secondhand car seats.

Once I’ve chosen the best car seat what do I do then?

Once you’ve picked your ideal car seat, it’ll have to be fitted in the car. While we’re fans of DIY at MFM headquarters, we recommend you get your car seat fitted by a trained car seat installation advisor (appointed by the manufacturer) if you can.

Here are the best car seats from 9 months:

1. Britax ADVANSAFIX IV R, £250

Age suitability: 9-36kg (roughly 9 months – 12 years)

Seat position: Forward facing

Awards: MadeForMums Gold Award Winner 2019

The gold standard of Group 1 car seats, the Britax Römer ADVANSAFIX IV R is a well-designed, high-quality car seat that offers the ultimate safety for your child when travelling, including side impact features and reduction of forward movement in an accident.

On top of that, it is easy to fit and, like most on our list, offers enough space for a growing child up to the age of 12 years. Undoubtedly a great investment in terms of longevity, as you won’t need to hunt for a new car seat every time your child reaches a new weight or age milestone.

“The Advansafix IV R is a great seat, and my 3-year-old found it very comfortable, says Georgina, mum of 2. “The safety features are excellent; there are various recline positions; it washes well, so can be kept looking good; it feels very sturdy; and this is a brand people trust. If you are looking for a seat that lasts and is a wise investment, this is a great contender.” Take note that it can only be used with Isofix, so, as with all car seats, try it with your car before buying. And if you are interested in a rear facing extended use car seat, keep scrolling to read about the Britax Römer MULTI-TECH II, to compare.

To find out more, read our full MFM review of the Britax ADVANSAFIX IV R

Available from John Lewis, BuggyBaby and PreciousLittleOne

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2. Mothercare Tulsa, £120

Age suitability: 9-36kg (roughly 9 months – 12 years)

Seat position: Forward facing

Awards: MadeForMums Joint Bronze Award winner 2019

Here is a basic car seat at a bargain price, which should last your child until they are 12. It is the cheapest of all but unlike its competitors; it doesn’t have any unique key features, such as a 5-point harness or anti-escape system. The straps and fabric are a little stiff, and only hand-washable, and the recline feature was described by our reviewer, mum of 2, Maxine, as ‘inaccessible’ (see the full Mothercare Tulsa review).

However, it is a universal car seat so can be used with or without Isofix, and if you are sticking to a budget, this is a great option. “The Mothercare Tulsa feels like a safe, solid and comfortable car seat. I like the stylish look and colour, and my husband was impressed by how easy it is to fit – and how safe it feels once fitted,” says Renette, mum of 3.

“At 11.8kg the seat is light enough for me to be able to carry it and it’s easy to install, although it’s something I’d prefer not to do on a regular basis,” adds Maxine.

Available from Mothercare

3. Britax Römer MULTI-TECH II, £260

Age suitability: 9kg – 25kg (roughly 9 months – 6 years)

Seat position: Rear and forward facing

Britax originally developed the Multi-Tech II for the Swedish market, to comply with Scandinavian car seat laws but decided to give UK parents the option of rear-facing for longer – a whopping 6 years, in fact. It features a side impact protection system and has a 5-point safety harness that can be used up to 18kg (around 4 years).

Mum reviewer Katherine sums it up, “Even though I don’t think we’ll be using the Multi-Tech II in a rear-facing position when Toby is 6, I am still happy with this seat. That’s because it keeps him comfortable and safe, and keeps me happy because I can strap him in without a fuss.”

If you are comparing the two Britax models, consider that the Multi-Tech II’s major selling-point is the fact that it’s an extended rear-facing car seat, meaning a child can remain rear-facing in it up to 25kg, which is around 5 – 6 years of age (unless your child is very tall, but all the top end ages and weights are estimates). And although the Britax ADVANSAFIX IV R is solely forward facing, it does give the extended usage up to 12 years of age or 36kg.

Read our full MFM review of the Britax Multi-Tech II

Available from Pramworld and PreciousLittleOne

4. Graco Nautilus Elite car seat, £149.99

Age suitability: 9kg – 36kg (around 9 months – 12 years)

Seat position: Forward-facing

The Nautilus is an affordable, long-lasting Group 1/2/3 seat. The forward-facing car seat has side impact protection, similar to the Britax models, 5-position headrest, and two-position recline. It is simple to fit in the car: “The seat slid out of the box almost ready to use – we had to hook the elasticated fastenings on the all-black cover into place and slot the crotch strap of the 5-point harness into one of two positions depending on the occupant’s size,” says MFM reviewer, Liz.

It is easy to adjust between the ages and comes with a cup holder and storage pocket that the kids will no doubt love (playing with). At 9kg, it is lighter than the Mothercare Tulsa, so easier to carry and swap between cars. The Nautilus is not Isofix, where the Tulsa can be fitted either way.

Read our MFM full review of the Graco Nautilus Elite

Available from Argos and Amazon

5. Cosatto Hug ISOFIX car seat, £278.94

Age suitability: 9kg – 36kg (roughly 9 months – 12 years)

Seat position: Forward-facing

If you have a mini Houdini on yours hands you should consider the Cosatto Hug, as it has an integrated 5-Point Plus Anti-Escape System. In simple terms, this is a protective ‘waistcoat’ that sits just under the armpits and goes around the back and over the shoulders of your little one, meaning there isn’t a gap for kids to wriggle out of the harness. It is worth noting that it’s not perfect; according Cosatto in its tests 9 out of 10 children couldn’t wriggle out of their harness, so be sure it’s fitted tightly before driving.

The Hug also comes with side impact protection, similar to the Britax and Graco models, an incredible 6-position headrest and a 5-point safety harness with quick-release button. It is an ISOFIX car seat, which isn’t compatible with all cars, but is a super sturdy, though more difficult to switch between vehicles, method.

Available from Amazon and Argos

6. Cybex Juno 2 Fix car seat, £239

Age suitability: 9kg – 18kg (roughly 9 months – 4 years)

Seat position: Forward facing

The Cybex Juno 2 Fix offers a different kind of car seat in the form of its safety cushion in place of a five-point harness. This Group 1 car seat is part of the growing car seat trend of using an impact shield, which is designed to spread the impact of a collision. Thanks to that, it is unique on our list.

This form of car seat restraint has spawned a controversial debate among professionals and parents. However, when our reviewer tested with her daughter, she found the impact cushion to be secure and she didn’t have a problem moving her daughter from a 5-point harness to the shield.

Similar to others, including the Cosatto, the Juno 2 Fix also has ISOFIX connectors and side impact protection. It is probably the priciest on our list, when you consider how long it will fit the child. However, Cybex is similar to Apple in terms of branding in the parenting world – seriously cool style points, here.

Available from Amazon and Kiddies Kingdom

7. Ickle Bubba Solar 1/2/3 Isofix and Recline seat, £169

Age suitability: 9-36kg (approx 9mths – 12 years)

Seat position: Forward facing

If you can excuse the cutesy name, this car seat has some seriously sophisticated features. It’s a forward-facing Group 1-2-3 car seat, with integrated Isofix fitting (also seatbelt compatible), and a top tether strap for added security.

Luxury stay-cool fabric (no more sweaty bodies after long journeys, hoorah), a magnetic buckle retainer and a well-padded five-point safety harness also won approval from our parent judges. It has three recline positions and the latest safety features such as side-impact technology, similar to the Britax. “It has a great recline function,” says mum of 2, Anna, “uses lovely materials, features nifty design details, such as a magnetic button to hold open straps in place and automatic strap adjustment, and feels all-round well-made and secure.” Not forgetting the supercool sun visors, of course.

Read our full MFM review of Ickle Bubba Solar 1/2/3 Isofix and Recline

Available from Amazon, Kiddies Kingdom and Precious Little One

8. Cozy N Safe Excalibur car seat, £199.99

Age suitability: 9kg – 36kg (roughly 9 months – 11 years)

Seat position: Forward facing

Cozy N Safe might be a relative newcomer to the car seat market, having launched in 2006, but the British brand is fast becoming the go-to name for super comfortable, well-designed seats. This forward-facing Group 1/2/3 seat has the potential to last up to 10 years, making it great value, and includes features like a 4-position recline, adjustable headrest, ISOFIX installation, and a 5-point harness suitable for use up to age 6 years, longer than most rivals.

It certainly lived up to its ‘cozy’ name as our parent reviewer found it well-designed, sturdy and good quality, and loved the extra comfortable design and features like the 5-point harness to 25kg.

“An impressive seat that fitted my family and car very well,” says our reviewer Janet (read the full Cozy N Safe Excalibur review). “The slimline design provides plenty of protection while still being a comfortable and stylish addition to our car.”

Available from Amazon and Kiddies Kingdom.

9. Kiddy Phoenixfix 3 car seat, £229

Age suitability: 9kg – 18kg (roughly 9 months – 4 years)

Seat position: Forward facing only

The Phoenixfix 3 is a surprisingly lightweight (at 6.6kg, the lightest on our list), forward-facing only car seat that has even been approved by the Federal Aviation Authority for use on aircraft. Like many other Kiddy car seats, it uses an impact shield, which the German brand says offers greater protection than a 5-point belt harness in front impact accidents.

The car seat also has an array of features that focus on the comfort for your child, such as snooze position and three-stage leg extension, and by no means flimsy; in fact, our parent reviewer, Laura, says the Phoenixfix is “a stylish car seat that offers the highest level of safety, it feels like a strong cocoon around my son, with padded head and shoulder protection.”

Check out Laura’s full review, including all the info around safety and the ‘Supplement 7’ test.

Read our full MFM review of the Phoenixfix 3

Available from Amazon and Pram Centre

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Car Seat Safety

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Why Are Car Seats Important?

Using a car seat, also called a child safety seat, is the best way to protect your kids when they’re in a car. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death and injury for children. Because car seats save lives, using a car seat is the law in every U.S. state.

But keeping your child safe depends on choosing the right safety seat and using it correctly. The best car seat is the one that fits your child’s weight, size, and age, as well as your vehicle.

Here are some things to know so you can pick a seat that’s right for your child:

  • Choose a seat that meets or exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. The seat’s label will say so.
  • Learn how to install the seat and use the harness before your child’s first ride. Don’t depend on store displays to show you how to do it.
  • To get help or to double-check that you’ve installed it properly, visit a child car seat inspection station, set up by the federal government across the country. You can also get help from many local health departments, public safety groups, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and fire departments. Be sure to ask for a certified child passenger safety technician.
  • Be careful about using a secondhand car seat:
    • If you know a seat was in a crash, don’t use it. It may be damaged in ways you can’t see.
    • Don’t use a seat that is missing parts or lacks a manufacture date and model number. If there’s no instruction manual available, don’t use the seat. Also, check the seat for the recommended “expiration date.”
    • If you have any doubts about a seat’s history, or if it has cracks or other signs of wear and tear, don’t use it. Car seat recalls are common. Contact the manufacturer and ask how long the seat can safely be used. If a seat has been recalled, the manufacturer might provide a replacement part or new model.
  • Be sure to fill out the product registration card so you hear about recalls right away.

Babies start out in infant-only (rear-facing) seats or convertible seats. As they grow, kids switch to forward-facing seats before moving to a booster seat. Here’s a rundown of which seat to use when.

What Are the Types of Car Seats?

Infant-Only Seats (Birth to 22-35 Pounds)

Infant-only seats fit newborns and smaller infants best. You’ll need to buy another seat when your baby outgrows it. Infant-only seats are designed to protect babies from birth until they reach up to 35 pounds (about 16 kilograms), depending on the model.

Infant car seats should always be installed to face the rear of the car. A small child is much less likely to die or be seriously injured when in a rear-facing seat. That’s because the back of the safety seat will cradle the baby’s head, neck, and torso in a crash. At this age, a child’s neck usually isn’t strong enough to support the head in a crash.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants and toddlers ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight and height limits recommended by the seat’s manufacturer. Safety experts say to do this based on a child’s size, not age. Small children can stay rear-facing until age 3 or 4.

Infant-only safety seats are convenient because they’re designed to double as carriers, chairs, or rockers when not used in the car. Many models detach right from the base, letting you leave the base installed in the car. Some can be clicked into strollers to be wheeled around. If your baby is in the infant safety seat outside of the car, never put the seat on a high surface like a kitchen counter, a dresser, or changing.

Infant-seats are easy to use, but don’t let your baby spend too much time in one at home or at daycare. Too much time in a car seat can limit a baby’s movement and opportunities for stimulation, which are important for developing sensory and motor skills.

Should I Use a Convertible Seat?

Convertible seats are designed to protect kids:

  • from birth up to at least 40 pounds (18 kilograms) facing backward
  • up to 65 pounds (30 kilograms) or even 80 pounds (36 kilograms) facing forward, depending on the model

Convertible seats are placed in different positions depending on a child’s age and size:

  • They face toward the rear until a baby is ready to face forward (has reached the rear-facing weight or height limit for that seat).
  • Then, they can be turned around and “converted” to a forward-facing seat.

Some car seats are known as “all-in-one” or “3-in-one” because they convert from rear-facing to front-facing to booster with the harness removed.

Convertible seats:

  • are heavy and not very portable
  • should be used only for travel (not outside the car)
  • can be economical because you might not need to buy a separate infant-only seat
  • are a good option for larger babies who outgrow their infant-only seat and still need to be rear-facing

If you use a convertible seat:

  • Make sure it fits your child correctly. A small child in a large seat may not be the best option.
  • Don’t use a model with a tray shield for newborns. The shield comes up too high on them. In a crash, the baby’s face could hit the tray.

Forward-Facing-Only Seats (20-80 pounds)

Forward-facing car seats are designed to protect children from 20 to 80 pounds (about 10 to 36 kilograms) or more, depending on the model.

All kids who have outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit for their car seat should use a forward-facing car seat with a full harness for as long as possible. They should only switch to a booster seat that relies on the car’s adult seat belts when they pass the height and weight limit for their forward-facing car seat.

Some cars have built-in or integrated car seats. As with other forward-facing car safety seats, built-in seats are for kids who have outgrown their rear-facing car seat. Some convert to belt-positioning booster seats. Weight and height limits will vary, so check your owner’s manual.

What About Air Bags?

When combined with safety belts, air bags protect adults and teens from serious injury during a collision. They have saved lives and prevented many serious injuries. But young children can be injured or even killed if they are riding in the front passenger seat when an air bag opens.

Air bags were designed with adults in mind. They must open with great force (up to 200 miles per hour) to protect an average-sized, 165-pound (75-kilogram) male from injury. While this force is OK for adults and bigger kids, it can be dangerous for small kids, possibly leading to head and neck injuries.

Protect your baby or toddler from air bag injury by following these rules:

  • Never place a rear-facing infant seat in the front seat of a car that has a passenger-side air bag.
  • Place child safety seats in the back seat.
  • If you have no choice and must place a child in the front (that is, if your car is a two-seater or if the car seat will not fit in the back seat), push the passenger seat as far back as it will go.
  • All kids under 13 years of age should always ride in the back seat, and in the middle of the back seat whenever possible. All passengers must have their seatbelts buckled.
  • A law allows car makers to install a manual cut-off switch that temporarily disables a passenger-side air bag. As recommended by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if you must place a child in a booster seat in the front seat and your car has this cut-off switch, use it to disable the air bag for the entire ride. Be sure to switch the air bag back on when you remove the booster seat.

You can find more information about keeping kids safe in cars online at:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Safe Kids Worldwide

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD Date reviewed: October 2019

When your toddler gets a little older and taller (preschool age), many parents will then purchase the next stage of car seat: a forward facing car seat.

These seats start with a five-point harness, just like a convertible seat, that can later be removed to use the seat as a high back booster – also known as a BPB (belt positioning booster) and even later, as a backless booster (hence the “3-in-1” terminology, see below).

*Note that if your child is still happily rear-facing (extended rear-facing), please keep doing so. I am not at all discouraging ERF’ing, as we all agree it’s a best practice! In fact, the AAP now recommends keeping children rear-facing as long as possible.

Forward Facing Car Seats: Size and Weight

These forward facing car seats sit rather upright compared to convertibles and for this reason, fit very well into even the smallest of backseats.

While some of the less expensive ones are much more lightweight than their convertible counterparts, the more expensive forward facing car seats are reinforced with steel and are heavier than you might expect.

“But I have a convertible seat with a high weight limit, do I have to switch to a forward facing seat?”

– Absolutely not, you can definitely keep using your normal convertible seat for as long as the height and weight limits allow, then purchase a BPB (aka high back booster) later, typically around 5-7 years of age.

There are three main reasons why people upgrade sooner than this:

1. The primary reason is because they want to pass down an older child’s convertible seat to a younger child who is nearing her first birthday. For example, let’s say you have a three or four-year-old and an infant about to turn one. It makes MUCH more sense to pass the rear-facing convertible seat down to the infant and, if your older child is already facing forward, purchase a forward facing car seat for him which will take him through the end of his car seat years (9-12 years old or so, depending on your child’s height). This seat will get your kid through the yellow and green stages (below).

Put differently, it doesn’t make any sense to buy another convertible seat for a child who is already forward facing because you will only be using that seat for the latter half of its usable life.

2. The second reason why parents buy a forward facing seat is because it sits upright and looks more like a “big kid booster.” Trust me, when you hit Pre-K, many kids are begging to ride in a booster. Forward facing car seats look like a booster, but still have a 5-point harness. Way to fool ‘em!

3. Lastly, forward facing car seats, especially the higher-end ones, are very tall and will allow your child to be harnessed for longer than the average convertible seat.

Yes, I know the law in most states allows children who are four years old and 40 lbs to sit in a booster, and while it is legal, it is NOT a best practice (these are the same people who told us to turn our convertible seats around at one year old, so….yeah).

Forward Facing Car Seats: Transitioning from Harness to Seat Belt

“When do I switch from the 5-point harness to the seatbelt (high back booster) mode?”

– It depends…

Criteria for Switching

It’s never a bad idea to keep your child in a 5-pt harness for as long as possible, but if they are jonesing to graduate to a seatbelt, there are two deciding factors here: maturity and height. This is typically at least 5 years old, 6-7 if you have a squirmy worm, and perhaps older if your child has special needs.

Here are the criteria for switching to a seatbelt ~

1. Your child needs the maturity to sit properly in a seatbelt (i.e., they won’t try to wriggle out of it, sit improperly, lean forward in their seat or (godforbid!), unbuckle themselves while driving).

2. They have to be tall enough for the seatbelt to hit him in the right place (i.e., in the middle of the shoulder with the belt actually in contact with the shoulder). The shoulder belt positioner (or “guide”) on a belt-positioning booster brings the seatbelt down to a lower position to hit your child in the right spot.

Once these two things are checked off the list, then you can decide that it’s time to remove the harness and let him use the seatbelt.

The big perk to letting your child use the seatbelt, of course, is that s/he can buckle and unbuckle himself — whaaat!? This makes the job of getting everyone into and out of the car (especially if you have multiple kids) SO MUCH EASIER. Oh, the joy!!!!

Whatever you do, please don’t make the mistake of switching to a backless booster too early. I see too many five year olds (and sometimes three and four year olds!) riding around in tiny backless boosters and it’s completely inappropriate for their size.

Proper Seat Belt Positioning

Most kids I see who are prematurely using backless booster seats have the shoulder belt hitting them at the neck, or even in the face (below!): not good.

The shoulder belt should land in the middle of the shoulder, go across the collar bone and cross the chest at their nice, sturdy sternum. Trust me, you don’t want your child’s neck to be what is taking the bulk of impact in an accident.

Incorrect seatbelt position– on the neck!
Photo courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

There is one critical safety element for seats used in booster mode, and that is the shoulder belt seatbelt guide MUST be wide and roomy enough to allow the seatbelt to easily retract after being buckled. If the seatbelt can’t retract and become snug, the seat is basically unusable (you’ll see what I mean when you start using it). That said, all of the seats here have good shoulder belt guides (some of the cheaper ones do not).

Note that once you switch to seatbelt (booster) mode, you can (and should) install the seat with LATCH, simply just to keep it in place if unoccupied during a crash. This will keep the seat from becoming a projectile if your kid isn’t in it.

The Infamous Top Tether

The top tether (or “tether strap”) is a big point of confusion for most people, but I can make it very simple for you…you should absolutely use the top tether in a forward facing convertible seat, no matter if it’s installed using lower anchors (LATCH) or if it’s installed using the seatbelt.

I call it the “top tether” because it comes out of the top of the seat (see below).

If your car was made on or after 2003, you will have both lower anchor points (the ones that are in your seats) and tether anchors (for that top tether strap) in your vehicle.

So where does it go?

If you have a sedan, those anchors are directly behind the seat (as shown above). If you have a third row or a hatchback, those anchors are usually on the floor of the back area or on the back of the seat itself, as shown below.

Please consult your car’s owner’s manual if you can’t find them.

Why it’s important to use tether

Using the top tether (vs. not using it) will dramatically reduce the amount of forward force (or “head excursion”) in a collision. The illustration below shows the difference in head excursion in a child whose seat is tethered vs. one that is not.

To boil it down without getting too technical: the child who is not tethered is at a much higher risk for head injury and spinal cord damage – ’nuff said.

Ok, enough scary crash test dummy stuff trust me, guys, I could go on for DAYS!).

There are four highly rated manufacturers of harness-to-booster combination seats: Evenflo, Graco, Chicco and Britax. Here are our favorites.

Best Forward-Facing Harness-to-Booster Seats

1. Evenflo Evolve 3 in 1 Combination Booster Seat ~ $150+ – ECONOMY PICK

The Evenflo Evolve 3-in-1 Combination Booster Seat is our top pick for a forward-facing economy seat. It converts from a harnessed seat (22 to 65 lbs) to a high back booster (40-120 lbs), and then to a no-back booster (up to 120 lbs).

The Evolve seat has standard “nail breaker” LATCH connectors. That means if you’re using LATCH, this won’t be the easiest seat to switch between cars frequently. That said, you can always secure the seat with the seatbelt and top tether instead.

*You must switch from LATCH connectors to seatbelt + top tether installation once your child hits 45 lbs.

We love the e3 Side Impact Protection on the Evenflo, which coincidentally makes for a super cushy seat. It also has dual integrated cup-holders, a one-position recline, temperature regulating fabric, and even tiny buckle pockets (so convenient!) to hold your buckles to the side while your kiddo climbs into the seat (looove that!).

This seat lacks a no-rethread harness, though, which is found on most higher-end seats, as well as a seatbelt lockoff, though you can always lock the seatbelt manually (by pulling the seatbelt alllll the way out, then slowly letting it retract, thus putting it into “locked” mode).

Bottom line: If you’re on a budget and will only be using this seat for one kid at a time (or two kids of the same height in the harness straps), this seat will totally do the trick!

  • FAA approved for use in aircraft (with 5-pt harness)
  • 8 year lifespan before expiration

Evenflo SafeMax 3-in-1 ($180)

An alternative to the Evolve is the Evenflo SafeMax 3-in-1 ($180) seat, which is basically the Evolve on steroids. The SafeMax 3-in-1 has huge headwings, though many reviewers say it pushes the head forward at an uncomfortable angle.

This seat also has the standard “nail-breaker” LATCH connectors—as with any car seat, you should use the seatbelt and tether strap to secure the seat once your kiddo hits 45 lbs (though earlier is fine too!).

2. Graco Nautilus SnugLock LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster ~ $219

New! The Nautilus is now available with SnugLock technology. “SnugLock” is a self-tightening mechanism — an easy way for you to install with a seatbelt without having to wrestle it in place to tighten it. It’s basically a giant clasp for the seatbelt. It’s user-friendly — especially if you don’t want to mess with LATCH — and also great for grandparents!

The Nautilus is Graco’s bread and butter in the “harnessed booster” department.

With the Nautilus, your child can stay harnessed forward-facing for up to 65 lbs (good for special needs kids), in a high back booster up to 100 lbs, and in a backless booster up to 120 lbs. The Nautilus is steel reinforced, and it has an integrated cupholder and a storage compartment.

All Nautiluses (Nautilii?) feature a no-rethread harness (easy to adjust the height of the shoulder straps) AND a 3rd crotch buckle position to give more space for bigger-little boys to be… a little more comfy in that general area 😉 The Nautilii all have “fuss free harness storage”, which are these little pockets where you put the buckle tongues to keep the harness out of the way when putting your kid in. LOVE THOSE!

The Nautilus can be found in different varieties – why do they have to make so many freaking versions? I do not know, but it’s super annoying. I personally think if you are sold on the Nautilus, the LX model is just fine. Otherwise, just buy a nicer seat (don’t put rims on a Honda Civic — know what I’m saying?).

* Switch to seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 42 lbs.

3. Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Seat ~$199

For those who love their Chicco newborn and convertible seats, we’ve got good news: Chicco now makes a forward facing car seat! The MyFit Harness + Booster seat fits kids from 25-100 lbs (up to 65 lbs in harness mode, and then up to 100 lbs in seatbelt mode). The MyFit features a steel-reinforced frame with two layers of foam protection. As with their other seats, the Chicco is super parent-friendly and easy to use. It has a no-rethread design for easy height adjustments, the easiest ever premium LATCH connectors that practically tighten themselves, and their signature LockSure system, which makes it easy to install the seat snugly with the seatbelt.

The seat is very well-padded for your kid’s comfort, and it also has 4 recline positions- which is rare in a forward facing seat. It comes with two cupholders and a one-pull harness tightener for easy adjustments. As with Chicco’s other seats, parents are really digging the Chicco MyFit.

4. Britax Harness-2-Booster Seats

Britax Frontier ClickTight ~ $279+ – TOP PICK

Britax makes 3 “Harness-2-Booster” models and they are very popular, well-made and TALL. In fact, the high/weight limits and tall top harness slots will keep kids harnessed for longer than any of the seats reviewed here.

The Frontier and the Pinnacle are only available in the CT (ClickTight) version, mainly because these seats must be used with a seatbelt once your child hits a certain weight and the ClickTight feature makes seatbelt installation a breeze.

—>Please see my demo of ClickTight.

Let’s break down these models ~

4a. Britax Pioneer ~ $189

The Pioneer is the entry level combination seat from Britax. We used it for two or three years and it served us well.
It serves kiddos up to 70 lbs and up to 58” tall in harness mode and up to 110 lbs in high back booster mode (note: it does not become a backless booster). It has the same side impact protection (2-layer) as the next higher up seat, the Frontier, but lacks the ClickTight feature (that’s why it’s cheaper).

All of these Britax seats have a no-rethread harness and we love Britax LATCH connectors, even on this model.

Construction-wise, you get the impact-absorbing base and steel frame that you get in all Britax seats (thus, these seats are heavy!!). You also get cupholders, an easy to remove cover and plush foam padding.

Britax Pioneer

One complaint with the Pioneer is that some people can’t get a very tight seatbelt installation for whatever reason, but we have not had this problem.

*Switch to seatbelt and top tether installation once your child hits 40 lbs.

4b. Britax Frontier CT and Pinnacle CT ~ $279+ & $299+

The Frontier and Pinnacle are next up the Britax food chain.

These seats have a higher harnessed weight limit (90 lbs) than the Pioneer, which is great for special needs children. In fact, these two seats will keep kids harnessed longer than any seat on the market.

Britax Frontier CT

Again, the big difference with the Frontier and the Pinnacle is the ClickTight feature, which everybody loves and I demonstrate here at the Baby Show:

The Pinnacle ($299) is the same as the Frontier ($279), except it has these crazy side impact protection bolsters, which makes this seat very w-i-d-e. It’s a great seat if you use it in the outboard (i.e., side) position and want the maximum amount of side impact protection.

Again, this seat is very wide (did I mention that?) and will make space tight in the back for other passengers and other car seats (only have one kid back there? Perfect!).

If you don’t have space for a super-wide seat and typically use a seatbelt for installation (which you’ll have to do anyway once your child hits 40 lbs), the Frontier CT is the one for you. In fact, the Frontier is the highest rated seat of all the ones reviewed here (with the Pinnacle as a close second). Read reviews.

    • All of these seats have a 9-year lifespan.
    • Switch to seatbelt install (which is so easy to do with ClickTight) when child reaches 40 lbs.
    • Because they are so heavy, these seats are not the easiest to move between cars.

That’s it, folks. Thanks for reading and good luck!

Britax Car Seats – The Ultimate Comparison Tables

Britax is long-established as a world leader in the car seat industry, making a first-class line of infant car seats, convertible car seats, and booster seats. For more than 70 years, Britax has innovated sleeker and safer car seat designs.

In 1996, after becoming a best seller in Europe, the company launched a line of car seats in the United States. Today, Britax car seats for small children are categorized into two groups:

Infant Car Seats: These seats are rear-facing only. Appropriate for infants and young babies.

Convertible Car Seats: These seats can be positioned and secured as both rear-facing and forward-facing.

Britax also includes two lines of booster car seats, which are forward-facing only seats designed for older children. Boosters include extended weight ranges, can usually be used as highback and then bottom-only, and may or may not include a 5-point harness (i.e., a combination car seat). Our car seat buying guide clarifies these distinctions if you’re looking for more information.

The Britax infant car seat line currently includes four models, while the convertible seat line totals nine models, including the new Britax One4Life, with various design trade-offs and feature overlaps. But choosing between infant and convertible car seats is not the only consideration parents will need to make. There are also features – so many features! – each carefully crafted to ensure the safest, most comfortable ride for your little one.

Do you need a Flip-Forward Belly Pad? Do you want a model within Anti-Rebound Bar? Can you use a car seat with a European Belt Guide in the U. S.? These are legitimate questions. So, to put your mind at ease, we have crafted the following charts to give you feature comparisons at a glance. We have done all the research to make your Britax car seat selection a smooth ride!

– Jump to Infant Car Seat Table

– Jump to Convertible Car Seat Table

Here is the Britax Infant Car Seat Comparison Table

This table (best viewed on a desktop computer) includes all four Britax Infant Car Seat Models. Here you will see common features such as the impact absorbing base, which includes the SafeCell compression chamber to reduce collision force, and integrated steel frames, stabilizing the bases with reinforced strength. Additionally, you will note variable features, which are explained in the section following the chart.

Check the Current Prices on Britax Infant Car Seats

Frequently Asked Questions about Britax Infant Car Seat Features

  • What is the Britax Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB)? The Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB) offers additional protection and security to your child’s car seat. This steel bar is positioned at the foot of the rear-facing car seat (resting on the vehicle seat back). In the case of a collision, the ARB presses against the vehicle seat back, creating a stabilizing effect against the direction of impact. In essence, it helps reduce the chance that the car seat rotates and/ or flips in an accident. The ARB is available only on the Endeavours infant seat and select convertible seats when rear-facing.
  • What is the Britax European Belt Guide? While all Britax infant car seats click conveniently in and out of their bases, each seat can also function without the base (which is particularly handy when traveling with friends or abroad). The difference between the American Belt Path and the European Belt guide is the positioning of the shoulder belt. The American Belt Path positions the lap belt across the car seat lap area. The shoulder belt remains positioned to one side of the car seat. Car Seats such as Endeavours and B-Safe Ultra utilize the European belt path, which wraps the shoulder belt around the back of the car seat, offering additional stabilization and reduced jostling on baby’s head. *Car seats with European belt paths are sold and safely used within the U.S.
  • What is the Britax SafeCenter Latch? A snug base fit is crucial to infant car seat safety, but reaching around and under the car seat base during installation can make the process difficult and concerning. However, with the Britax SafeCenter Latch, tightening the base straps is accomplished by pulling up on the SafeCenter straps on the top of the car seat base.
  • What are built-in lock-offs on Britax car seats? Lock-offs are clamps designed to prevent the seatbelt from moving (loosening) while the car seat base is installed. This feature is included on all current infant car seats by Britax.
  • What is a Britax Flip-forward Belly Pad? The Flip-forward Belly Pad, also called the EZ Buckle Belly Pad, solves a frustration you never knew existed until you tried to buckle a wiggly baby into a car seat. While struggling to align shoulder straps and click harnesses into place, you must root around underneath the child for the bottom harness receiver. Trust us, the struggle is real. The Flip-forward Belly Pad is a soft, padded accessory that covers and retains the bottom harness receiver, keeping it in the outward-facing position when the seat is unbuckled. This accessory is crash tested and approved for use with all Britax harnessed car seats. It comes standard with the Endeavours and B-Safe Ultra models, but it is also available as a separate purchase for $10-15.

Here is the Britax Convertible Car Seat Comparison Table

This table (best viewed on a desktop computer) examines features for all eight Britax Convertible Car Seat Models. Each ClickTight model is available with or without ARB, and all convertible seats include a range of recline positions to help find the proper angle for safe car seat installation. Additional features are further explained in the section following the chart.

Check the Current Prices on Britax Convertible Car Seats

Frequently Asked Questions About Britax Convertible Car Seat Features

  • What is Britax Click-Tight Installation? ClickTight is Britax’s solution to the complexities and limitations of LATCH anchor and tether systems. The ClickTight system is found inside the car seat’s lift-up portion and uses the vehicle’s seat belt to secure the car seat. No need to find the vehicle’s lower anchors for ClickTight system installation.
  • What is the Britax Click & Safe Snug Harness? A study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that nearly 60% of child harnesses were too loose. The Britax Click & Safe harness indicator uses a mechanical tension sensor and creates an audible click to let parents know when the car seat harness is properly tightened.
  • What is a Britax V-Shaped Tether? The Britax V-Shaped Tether secures in a V-shaped angle to the vehicle tether anchors. The triangular stabilization reinforces car seat security and minimizes seat rotation.
  • What are Britax Quick Adjust Harness Positions? All Britax convertible car seats include the Quick Adjust Harness. Quick Adjust facilitates a no-rethread adjustment to ensure the harness is appropriately positioned at shoulder height. ClickTight models included 14 positions to grow with children. Allegiance and Emblem both include 10 position harness height.

Tags: baby safety , britax , britax car seats , comparing britax car seats

Best Infant Car Seats of 2020

By now you probably know you’ll need a car seat before you can take your baby anywhere—including home from the hospital. But with so many infant car seat models, and so much pressure to pick the safest ride for your little one, figuring out which one to choose can be a big decision.

In this article:

  • Babylist’s Best Infant Car Seat Picks
  • What’s an Infant Car Seat?
  • What Should You Look for in an Infant Car Seat?
  • Why Purchase an Infant Car Seat Instead of a Convertible?

How We Chose Our Best Infant Car Seats

We asked thousands of real Babylist families about the products they love the most now that their little one has arrived. We took the top products they shared with us and added our own research and insight. Here are the infant car seats we think you and your baby will love.

Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!

Best Overall Infant Car Seat

From excellent safety features to ease of use, the KeyFit 30 is a fan favorite. The base is simple to install and has just one tightener in the middle that pulls it securely in place. A built-in, easy-to-read level indicates when it’s been correctly positioned—plus you’ll always hear the trusty “click” sound when the carrier is properly inserted into the base. The KeyFit adapter works on most strollers, so you can go from the car to running errands without disrupting your little one’s snooze.

It’s light, easy to snap in and out and a great price.”

The canopy is small, so it doesn’t offer the same coverage from the sun or weather as other extendable canopies. For a bit more money, the KeyFit 30 Magic includes an extendable canopy and cozy footmuff. Another upgrade to this popular pick is the KeyFit 30 Zip with even more features that can be zipped on or off for maximum comfort.

Another thing to note: to move the handlebar back and forth, you need to press buttons with both hands, which isn’t doable if you’re holding your baby.

“Safe, easy to use, highly recommended by Consumer Reports, affordable.” -Claire M.

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 30 lbs and up to 30 inches
Car Seat Weight 9.6 lbs

Best Designed Infant Car Seat

This sleek, lightweight infant seat is more than just good looks. The True Lock safety system uses color-coded indicators to signal proper installation, giving extra peace of mind to nervous new parents. Plus, a fold-down stability leg, which extends from the base of the seat to the floor, is designed to absorb impact in an accident. Aside from top-notch safety features, parents rave about the quality materials and extendable “dream drape” that provides full coverage for snoozing babies. For those who frequently take taxis, the Pipa is a breeze to install in any car without the base.

Some parents find the magnet closures on the dream drape tricky to maneuver.

“It’s made of high-quality material, which is what drew us to it in the first place. The ease of installment for the base was a nice feature, especially for us as first-time parents. We also like how it is one of the lighter models on the market for toting around.” -Andrea C.

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 32 lbs and up to 32 inches
Car Seat Carrier Weight 7.9 lbs

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Best Inexpensive Infant Car Seat

Babies require a lot of stuff. And thanks to this reasonably priced car seat, at least one piece of gear is lightweight. At just seven and a half pounds, it’s easy on the arm muscles (and easy to move in and out of the car). It also has a higher weight limit (35 pounds), so the seat will last a bit longer.

“Easy to install, easy to carry.”

As the name implies, this seat is snug. Removable cushioning for newborns makes for a cozy ride. While this infant carrier is compatible with all Graco strollers, you’ll need an adaptor for other brands.

“Great ease of getting in and out of car, as well as clicking into stroller when needed. Not ridiculously heavy and was reasonably priced.” -E.O.

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 35 lbs and up to 32 inches
Car Seat Weight 7.5 lbs

Best Easy-to-Install Infant Car Seat

No need to stress about car seat installation when you have a Mesa. Just clip in the latch connectors and push the base down with your body weight—no tugging or pulling straps. The indicators will be green when it’s level and tight. In fact, it’s so easy and safe, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration awarded it a 5-star ease-of-use rating. Another awesome perk: you’ll never have to rethread the harness (which is a huge pain!) as your baby grows. The “Henry” version also passes federal safety standards without using fire retardant chemicals.

At almost 10 pounds, the Mesa is heavy. But many can easily overlook that thanks to all the other benefits like the ease of installation and being able to connect it into their Uppababy strollers without an adapter.

“It’s very plush and feels like our baby is well protected each time we use it. I wish it were a little lighter, but when you consider the functionality of the car seat I wouldn’t trade a thing.” -Tessa L.

“The installation is so easy! I love being able to visually check with every click in that the base is still tight enough and level. Even taking the seat cover off to wash has been easy with this seat.” -Nora N.

Child weight/height guidelines 4 to 35 lbs and up to 32 inches
Car seat weight 9.9 lbs

Best Compact Infant Car Seat

The B-Safe offers standout safety features at a great price point. The deep, narrow seat has sidewalls with energy-absorbing foam for side-impact protection. If you have a small car, this is a great choice because it won’t take up too much space in the backseat. And, it’s really a cinch to install. (However, installation isn’t so simple without the base. So if you’ll need to use this seat in cabs and friends’ cars, the B-Safe may not be your best bet.)

Parents of big babies say their kiddos grew out of the narrow seat too quickly. And while the steel frame of this seat adds extra safety, it also adds extra weight, making it heavy to tote around.

“This car seat feels very sturdy and has some of the best safety ratings! Baby was comfortable in it since day one and still uses it now at 16 months. The only downside is that it is heavier than many other car seats out there.” -Maureeca W.

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 35 lbs and up to 32 inches
Car Seat Weight 10 lbs

Best All-in-One Infant Car Seat

The Doona is the first of its kind: an infant car seat that instantly transforms into a stroller with the click of a button. When it’s time to get in the car, stroller legs and wheels pull up and fold under the car seat making this the ultimate, all-in-one system for frequent travelers. It’s also ideal for city dwellers who need to quickly get in and out of public transportation.

Once your child outgrows the infant car seat, you won’t be able to use the stroller anymore. Also, the sleek design doesn’t have any extra cargo space for a diaper or shopping bag.

“I liked the fact I didn’t have to carry the Doona, and that I could use it without a base.” -C.S.

“A stroller/infant car seat all in one—the best!” -Bethany D

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 35 lbs and up to 32 inches
Car Seat Weight 14.3 lbs

Best Easy-to-Clean Infant Car Seat

From spit-up situations to diaper explosions, whatever happens in the car seat doesn’t have to stay in the car seat, thanks to the Mico Max. The seat pad of this lightweight, stylish pick can be easily removed and machine washed. Plus, the fabric is self-wicking, which keeps babies dry and comfortable, especially in warmer temps. And when it comes to safety, its features include extra side-impact protection and an anti-rebound bar.

” It was light, easy to carry and super easy to clean. Loved it!”

The anti-rebound bar adds some length to the seat base, which makes it a tight fit in compact cars.

“Super lightweight and easy to use without the base. A bit narrow for my wide baby.” – Stephanie H.

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 30 lbs and up to 32 inches
Car Seat Weight 13.5 lbs

What’s an Infant Car Seat?

Infant car seats are made specifically for infants. These seats always face the rear of the car and are used from day one until your baby reaches the seat’s height or weight limit (usually 22 to 35 pounds).

Other types of car seats:

  • Convertible car seats: These grow-with-your-child seats transform from rear-facing seats for babies and toddlers to forward-facing seats for older children up to about 65 pounds.
  • Booster car seats: For kids at least four years old and at least 40 pounds, boosters help children sit higher up. That way the car’s regular lap and shoulder belts cross over your child’s body at the correct points to securely hold your child.

What Should You Look for in an Infant Car Seat?

First, let us reassure you. Every new car seat on the market right now must meet government safety regulations. So spending less money doesn’t mean your car seat will be less safe.

However, more expensive car seats will get you extras like bigger canopies, easier installation and potentially some additional safety features not currently required by law.

Here are some factors to take into consideration when choosing a seat:

  • Fits in your car: Car seats range in size and shape. Some are a better fit for larger or smaller cars.
  • Ease of installation: Many car seats can be installed using the regular seat belt or the LATCH system, which is an easier way to secure the car seat using built-in anchors and tethers (available in cars made after 2002).
  • Safety indicators: Some car seats come with built-in leveling systems and indicators to signal they’ve been correctly installed. (Most safety issues with car seats stem from them not be installing correctly. Here’s info on how to get a safe install.)
  • Fabric: Besides looking for a style of fabric that suits your taste, consider its durability and how easy it’ll be to wash if any oopsies happen.
  • Safety extras: Some car seats include additional shock absorption, padding and higher quality materials.
  • Stroller compatibility: You can snap infant car seats into many strollers or stroller frames. A stroller and car seat that come as a set is called a travel system. But if there’s a car seat you absolutely love that differs from your stroller, check if a separate adapter is available to fit the items together.
  • New vs used: Used car seats might be damaged and may not be up to snuff when it comes to current safety regulations. While we recommend new car seats, if you do end up selecting a used car seat, get it from someone you trust. Also be sure to look up the seat’s expiration date and research if that particular model has ever been recalled.

For more details about car seats, read our How to Choose a Car Seat guide.

Why Purchase an Infant Car Seat Instead of a Convertible?

While it seems that purchasing a convertible car seat would be the most efficient, there are two distinct advantages to using an infant car seat instead.

First, babies can stay asleep during the transfer from car to stroller if you purchased a travel system.

Second, if your baby will be riding in multiple vehicles, transferring an infant car seat can be so much easier. Just be sure to purchase an additional car seat base. That way you can quickly click the infant car seat into the backseat base and go. Installing and reinstalling a car seat gets old, real fast.

Choosing the Right Infant Car Seat For You

Once you get the car seat, be sure to test it out in your car(s) right away before removing the tags or throwing away the box. You’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit and that it lives up to your expectations.

Remember, any new seat you choose will be safe. What matters most is that the seat makes commuting around town and going on road trips to see grandma and grandpa easy for you and your family.