Best Convertible Car Seat

Best Convertible Car Seat

When shopping for gear for your baby or toddler, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is which car seat to buy. You may have the one car seat you brought your baby home from the hospital in, but what happens as your child grows? Convertible car seats are becoming very popular for children who have outgrown their infant car seat. In this article, we cover when it is best to buy a convertible car seat, what to look for when purchasing, and our best recommended products.

What is a convertible car seat?

Convertible car seats are the next step for your child’s safety in the car after their first infant car seat. These are usually purchased around the time your child reaches his or her first birthday. Convertible car seats are convertible because they can either be installed rear or forward facing. Infant car seats have a weight limit for sitting rear-facing so most cannot accommodate toddlers as they grow for rear-facing riding. Rear-facing riding in vehicles is the safest option for kids so a convertible car seat is a must for your growing child.

When to buy a convertible car seat?

Convertible car seats can be bought before your baby is born as many models can accommodate children from newborns to toddlers. If you already have an infant car seat for your growing baby, the best time to switch to a convertible car seat is around your child’s first birthday.

How to install

Convertible car seats must be installed rear-facing if your child is younger than one year old and weighs less than 20 lbs. After this, it can stay installed rear-facing until your child reaches the age of 2 or 50 lbs. The American Academy of Pediatrics now requires parents to keep their toddlers riding rear-facing until your child reaches 2 years old. After this, you can flip the car seat around to forward-facing as he or she continues to grow. Most convertible car seats can hold children up to 65 lbs.

Convertible car seats are quite large compared to infant car seats and are not particularly portable. Because of this, we recommend you install the car seat in a position that you can keep the car seat for a long period of time as they are difficult to move around. If you are transporting your child in multiple cars, we recommend buying a convertible car seat for each vehicle.

If possible, we recommend you have your car seat and installation inspected by a professional. This site will help you find a trusted technician who can install your car seat properly, teach you how to install, adjust and use it, and the service is usually free of charge!

Price range

Convertible car seats are available in a variety of options and can range from $40 to $450.

Things to consider

Condition

We recommend buying your convertible car seat brand new as this is the safest option. Secondhand seats can have wear and tear, be missing parts, be damaged from accidents or have been recalled for safety. If you do buy used, make sure the seat and harness are still in good shape, and research the model’s expiration date. Do not buy a car seat more than 5 years old. You may think you are saving some money but the reality is that when it comes to your child’s safety in your car, it is worth more investment.

Weight and height

Check the weight and height limit of your model to ensure it can accommodate your child safely for the length of time you plan to use it. Just because the product fits within your age limit, does not mean it will be the best fit for your child’s height and weight. Pay attention to your child’s seated height (distance from your child’s bottom to the top of the car seat) and ensure that your car seat leaves at least one inch of room between the top of your child’s head and the top of the car seat when they are riding rear-facing. We recommend you identify where your child is on the growth curve in order to predict how much he or she will weigh when they reach 2 or 3 years old. This will help you determine how much longevity you can get out of your convertible car seat. Use these growth charts to help you decide.

Weight and dimensions

Consider the weight and dimensions of the car seat itself. If you need to move your convertible car seat between vehicles, it would be better to find one that is lighter and less bulky, and easy to install. For the most part, we recommend keeping your convertible car seat in one vehicle as they are difficult to move around.

Fitting

Take a look at the vehicle where you want to install the car seat and make sure your convertible car seat will fit well. Consider the seat in front, any obstructions in the door, and the height of your vehicle’s backseat. Keep the area uncluttered.

Flexibility

If you are buying your baby’s first car seat and would like to be able to use your convertible car seat from newborn stage to preschool stage, there are plenty of options for car seats that allow for more flexibility. Pay extra attention to the minimum and maximum height and weight requirements for a product before purchasing to make sure it will keep your baby secure.

Ease of use

Consider how easy it is to install the car seat and to secure your child in it. This will make your day to day life more convenient!

Features

When shopping for your convertible car seat, look for these features to get the best bang for your buck and keep your child safe.

5 point harness

Look for a 5 point harness which includes one strap for each shoulder, one strap for each hip and one strap that goes between your child’s legs. This system is a must-have for your convertible car seat.

Side impact protection

Look for a car seat that includes special foam or padding at the sides and back of the seat. This will add comfort for everyday riding, as well as provide extra shock-absorption in case of impact. Side impact protection will protect your baby’s head and chest in an accident.

Adjustment features

Make sure your car seat has easily adjustable straps and harness height so that you can adapt the harness as your child grows. Some car seats come with belts that can be adjusted single-handed or have quick-release buckles.

LATCH System (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)

All car seats and vehicles should be compatible with the LATCH system, which lets you install a car seat directly to the frame of your car without having to use seatbelts to secure it. Your convertible car seat should come with a top tether strap and lower anchor connectors if it is compliant with the LATCH system.

Cleaning

Your child is likely to make a mess once in awhile so you want a car seat that will allow for easy cleaning. Some convertible car seat models come with removable covers that can be thrown in the washing machine. This will keep your car seat clean and hygienic for your child.

Best Convertible Car Seats

With all this in mind, we have sourced the best convertible car seats on the market and reviewed them below.

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Convertible Car Seat

The Evenflo Tribute is a mid range convertible car seat that delivers on quality and safety. It comes with a 5 point upfront harness system that allows for safe riding and easy securing and releasing. The car seat comes with 4 harness positions, so that you can adjust the seat for more room to fit your child as he or she grows. This product also has 2 crotch buckle positions which can be adjusted for comfort level and a better fit. The seat can be adjusted to recline so that the car seat can be installed rear-facing and can also be used front-facing. Perfect for parents, the car seat has a machine-washable pad, which is great to wash out messes and keep your car seat clean and free of odors. The rest of the car seat is made up of plastic and metal which can be easily wiped clean using soap and water or a cleaning wipe. This model also has a head pillow for maximum comfort and protection of your baby’s head. The pillow can be removed as desired.

Safety is a big feature of this car seat. It has been side impact tested and meets all federal safety standards in crash tests. The sides and back of your child’s head will be well protected in the event of a crash with this seat. Its multiple harness positions and 5 point harness system ensure that your child fits well and is perfectly secured within the seat.

The Evenflo Tribute weighs 9.1 pounds and measures 18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches. It can support a child between 5 and 30 lbs sitting rear facing, and up to 40 lbs of weight when installed forward-facing. The car seat fits a child within the height range of 28-40 inches. The car seat is light and compact and is very portable so it is easy to transport on long trips and between cars. It comes in several colours, perfect for a boy or girl. Also, there is an attachable cup holder, which is convenient for a bottle or sippy cup.

People who own this car seat have raved about its portability as it is very easy to carry the car seat for travel. It can be carried through an airport, onto an airplane, installed into a rental car and carried home, unlike some larger, heavier car seats that are a pain to travel with. While it’s compact, it does the trick and parents feel secure with their children buckled up in the seat. People who have bought this car seat also love that it is easy to clean - they can simply wipe down any messes and just throw the seat pad into the wash. It is also very easy to install and offers great value at its price point.

Features

5 point harness

Yes

LATCH System

Yes

Machine Washable

Yes

Adjustable for Height

Yes

Weight Requirements

5-40 lbs

Height Requirements

28-40 inches

Buy Best Convertible Car Seat

Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat

Diono Radian Convertible Car Seat

This convertible car seat has all the bells and whistles. It is an all-in-one car seat that is made with full steel frame, which makes it one of the safest options you can buy for your child. It has body support cushions made with memory foam to best fit the shape of your child and offer maximum comfort. It comes with a headrest that is adjustable, and has reinforced sidewalls. Your child’s head will be very well protected in case of impact.

This car seat is very convenient because it can fold completely flat for easy portability. You can buy additional carrying straps and carry it right on your back when you are travelling. Because of its construction, it is a bit on the heavier side, weighing at 22 pounds, but the additional weight means maximum safety. With the weight in mind, this car seat is a good option if it will mainly be used in one vehicle and you aren’t planning to move it between cars as it can be a bit challenging to move in and out of a car. Though it is heavy, it has a slim profile, measuring only 10 x 17 x 28.5 inches so some cars can actually accommodate three of these car seats across. Perfect if you have multiple infants! The car seat can be installed rear facing or front facing. It accommodates children weighing between 5 and 45 pounds and reaching up to 57” in height. When forward facing, the car seat can support up to 80 lbs of weight. It offers 12 different height options and the seat sits lower than in other car seats, so it is easy to load and unload out of. It is a great option for your child as he or she grows. As a bonus option, this car seat converts into a booster seat which seats children between 50 and 120 lbs! The car seat is supposed to last for 10 years so if you’re looking to only buy one car seat for your child, this is the one for you!

The safety features on this car seat are excellent. It has passed federal crash test standards, as well as NCAP standards. It is also FAA approved for travelling on airplanes. It provides a bungee-like absorption so that impact is reduced and your child is very well protected in case of an accident or even during a regular stop. The car seat also comes with a tethering mechanism which reduces the amount the seat pivots on impact. This can be a risk when a child is seated rear facing, so having a seat that is properly secured with minimal pivot is very important.

This car seat is very stylish and will fit well with your car interior. It also comes with a cup holder which is convenient if you want to keep bottles and cups close to your child. It comes in several attractive colours. The memory foam makes it very comfortable for long trips, and expandable sides are great if your child is growing. The cover can be removed and is machine washable so the car seat is easy to keep clean.

People who have bought this car seat have seen amazing results in its protection for children in car accidents. Many buyers have shared experiences of serious accidents where this car seat has saved their children’s lives. They like that it is very easy to install, looks great, and has tons of safety features so they feel confident driving around with their child in the backseat. Though it is on the higher end in terms of cost, it’s a great investment because of its quality and safety rating.

Features

5 point harness

Yes

LATCH System

Yes

Machine Washable

Yes

Adjustable for Height

Yes

Weight Requirements

5-120 lbs

Height Requirements

Up to 57 inches

Buy Best Convertible Car Seat

Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat

Graco My Ride Convertible Car Seat

The My Ride 65 convertible car seat is an attractive and safe car seat made by Graco. It comes with a 5 point harness and is equipped with the LATCH system so installing the car seat is quick and easy and getting your child in and out of the seat is a breeze. The car seat measures 26 x 20.5 x 27 inches and weighs 15 pounds. It can seat children from 4 to 40 lbs seated rear facing and up to 65 lbs of weight seated forward facing. The height limit of the car seat is 49”. It fits well in the backseat of a vehicle, with enough room for passengers on either side. It is made with metal and plastic, and a seat with EPS energy-absorbing memory foam for extra comfort.

People who have bought this car seat are happy with its quality and price. However, it has minimal features compared to some other models. There is no reclining feature, and it requires a bit more effort to change the position of the straps as your child grows. Nevertheless, it keeps children safe when riding in either position, is comfortable for long rides and is easy to install.

Features

5 point harness

Yes

LATCH System

Yes

Machine Washable

Yes

Adjustable for Height

Yes

Weight Requirements

4-65 lbs

Height Requirements

Up to 49 inches

Buy Best Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat, Seaport

Safety 1st Convertible Car Seat

The Guide 65 convertible car seat is a great option for smaller cars. It can be installed forward facing or rear facing. In the rear facing position, it can seat children from 5-40 lbs and front facing, it can support 22-65 lbs. Flexibility is the best part of this car seat as it includes many features to adapt to your child as he or she grows. The car seat comes with a 5 point harness system, with 5 different harness heights and 3 buckle locations! It also has an adjustable head rest and lumbar pillows with EPS energy absorbing memory foam for comfort. The car seat also has side impact protection to reduce impact. Finally, it is weather proof for extreme temperatures that are very cold or very hot.

Owners of this car seat are very impressed by its quality for low price point. It is compact and light and cars can easily fit three across the back seat for multiple children. It is easy to install and switch between cars, and very portable for travel. It has a lot of built in cushioning and is both comfortable and safe. The cover is easy to remove and wash, and the rest of the car seat can be cleaned with soap and water. We recommend this car seat for anyone looking for a mid-range, reliable car seat that provides great value at a modest price point.

Features

5 point harness

Yes

LATCH System

No

Machine Washable

Yes

Adjustable for Height

Yes

Weight Requirements

4-65 lbs

Height Requirements

Up to 52 inches

Buy Best Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat

The Evenflo Tribute car seat is a beautiful and stylish convertible car seat with a lot of features at a low price point. It has a small frame and is compact, so can easily be moved between vehicles and re-installed. The Evenflo Tribute has passed all Federal crash test standards and Evenflo’s own side impact test. It comes with a 5 point harness system which can be adjusted in 4 different shoulder strap positions. The upfront harness adjustment and buckle release are excellent features making this car seat easy to adjust to best fit your child. Everything you need for comfort is included here: the car seat has harness covers, buckle covers, a head pillow and a plush seat pad so your child won’t be tugging on the straps or complaining during long rides.

The car seat measures 18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches and weighs 24 lbs. It can support a child’s weight of 5-30 lbs and height of 19-37 inches when sitting rear facing. Front facing, it accommodates 22-40 lbs of weight and 2-40 inches of height. So it is not ideal for newborns, but makes for a great infant seat and car seat for your growing toddler. The car seat is small and light, and owners find it really easy to move between cars or carry the car seat through airports and onto planes. It is also FAA approved for air travel. The car seat can be reclined for comfort, is easy to install, and has straightforward harness adjustment. The seat pad is removable and machine washable, while the other parts of the car seat can simply be wiped down.

Owners of this car seat find it perfect for travel. It is light and portable, and very comfortable so children are actually able to fall asleep and stay asleep easily. It is easy to install, durable and safe, and keeps children fitting in nice and snug. Being forward and rear facing, it works well for parents looking for a car seat that will accommodate their child as they grow. All in all, we find this to be an excellent all-around car seat for parents on a budget but are still looking for great quality.

Features

5 point harness

Yes

LATCH System

Yes

Machine Washable

Yes

Adjustable for Height

Yes

Weight Requirements

5-40 lbs

Height Requirements

Up to 40 inches

Buy Best Convertible Car Seat

Car seats are one of the most important purchases you’ll make as a parent. When you are shopping for one, we recommend you research its safety features, size and portability, and how well it can accommodate your child through different growth stages. Remember to think of this as a long term investment, as a proper convertible car seat can fit your child all the way until they reach preschool. This will give you peace of mind through your daily car rides, and may pay off significantly in the event of a car accident. We have introduced you to the best models we have found for price, quality and safety features and hopefully you find one that is perfect for your child!

If your child has outgrown their convertible car seat, consider buying a booster seat.​

More about Amy

Welcome! I’m Amy, a mom of 4 kids living on the East Coast. In raising each of my littles, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way and wanted to share them with other mothers like you! Whether you are an expectant first-time mother, or already have quite a brood of your own, A Safe Happy Baby is a place for you to get helpful resources and recommendations. We all want safe, happy kids and I hope this blog gives you the advice and products for your family.

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