The 12 Best Convertible Car Seats, Tested and Trusted by Parents

With Extend2Fit, the adjustable extension panel and 50 lbs rear-facing weight limit allow the seat to grow with your child in rear-facing mode, providing extended rear-facing use. The foot panel sets the Extend2Fit apart from every other convertible car seat on the market. As the child grows taller, the panel can be extended to help them feel more comfortable.

When you switch the Extend2Fit Convertible from rear-facing to forward-facing, you’ll have to take the seat cover off to reroute the LATCH straps; it’s a bit of a nuisance, but hopefully a rare one. We knew from our expert interviews that proper installation is generally graco car seat a far bigger problem (PDF) than actual seat safety. So we also considered the NHTSA ease-of-use ratings, which score seats on a scale of one to five stars, based on factors like how simple the seats are to install and the clarity of their instructions.

graco convertible car seat

Though we didn’t rule out any seats on the basis of their being brand new, whenever possible we chose to test models that had been available for at least a year, in order to give us a more solid track record of user reviews. We spoke to dozens of caregivers about their car seat experiences, scanned hundreds of online reviews, and read articles and recommendations from other media sites like BabyGearLab and Car Seats for the Littles. The 4Ever is 19.3 inches wide, which is almost the widest width in the group, measuring 19.6 inches. The average is closer to 18.6 inches, so you’ll need to measure before purchasing if you need to fit three of anything across one row in your car.

Out of the 4Ever versions, this would be our favorite, thanks to the seat belt trainer. We do still think that the backless booster mode is very bulky, and we don’t care for that mode of use, though it’s a perfectly safe option. Depending on your child’s weight, you may be able to skip that mode anyway and go straight from the high-back booster to the seat belt trainer. This model is 4.5 years old, weighs 36 pounds, and is 41 inches tall.

A removable infant pillow and cushion make small babies snug and cozy. We really like that the removable cup holders are dishwasher safe. Harness holders keep the straps out of the seat when placing your baby inside—one more convenience we think all seats should have now. The seat offers 10 different headrest positions and six different recline positions to keep your child as comfortable as possible from infancy on up. With the adjustable extension panel, you’re able to have your child sit rear-facing up to 50 pounds, which is definitely a plus, since that’s the safest way for them to ride. We felt that the seat had enough recline for car naps, but it was also upright enough for kids to eat snacks.

This fact can be a relief when you need to install the seat with a belt, which is highly likely given the weight limitations of LATCH systems. Some seats are easier to install using a seat belt than competitors, and most of these seats have a trick by way of a belt lock-off located on the seat. This feature is so helpful; it is a game-changer for installing seats with a vehicle belt, and we believe you’ll feel significantly more comfortable installing a seat using the belt if it has one of these nifty lock-offs.

Here’s the Extend2Fit installed fully upright in rear facing mode with the panel fully extended for an older rear facing child. Children who are less than 3 months old must have the Extend2Fit installed at an angle in the light blue range on the recline indicator. For children who are over 3 months old, any of the blue range on the recline indicator and any rear facing recline are permitted.

This Diono car seat has a slim fit that our tester found fit neatly inside both a Subaru Outback and a smaller European model. The cup holder is also removable in case you do need to place this right next to another car seat. We have two for our two girls and plan graco turbobooster on buying another when our third is old enough. The seat is comfy for the girls, has cup holders, and is easy to install and clean. How wide a seat could be important to you if you need to fit multiple people or car seats across a back row in your vehicle.

We found the padding on the headrest to be ample and cushy; our toddler testers demonstrated their approval in the form of frequent naps. Many states also require children under a year old to ride rear-facing in their car seat, and increasingly state laws require kids to stay rear-facing up to the age of 2 (though longer is better). Both the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (PDF) and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children stay rear-facing for as long as possible. That is, “until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer,” according to the AAP. The British Medical Journal concluded in 2009 that a child is safer riding rear-facing until they’re 4 years old. In Sweden, a country with a notably low fatality rate for children in car crashes, kids typically sit rear-facing until they’re 4 years old.