Best Car Seats for Your Child’s Safety

Your child means the world to you, and keeping him or her safe is one of your top priorities. While commuting between home, your parents’ place, the grocery store and more, ensure that your child is protected while in tow with a reliable car seat.
Updated Apr 27, 2021
Written By
Jalesa Campbell | Safety and Security Reporter
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The 5 Best Car Seats

Car seats are the best protection your child can have on the go. Whether taking them to daycare or a road trip, a car seat gives your child safety and comfort. As your baby grows, you’ll need the right car seat for their age, weight and height to safeguard them from car injuries or fatal accidents. Choosing the right car seat can be tough, so we narrowed down the 10 best car seats in the industry to help you have peace of mind. 

Child Car Safety Statistics 

Car seats are one of the most important investments you’ll make for protecting your child because car crashes are the leading cause of death for children.

The good news: Fewer children are dying from car crashes. The rate has decreased by 61% since 1975.  

The bad news: In 2019, 209 children were killed in car accidents because they were unrestrained or restrained improperly. It’s a common life-changing mistake.

Here’s one point to keep in mind from The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and The Highway Loss Data Institute, Dec. 2019:
“Appropriate child safety seats provide significantly more protection in a crash than seat belts alone.”

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Car Seat

  • Types of Car Seats Available

    There are several different types of car seats on the market today, but the best one for your child will depend on their age, weight and the type of vehicle you’re driving. To learn more about what consumers are saying about different car seats, websites like BabyGearLab.com and Consumer Reports share reviews about car seats’ ease of use, installation, comfort, quality and more. You should also check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for car seat safety recalls.

  • Car Seat Meets Federal Standards

    Check to see if the car seat has been crash tested to meet or go beyond federal standards for enhanced safety. Also, review how it is engineered and the materials used, like steel and energy-absorbing foam to protect your child in case of an accident.

  • Never Buy a Used Car Seat

    No matter the discount, do not buy used car seats because you do not know their history. Accidents and even sun exposure can alter a car seat’s safety. If the seat has been in an accident previously, it may show signs of damage and may not offer the best protection to your child. It’s also a bad idea to buy used because you might not know if there has been a recall on the product.

10 Best Car Seats of 2019

  • Best All-Around Car Seat

    Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car Seat

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is made to work for the rear and forward-facing stages. It’s easy to keep clean with the Nanotex technology to fight stains and odors. For safety reasons, it has an anti-rebound bar that prevents the seat from moving during an accident. The Britax Boulevard also has two layers of side protection and a V-shaped tether to help reduce movement.

    Stand-out features include

    • Suitable for babies and children up to 65 lbs.
    • Rear and forward facing convertible car seat
    • Anti-rebound bar
  • Best Car Seat for Growth With Your Child

    Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat

    Our rating

    Our take

    Created to grow with your child, the Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat can be adjusted for use a rear-facing harness, forward-facing harness, high-back booster, and a backless booster. This car seat supports 4 lbs up to 120 lbs, allowing your child to ride safely. Additional features include a RapidRemove seat cover and the inRight forward-facing for easier transport.

    Stand-out features include

    • Made to protect your child in front, rear, side, and rollover accidents
    • Can adjust the harness system up to 10 positions
    • Removable seat cover for cleaning
  • Best Convertible Car Seat

    Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat is easy to clean with zip-off padding that’s machine washable. It’s filled with safety features to keep your child safe, including DuoGuard for two layers of protection. The Chicco NextFit also has a LockSure Belt System that you can easily install with the car’s seat belt. It also has nine reclining positions to fit most cars. It also includes a Cup Folder that’s dishwasher safe. This car seat is best for children that weigh up to 65 lbs.

    Stand-out features include

    • LockSure Belt System for easy, secure installation
    • DuoGuard for two layers of protection
    • Dishwasher safe cup folder
  • Best Car Seat for Smaller Vehicles

    Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat can convert to a rear-facing harness, forward-facing harness, and a high-back booster seat. It is built with a steel frame for durability and features a shock-absorbing foam for protection from impact. Soft seating makes riding more comfortable for your baby, while the InRight LATCH system makes it easy to secure.

    Stand-out features include

    • Crash tested to meet safety or exceed safety standards
    • Adjustable harness system
    • Cup holders for your baby’s beverages
  • Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

    Our rating

    Our take

    The Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is for both rear- and forward-facing stages. It’s best for children up to 65 lbs. or 10 years old. The harness’ spring assist keeps it in place to avoid getting tangled. It also has a magnetic chest clip to buckle your child in quickly and securely. The Maxi Cosi Pria also has side impact protection with GCell technology to protect your child’s head. The car seat cover is machine washable and dryer safe. It also includes two removable cup holders.

    Stand-out features include

    • Tangle-free harness spring assist
    • Machine washable and dryer safe cover
    • GCell technology to protect your child’s head
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The Appropriate Car Seat Based on Your Child’s Age

There are different types of car seats depending on your child’s age, weight and height. You’ll want to make sure each seat is the best fit for your child’s growth so they’re safe on the road. Here are the different types of car seats you’ll need as your child gets older.

  • Infant to Toddler: A rear-facing car seat or a convertible, rear-facing car seat
  • Toddler to Kindergartener: Convertible, rear/forward-facing car seat
  • Grade-School Children: Booster seat

Infant car seats

  • Newborns and babies
  • 4-35 lbs. 
  • Installed with a base and can be removed as a carrier
  • Rear-facing since their bodies are still developing

Once your baby reaches the weight limit or their head is less than an inch from the top of the car seat, then it’s time to graduate them to an appropriate car seat.

Convertible car seats

  • Babies and small children until 2 years old
  • 22-35 lbs. 
  • Heavier and bulkier than infant car seats
  • Suitable for commuting but not carrying around

Generally, once your child is at least two years old or outgrows a convertible car seat, they can be placed forward-facing. Once your child outgrows a convertible or forward-facing car seat, then you can consider a booster seat.

Booster seats 

  • Children ages 8 to 12 years old 
  • 4 feet and 9 inches tall 
  • At least 40 lbs. 
  • Designed to help children sit properly with an adult seat belt 

You’ll find different types of booster seats with varying limits of weight, including high-back and backless. Make sure your child can sit up properly and ride calmly without bending over and playing around. Once a child has outgrown their booster seat, they can transition to riding with an adult seat belt.

Infant car seats are designed for newborns and babies. Most infant car seats are made to support babies between 4 lbs. and 35 lbs. Typically, this type of car seat is installed with a base and can be removed as a carrier. It’s important to keep newborns and babies rear-facing since their bodies are still developing, and the car seat will help to absorb impact in the event of an accident. Once your baby reaches the weight limit or their head is less than an inch from the top of the car seat, then it’s time to graduate baby to an appropriate car seat.

Convertible car seats are designed to grow with your child. If you have a little one that’s outgrown an infant car seat, this can be your next option. Typically, convertible car seats support babies and small children from around 22 lbs. up to 35 lbs. These car seats tend to be heavier and bulkier, making them suitable for commuting but not carrying around. Generally, once your child is at least two years old or outgrows a convertible car seat, then they can be placed forward-facing. Two years of age is not the age limit for convertible car seats, but just a suggestion. Once your child outgrows a convertible or forward-facing car seat, then you can consider a booster seat.

Booster seats are designed to help children sit more properly with an adult seat belt. You’ll find high-back booster seats and backless boosters. These are to be used once a child has exceeded the weight and height limits of their forward-facing car seat and are able to sit still properly on their own. Make sure your child can sit up properly and ride calmly without bending over and playing around. Most children aren’t ready to sit in a booster seat by the age of two, and it’s safer to keep your child in a well-fitting car seat. Booster seats are generally suitable for children who have reached 4 ft. and 9 in. or are 8 to 12 years old. Once a child has outgrown their booster seat, they can transition to riding with an adult seat belt.

Car Seat Installation Tips

  • Most car seats can use the LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) or a seat belt for securing. The LATCH system has weight limits – if your child has grown beyond the car seat’s weight limits, you should use a seat belt to secure. 
  • It’s safer to place the car seat in your middle back seat for safety, keeping them away from air bags. 
  • Test your car seat for proper installation with the 1-inch test. Ensure the seat does not move to the left, right, front, or back more than an inch. If so, you’ll need to secure it tighter. 
  • Ensure that your child’s car seat is placed at the proper reclining angle while rear-facing
  • If you need help installing your child’s car seat, contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician, the local fire or police station for assistance.

Choose the best car seat for your child’s safety

With so much of our time being spent on the road, it’s crucial to ensure that your child is secure in the best car seat. Choose one designed to meet or exceed car seat safety standards and follow the directions for a proper install. Now that you’ve learned about several factors to consider before you purchase a car seat, different types of car seats, and some of the top recommendations, we are confident you’ll make a better choice in protecting your little one.

Car Seat FAQs






Side view of a happy little boy looking at camera while his mother buckling him in a car seat

Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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