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The 5 Best Car Seats
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car Seat - Best All-Around Car Seat
- Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Infant to Toddler Car Seat - Best Car Seat for Growth With Your Child
- Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat - Best Convertible Car Seat
- Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Best Car Seat for Smaller Vehicles
- Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Best Car Seat for Easy Installation
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.”
10 Best Car Seats of 2019
- Best All-Around Car Seat
Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car SeatOur rating
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 SeatOur rating
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 SeatOur rating
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 SeatOur rating
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 SeatOur rating
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
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.
- 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
This will depend on your child’s age and size. While some car seats are specifically made for infants, there are some that are designed to grow with your child. Look for minimum and maximum weight limits when browsing car seats. Some car seat weight limits may range from as low as 5 lbs up to over 100 lbs.
In most states, children are required by law to stay in a car seat until age 4, and in a booster seat until age 8. It also varies by state.
If you need assistance installing your car seat, Safe Kids Worldwide can connect you with a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). You can also review these car seat installation guides from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children to remain rear-facing until they weigh at least 40 lbs. if not more. There is more support and protection for your child’s head and body when they ride rear-facing.
It’s good not to rush your child out of a car seat. Typically, you should keep them in a car seat until they have reached the weight and or height limits to use the seat. The next step would be to purchase a booster seat.