Black fabric will hide stains better, but there are a wide variety of colors and patterns depending on the brand of car seat. Even the budget-friendly seats have a nice selection. The premium-priced seats usually have the best quality fabric and padding. They’re less likely to tear, pill and fade. We’ve found that breathability doesn’t depend much on price, however.
Our comments: If you’re planning to use an infant seat first and then transition to a convertible when the baby is bigger, then the Pria 70 or Pria 85 models could be the seats for you. With tall 18″ top harness slots and generous rear-facing and forward-facing weight limits, both Pria models are great for extended rear-facing and for forward-facing older kids too. Easy to install in most vehicles but discontinue installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 40 lbs. These seats have rules about what base positions must be used both RF and FF so make sure you read the instructions carefully. Since all Pria models lack a lockoff device for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install these carseats with seatbelt. Both Pria 70 and Pria 85 models have lots of padding in the cover – it’s like sitting on a cloud! See full Pria 85 review here.
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires children weighing 18 kg to 36 kg (40 to 80 lb.), standing less than 145 cm (4 ft. 9 in.) tall and who are under the age of 8 to use a booster seat or allows the continued use of a forward-facing seat as long as the car seat manufacturer recommends its use. It’s best to keep your child in a booster seat until they reach the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight and height limits.
About $200, depending on color and pattern options. Though we've placed the Chicco KeyFit at #3 on our list for 2019, let's be clear that realistically you will likely be very happy with any of the top three to five infant car seats, and a lot of the decision comes down to preference. The Chicco KeyFit comes with a base that attaches into your car using either the Latch system or the conventional seat belt. We actually found that attaching and detaching this seat from the base was a bit easier than most others, making it easy to move around, and it only weighs 16 pounds overall (9-pound seat + 7-pound base; lighter than many). But of course, realize that other heavier infant car seats are probably heavier because they either have some additional safety technology (like the SafeCell tech and steel-reinforced frame in the Britax B-Safe), and might support heavier babies up to 35 pounds (like the Fit2), which makes those seats bigger and heavier by necessity. But Chicco didn't skimp on safety and convenience here, using premium LATCH connectors, EPS energy-absorbing foam, and RideRight bubble-level indicators to make sure you get a good install. The form and fit of this infant car seat are very good, and we really appreciated the soft-touch fabrics and trim. With the infant insert it can support very small infants down to 4 pounds. Unlike the Fit2 which can support babies up to 35 pounds and about 2 years old, the KeyFit 30 is better for babies up to about 1 year old or 30 pounds. So it's a great seat to use during the first year, which is the time when you'll want to be able to carry your baby around in the seat; after the first year, it will be a good time to upgrade to one of our best convertible car seats. Note that while the Chicco KeyFit infant car seat has multiple shoulder strap positions, it only has one crotch buckle position (many others have 2 crotch buckle positions). The shoulder straps are not adjustable without rethreading, though this is a feature you usually only get with more expensive units, like the Fit2, Peg Perego, or Britax B-Safe Elite. We thought the Chicco KeyFit's shoulder straps were better than several others on this list, mostly because they are a bit wider and therefore aren't as prone to twisting. However, the canopy is much smaller than some others, making it harder to fully cover the baby. This was one of the bigger drawbacks of the Chicco, as we tend to use the canopy quite a bit: for sunny days, for napping, and for rain or snow. You'll be fine until you want to cover more of your baby's body from the rain. Note that Chicco recently released a Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip Air Infant Car Seat, which uses a similar highly breathable technical fabric to the Britax Ultra Cool Flow. Overall, this is one of the best infant car seats on the market today, and we think it has a lot of great things going for it, at a very reasonable price. And the Magic infant car seat color is very popular right now, though there are several colors to choose from. Interested? You can check out the Chicco KeyFit 30 here.
Convert from a high-back to backless booster: Some families may want to keep spare lighter, more portable backless boosters around for carpools, but we wanted seats that would meet a range of needs for a longer period of time, which can be achieved with a seat that converts from high-back to backless. A seat designed to adjust or expand to better accommodate an older and larger-sized kid is a plus.
BRITAX infant/child seats can be used rear facing from 5 to 40 pounds (2.3 to 18.1 kilograms) and forward facing from 22 pounds and walks unassisted, up to 65 pounds (10 kilograms and walks unassisted, up to 29.4 kilograms), depending on the seat. High-capacity convertibles allow your child to stay in a five-point harness through the toddler years.
In general it's best hold off on using a booster seat and keep your child in a forward-facing, convertible car seat for as long as possible - as long as the child is still within the car seat's height and weight limits* and fits correctly. Car seats are safer because they help spread the force of a sudden stop or impact across the strongest parts of your child's body. So when your child outgrows their current car seat and even if they exceed your province's or territory's guidelines, you can try looking for a larger car seat that still fits. There are car seat models that go all the way up to 30kg (65lb).
Our comments: This unique “kid-positioner” fits kids bigger, older kids when traditional boosters don’t. Its short stature boosts those bigger kids up just enough for proper belt fit while its plain design makes it look more like a vehicle cushion than a booster. Shorter adults have even been known to use it to improve belt fit! See our preview and kid-written review of this terrific product.
Another entrant to the all-in-one car seat field, the Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite™ is a solid contender. With mid-range weight limits – 35 pounds for rear-facing and 50 pounds for front-facing – and the ability to convert to a booster, not to mention rigorous safety testing and ratings, the Alpha Omega Elite™ is an excellent choice for families seeking value, safety, and extended use.
About $200-230 depending on whether you go for the regular B-Safe 35 (usually around $170), the B-Safe Elite (usually around $200), or the newest B-Safe Ultra (usually up to $230 depending on pattern choice). The one pictured is the 35 Ultra with Cool Flow fabric. There's a reason that the Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat is the #1 best-selling infant car seat on the market this year, because moms and dads love it, and you can't beat the Britax safety reputation. The B-Safe 35, B-Safe Elite, and B-Safe Ultra infant car seats come with a seat base that easily attaches into (and detaches from) your car using either the Latch system or the conventional seat belt. Made right here in the USA, moms love the form and fit of these seats, and we found that any of these models do a really nice job supporting even very small (4+ lbs) infants with use of the included infant padding insert. As the baby grows, you can remove the additional body and head padding to give your baby a bit more room. The car seat also has simple to adjust head protection pads, a 35-pound weight limit (which is at the higher end of the range), two crotch strap positions (in the Elite and Ultra), multiple shoulder harness strap positions to fit a growing baby, and we found it very easy with the Elite and Ultra versions to make on-the-fly adjustments to suit different size babies. The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite have three primary differences: the elite adds quick-adjust head protection, adjustable shoulder straps without rethreading (this is truly worth the cost), and a bit more padding and higher quality fabric. The B-Safe Elite and B-Safe Ultra have a few differences as well: the B-Safe Ultra adds a European belt path and the Cool Flow fabric option. The European style belt guide allows you to secure the seat without the base using the vehicle's seat belts; this is great for people who don't want to spend the extra cash for another base, have multiple cars, or want to be able to travel (and use a ride-sharing or a taxi) without bringing the base along. The Cool Flow fabric is amazing and provides extra ventilation for the warmer months to avoid a sweaty back and discomfort. Overall, we believe the extra $40-50 is worth all of the advantages of the Ultra version. But all those features mean a car seat that weighs about 20 pounds (seat is 11lb + base is 9lb), which we understand may be quite heavy for some parents. All three B-Safe versions use the Britax SafeCell technology, which combines side impact protection, a steel-reinforced frame, and EPS energy-absorbing foam. Those safety features really set this seat apart from the crowd, and we think it's worth the added weight. Relative to the Chicco car seats (see below), the B-Safe Elite and Ultra have slightly plusher and premium-feel fabric, and we found the fabric much easier to clean with wipes, and to remove for machine washing. The B-Safe also has the same weight capacity (35 pounds) as the Chicco Fit2, but a lower maximum baby height of 32" as opposed to the Chicco Fit2's 35". Related to sizing, in our testing we did find that the B-Safe can be a bit tight in the shoulder area for bigger babies, especially after they are about 10-12 months old. That's the only real limitation of this Britax car seat, though it won't impact you if you have a relatively normal-sized baby, or if you're going to switch a convertible car seat around 12-16 months anyway. A final point is that the B-Safe canopy is larger than most others and truly covers a baby during bright sun, rain, snow, or simply for privacy and during a nap. The B-Safe is made in the USA by a company with a stellar reputation for quality and safety, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, and toddler booster seats. As a bonus, it comes in a variety of colors/patterns. Yes, it's expensive, but we believe the quality, features, and safety reputation are well worth the cost. It is definitely one the best infant car seats available this year, and worthy of this spot on our list (and its spot at the top of our best travel systems list). Interested in our top-pick, the B-Safe Ultra? You can check it out here: Britax B-Safe 35 Ultra.
Can you use a convertible seat for a newborn? You can, though keep in mind that the AAP and several child safety experts recommend a dedicated infant seat for newborns up to 8 pounds or more. Convertible seats tend to be roomier, so they may not offer a snug enough fit for a very small baby or preemie. Otherwise, if your baby isn’t super small, a convertible seat should fit her just fine.