A. For safety reasons, a booster seat should always go in the back of the car. In fact, in some states it's illegal for kids under a certain age to ride in a booster seat in the front of a vehicle. If it has a full three-point seat belt, the center rear seat is the safest spot in a car to position a booster seat. However, in many cars the center rear seat only has a lap belt. In this case, position the booster seat either in the left or right rear seat.
Recaro’s reputation for style, form and function live on with the ProRIDE, a convertible car seat that employs serious safety features: a vehicle belt lock-off mechanism (for use when forward-facing), PUR foam in the head restraint, and racing-inspired side impact protection. And rest assured your little one won’t sacrifice comfort for safety, as the ProRIDE also comes equipped with an ergonomic shell, breathable fabric, and comfortable cushioning.
While it only took us about 20 minutes to fit the car seat into our midsize SUV, from taking it out of the box to locking it in, the Britax uses a ClickTight system rather than the typical LATCH system so it takes getting used to. However, after removing and replacing it in the rear-facing position in under 10 minutes, we understand why many customers prefer ClickTight.

Usually about $300. This is a slightly more expensive option than most other infant car seats, but there are some great features and safety reputation that might make it worth the cost. It's one of the easiest to install and use infant car seat we've tested. This is for three primary reasons. First, it uses a great automatically tightening LATCH system with a convenient indicator to tell you when the base is fully secured to the seat. If you're using the vehicle's belts, it does have a lock-off. Second, also helpful during installation, it has a 4-position foot that helps you level the base correctly in the car (there is also a level indicator on the side). Third, the headrest and shoulder straps adjust easily between five height positions without any rethreading (the crotch buckle adjusts between 2 positions, but with rethreading from the bottom). There are a lot of nice convenience factors with this seat. Now for some thoughts about the safety of the UppaBaby Mesa infant car seat. The seat has nice plush dual-layer side impact protection, that according to UppaBaby performs up to 4-times better than on side impact crash tests than any other premium infant car seat on the market. To absorb impact in the event of an accident, the seat also uses energy-absorbing EPS foam. An infant insert is included to accommodate babies (and preemies) as small as 4 pounds, and the seat goes up to a 35-pound weight capacity (32" height), so that's a pretty typical height and weight capacity for an infant seat. Coming in just under 10 pounds, there's a lot of convenience and safety features given a relatively low overall weight (the base adds another 9 pounds), making the seat's weight not a big issue at all. It's also not so wide either, with a 15.5" wide base, and adding another 2 inches to that due to the handlebar levers sticking out on the sides. It is a good option for fitting three car seats in a row, because the bottom of the base is very narrow, to allow LATCH and buckles to fit close together. Additional things we liked were how easy the chest buckle was to use, and how easy the shoulder strap adjustment was using the front button and strap. Downfalls? Well, you need to use two hands to adjust the handlebar, and the canopy isn't as big as we'd like and it does get a bit too close to the handlebar when both are up. We also want to note that the fabric wasn't quite as soft or breathable as others on this list, and some of our test babies consistently had sweaty backs when using this seat. Speaking of fabric, the new (2018-2019) Henry version does add chemical-free fire-resistant fabric by using merino wool. A great concept, but we didn't like the feel of it so much. Wool is highly breathable though, so it should help with the sweaty-back issues we typically see with this seat. Also, no steel-reinforced frame here with the UppaBaby Mesa, and it's made in China (for what it's worth). Overall, this is one of the best infant car seats on the market and would be higher on this list if it weren't for the $300 price tag and the less than comfortable fabric. Interested? You can check out the UppaBaby Mesa here.


Once your little one grows too big for their car seat is it important to move to the next step. Booster seats for the car are important for your child’s safety. They come in multiple colours and patterns to match your child’s personality. Add some of the accessories to make the car journey more enjoyable. Follow the guidelines for weight requirements for the different types and brands. Save money and live better. 

Our comments: One of the easiest convertibles to install correctly with either LATCH or seatbelt. Installing with SuperCinch is so quick and easy that it’s downright revolutionary. Use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 40 lbs. Fits newborns (even small newborns) very well. Doesn’t take up a lot of space when rear-facing so it’s a good option for smaller vehicles. Generous rear-facing height and weight limits. Almost all kids will be able to rear-face in the NextFit until they reach 40 lbs. Well-padded and very comfortable. We love the extra convenience of the zip-off cover found only on Zip models. See full review of the Chicco NextFit here.

Be easy for a kid to use properly: A kid should be able to easily pull the belt on and attach it to any belt-positioning mechanism without help. They should be able to position themselves correctly so that they’re sitting up straight and not slouching in the seat. The belt should retract easily when the kid unbuckles. If they lean forward and then lean back, the seatbelt should be routed in a way that it moves with them. (A belt that does not retract would be too loose in the event of a crash.)
While we tested and photographed our car seat for an hour and a half, our three-year-old model stayed cool and comfortable the entire time. His only complaint was how tightness of the crotch buckle, and it took us a few tries to figure out how to to adjust them correctly. But after that we heard zero complaints, the best test result a parent could ask for.
Technology is quickly advancing everywhere, including the safety seat market. Car seats have come a long way in the last few years and can accommodate a wider range of ages and sizes. Keep in mind that the AAP now recommends keeping children rear-facing for as long as possible. So, look for infant seats with higher rear-facing weight limits such as the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35​.

Features: 5-50 lbs. rear-facing; 22-65 lbs. forward-facing and at least 1 year old (2 years old is suggested); 10-position headrest with no-rethread harness; 2 buckle positions; innovative “true tension doors” for ease of installation with seatbelt (preferred installation method); 10-position base; energy-absorbing EPS foam & side impact protection (SIP) pods; smooth harness adjustment; extension panel that can be used rear-facing for increased legroom or forward-facing for additional thigh support.
Parents should never skip the booster seat stage after convertible car seat graduation. Most states allow parents to switch from a front-facing convertible car seat to a belted booster seat after the child has outgrown the convertible seat harness or has reached age four. This booster seat phase is very important in terms of safety and seat design. It should never be skipped in favor of a regular seatbelt.
Check the seat’s washing instructions: Wirecutter’s picks all have removable covers. You can machine wash the Chicco and Graco but you should line-dry them, and you can sponge clean the Diono with mild soap and water. CPST Harrison said that in her experience, booster seats don’t get as messy as infant and convertible ones: “if a child is in a booster at the correct age, they eat a little more neatly in it. Also they are toilet trained, they can warn you if they feel carsick.”
Recaro’s reputation for style, form and function live on with the ProRIDE, a convertible car seat that employs serious safety features: a vehicle belt lock-off mechanism (for use when forward-facing), PUR foam in the head restraint, and racing-inspired side impact protection. And rest assured your little one won’t sacrifice comfort for safety, as the ProRIDE also comes equipped with an ergonomic shell, breathable fabric, and comfortable cushioning.
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.
Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; no re-thread harness; 2 buckle positions; innovative SuperCinch LATCH tightening system; premium push-on LATCH connectors; 9 position base; energy-absorbing EPS foam; non-twist straps; built-in lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; anti-slip base; “ZIP” models feature zip-off cover for easy washing

It’s been extensively crash tested, most notably for Evenflo’s side impact standard for structural integrity, which is almost twice the federal crash test standards. Most newborns will fit into the seat from the start thanks to the easy to adjust harness, head and body pillow, and plenty of strap positions. The multiple recline angles can be easily adjusted with a button on the front of the base.


The slim design means that your car will be able to carry more people in the back seat comfortably. Most car seats are safer in the middle of the back seat anyway, and if you have older children, they won’t be cramped on either side. In rear-facing mode, it also provides more front seat legroom than many other seats on the market. Two built-in cup holders come in handy for toddlers and beyond.
It’s been extensively crash tested, most notably for Evenflo’s side impact standard for structural integrity, which is almost twice the federal crash test standards. Most newborns will fit into the seat from the start thanks to the easy to adjust harness, head and body pillow, and plenty of strap positions. The multiple recline angles can be easily adjusted with a button on the front of the base.
Drawbacks: Lacks a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations; seat takes up more space rear-facing when the legrest panel is extended; can be difficult to get the last bit of slack out of the harness when tightening – especially on a smaller baby; moving LATCH belt from RF beltpath to FF beltpath is challenging because the cover is difficult to detach at the bottom; harness strap covers cannot be used when child is forward-facing; recline position #4 is required when the seat is installed forward-facing for a child weighing less than 40 lbs.

Drawbacks: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation but you can use LATCH up to 50 lbs.; moving LATCH belt from RF beltpath to FF beltpath is challenging; both seats come out of the box with the LATCH strap routed in forward-facing beltpath which means parents will have to make this adjustment before they can install the seat in the rear-facing position.
Differences Between Sonus & Stratos 65: Stratos has a higher weight limit for forward-facing and includes 5-position height-adjustable headrest with deep wings. Stratos also offers push-on LATCH connectors, removable cup holders, harness strap covers and an additional “recline stand leg” on base which makes it less likely that you would need to use a pool noodle or rolled up towel to achieve the proper rear-facing recline angle in vehicle.
The Chicco Fit2 infant car seat is a step above the top-rated KeyFit in its dual-mode design and added safety features. The unique 2-stage adjustable base allows for a better fit for toddlers who are rear-facing. For those who are worried about lack of legroom for toddlers, this could be a great option. It comes in 3 colors and is designed for babies 4 – 35 pounds.

Oh, be still our hearts. The Diono Radian®RXT (and its sister seat, below at #10) is the granddaddy of incredible car seats. At $300+, you may not think of this as a budget seat – but consider what you get for your money: an infant seat, toddler and preschooler car seat, and elementary booster seat (up to 120 pounds), all in one. And if that weren’t enough, the Radian®RXT is so compact, you can fit three-across in a mid-size vehicle; it also folds flat for travel. Huge bonus: it has a 10-year life, so it won’t expire before your kid outgrows it.
Safety is a priority with the Evenflo Amp Performance. This booster seat was designed and tested at roughly two times the federal crash standard. In the event of an accident, research suggests that this seat maintains its structural integrity — a plus for safety-minded parents. The seat also comes with a removable, 100% polyester pad for easy washing and dual cup holders that are accessible to most children.

Our comments: We appreciate the rigid lower LATCH connectors, a “true” recline feature and the Crypton fabrics (on all fashions except for Drift). We recommend only for kids over 4 years old who weigh at least 40 lbs. and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. The Oobr has a Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in highback mode. See our Oobr review here.

We also examined two popular travel booster seats: the BubbleBum and MiFold. We included both of these seats in our crash testing to compare their safety and effectiveness with that of another backless booster seat, the Chicco KidFit (our runner-up pick, without its back). Unsurprisingly, we found that none of these backless boosters performed well with regard to head impact, but the travel booster seats performed notably worse than the backless Chicco with regard to chest impact.


For children rear-facing 5-40 pounds and forward-facing 22-65 pounds, the Chicco NextFit is a great convertible seat for parents who prioritize safety. The sturdiness inside gives way to a comfortable outside as well - it is truly the best of both worlds. The standard version is now only available in one color (black) while the updated NextFit Zip versions have a few more colors to choose from.
Infant: These are designed for infants weighing as little as 4 pounds up to 22-40 pounds, depending on the model. These seats are always used rear-facing, attach to a stationary base and have handles for carrying. The base can be moved from car to car, but the carrier is a huge convenience – it allows you to carry your child around without disturbing her.
In many states, it is required by law for children below 1 year of age to be in a rear-facing car seat. Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents keep their toddlers in rear-facing seats until at least 2 years of age. It’s safest for children to remain in that seating position until the rear-facing weight limit of your convertible car seat is reached, which can be anywhere from 2 to 5 years of age depending on your child’s growth and the seat you choose.
Stroller Type: What do you intend to do with the car seat once it's out of the car? If your baby is sleeping, do you want to be able to pop the seat out and stick it into a stroller? If so, you will want to purchase a travel system or be careful to make sure that the seat will fit your existing stroller, or if you want to be able to use one of the relatively universal snap-in strollers, be sure to check compatibility. Graco has made compatibility questions easy with their Click Connect system, which ensures that your car seat will fit any stroller or infant car seat base that is also labeled as Click Connect. Though we definitely recommend buying the folding snap-in stroller that's the same brand as your car seat (for Graco car seats: Graco Snugrider Elite Stroller and Car Seat Carrier; for Chicco car seats Chicco Keyfit Caddy Stroller Frame), here is an example of a snap-in stroller that can accommodate several brands of car seats: Baby Trend Snap N Go EX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier. Be sure to check out our best stroller reviews here, and our reviews of the best lightweight strollers 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.
Parents should never skip the booster seat stage after convertible car seat graduation. Most states allow parents to switch from a front-facing convertible car seat to a belted booster seat after the child has outgrown the convertible seat harness or has reached age four. This booster seat phase is very important in terms of safety and seat design. It should never be skipped in favor of a regular seatbelt.

Most convertible seats can be used with infants as little as 5 pounds. They will continue to fit until your child reaches anywhere from 40 to 65 pounds and 40” to 52” in height, depending on the model. For example, a seat with a 40 pound maximum weight will fit from birth to about 4 years of age, while one with a 65 pound max weight will fit until around 7 years of age.
Forward-facing only seats can be broken into two groups: forward-facing harnessed seats and combination seats. Forward-facing harnessed seats are seats that can only be used with the 5-point harness in the forward-facing position and do not convert for any other mode of usage. Combination seats are much more common and can be used with the 5-point harnesses and then converted to a belt-positioning booster seat after the harness is outgrown.
Drawbacks: All SnugRide SnugLock models allow European beltpath routing if installing the carrier directly (without the base) using a lap/shoulder seatbelt. It’s uncommon for most parents to install the infant seat without the base but the Euro belt routing option is a nice feature to have if you travel by taxi or car service often. Unfortunately, the Euro belt routing with the SnugLock models isn’t ideal since the shoulder belt often slips too low across the back of the shell to offer much support. This isn’t a deal breaker for most parents who use the base 99% of the time but if you are in the 1% who frequently install without the base, it’s something to be aware of. You can still install the carrier directly to the vehicle with seatbelt using the standard belt routing if you’re not happy with the Euro routing. We have more details and pictures of the issue in our full review.
Our comments: This is the rare extended rear-facing seat available for less than $100! The SureRide is budget-friendly and fits a wide range of kids – from small babies to older school-age kids. Also nice for traveling since it’s so lightweight. This seat lacks a lockoff for seatbelt installations so you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt. See our full review of the Evenflo SureRide DLX.  Also, check out our Comparison of Convertible Seats Under $100.

We pride ourselves in having an ad-free website - that means no annoying pop-ups or banner ads for you. But it also means no advertising revenue for us! Instead, Mommyhood101 participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program providing a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon.com. Most product links lead directly to Amazon.com. Complete terms and conditions.
The Chicco NextFit is one of the best-rated car seats available today, thanks to its easy of use, high weight limit, and superior safety features. We love how simple it is to install and use, with its ReclineSure 9-position leveling system, SuperCinch LATCH tightening, RideRight bubble leveler, 2-position chest clip, and other user-friendly features. And for baby fashionistas, the NextFit comes with a unique, machine-washable zip-off cover that can be easily changed out depending on style and season. 

This has 7 recline settings in both the forward and rear-facing models, which means that it can have micro adjustments for overall comfort – and to better fit into different cars. It does take some time to learn how to adjust it comfortably, but once you do, most parents agree that becomes easier. If you travel long distances with your child, this is crucial because you can adjust it depending on the day, the sun, or your baby’s mood.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content.
All car seat models, convertible and otherwise, are subject to state laws regarding their safe use. Before car seat installation, parents and other caregivers must understand the regulations that apply to their state. What follows is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a great place to start. After all, nothing is more important than the health and safety of your precious cargo.

What is a convertible car seat? Simply stated, it’s a car seat that converts to several different modes to accommodate a growing child depending on his/her weight and height. Some convertibles are listed as 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 or All-in-one models. They all have a rear-facing infant mode, then convert to a forward-facing harnessed seat. Some will also convert to a harnessed or belt-positioning highback booster seat or even a backless booster seat.
Features: 5-45 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; deep headwings for enhanced side-impact protection; 10 harness height positions; no re-thread harness; 2 buckle positions; tether can also be used rear-facing; EPS foam; thick no-twist harness straps; push-on LATCH connectors; premium fabrics. Kinetic version includes an anti-rebound bar and side impact Kinetic pods.
Britax is one of the biggest names in car seats, thanks to incredible safety ratings and high weight limits. The Britax Advocate is one of the brand’s most popular seats, featuring side-impact cushion technology, as well as other Britax safety features: SafeCell technology, integrated steel bars, SafeCell crash technology, and an energy-absorbing Versa-Tether.

Another addition to the all-in-one car seat category, the Safety 1st All-in-One takes you from newborn bucket seat to toddler (rear-racing to 40 pounds) to elementary school (front-facing to 50 pounds) and, finally, to a belt-positioning booster up to 100 pounds. It’s all the seat you’d ever need – or want, considering this baby has side-impact protection and meets or exceeds Federal and ASTM Safety Standards. Keep in mind its front-facing weight limit (50 pounds) is lower than its competitors (65-70 pounds) – but its price is, too.


Every time you put your infant in a car seat, you’ll be using a harness and chest clip. You’ll have to tighten the straps enough to secure the baby. Look for clips, buckles and straps that are simple to use and tighten. They should be intuitive enough to use without having to consult a manual. No-rethread harnesses are wonderful for adjusting the harness height as baby grows.
The engineers at Calspan felt that the side-impact testing was best conducted with a dummy of a 3-year-old, because many high-back boosters have a 30-pound weight minimum, and NHTSA uses an identical dummy of a 3-year-old in its crash testing. Although this dummy is significantly smaller than a child that would ideally be relying on a booster seat, the protocol was the best option available for evaluating the relative safety of various booster seats, Calspan’s experts told us. “The 3-year-old dummy is standard,” said engineer Bill Horn, who oversaw the crash testing. We used the crash testing results to confirm our picks, and to help distinguish among them. As we tested only six seats, the results are by definition limited and should not be taken as evidence that any other seat is unsafe or would not perform adequately in a crash.
×