Category Archives: Convertible Car Seats

Cheap Convertible Car Seats

If you are looking to buy a convertible car seat but have a small budget, there are some great, inexpensive convertible car seats available on the market. Below is a list of convertible car seat recommendations:

Convertible Car Seats Under $100

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat, Saturn $45.88

This car seat fits a rear-facing infant from 5 – 30 lbs and a forward-facing toddler from 22-40 lbs. It is designed for children 28 to 40 inches. There are 4 shoulder strap positions to accommodate growing children longer. There is also an easy-to-access upfront harness adjustment and buckle release, which makes it easier to get your child in and out. The seat comes with a removable head pillow for additional comfort and support. What’s great about this car seat is that it is lightweight and compact, which makes it great for vehicle fit, transporting it between multiple cars, or for air travel. The Tribute LX Convertible car seat is designed, engineered, tested, molded and assembled in the United States. The car seat is available in a variety of colors.

Disney APT Convertible Car Seat, Mouseketeer Minnie $54.31

This cute Disney APT Convertible Car Seat fits children 5-40 pounds in the rear-facing position and 22-40 pounds in the forward-facing position. It is designed for children 19 inches to 43 inches in height. It has an adorable mouse-ear head rest that keeps your baby’s head extra cozy and comfortable. This car seat has 5 harness heights and 3 buckle locations to easily accommodate your growing child. The secure 5-point harness is equipped with up-front adjustment. There are also 2 integrated cup holders so that your child can keep drinks within reach.

Cosco Apt 50, Vibrant Blue $49.50

This Cosco Apt 50 car seat fits a rear-facing baby from 5 – 40 lbs and a forward-facing toddler from 22-50 lbs. There is a 5-point center front adjust harness, which makes it convenient for simple harness adjusting. There are 6 harness heights and 3 buckle locations to accommodate your child’s growth. There are 2 cup holders, which are great for keeping snacks or drinks nearby. This car seat is certified for use on aircraft.

 Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat, Chambers $72.86

The Safety 1st Guide 65 fits babies in the rear-facing position from 5-40 pounds and 19-40 inches. It fits toddlers in the forward-facing position from 22-65 pounds and 34-52 inches. What’s useful about this seat is that it has a compact design, which is a perfect fit if you have a small car. There are 5 harness heights and 3 buckle locations for a snug fit. The seat has 5-point harness with center front adjust. There is a multi-position adjustable head rest to keep your child comfortable. The seat also has a removable cup holder to keep snacks or drinks nearby.

Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat, Coda $90.55

The Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat accommodates children from 5-40 pounds in the rear-facing position and from 20-65 pounds in the forward-facing position. This LATCH-equipped seat has front-adjustable 5-point harness and easy-to-read level indicator, making installation easier. There is a removable insert and headrest that help to keep your child snug and secure. The set has a machine-washable cover and seat cushion for easy clean-ups. There are also 2 integrated cup holders so your child can easily access drinks or snacks.

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat, Maxwell $59.99

The Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat accommodates children from 5-30 pounds in the rear-facing position and from 22-40 pounds in the forward-facing position. There are 4 shoulder strap positions that accommodate growing children longer. There is also an easy to access upfront harness adjustment and buckle release, which makes it convenient for simple harness adjusting. The removable seat pad is machine washable for easy clean up.

Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat, Chili Red $95.99

The Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat fits children from 5-40 pounds in the rear-facing position and from 22-65 pounds in the forward-facing position. With its one-hand, 8-position adjustable headrest, you can easily adapt to your child’s needs. Other features include EPS, energy absorbing foam, 5-point, front-adjust harness and a convenient cup holder. There is also a removable infant head and body support included with the car seat.

Cheap child car seats 2017

Cheap Car Seats 2017

Sometimes, buying used items are a good way to save money. However, there are a few reasons why buying a used car seat is not recommended. If you are looking to save some money, buying a new, cheap car seat may be a better option than buying a used car seat.

Cheap Infant Car Seats

Evenflo Embrace LX Infant Car Seat, Penelope $69.88

This car seat fits the tiniest of newborns, starting from 4 pounds. The weight limit goes up to 35 pounds. The Evenflo Embrace has a soft head pillow that helps cradle your baby as she develops. Evenflo has gone above safety standards and tested all of their baby car seats at energy levels about twice the federal crash test standard. They also sell a separate car seat base, which is helpful if you have more than one car and want to switch between them.

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 infant Car Seat, Zuba $77.06

The Graco Snugride Click Connect 30 fits infants from 4 – 30 pounds. The Click Connect system provides a 1-step secure attachment between infant car seats and all Graco Click Connect Strollers to create your own custom travel system. This car seat has comfort features, including a removable newborn head support, which offers soft cushioning and support for your baby’s head. Safety features include EPS, energy absorbing foam and 5-point harness. It is also lightweight, which makes it easy to transport from the car to the stroller and everywhere else.

Check out our review for a similar infant car seat, Graco Snugride 35 LX Click Connect, which is available in tangerine color for $107.99.

Evenflo LiteMax 35 Platinum Infant Car Seat, Moonlight $128

This rear-facing infant car seat fits babies from 4 to 35 pounds. The LiteMax features Sure Safe Latch guides to make proper installation easy in vehicles equipped with lower latch anchors. There is also a central pendulum level indicator that lets you know whether the seat has been installed at a proper recline. The LiteMax also has a temperature regulating fabric that keeps your baby comfortable during cold or hot weather. Other features include removable head and body pillows, buckle pockets, machine washable pads, and full coverage canopy with zip out panel.

Safety 1st Onboard 35 Air and Infant Car Seat, Twist of Citrus $99.99

The Safety 1st Onboard car seat fits infants from 4-35 pounds. Safety features include Air Protect +, which combines the advanced protection of its Air Protect cushion system for better head protection with its Cell HX foam designed with hexagonal shapes for superior protection around your baby’s torso. Together, they provide full body side protection. Its harness is specially designed to fit smaller babies and it has additional leg room to accommodate your growing baby in a rear-facing position. This seat is also available in a pretty pink color for $123.29 and black color for $112.50 on Amazon. Check out our Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air Review.

Baby Trend Flex-Loc Infant Car Seat, Carbon $76.49

This Baby Trend car seat fits babies from 5-30 pounds. It features an easy one hand front adjust 5-point safety harness so that you can easily adjust and ensure proper fit for your child. Other safety features include the EPS energy-absorbing foam for side impact head protection. It is easy to install with their exclusive Flex-Lock latch system and height adjustment.

Check out more affordable infant car seats.

Cheap Convertible Car Seats

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat, Maxwell $51.60

The Evenflo Tribute Sport convertible car seat fits infants in the rear-facing position from 5-30 lbs and toddlers in the forward-facing position from 22-40 lbs. It has 4 shoulder strap positions and up-front harness adjustment, allowing you to easily accommodate your growing children longer. Safety features include energy absorbing foam liner and a 5-point harness system that provides a secure fit.

Amazon has this car seat available in Maxwell for $38.88 for Prime members only (30-Day Free Trial). It is available in grey color for all members for $59.99.

Cosco Apt 50, Kimba Giraffe $49.50

The Cosco Apt 50 convertible seat fits babies in the rear-facing position from 5-40 lbs and in the forward-facing position from 22-50 lbs. The seat comes with 6 harness heights and 3 buckle locations so that you can easily adjust it to fit your kid as he grows.
It comes with 2 cup holders so that your child can keep a drink or snack closeby. The Cosco Apt 50 is also certified to use on aircraft.

Amazon has this car seat available in Kimba Giraffe for $49.50 for Prime members only (30-Day Free Trial). It is available in black color for all members for $65.98.

Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat, Go Green $89.97

Graco My Ride 65 Convertible car seat protects babies in the rear-facing position from 4-40 pounds and in the forward-facing position from 20-65 pounds. Its rear-facing mode has a higher weight rating than many infant car seats, which allows you to keep your baby in the rear-facing position for longer.

Amazon has this car seat available in Go Green for $89.97 for Prime members only (30-Day Free Trial). It is available to all members in pink and grey for $109.97 and in blue and grey for $119.99.

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat, Chambers $82.88

Safety 1st Guide 65 allows your baby to sit in the rear facing position from 5-40 lbs and in the forward-facing position from 22-65 lbs. Its compact design is perfect for smaller cars. There are 5 harness heights and 3 buckle locations to ensure proper fit. It has a multi-position adjustable head rest, perfect for growing children. There is also a removable cup holder.

Cheap Booster Car Seats

There are 2 kinds of belt-positioning booster car seats: booster seat with high back and backless booster seat.

Backless Booster Seats

Cosco Topside Booster Car Seat, Realtree/Pink

The Cosco Topside Booster Seat is designed for children 40 to 100 pounds. It features an extra-plush pad and gives children the extra height they need to keep seatbelts properly positioned. It is also lightweight, making it easy for us to move it from car to car.

Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat, Blue

This Evenflo No Back Booster Car Seat fits children from 40 to 110 pounds. Its contoured padding is great for long journeys. It features elastic dual cup holders so your child can easily access his drink. The pad can also be removed to be machine washed.

High Back Booster Seats

Evenflo Big Kid AMP Booster Car Seat, Sprocket

This Evenflo Big Kid Booster Car Seat fits children from 30 pounds to 110 pounds. It’s 2 seats in 1, meaning that it also transitions into a no-back booster. There are 6 height positions and the back adjusts as your child grows. There are elastic cup holders so your kid can easily access a drink or a snack.

Graco Highback TurboBooster Car Seat, Mosaic $40.49

The Graco Highback TurboBooster Car Seat fits children from 30 pounds to 100 pounds. It’s a 2 in 1 seat and converts into a no-back booster. It features a multi-layer, adjustable headrest and full coverage back support in highback mode. Safety features include EPS, energy absorbing foam, and open loop belt guides to help ensure proper seat belt positioning. This Graco TurboBooster also has wide, padded armrests and cup holders to store drinks, snacks, and toys.

How to Buy a Convertible Car Seat

Whether you are making the transition from an infant safety seat or you are buying your first car seat, there are certain features to look for when buying a convertible car seat.

When shopping for any car seat, the safety of the car seat should be your first priority. This guide will help you understand what to look for when purchasing a car seat so that you can decide on the best car seat for your baby.

What to Look For When Buying a Convertible Car Seat

    • Good safety ratings – Every car seat on the market has to meet the minimum safety standards, but you will want the safest car seat you can find, especially if you have an older car. There are also a lot of ratings that can help you decide how far beyond the basic requirements a car seat manufacture has gone, such as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s five-star rating system. The more stars a car seat has, the easier it is to install the seat and the more secure your child is in it.
    • Weight/Height Limits – Different convertible seats have different weight limits for rear-facing and forward-facing. Consider choosing a seat with a high rear-facing weight limit if possible so that you can keep your child in that position for as long as possible. Research has shown that rear-facing is significantly safer than forward-facing and is recommended that children should remain in rear-facing until they are two years of age. A seat with a higher forward-facing limit might also be worth the investment since many kids aren’t ready for a booster seat until at least five years old.
    • Easy installation – Some car seats are easier to install than others. Built-in lockoffs are a useful feature that can help you get a snug installation. Convertible car seats have two different belt paths for installation, one for rear-facing and the other for forward-facing. Make sure you can access the belt path easily.
    • Latch System – Cars and car seats made in 2002 or later include the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, which is a configuration of straps that secure your safety seat at three different points, required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The LATCH system is a way to fasten the car seat tightly to the sturdy upper and lower anchors that are built into your car, which is a faster and safer alternative to using seat belts. If you have a car with the LATCH system, you’ll want a car seat with LATCH. If your car was manufactured before 1999, a seat belt must be used to secure the car seat. Unless you plan on switching cars, the LATCH system feature will be less important.
    • Five-point harness – This includes two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and one strap between the legs. These straps secure your child in place for maximum security.
    • Level indicator – Some car seats have a level indicator, which lets you know whether or not the car seat is properly reclined and installed. Check your car seat manufacturer’s instructions to see what angle your car seat should be reclined at for both rear-facing and forward-facing positions.
    • Front harness adjusters – When you put your baby in the car, you need to adjust the harness so it is helpful to adjust it from the front as opposed to the back.
    • Energy-absorbing foam – This helps keep the baby safe and protect him from impact during an accident.
    • Side impact protection (SIP) – A car seat with side-impact protection will have deep side walls that will protect the baby if there’s a side-impact accident.
    • Adjustable sun canopy – This protects your child from the sun’s glare.
    • Removable/washable fabric and pads – Your car seat will probably get dirty and you may want removable pads so that you can wash it.

Ideally, you also want to find a car seat with a no re-thread harness. This will allow you to easily adjust the straps of the car seat without having to rethread them. Many brands now have adjustment buttons or a pull cord between the baby’s legs to raise and lower the harness height so that it sits at the right place – at or below the baby’s shoulders for rear-facing, and at or above baby’s shoulders for forward-facing. As your baby grows, you will need to adjust the harness to fit the baby properly.

Premium car seats have additional features. For example, the Diono Radian car seats can fold so storing or traveling with the seat is easy. In addition, their car seats are very slim, making it possible to fit 3 car seats in the back in most mid-size vehicles.

Some Britax car seats have a quick adjust harness, where you can adjust the height without having to rethread.

The Orbit Baby G3 Toddler Convertible Car Seat can be installed rear-facing on the Orbit Infant Seat base. Since the base is sold separately, this might be an additional benefit if you already own the Orbit Baby Infant Car seat that came with the base or the Orbit Baby G2 or G3 stroller.

These are conveniences that can make your life easier and are worth considering if you are trying to decide between car seats that already meet your other criteria.

Tips on Buying a Convertible Car Seat

  • Do not base your purchase solely on price. Find a seat that will provide your child with the maximum protection. Your primary consideration should be the car seat’s safety ratings. Then you can consider price, ease of use and other features to make your final decision.
  • Expensive car seats are not necessarily better. Many mid-priced car seats work just as well or even better than pricier ones. It’s important to read their features and other customer’s reviews.
  • Not all car seats fit in all cars. Make sure the car seat you plan on buying will fit in your car! If you are not sure, check the store’s return policy. Stores like Babies ‘R Us, Target, and Walmart usually offer a limited range of products in their retail stores with a wider selection available online. Online retailers such as Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, and Diapers.com offer even larger selections of seat brands and models. If a car seat doesn’t fit in your car perfectly or it is difficult to fasten in place, don’t use it. Some seats work better in some models of cars than others.

Buying a Used Car Seat

Be very careful about buying or accepting a used car seat. Not every car seat on the market has been tested and approved for the current safety standards. Since safety technology improves frequently, secondhand car seats may not be up to date.

Although it is not recommended, if you must use a secondhand car seat, buy or accept one from someone you know and trust. Ask the individual about the car seat’s history and whether it has been used in a car crash. Check for any defects, such as cracks in the plastic, and make sure the car seat’s expiration date has not passed.

Do not accept a car seat that has been in an accident, over five years old, or is missing parts. Plastic gets brittle over the years, so a seat that’s too old can break in a crash.

Some car seats are recalled due to faulty design. Look up the model of the car seat and make sure it is not one of the car seats that had been recalled. There might be updated parts that the manufacturer will need to send you to replace.

Ensure the car seat is installed and used properly in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can request instructions directly from the company. You want to make sure that the car seat has not been damaged in any way.

If you need help deciding on which car seat to buy, check out the 2017 best car safety seats.

Once you purchase your car seat, register it so that you’ll be notified of any recalls or product updates. Next, you will need to learn how to install the car seat properly.

Convertible Car Seats

Newborns can either sit in an infant safety seat or a convertible safety seat, also known as a forward-facing car seat. A convertible seat converts from a rear-facing seat for babies to a forward-facing seat.

The convertible car seat is the second car seat stage, right after infant car seat. When your baby grows too big for his infant car seat, but is too small to face forward, he can use a convertible car seat in its rear-facing position. Although a convertible car seat can face front or back, it’s safer to keep your baby in a rear-facing position for as long as possible. Most experts recommend that children stay in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 2 years old regardless of height.

Some people skip buying the infant car seat and just buy a convertible car seat instead. Although there are benefits of owning an infant car seat, a convertible car seat can be used for longer and tends to be cheaper in the long run.

Unlike infant car seats, convertible car seats stay in the vehicle and the seat is not detachable. This is less convenient because the car seat is not portable, making it harder to transport your baby. Convertible seats are heavy and you cannot easily take them in and out of the car, carry your baby in the carrier, or snap them into a compatible stroller. Instead, you will need to buy a separate travel system if you want to use a stroller.

Buying a Convertible Car Seat

Choosing a convertible car seat for a newborn can be tricky because not every convertible car seat will fit your new baby comfortably.

Infant car seats are meant for newborns so they fit your baby snugly. How comfortably your baby will fit in a convertible car seat will depend on the size of your baby. Many convertible car seats include an infant insert that helps to position the baby in the seat, and provide body and head support. If the seat does not come with any type of insert, you may need to use rolled up blankets around your baby’s body for head and/or body support.

Pay attention to the car seat’s minimum weight and if the seat comes with an infant insert. Although many convertible car seats have a minimum weight of 5 pounds, the Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat starts at 14 pounds. They have a separate infant insert that you can purchase, called Clek Infant-Thingy Infant Insert, which allows the Clek Floo and Foonf convertible car seats to accommodate a child from 5 pounds.

You can also consider buying 3-in-1 or all-in-one car seat, which can change from rear-facing to forward-facing, and then to a booster seat. Note that some 3-in-1 car seats are not for newborns and can only be used as forward-facing. These car seats can only convert from car seat for older toddlers to high-back booster to backless booster. This is why it is important to read the description of each car seat model to see if the 3-in-1 car seat can be used in a rear-facing position. You can read tips on what to look for when buying a convertible car seat.

Convertible Car Seat Installation

Studies show that three out of every four car seats are incorrectly installed. Always refer to your own car seat manufacturer’s instruction manual to see how to install the car seat properly. Below are helpful reminders when installing a convertible car seat:

Convertible car seats have two separate belt paths where the LATCH belt or vehicle seat belt can be threaded through the car seat. One of the belt paths is used for rear-facing position and the other is used for forward-facing. Check the car seat instruction manual to find the correct belt path to use. Some allow different routes through the belt path to offer the best fit in a variety of vehicles.

Convertible Car Seat Weight Limit

Convertible car seats have higher height and weight limits than infant car seats, which allow children to sit in the rear-facing position for longer. Most convertible car seats can fit babies in a rear-facing position from birth to 40 pounds and newer car seat models allow forward-facing up to 85 pounds. It is best to keep your child in the rear-facing position until he reaches the limit specified by the car seat.

The weight and height limit for convertible car seats vary by model, so it is important to check the label on the car seat for limitations, usually found on the car seat sides.

When to Change to Booster Seat

Don’t rush to switch from a 5 point harness to a booster seat before your child is ready. Once your child has outgrown the weight or height limit of their forward-facing harnesses, it is time to switch to a booster seat.

The forward-facing weight limits on many convertible cars has increased in recent years. Parents are advised to keep their children in a harnessed car seat for as long as possible before switching to a booster seat.

Children at this stage are not ready for adult safety belts and should use belt-positioning booster seats until they are at least 8 to 12 years old and at least 4’9”.

To get an idea of average height/weight requirements for convertible car seats, below are five popular car seats and their maximum size requirements. Please remember to check your own car seat’s manual for specific size limitations.

1) Diono Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat
Limits: 5-45 lbs. rear-facing, 20-80 lbs. forward-facing

2) Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat
Limits: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 20-65 lbs. forward-facing

3) Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat
Limits: 4-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-85 lbs. forward-facing

4) Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
Limits: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 20-55 lbs. forward-facing

5) Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat
Limits: 14-50 lbs. rear-facing, 20-65 lbs. forward-facing

Infant Car Seat VS Convertible Car Seat

Newborns have the option of using an infant car seat or a convertible safety seat. The below car seat guide will explain the differences between infant safety seats and convertible safety seats so that you can decide what is appropriate for your newborn.

Difference Between Infant Car Seat And Convertible Car Seat

Infant car seats are all rear-facing whereas convertible car seats can be positioned rear-facing or forward-facing.

Infant safety seats fit babies snugly during the first year or so, depending on the seat and size of your baby. Infant car seats typically have a weight limit of 22 to 35 pounds and a height limit of 20 to 32 inches tall. On the other hand, many convertible car seats have a weight limit of 40-50 pounds in a rear-facing position, up to 85 pounds in a forward-facing position, and have a height limit of up to 50 inches tall. The weight and height limits for car seats vary for every model, so it is important to know the limits for your specific seat.

While it may be cheaper to purchase a convertible car seat, buying an infant car seat also has its advantages. A few of the benefits of having an infant car seat includes

1) Infant car seats are portable
Infant car seats have two pieces: a carrier and a base. The carrier can be easily clicked in and out from the car seat base, which is latched and remains in the vehicle. This allows you to transport your baby from one place to another without having to remove the baby from the car seat. This is especially helpful when your baby is sleeping and you don’t want to disturb him.

2) The carrier attaches to strollers
Newborns cannot sit up or lift up their heads. If you plan to use a stroller for your newborn to take him on walks, you can use secure him in a carrier so that he will not strain his neck. Depending on your car seat, there may be a selection of compatible strollers to choose from. You can purchase a car seat and stroller in a matching set, or buy them separately.

It’s important to note that convertible car seats stay in your car, meaning you will have to buy a separate travel system if you want to use a stroller.

3) One seat can be used in multiple cars
If you have more than one car, you can purchase a car seat base instead of buying two car seats. Buying a second car seat base will allow you to easily transfer your car seat from vehicle to vehicle.

4) Infant car seats are snug fit
Newborns fit best in an infant-only seat. Some parents found convertible car seats to be too big for their newborns and had to use head rests, towels, or other cushions to prop their newborn safely until he grows into the seat. Infant car seats are often smaller than convertible seats so your baby can fit more snugly.
One of the disadvantages of infant car seats is that it is quickly outgrown. In addition, many carriers weigh close to 10 pounds, so it can be heavy and difficult to carry when you add the weight of the baby.

Are Convertible Car Seats Safe For Newborns?

Yes, convertible child safety seats are safe for your newborns as long as the car seat fits your child correctly.

When to Switch To Convertible Car Seat

When to transition from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat depends on your child’s growth rate. Infant car seats typically have a weight limit of 22 to 35 pounds. When your baby reaches the weight or height limits set by the car seat’s manufacturer, he will need to switch to a rear-facing convertible car seat.

However, until your baby has reached the weight or height limits, keep him or her rear-facing for as long as possible. This is the best way to keep your baby safe.

Should You Buy an Infant Safety Seat or Convertible Safety Seat?

It’s cheaper to buy a convertible car seat for a newborn instead of buying both an infant car seat and then a convertible car seat when your baby gets older.

If you will be having your first child and predict that you will have more children, then investing an infant car seat might be a good idea. A dedicated infant car seat is the safest place for your newborn to be while in the car. Here is a list of things to look for when buying a car seat.

However, if money is tight and your baby will be riding in just one vehicle, you may consider buying a convertible safety seat. Another reason to purchase a convertible seat is if you have a second vehicle that your baby might ride in, but you do not use as often. In this case, buying a convertible seat may be a better idea than an infant car seat base because your baby will eventually have to use a convertible seat. It may not be worth it to buy a car seat base to use only a few times.

Here are tips on what to look for when buying a car seat.

For recommendations, check out the best car seats in 2017.

How to Buy a Car Seat for an Infant

Of all the things you’ll buy for your child, a good car seat is one of the most important ones. When shopping for any car seat, car seat safety should be your top priority.

Newborns can sit in two kinds of car seats: rear facing infant car seat or a convertible car seat. With so many different car seats available on the market, it might seem intimidating, but you can narrow it down if you have an idea of what you’re looking for. This guide will help you to understand what to look for when purchasing a car seat so that you can decide on the best car seat for your baby.

What to Look For When Buying a Car Seat

Below are features to look for when buying an infant or convertible car seat:

    • Good safety ratings – Every car seat on the market has to meet the minimum safety standards, but you will want the safest car seat you can find, especially if you have an older car. There are also a lot of ratings that can help you decide how far beyond the basic requirements a car seat manufacture has gone, such as the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s five-star rating system. The more stars a car seat has, the easier it is to install the seat and the more secure your child is in it.
    • Five-point harness – This includes two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and one strap between the legs. These straps secure your child in place for maximum security.
    • Easy installation – Cars and car seats made in 2002 or later include the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system, which is a configuration of straps that secure your safety seat at three different points, required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The LATCH system is a way to fasten the car seat tightly to the sturdy upper and lower anchors that are built into your car, which is a faster and safer alternative to using seat belts. If you have a car with the LATCH system, you’ll want a car seat with LATCH. If your car was manufactured before 1999, a seat belt must be used to secure the car seat. Unless you plan on switching cars, the LATCH system feature will be less important.
    • Level indicator – Some car seats have a level indicator, which lets you know whether or not the car seat is properly reclined and installed. Rear-facing car seats should be reclined between 30 to 45 degrees depending on the car seat manufacturer’s instructions. Be careful not to over-recline any seat past 45 degrees.
    • Front harness adjusters – When you put your baby in the car, you need to adjust the harness so it is helpful to adjust it from the front as opposed to the back.
    • Head support – Since your newborn won’t be able to hold his head up, find a seat with an insert to support his head.
    • Energy-absorbing foam – This helps keep the baby safe and protect him from impact during an accident.
    • Side protection – A car seat with side-impact protection will have deep side walls that will protect the baby if there’s a side-impact accident.
    • Adjustable sun canopy – This protects your child from the sun’s glare.
    • Removable/washable fabric and pads – Your car seat will probably get dirty and you may want removable pads so that you can wash it.

Ideally, you also want to find a car seat with a no re-thread harness. This will allow you to easily adjust the straps of the car seat without having to rethread them. Many brands now have adjustment buttons or a pull cord between the baby’s legs to raise and lower the harness height so that it sits at the right place – at or below the baby’s shoulders for rear-facing, and at or above baby’s shoulders for forward-facing. As your baby grows, you will need to adjust the harness to fit the baby properly.

Premium car seats priced above $200 usually have additional features, such as an anti-rebound bar at the foot of the seat that limits the amount of movement during a crash.

Tips on Buying a Car Seat For an Infant

  • Do not base your purchase solely on price. Find a seat that will provide your child with the maximum protection. Your primary consideration should be the car seat’s safety ratings. Then you can consider price, ease of use and other features to make your final decision.
  • Expensive car seats are not necessarily better. Many mid-priced or cheap car seats work just as well or even better than pricier ones. It’s important to read their features and other customer’s reviews.
  • Not all car seats fit in all cars. Make sure the car seat you plan on buying will fit in your car! If you are not sure, check the store’s return policy. Stores like Babies ‘R Us, Target, and Walmart usually offer a limited range of products in their retail stores with a wider selection available online. Online retailers such as Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, and Diapers.com offer even larger selections of seat brands and models. If a car seat doesn’t fit in your car perfectly or it is difficult to fasten in place, don’t use it. Some seats work better in some models of cars than others.
  • Parents who own two cars might want to consider purchasing a second car seat base for their infant car seat. This makes it convenient to switch vehicles without having to remove the base each time. If this is the case, make sure you select a car seat that allows you to purchase a second base. For example, you can purchase an additional Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat Base separately on Amazon.
    Another option is that instead of buying another infant car seat base, you can purchase an infant convertible car seat for use in the second car. You can install the infant seat in the primary car your child will travel in and install the convertible seat in the second car that is not used as often. This may allow you to save money since you will need to eventually buy a convertible car seat.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Car Seat

1) Infant car seat or convertible car seat
Buying a convertible car seat is cheaper since it lasts through toddlerhood but it is less convenient. With an infant car seat, you can easily take out the seat from the car, which is especially useful when your baby is sleeping. This is something you should consider because convertible car seats are not easily portable. For many parents, the ability to move a sleeping baby in an infant car seat is worth the price, even if the baby fits in the seat for only a year. You can read more about the differences between an infant car seat and convertible car seat so that you can decide on the better choice for you.

If you want to buy an infant car seat but need to save money, consider buying a travel system where the infant car seat and stroller are sold together at a discount. An example is the Graco LiteRider Click Connect Travel System, which is currently selling for $162.37 with free shipping on Amazon. This travel system includes the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 22 Infant Car Seat and LiteRider Click Connect Stroller. Amazon has other car seat and stroller combos on sale.

2) Used car seats
Be very careful about buying or accepting a used car seat. Not every car seat on the market has been tested and approved for the current safety standards. Since safety technology improves frequently, secondhand car seats may not be up to date.

Although it is not recommended, if you must use a secondhand car seat, buy or accept one from someone you know and trust. Ask the individual about the car seat’s history and whether it has been used in a car crash. Check for any defects, such as cracks in the plastic, and make sure the car seat’s expiration date has not passed.

Do not accept a car seat that has been in an accident, over five years old, or is missing parts. Plastic gets brittle over the years, so a seat that’s too old can break in a crash.

Some car seats are recalled due to faulty design. Look up the model of the car seat and make sure it is not one of the car seats that had been recalled. There might be updated parts that the manufacturer will need to send you to replace.

Ensure the car seat is installed and used properly in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can request instructions directly from the company. You want to make sure that the car seat has not been damaged in any way.

If you need help deciding on which car seat to buy, check out the 2017 best car seats.

Once you purchase your car seat, register it so that you’ll be notified of any recalls or product updates. Next, you will need to learn how to install the car seat properly.