What is a Convertible Car Seat?

There are many types of car seats available to new parents, but the convertible car seat is one that you will get A LOT of use out of! As the name implies, they can be used rear-facing from birth, then “convert” or transition to forward-facing up until approximately 65 lbs and 49″. [Make sure you check your owner’s manual to verify the height and weight limits on your specific model of seat!]

Between owning a retail baby store for 8 years, being a Child Passenger Safety Technician and prenatal and pediatric chiropractic for over 10 years, I take safety very seriously. To me, the car seat is the one item you can splurge on to ensure that your child is safe while traveling with the family. My expertise has helped me narrow down a list of TOP 7 BEST CONVERTIBLE CAR SEATS OF 2021 for you to – to save you some time, and stress, trying to find the best seat! I’ve outlined the best features of each seat so that you can make the best choice for you and your family.

CAR SEAT TIP: Before upgrading your child to the next seat up, or switching from rear to forward facing, make sure they’ve outgrown their current seat/position. Rear-facing until at least age 2 is HIGHLY recommended.

What are the Different Types of Car Seats?

The main types of car seats for your child, in the order you’ll need them, are the Infant Car seat, followed by the Convertible car seat, the 5-point Combination Harness-to-Booster and finally a Belt-Positioning Booster seat. More recently though, the All-in-One car seat has taken over the baby gear world as it is the ONLY car seat you will ever need! For a full comparison between all the types of car seats available to you, see our blog link following this article.

Things to Consider when Buying a Convertible Car Seat?

Choosing a seat is hard and many factors need to be considered. I recommend prioritizing which features are most important to you. If budget is important, choose a seat that gives you the most bang for your buck. If you need to fit several car seats next to each other in your vehicle, you’ll need a slimmer, more streamlined seat. We’ve gone through the major considerations for you and compiled our TOP BABY LOGIC CAR SEAT PICKS OF 2021!

  • SIZE OF THE VEHICLE: Size does matter!! If you need to fit 3 seats nexts to each other on a bench in your vehicle, your options reduce quickly. Many convertible seats are bulky and only a few vendors keep space saving (and safety!) in mind when designing their car seats. If you only need to accommodate for one child safety seat, or you have a larger vehicle like a truck or SUV/Mini van, the car seat world is your oyster!
  • SAFETY FEATURES: All seats need to pass rigorous safety testing to be approved for use in the USA. That being said, some car seats just meet the basic safety requirements while other seats go above and beyond and exceed what is required of them with regards to safety and performance. Does the seat offer additional side impact protection? Is there a newborn insert/positioner to ensure your little newborn fits comfortably? Is there steel incorporated into the seat? Are there additional “crumple zones” designed to absorb the impact in the event of a collision? The safety features of a seat were of utmost priority in my decision making process.
  • PRICE: This is a big factor for many families, especially if you are having twins! Convertible car seats range from $70 up to around $530. A general rule of thumb that the more expensive the seat, the more safety and convenience features it has.
  • CONVENIENCE FACTORS: This is where all the bells and whistles come in. Is your seat easy to install? Does it have indicators that let you know that it’s installed correctly? Does it feature padding on the chest straps? Does it feature a no-rethread harness?
  • WEIGHT AND HEIGHT LIMITATIONS: This is really important and ensures that your child is always in the safest seat for their weight and height. Age DOES NOT matter when it comes to car seat fit guides! The majority of convertible car seats will be suitable from birth to 65lbs and some can forward-face as early at 22 lbs (although we wouldn’t recommend it). The biggest thing to look at is how long you can rear-face for. Some convertible seats will allow you to rear-face up to 50 lbs, versus the typical 45 lbs limit. If you want to get the most use out of your seat, we’d recommended looking for one with a wide range of weight and height.
  • EASE OF INSTALLATION: The more you install your car seat, the easier it gets…..However, some seats come equipped with extra ease of use factors to make installing your seat an absolute breeze. Things like level indicators, tightness indicators and self-retracting LATCH connectors.
  • FABRIC/QUALITY: There are many fabrics to choose from that can include jersey, polyester, wool or other synthetics. If you have a sensitivity, or want to love what you’re feeling, this may matter to you. Also, the construction of the seats and materials used can vary. Will your seat be made of thin plastic that just meets the safety standards, or do you want a seat made of high quality materials that exceeds all safety collision testing? This does play a factor in your decision making process.
  • NEW VS. USED: I always recommend buying a new car seat for many reasons. Previous crash history, expiration dates, recalls, etc all play a HUGE factor in the safety of your seat. If you want to learn more about why I prefer new vs. used, check out our blog at the end of this article.

BABY LOGIC TOP 7 BEST INFANT CAR SEATS OF 2021

  1. SAFEST: Clek Foonf
  2. MOST AFFORDABLE: Safety 1st Grow and Go
  3. LUXURY: Nuna Rava
  4. FAMILY FAVORITE: Britax Boulevard Clicktight
  5. EASIEST TO INSTALL: Britax Advocate Clicktight
  6. MOST INNOVATIVE: Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe
  7. BEST FOR SMALL CARS: Diono Radian 3QXT

SAFEST CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT:

Clek Foonf

The Clek Foonf convertible car seat wins our TOP PICK for SAFEST CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT. It has been revolutionized to exceed all safety testing requirements and sets the bar high for all other seats! Its test results speak for themselves! Their REACT safety system minimizes crash forces in both the rear and forward facing positions and truly ensures the safest ride for your child! They look slightly futuristic but their design has been well thought out and specifically engineered with your child’s safety in mind. They feature an anti-rebound bar, a steel and Magnesium reinforced frame and advanced side impact protection. This seat also measures in at less than 17″ wide so you can easily fit 3 across in most mid-size vehicles

FEATURES:

  • Rear-facing from 14 – 50 lbs and 25 – 43″ tall [Rear-facing from 5 lbs and 19″ when using the “infant-thingy” sold separately.]
  • Forward-facing from 22 – 65 lbs and 30 – 49″ tall [It is recommended that your child be at least 2 years old]
  • REACT Safety System provides the same amount of collision protection forward-facing as rear-facing [REACT: Rigid latch, Energy Absorbing, Crumple Technology]
  • Extended rear-facing until most children’s 4th birthday!
  • Anti-rebound bar
  • Steel and Magnesium reinforced frame
  • Advanced side impact protection system
  • 2 layers of side impact protection and energy-absorbing foam
  • Rigid latch ensure the tightest fit every time with EASE
  • Removable seat cushion is easy to clean
  • Built-in rear-facing lock-offs to aid in belt installation
  • 3 position reclining base
  • Adjustable headrest
  • Can be recycled by the manufacturer after use
  • Expires in 9 years
  • Assembled in Canada
  • 1 -2 year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants using 100% Merino wool
  • Less than 17″ wide (16.9″)!
  • Available in a C-Zero Plus Performance collection that is GREENGUARD Gold certified

MOST AFFORDABLE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT:

Safety 1st Grow and Go

Our TOP PICK for MOST AFFORDABLE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT, (without sacrificing safety), is the Safety 1st Grow and Go Convertible car seat. It’s technically an all-in-one seat, which means it will transition through all the stages of seats for your child, going from rear-facing, to forward-facing to belt-positioning booster. It is easy to clean and has several convenience factors that make road trips a breeze.

FEATURES:

  • Rear-facing from 5 – 40 lbs, forward-facing from 22 – 65 lbs and belt-positioning booster from 40 – 100 lbs.
  • Easy to remove cover is machine washable
  • 2 removable cup holders
  • No-rethread harness on headrest and harness
  • 5-point harness
  • Removable baby pillows for added comfort at any size
  • Side impact protection
  • Stay-put harness stays out of your way when putting child in seat
  • 3 position recline
  • Compact
  • Exceeds safety testing standards

LUXURY CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT:

Nuna RAVA

The Nuna RAVA convertible car seat wins our TOP PICK for TOP LUXURY CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT for many reasons. It is made of premium materials, it has numerous convenience factors for both parents and children including added leg room and bubble-free recline indicators, and scores highly on all safety tests. It’s sleek, stylish and installs easily and securely in your vehicle, eliminating the guess work and giving you peace of mind that your child is safe and comfortable.

FEATURES:

  • Rear-facing from 5 – 50 lbs, up to 49″ and forward-facing 25 – 65 lbs and up to 49″
  • Simply™️ Secure installation features a recline angle and True Tension™️ doors ensure a tight fit every time
  • Premium fabrics and materials
  • Fabric is flame resistant yet does not contain any added fire retardant (FR-Free materials)
  • Easy to navigate instructions
  • Laid back leg room gives you an additional 2″ when rear-facing and adds stability to forward-facing riders
  • SIP (Side Impact Protection) pods and energy absorbing foam reduce crash forces on your child
  • Belt path indicators are colored
  • All steel frame and belt path for added strength and stability
  • No-rethread harness, headrest and crotch strap
  • Removable head and body inserts for newborn comfort
  • Ventilation panels in the shell with breathable knit fabric
  • Washable cover
  • Dual flip open cup holders
  • Certifiied Green Gold
  • 10 position headrest
  • 5-point harness
  • Stay-put

FAMILY FAVORITE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT:

Britax Boulevard Clicktight

The Britax series of convertible seats is always a major hit with families. They pack a punch when it comes to safety and they sit in the middle of the pack when it comes to budget. The Britax Boulevard Clicktight is easy to install, exceeds all required car seat testing and has won numerous awards time after time. It wins our TOP PICK for FAMILY FAVORITE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT.

Features:

  • Rear-facing from 5 – 40 lbs and forward-facing from 20 – 65 lbs, up to 49″
  • Adjustable harness and headrest (14 positions)
  • No-rethread harness and headrest
  • 7-position recline
  • Easy to read level indicators
  • Stay-put harness comfort pads
  • NEW nap-friendly fabric and padding (tagless)
  • Removable newborn support pillow
  • Integrated steel frame (HUGE bonus for me!) with crumple zone
  • SafeCell™️ technology in the base to absorb impact
  • Available with anti-rebound bar
  • Patented V-shaped tether for additional support
  • 2 layers of side impact protection
  • Removable, washable cover
  • 5-point harness
  • Installs in a flash with Clicktight technology. [Ensures a tight fit EVERY time]
  • Available in high performance fabrics
  • Expires 10 years from date of manufacture

EASIEST CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT TO INSTALL:

Britax Advocate Clicktight

As mentioned above, the Britax Clicktight Series of Convertible car seats is consistently at the top of the charts for many reasons: safety, ease of install and brand. The Britax Advocate Clicktight convertible car seat wins our TOP PICK for EASIEST CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT TO INSTALL due to its Clicktight technology.

To get a secure and tight install, you simply:

  1. Release the seat bottom by pressing on the “Clicktight” button
  2. Lift the seat base
  3. Feed your seatbelt through the indicated pathway (color coded based on rear vs forward facing)
  4. Fasten seatbelt
  5. Remove slack in seatbelt
  6. Close the lid by pressing down on the seat bottom
  7. Check to make sure you have a tight fit

TIGHTNESS TEST: Once your seat has been installed, it should not move more than 1″ at the belt path. To test, grab near the belt path and try shifting your seat from side to side.

Features:

  • Rear-facing from 5 – 40 lbs and forward-facing from 20 – 65 lbs, up to 49″
  • 14 position adjustable harness and headrest
  • No-rethread harness and headrest
  • 7-position recline
  • Removable newborn support pillow
  • Easy to read level indicators
  • Stay-put harness comfort pads
  • NEW nap-friendly fabric and padding (tagless)
  • Integrated steel frame (HUGE bonus for me!) with crumple zone
  • SafeCell™️ technology in the base to absorb impact
  • Patented V-shaped tether for additional support
  • 3 layers of side impact protection
  • Removable, washable cover
  • 5-point harness
  • Installs in a flash with Clicktight technology. [Ensures a tight fit EVERY time]
  • Available in high performance fabrics
  • Available with anti-rebound bar
  • Expires 10 years from date of manufacture

MOST INNOVATIVE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT:

Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe

Our TOP PICK for the MOST INNOVATIVE CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT is the Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe Convertible car seat. It’s the FIRST convertible car seat in the USA to feature a 360 degree rotatable seat/base to allow for the easiest transition between rear and forward facing. It also features a load leg for added stability, an EasyLock™️ bar for added simplicity when installing the seat and is the ONLY convertible car seat in North America with a one-time vehicle belt installation for both rear-facing and forward-facing – installs once and it’s done! It also features a one-of-a-kind SensorSafe Technology that takes your child’s safety to another level.

WHAT IS SENSORSAFE TECHNOLOGY?: SensorSafe Technology uses an enhanced chest clip that syncs to your smartphone. It provides you with real-time, essential alerts which help you prevent critical situations which traveling with your child. It alerts you when you child unbuckles the clip, if the ambient temperature if too hot and may pose a danger of heat stroke, if your child is left in the car alone or if the child has been seated for too long.

Features:

  • Rear-facing from 4 – 50 lbs, Forward-facing from 22 – 65 lbs and up to 49″
  • One-handed 360 degree rotatable seat to facilitate getting your child out of the vehicle
  • Load leg to stabilize in the event of a crash (reduces rotation by up to 30%)
  • EasyLock™️ bar ensures a quick, easy and secure install.
  • SensorSafe technology (compatible with most vehicles 2008 and newer)
  • 12-position on the go recline
  • Linear side impact protection reduces crash forces on baby during a near side impact collision
  • Anti-rebound design
  • Magnetic buckle holders

BEST FOR SMALL CARS:

Diono Radian 3QXT

A major concern of many families is “will this seat fit in my vehicle”? Size does matter, especially when you need to consider 2 or 3 seats nexts to each other! Our TOP PICK for BEST FOR SMALL CARS is the Diono Radian 3QXT. It’s loaded with features, ranks highly on the safety charts and is only 17″ wide! It’s also technically an all-in-one seat so it will be the only seat you ever need! It transitions from rear-facing, to forward-facing with a harness, to a belt-positioned booster. One minor issue that we’ve noticed is that when you’re installing this seat with a seat belt (at the designated weight limit), the install becomes a bit trickier to get a tight fit! Just be mindful of that during installation – but the safety benefits of this seat alone are worth spending a few more minutes installing it! Don’t forget that you can always visit your local fire department and have one of their Child Passenger Safety Techs help you get that perfect fit!

FEATURES:

  • Rear-facing from 4 – 50 lbs, forward-facing 22 – 65 lbs and lap positioning booster from 40 – 120 lbs.
  • Expiration is 10 years from date of manufacture
  • Removable newborn insert
  • Removable newborn travel high wedge
  • Removable infant positioning liner
  • Removable newborn harness pads
  • Safe+®️ inserts and Safe+®️ steel anti-rebound bar reduce rotation by 50%
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Advanced side impact protection
  • SuperLATCH attachment
  • Slim design – only 17″ wide!
  • 8 layers of side impact protection
  • 12 position adjustable headrest with no-rethread harness
  • New contoured headrest provide 22% more space for your child as compared to the R series

Time to decide!

Obviously there are a ton of seats on the market, and it’s difficult to choose which one is best suited for you and your family. Our TOP PICKS are backed by research, expertise and experience and we hope to help give you some options that fit your needs, wants and budget. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Rachel at rachel@baby-logic.com!

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