If you are just starting out with trying to find a car seat for your little one, you may be a little overwhelmed…

Not only are there so many different brands of car seats, but there are different types of car seats as well. Depending on how old your little one is, and how much they weigh, will help determine what car seat you should be getting. So, first I want to start with the basics of car seats. Let’s look at the different kinds & which one you should be looking at for your child. Then, we’ll get into the best car seats for each of those kinds.

Types of Car Seats

I am going to try my best to simplify the different types of car seats. So, I’ll break them down into three categories.

  1. Infant Car Seats
  2. Convertible Car Seats
  3. 3-in-1 (or 4-in-1) Car Seats

Now, if you have a little one that is a newborn, 2 years old or anywhere in between…any of these options will work for you. Deciding which one is right will depend on personal preference; what you are looking to get out of your car seat, how much you want to spend, etc.

Let’s quickly look at each of these types and then we’ll jump into the best car seats for each one.

Infant Car Seats: Infant car seats are just that – they are rear facing car seats for infants. How long your infant will be able to use these will vary depending on which brand you buy (so look at that before you buy one) but typically they last from birth to about 35-40 lbs. With an infant car seat, it has a base that attached to the seat in your car, then the actual car seat is removable. So what is nice about infant car seats, is that you can have multiple bases per car seat. That means you can have a base in multiple cars but only have one car seat, then you don’t have to keep switching the base every time you switch cars.

Convertible Car Seat: A convertible car seat is different from an infant seat in that it doesn’t’t have a base. The entire car seat is strapped into the back of your car (so you wouldn’t want to remove it every time you get your child out). This car seat will last your little one longer; from birth to toddler. If you plan on buying an infant car seat, you’ll have to also buy a convertible seat once your baby outgrows the infant seat.

With a convertible car seat, it will be rear facing until your little one is about 2 years old, then can be used as a forward facing car seat. If you are driving different vehicles a lot, I would recommend buying multiple convertible car seats, since they aren’t easily transferable.

3-in-1 (or 4-in1) Car Seat: These car seats will be the ones that last you the longest, which also means they are generally more expensive. But, they will last from the newborn stage to toddler. So, they can be used as a rear-facing car seat to then a forward facing seat, to then a booster seat. Which means this one car seat is the only one you will need to buy for each stage in your child’s life.

So, now lets take a look at the best car seats in each of these categories. Hopefully you will find one that will work for you 🙂

Best Infant Car Seats

Graco SnugRide Essentials 30

I’ll start with this infant car seat because it is VERY highly rated, but also one of the “cheapest” options. Cheap in terms of price point, not quality! This is a rear facing only seat, as with all infant car seats. This is an awesome option if you are traveling a lot & are in and out of the car. This one is super simple to use and light-weight. So you can easily remove and carry from the car to stroller or anywhere else you are going. Some other aspects about this seat:

  • rear facing: 4-30 lbs
  • Stroller option: one-step attachment to all Graco “Click Connect” strollers
  • Canopy: rotating canopy
  • Removable newborn head support
  • Lightweight: 11.5 lbs
  • Warranty 

 

 

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite

Another Graco car seat that is a great infant car seat option is the SnugRide 35 Elite. This, again, is a rear facing car seat. This one has a few more “luxury” features when compared to the last one, so it’s a litter higher priced. It’s also a little heavier than the Graco SnugRide Essentials 30. Both of these are really good options from Graco, you just need to decide which features are more valuable to you. If you want a light-weight car seat, the Essentials 30 would be a better option. However, the SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite is an awesome option for these reasons:

  • Rear Facing: 4-35 lbs
  • 3 step installation: you can use the seat belt or the Latch
  • Adjustable Harness: adjusts the headrest & harness together
  • Removable Cover
  • Safetycore Energy Absorption: distributes energy in a crash
  • Level: there is a level on the base to make sure you are installing the base in your car correctly
  • 4 Position Recline: adjust the base for proper installation (will depend on your car, you can adjust it accordingly)
  • Stroller Option: one-step attachment to all Graco “Click Connect” strollers
  • Canopy: rotating canopy with visor
  • Removable newborn head support insert
  • Washable: you can wash the seat cushion & canopy
  • Car Seat Weight: 18.8 lbs

Chicco Keyfit 30

This car seat is similar to the Graco SnugRide SnugLock one, with a few added benefits. I used this infant car seat and loved it! If you have a smaller car, you might not want this car seat though, as it takes up more room than some of the others. Really easy to use and my little one loved it (he just loved to go places in general). Here are some important things to note about the Chicco Keyfit:

  • Rear Facing: 4 to 30 lbs
  • Easy Leveling: built in level makes sure you are installing it correctly (and level)
  • Spring-loaded Foot: helps you install the base at the right angle (this really helped in my car, since my rear seat is so awkwardly angled!)
  • Easy Installation: just clip the latches in and pull tight
  • Newborn Inserts: you can remove the head and body support used for infants, as your baby grows
  • Stroller Option: clicks into Chicco strollers
  • Multiple Color Options
  • Rotating Canopy
  • 5 point harness
  • 2 position carry handle
  • Washable: can wash the fabrics (on delicate)
  • Car Seat Weight: 17 lbs

UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Car Seat

This UPPAbaby infant car seat is on the more expensive side for infant car seats, but I don’t think you will find a better one! One “downside” to this infant seat though is it is a little heavier than some of the others. The features this car seat has is amazing.

  • Rear Facing: 4-35 lbs
  • Canopy: SPF rotating canopy
  • Side Impact Protection: has an adjustable headrest that helps your babys head stay put during a collision
  • No Rethread Harness: don’t need to take apart the harness as your baby grows
  • 5 point harness
  • Mositure-wicking material: soft & breathable
  • Fabric: merino wool
  • Naturally fire resistant!
  • Stroller Option: works with the VISTA or CRUZ strollers
  • Multiple Color Options
  • Tightness Indicator: turns green when the car seat is installed correctly
  • Can use the LATCH option or belt to install
  • Auto-retracting LATCH
  • Low Harness Position: this allows for babies as small as 4 lbs to it in it
  • Buckle Storage Pockets: pockets on both sides of the carrier to store the buckle
  • Removable & Washable: seat fabric & canopy can be removed & washed (& you don’t need to rethread the harness)
  • Weight: carrier is 10 lbs, base is 9 lbs

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat

This Britax Infant Car Seat is another option you can’t go wrong with. Although this brand isn’t as well-known as Graco or Chicco, don’t just write it off. This car seat has a 1-year warranty against defective materials or workmanship! Britax also has a number of awards including NHTSA Ease of Use Award, CarSeatBlog.Org Award & PTPA Award. Plus, they are made in the USA! This is a great option if you have a smaller car, since it doesn’t take up as much space as some of the others. Here are some other important things to note about the B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat:

  • Simple LATCH: easy to install & secure
  • Spring Assisted Recline: easy to find the right angle for the car seat in your car
  • Level: to make sure you have installed it correctly
  • Click & Go System: easy to transfer your baby from car to stroller
  • Infant Head Pad: provides extra support for infants, can be removed
  • Extra Large Canopy
  • Harness Pads: keeps your baby secure & comfortable
  • Side Impact Protection: deep foam-lined shell to protect your little one
  • Impact absorbing base: compresses during a collision
  • Steel Frame
  • Ergonomic Handle
  • Contoured Shell: takes up little space in your vehicle
  • Stroller Option: can use with any Britax stroller (don’t need any adapters)
  • Multiple Color Options
  • Easy Remove Cover
  • 5-point harness
  • Car Seat Weight: 12 pounds

Best Convertible Car Seats

 

 

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

If you are looking for a basic, no extra convertible car seat…this is an awesome option. VERY affordable but is also VERY highly rated. Since it is cheaper than most, that means you won’t get the features that the others have either. So again, this is a very basic option. This is also a nice option if you are looking for a smaller convertible car seat or need one that you can easily move from vehicle to vehicle. This is a very lightweight option when it comes to convertible car seats! One other thing to note about this one, it won’t last quite as long as the others (up to 40 lbs). Here are some other aspect to note about the Evenflo Tribute:

  • Use:
    • Rear Facing: 5-40 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-40 lbs
  • Compact
  • Lightweight: 9 lbs
  • Affordable
  • 100% Polyester
  • Removable Head Pillow
  • 4 Shoulder Harness Positions
  • Made in the USA
  • Multiple Color Options
  • Return: 30 days
  • Warranty: 90 days

 

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco, again, is a well-known & trusted brand. This is one of their most popular seats. What is really nice about this car seat is that it as a 4-position extension panel that provides 5 inches of extra legroom when they are rear facing. What is so nice about this is that children as safer when riding rear facing, so you should keep them that way as long as possible. This feature keeps them more comfortable, rear facing, as they grow. Here are some other aspects of the Graco Extend2Fit to note:

  • Long Use:
    • Rear Facing: 4-50 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-65 lbs
  • Easy to Install & Use (you’ll love the storage that holds the buckle out of the way, SUPER easy to get your kiddo in & out)
  • 5 Point Harness System
  • Easy LATCH: one second LATCH attachment
  • Level Indicator
  • Dual Cup Holders
  • Machine Washable
  • 6 position recline
  • 10 position headrest
  • No re-thread harness: you can adjust the headrest and harness altogether
  • Harness Storage: holds the buckle out of the way
  • Mulitple Color Options
  • Car Seat Weight: 23.2 lbs

 

Chicco NextFit Zip Max Convertible Car Seat

This is another great option from Chicco. What is awesome about this car seat is that there is extra leg room when this is rear facing since you can use this one (rear facing) up to 50 pounds! This is a wider convertible car seat, so if you have a smaller car this might not be the best option for you. Remember that the convertible car seat is not like the infant car seat, you do not remove the seat every time you get out of the car (well, you could…but I promise you won’t want to!).

  • Long Use: can use from 4-65 lbs!
    • Rear Facing: 4-50 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-65 lbs
  • Easy to Clean: has a zip-off seat pad
  • Steel Frame: steel, reinforced frame
  • Extended Calf Support: when in the forward facing position
  • Full Body Newborn Positioner
  • 9 position headrest
  • No Rethread Harness (in both rear facing & forward facing position)
  • 3D AirMesh Backrest: makes it breathable
  • Easy installation
  • Car Seat Weight: 26.7 lbs
  • Dual Layer Foam Padding
  • Easy in & out (you’ll love how easy it is to get your little one in & out)
  • One pull harness tightner
  • 25% more legroom in rear facing mode
  • Washable

Diono Rdian 3 RXT Convertible Car Seat

This is another brand you probably haven’t heard about. What is really nice about this convertible car seat is how slim it is. What makes this nice is you can fit multiple of them in your backseat. So if you have multiple little ones, this could be a really good option for you! This car seat is heavy however, but remember, this isn’t a type that you take out of the car every time you take your little one out. Just keep that in mind when you do have to transfer it between vehicles. Some other aspects about the Diono Rdian:

  • lasts your childs life!
    • Rear Facing: 5-45 lbs
    • Foward Facing: 20-65 lbs
    • Booster Mode: 50-120 lbs
  • Steel Alloy Frame
  • Aluminum reinforced side walls
  • energy absorbing EPS foam
  • memory foam
  • Reinforced adjustable head support: provides side impact protection
  • 3-across fit: can fit 3 of these across in most vehicles (you’ll just love how much room this leaves you for passengers too!)
  • Easy Click LATCH
  • 12 Position Headrest
  • 5 Shoulder & 3 Buckle Positions
  • Expandable leg rests
  • Non-Slip Rubber Base
  • Machine Washable
  • Forward Harness to Booster Mode
  • Car Seat Weight: 27.7 lbs
  • Warranty: limited 1-year warranty
  • Returns: within 30 days :
  • Lots of color options! 🙂

 

 

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max Convertible Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi is probably another brand you haven’t heard of but another awesome brand! This is a higher end convertible car seat but you will love this one. What is really nice about this one is it lasts longer than the other convertible car seats (up to 85 lbs!) Here are some things to note about the Maxi-Cosi Pria:

  • Long Use:
    • Rear Facing: 5-40 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-85 lbs
  • Fast Buckling: auto-magnetic chest clip
  • 5 Point Harness
  • Infant Insert
  • Superior Side Impact Protection: Air Protect Technology
  • Multi-directional energy management
  • Side Impact Protection
  • Harness Holders: keeps the buckles out of the way to get you kiddo in & out
  • Easy to clean
  • Washable: you can dry this one too!
  • Car Seat Weight: 19.8 lbs
  • Returns: within 35 days of the delivery date

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-in-1 (4-in-1) Car Seats

 

 

Safety 1st Grow & Go 3-in-1

This is an awesome option for an affordable 3-in-1. It’s VERY affordable and will last through your little kiddos different stages. This 3-in-1 serves as a rear facing car seat, forward facing car seat & a booster. So, it will last your child from 5 lbs to 100 lbs! Some other important aspects about the Safety Grow & Go:

  • Long Use:
    • Rear Facing: 5-40 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-65 lbs
    • Booster: 40-100 lbs
  • Side Impact Protection
  • Harness Holders: easy to get your kiddo in and out
  • Pillows that grow with your baby
  • Adjustable: adjust the headrest & harness easily
  • 3 position recline
  • Machine washable
  • Dryer Safe
  • 2 Cup Holders
  • Extra Room: provides 7 inches extra room when rear facing
  • Car Seat Weight: 18.7 lbs
  • Exceeds federal, ASTM & JPMA safety standards
  • Multiple Color Options
  • Warranty: limited 1-year warranty 

 

 

 

Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1

This is another 3-in-1 that will last your childs lifetime. From rear facing to forward facing to booster seat, it will last your child up to 100 pounds. Some other important aspects about the Maxi-Cosi Pria:

  • Long Use:
    • Rear Facing: 4-40 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 65 lbs
    • Booster: 100 lbs
  • 3 position recline
  • One click LATCH connector
  • In & Out harness holder
  • Side Impact protection
  • Quick Fit Shoulder Harness: automatically raises the harness & headrest height
  • GCell foam: absorbs crash energy
  • One hand magnetic chest clip
  • Washable
  • Dryer Safe
  • Out of the Way spring assist harness
  • Premium fabric & soft cushion
  • Removable cup holders
  • Warranty: lifetime warranty

Graco SlimFit 3-in-1

This is a great 3-in-1 car seat if you are looking for a more compact car seat that will last your child longer. This 3-in- has similar features to the other ones but at a lower price point. Here are some other important aspects with the Graco SlimFit:

  • Long Use:
    • Rear Facing: 5-40 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-65 lbs
    • Booster: 30-100 lbs
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System
  • 4 position recline
  • One Second LATCH attachment
  • No re-thread harness system
  • Adjustable: harness & headrest adjust together
  • Swivel Cup Holders
  • 5 point harness system
  • Washable: can remove the seat cover without removing the harness
  • Steel-reinforced frame: provides strength & durability
  • Harness Storage Compartment
  • Plush Support: can be removed too
  • Energy Absorbing Foam: for effective impact energy management
  • Car Seat Weight: 19.7 lbs

 

 

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

The Graco 4-in-1 is a more advanced car seat. This car seat will last the longest, out of all of the options that I have listed. You’ll love that it will definitely last your little ones lifetime; from 4 to 120 pounds! This seat is an award winner with IIHS Best Bet Booster Award, The Cribsie Award & Mom’s Pick Best of 2018 Award. So, you can’t go wrong with this car seat! Here are some other aspects to note about the Graco 4Ever:

  • Lifetime Use!
    • Rear Facing: 4-40 lbs
    • Forward Facing: 22-65 lbs
    • Highback Booster: 30-100 lbs
    • Backless Booster: 40-120 lbs
  • 6 position recline
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System
  • One hand, 10 position headrest
  • No Rethread Harness System
  • One Second LATCH attachment
  • Side-Impact Tested
  • 5 point harness system
  • Steel Reinforced Frame
  • Integrated Harness Storage Compartment
  • Level: helps to make sure you installed the car seat properly
  • Plush Inserts
  • 2 cupholders
  • Couple Color Options
  • Washable
  • Car Seat Weight: 22.8 lbs

 

 

Again, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. The convertible and 3-in-1 car seats are nice because you only have to buy one car seat and it will last the lifetime of your little one. However, I found it really nice to have an infant car seat so that I could easily take my little one out of the car and not have to take him out of the car seat. But, it’s totally personal preference! Are there other car seats you have used that you like? Comment below, I would love to hear about them!

All the best,

Abby

abby@mommabearsknowbest.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *