One of the most truthful things about having a child is that, eventually, they will grow up. When they are first born, using an infant child seat can be enough to keep them safe each time they take a trip in your vehicle.
However, when they get to be too big for their first car seat, what’s your next step?
A convertible car seat will likely be your child’s next seat. As with an infant car seat, there can be many questions that you will have before you decide on which one to purchase. You want to get the best convertible car seat for your child to ensure that they are comfortable and safe each and every time they ride in your vehicle.
To help, we did a lot of shopping for you to narrow down all of the options out there into our 10 Best Convertible Car Seats in 2018.
We hope that our list will help you make an informed decision to keep your little one safe for a long time.
If you’re ready, let’s get started!
How To Choose A Convertible Car Seat – Buying Guide
When we started to create out recommendations for the 10 Best Convertible Car Seats in 2018, we wanted to make sure that our choices met a high standard of criteria. After all, we’re talking about the safety of your little bundle of joy. By holding each item to such a strict list of criteria, we can feel confident with our choices that appear on the list of recommended convertible car seats. Here is some of the criteria we used.
Ease of Use
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 5-star system rates the ease of use for any convertible car seat sold on the market. The higher number of stars the seat has, the simpler it is to use. These ratings account for how easy it is to install the seat as well as securing your little one in it. The rating system goes as far as accounting for the content and clarity of the instruction manual. You can see their ratings here.
One of the main reasons you need to purchase a convertible car seat is safety. When it comes to their safety, you want to make sure that the 5-point harness, which is found on all car seats works correctly in protecting your little one.
While you want to make sure it works correctly, you also want to be sure that they are comfortable in it. With adjustable straps, you can make sure that your child is comfortable and secure each and every time they use it.
While not present on all convertible car seats, having one with side-impact protection is a feature made from special energy-absorbing foam that is designed to protect your child’s head and chest in a side-impact accident.
The LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, has been in place since 2002 requiring all car seats and vehicles to allow car seats to be attached directly to the vehicle’s frame instead of just using the seat belts to secure them.
All convertible car seats come with lower anchor connectors and a top tether strap. However, the seat manufacturer may recommend not using the top tether while the seat is rear-facing.
Other than safety, you want your child to be as comfortable on car rides. If your child has to sit in an uncomfortable car seat, it could make any trip unpleasant. A car seat with quality padding and ample head support can provide your little one with more than enough comfort for any trip.
Kids are messy. Period. Nothing can be harder than trying to get a stain out of a car seat cover that you can’t detach. Many newer seats come with removable and machine-washable covers to help make keeping them cleaner much easier.
Benefits of a convertible car seat
Owning a convertible car seat to help transport your baby from place to place is a major benefit in itself. There can be some other benefits that at first glance, may not be wholly apparent. Some that can benefit you, as well as your baby
For some parents, choosing a cart seat for their child will come down to infant car seat or convertible car seat. With the former, once your child reaches a certain size or weight, you would then need to “upgrade” and buy a new car seat, most likely a convertible car seat. Buying a convertible car seat for the start avoids that hassle.
Touching on our previous point, having to buy only one car seat if you buy a convertible cart seat for your little one will save you some money. Especially in regards to the money you’d have to spend on an infant car seat and then a convertible one.
As your child grows up, you are going to want to make sure that the seat they are using on trips can fit them correctly over time. With a convertible car seat, it will change as your child does. From newborn to toddler, a convertible car seat can accommodate them for a long period of time.
With safety being the most important benefit of owning or even using a convertible cart seat, convertible car seats can be used as rear-facing or front-facing once your child is old enough. With the LATCH system and harness to keep your baby in the seat, a convertible car seat can provide an excellent amount of safety.
When is it time to switch?
When you have a child, it is likely that they will go through numerous car seats. They’ll go from an infant car seat, a convertible car seat, a front-facing only car seat and then ultimately to a booster seat before being ready for the regular vehicle belt seats on their own.
But before they get there, a lot of parents ask when the right time to switch from one car seat to another is. With that in mind, we wanted to offer a bit of help to give you a bit of a guide to help you determine when the right time to switch is.
Infant Car Seat – It’s recommended that a rear-facing infant car seat is used from birth until your little one reaches the listed height and weight limits listed on the seat itself. Typically, the weight limit is around 22 pounds, but can be higher depending on the model.
Once they are anywhere between 6 and 9 months of age, you will need to switch to a convertible car seat to use rear facing until they reach their first birthday.
Convertible Car Seat – Until your little one is a year in age, with a weight of 22 pounds, you will want to seat them in a convertible car seat rear-facing. While there are some convertible seats that have a rear-facing weight limit between 30 and 35 pounds, and there has been research to show that keeping a child rear-facing is the safest position they can be in and should be kept in for as long as possible. The weight limit on a convertible car seat is typically 40 pounds, although some seats have limits up to 65 pounds or more.
Forward-facing only seat – Seen as an alternative to a front-facing convertible seat, there are some seats that are forward-facing only. Using an internal harness for toddlers from 20 to 40 pounds, even though there some models that can be used with an internal harness at higher weight limits. Once the weight limit has been reached, the seat can then be used as a belt-positioning booster seat for weights between 60 and 80 pounds, depending on the model.
Booster Seat – Eventually, your child will grow to exceed the listed limits on their convertible car seat or forward-facing only seat. Once they do, the use of a booster seat can help raise your child up in the vehicle seat so that the vehicle belt system can correctly secure them in the seat. Some booster seats will use a belt guide to help parents secure their children in their seat correctly and comfortably.
Your car’s seat belts – Once they have reached a height where they can comfortably sit and use the safety belts comfortably, they can then move to sitting in the regular vehicle seat./
Which position is correct? Rear of Front-facing?
One of the main topics of concern when parents purchase a convertible cart seat for their baby is whether or not they should be putting the car seat in a front-facing or rear-facing position. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that convertible car seats should be rear-facing until the child is at least 2 years of age.
Even with this recommendation, there are some concerns and questions from parents about using a convertible car seat in a rear-facing manner and we wanted to address some of those questions to help:
Why is rear-facing safer?
With the car seat rear-facing, in an accident, your baby has the support of the chair to surround them keeping their head and spine safe, unlike with a front-facing seat, where the baby could be flung forward, making it possible to severely hurt their chest, head or neck.
What about their legs?
As your child grows their legs are inevitably going to touch the back of the vehicle seat. This, in fact is both comfortable and safe. Why? When a child naps, they can comfortably rest his chin downward and wake up not in any pain from a sore neck. This is because their joints aren’t fully yet which gives them the ability to sit in positions that for you or I, would be uncomfortable.
Some parents think that if they put the car in rear-facing, it will lead to more injuries for their baby’s legs, but the opposite is actually true. When the seat faces forward, in an accident, their legs can fly up and hit the back of the front seat. The front seat can then compress the child’s legs, causing injury.
My Babies Planet Overview
Choosing the right convertible car seat for your little one is one of the biggest purchases that you can make for them. It can get a bit confusing when it comes to choosing one, whether it be safety features, or price.
While at the end of the day, the final decision will come down to your own preferences, one preference that should take precedent is your child’s safety and while all of the options on our list will keep your baby safe, not all of the safety features are the same.
When you decide to start the process of choosing the best convertible car seat for your child, we certainly hope that our list of the 10 best convertible car seats in 2018 has helped you make an informed decision.
Not just for your benefit, but for your child’s as well.