The 12 Best Convertible Car Seats You Can Buy Now
A convertible car seat is one of the most important baby gear items on your must-buy list. One reason: You’ll use a convertible car seat for a long time—which means it’s a purchase you’ll want to get right. But with tons of options out there, the decision can be anything but straightforward.
Not sure where to begin? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve got everything you need to find the best convertible car seat for your family. Whether you’re looking for one you can use when you first bring baby home from the hospital or are on a quest to find a slim convertible car seat that fits in your compact car, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn why convertible car seats are so important—plus, shop our top picks.
Confused about what’s what in the world of car seats? We don’t blame you. Here’s the breakdown.
An infant car seat can only be used rear-facing and has a more limited height and weight range (often maxing out at 40 pounds). A convertible car seat, on the other hand, can be used both rear- and forward-facing, often from infancy to toddlerhood and beyond (depending on its height and weight capacity).
Another key difference between the two types of car seats? Infant options typically cannot be used after a child turns one, while convertible designs might last until a child is 4 or older. Infant car seats do offer parents more portability, since they’re lighter, can be clicked in and out of their base and often connect to stroller systems. In contrast, convertible car seats remain in the car. They can be a one-and-done purchase though, as they’ll grow with your child from their newborn days on.
If you decide to use an infant car seat first, you’ll eventually have to switch over to a convertible car seat. Exactly when that happens depends on the size of your little one. As soon as they reach the maximum height and weight for your specific infant model, it’s time to make the move to a rear-facing convertible design But even if your child stays within the infant car seat’s size limits by their first birthday, you should consider making the move over to a convertible option for baby’s safety. Consumer Reports finds that a convertible car seat is safer in a crash than an infant car seat for children one and older.
Need help finding a top-rated convertible car seat for your little one? Below, find a list of questions that will help you spot key features and determine the best convertible car seat for your family:
How big is it? Convertible car seats are not known for being particularly slim and trim. Be sure to take into consideration the car seat’s width (especially if you have a smaller car or plan on having more than one car seat in the row) and also its length (particularly if the seat will be on the driver’s side). Take weight into consideration if you plan on switching the car seat from vehicle to vehicle or traveling with it.
What are its size limits? Many convertible car seats can hold infants as small as 4 pounds up to kids as large as 120 pounds—and anywhere in between. If you plan on using the seat from infancy on, make sure the weight limit starts low enough; on the flip side, if you want the seat to last beyond toddlerhood, look for a high weight and height capacity.
How does it install? Convertible car seats can be installed using either a car’s seat belt or a LATCH system (lower anchors and tethers for children), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). While nearly all vehicles made after 2002 are equipped to use LATCH, it’s important to confirm before selecting a car seat. Also, correct installation is critical to a car seat’s safety—so look for a seat that makes the process simple.
What are its safety features? The good news: Except for any recalls (we’ll get into that in a bit), all convertible car seats available for purchase in the US will be safe to use (they must adhere to strict standards). However, there are some extra features that can increase a seat’s safety in the event of a crash or collision. Keep an eye out for some form of side-impact protection, through an adjustable headrest, side wings or energy-absorbing foam, and anti-rebound bars (ARB), which reduce the movement of the car seat towards the back of the car.
How comfortable will it be? Lots of features can make for an extra comfy ride for your little one. If planning to use the convertible car seat from infancy on, look for a seat that comes with an added infant insert for extra head and neck support. Moreover, multiple recline and headrest positions will tailor the ride for baby, cup holders will become critical as your child grows and an adjustable, no-rethread harness will make things easier for both parents and little ones alike. Another biggie: Examine the car seat for how easy it is to clean (because, hello, toddlers are messy).
Above all else, parents are looking for the safest convertible car seat possible. One way to determine that is through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHSTA) evaluations: The NHSTA evaluates convertible car seats for their ease of use, looking at four different categories and subsequently ranking them from one to five stars. And while the ranking doesn’t explicitly address safety, a car seat is only safe when used and installed correctly (which is where ease-of-use comes in). Additionally, the NHSTA keeps track of any car seat recalls.
So what’s the best convertible car seat? That depends on what you’re looking for. Check out our curated list to make a decision that’s right for you and your family.
Both the AAP and the NHTSA advocate for children to remain rear-facing during car travel for as long as possible—and the extended height and weight limits on this all-in-one car seat make that an option for longer. This design from Graco has one of the highest height and weight limits, topping out when a child reaches 49 inches and 50 pounds—both of which are over the 90th percentile for a typical 5-year-old boy. Plus, the adjustable extension panel gives your growing little one up to 5” of extra room, eliminating fears of scrunched-up legs. A 10-position headrest and six-position recline also provide a comfortable seated position, no matter your child’s size. And at just under $250, it’s one of the most affordable options available, making it the best convertible car seat out there in our eyes.
- Extra legroom lets your child ride rear-facing for longer
- Features integrated dual cup holders
- The seat pad is machine-washable
- Some users find it a little bulky
- Removing the seat pad for cleaning can be difficult
Searching for an investment that will grow with your child and last for years? Do you also need to fit multiple car seats across in your midsize vehicle? Allow us to point you in the direction of this standout 3-in-1 car seat from Diono; it packs a ton of features into an attractive, strong alloy and aluminum frame. Count on it to seamlessly transition from a newborn car seat to a convertible car seat to a booster seat—plus, it’s also great for moving from car to car, thanks to the straps that let you carry it like a backpack.
- Side impact protection offers extra safety
- Slim profile is great for those with smaller cars
- Users praise its sturdiness and durability
- Some users say it’s hard to tighten
This convertible car seat is a quadruple threat; it can be used as a rear-facing or a forward-facing seat to a high-back or a backless booster. Basically, your kiddo will be able to use it from the day they’re born until the day they’re ready to sit in your car without any type of additional support. Plus, Graco’s InRight latch system ensures a straightforward one-second attachment for quick and easy installation; and the Simply Safe Adjust system automatically adjusts both the harness and headrest height without you needing to rethread. For a little under $250, you’re basically getting four car seats in one. Win-win-win-win!
- Has a six-position seat recline
- The RapidRemove cover makes cleaning a breeze
- Suitable for children between 4 and 120 pounds
- Some parents say the straps are difficult to tighten
When it comes to innovations in car-seat technology, this rotating convertible car seat has a lot going for it. It’s one of the only models to feature a load leg (a common safety feature in infant car seats), which helps to stabilize the seat during any potential impact. And that’s not all—install it just once and use both rear- and forward-facing. SensorSafe technology in the chest clip alerts parents of any critical situations happening in the car seat, like dangerous temperatures or a child left unattended. But what makes this three-time Best of Baby award-winner a standout has to be its 360-degree rotation. This feature makes for easier access in and out of the seat—and allows the car seat to convert from rear to forward-facing with just a single swivel.
- Has a 12-position recline that can be adjusted even while in use
- Includes a removable newborn insert
- Features a no-rethread adjustable harness
- Some users noted a wiggle after installation
- Car models older than 2008 aren’t compatible with the SensorSafe feature
Looking for an option with a narrow footprint that won’t take up too much space in your back row? Check out this slim convertible car seat from Graco. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on top-notch features. After a straightforward installation process, expect it to keep your child safe and secure, thanks to its eight-position adjustable headrest, two-position recline and no-rethread harness. Plus, its lightweight design and certification for aircraft use make this convertible car seat a piece of cake to travel with.
- Eight-position adjustable headrest and two-position recline
- Lightweight, compact design
- Certified for aircraft use
- Some reviewers say they had difficulty tightening the straps
Baby is sure to feel like a VIP (very important passenger!) every time they ride in this all-in-one car seat. The high-end design is inspired by Dutch minimalism and seamlessly converts from a rear- to a forward-facing seat that has eight recline settings and 12 head support positions. Then, when your little one becomes a big kid, they can use it as a sleek, secure booster seat. Thanks to the steel frame and reinforced belt, you can confidently count on this convertible car seat for many years to come. What’s more, it’s suitable for children between 5 and 120 pounds.
- Eight recline settings and 12 head support positions
- Offers side-impact protection
- Suitable for children between 5 and 120 pounds
- High price point
This infant convertible car seat’s tri-stage cushion provides extra support for a newborn’s neck and bottom, and can be removed as your baby grows older to maintain proper positioning. Plus, the combination of kinetic pods (which direct force away from your child in a side-collision), an anti-rebound bar and height-adjustable side-impact protection work to keep your little one safe at every stage.
- Easy to install
- Offers side impact protection
- Includes a newborn insert
- Doesn’t have a cup holder
This convertible car seat is a consistent bestseller and family favorite for a reason. Top-rated by Consumer Reports, it comes with advanced safety and convenience features, is simple to install and is stylish to boot. Installation is as simple as opening a color-coded pathway, threading the seatbelt and shutting the pathway door. Children can stay rear-facing until they weigh more than 50 pounds (one of the highest capacities available), and the 10-position headrest adjusts with just one hand. Parents and toddlers alike appreciate the double cup holders, magnetic harness holders and washable fabric (because toddler messes are inevitable). A bonus for the environment? The RAVA is Greenguard Gold-certified.
- Offers extended legroom
- Can grow with your child
- Features ventilation panels and breathable knit fabric for comfort
- Users say it can be difficult to clean
Convertible car seats are not known for being lean, which can be problematic in smaller cars or even mid-sized cars with multiple car seats. Enter the Clek Foonf, which combines both a narrow footprint and top-of-the-line features. Even at a trim 16.9” wide, the Foonf provides a comfortably roomy seat for growing toddlers—and its size doesn’t skimp on safety. An anti-rebound bar, steel magnesium frame and rigid LATCH system (the only one of its kind for a forward-facing seat in the US) all work together to keep your child safe in the event of a crash.
- Allows for extended rear-facing
- Narrow design makes it easier to place multiple car seats across
- Some users say it’s hard to clean
- High price point
This convertible car seat can remain rear-facing until your little one reaches the 40-pound mark, so you can keep your child in the safe position for longer. The design has a nine-position recline system, an easy-to-adjust headrest and a five-point harness to meet baby’s ever-changing needs as they grow. Inside the seat is a steel-reinforced frame and EPS energy-absorbing foam for baby’s safety and your peace of mind. Bonus features include click-on LATCH connectors for smooth transitions between vehicles, a dishwasher-safe cup holder and removable, washable covers.
- Made with EPS energy-absorbing foam and a steel-reinforced frame
- Easy to clean
- Reviewers say it’s straightforward to install and recline
- Some say the straps are shorter than expected
Top-rated by Consumer Reports in terms of safety and ease of use, this convertible car seat is perfect for parents looking for foolproof installation. Securing this option in your vehicle is as easy as buckling a seatbelt, thanks to the ClickTight system (just lift the seat, thread the seatbelt and click it shut). What’s more, this all-in-one car seat features an anti-rebound bar, a V-shaped tether, a high-strength steel frame and SafeCell technology, making this one of the safest convertible car seats on the market.
- Anti-rebound bar offers extra protection
- Simple installation with a seatbelt
- Cup holder is sold separately
- The seat cover is hand-wash only
Looking to save on cost without sacrificing safety? This convertible car seat is a fantastic option for those on a budget. It’s great for small cars, tight spaces and travel, thanks to its low weight (just 9 lbs) and narrow width (17”). You won’t find a lot of extra frills, features or padding, but in terms of balancing budget and security, the Evenflo Tribute LX can’t be beaten. Bonus: Get 15 percent off sitewide with code bump15.
- It’s rollover tested
- Features side-impact protection
- It isn’t steel-reinforced, which some parents prefer for peace of mind
- Doesn’t feature an anti-rebound bar