CarseatBlog also notes that the “lap belt guides can be difficult for younger kids to navigate” and that an additional drawback is the “shallow leg depth,” which means it may not reach the edge of the regular car seat. 11 min read. 12 min read. Data is also available for the Chicco NextFit, not the newer iX we tested, though a rep from Chicco told us that the seats are nearly structurally identical. Once we had identified the seats that performed best during real-world commutes, tantrums, and potty training accidents, we commissioned Calspan, a Buffalo, New York, laboratory that runs much of the car seat crash-testing in the country, to run tests specifically for this story. Amazon reviewers love the convenience and look of the seat, but complain about the weight and lack of storage. Britax B-Safe 35. Since we think a dedicated infant seat makes more sense for most families, we didn’t focus on finding an all-in-one seat for this guide. Although the Cosco can be used (rear-facing) from birth, many kids may outgrow it before they reach the height or weight limit because of the low position of the shoulder straps. Our research led us to conclude that the ideal travel car seat should be: Lightweight: A travel car seat will likely need to be carried between multiple locations, sometimes with a baby inside (if we’re talking about an infant), and the less the seat weighs, the easier it is to deal with when combined with children and carry-on items. It weighs just 1 pound, which is lighter than any other travel booster car seat we looked at. A child has outgrown a forward-facing seat when the tops of their ears are at or above the top of the seat’s head restraint at the highest setting (it’s okay for the top of their head to be above the top of the seat as long as the ears are not), or if the shoulder straps can no longer be properly positioned at or above their shoulders. All car seats sold in the US are self-certified by their manufacturers to pass strict NHTSA standards (PDF) for safety testing. That didn’t happen. Evenflo Tribute The inexpensive Cosco Scenera Next weighs just 6.8 pounds, is easy to carry and install, and can be used rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing from 22 to 40 pounds. 11 min read. After researching 30 car seats, using nine over five months, and lab testing the top six, we’re confident that the Britax Marathon ClickTight is the one to get. First, it’s heavy, at 14.3 pounds, compared with the KeyFit’s 9.2 pounds. The 50-pound weight limit means that kids can stay rear … BA. The FAA also states that children are safer in car seats aboard planes rather than in a parent’s arms. It comes with a one-year warranty and has a service life of 10 years. comparsion. Pro: Convertible car seats will always have the advantage of being convertible. Just like the Britax ClickTight, the Graco has a one-year warranty and service time of 10 years from date of manufacture. The chest clip should hit at the armpits. We decided that an intuitive installation system trumps a well-crafted set of directions—as any parent rushing to install a car seat into an unfamiliar rental car can attest—and that a good car seat must be easy to install correctly, both with and without a LATCH system, so that a diligent adult following directions can manage a correct installation within a few minutes without expert assistance. The Cosco “fits right into my Maclaren Mark II umbrella stroller,” said editor Christine Cyr Clisset, “so it makes it easy to transport the kid right in the car seat in the stroller to the gate.” It’s “so easy to take out and put back in,” said Erik Erickson, product manager for data, who frequently switched the Cosco between two cars. At 28.4 pounds, the Britax is bulkier and heavier than many competitor seats—one of our testers noted that it wouldn’t be great for plane travel. The Car Seat lady offers some tips for fitting three across, as does Car Seats for the Littles. “We have a mix of more and less sophisticated systems sharing the road,” said Miriam Manary, who supervises car-seat crash-testing at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. But the seat had a notably low chest-displacement score in our side-impact testing, and the dummy made head contact with the door when the seat was installed front-facing. Kids outgrow the rear-facing seat when their head is less than an inch from the top of the shell height. NHTSA still does not have an administrator, and a source close to the agency that we interviewed for our guide to infant car seats told us the side-impact standard most likely won’t be approved anytime soon. The MiFold booster seat is small enough to fit into the back pocket of some pants and weighs less than 2 pounds. Of our finalist seats, NHTSA has only made crash data available for the Britax Marathon ClickTight and Diono Radian RXT. The Best Convertible Car Seats That Will Grow With Your Kid. Designed for extended rear-facing use. We hoped that our crash-testing might provide some insight into how the same seat performs in a side-impact collision when installed rear-facing versus forward-facing. Sienna Livermore. Installation can be the most time-consuming and frustrating part of using a car seat and is often the point of failure for using a car seat correctly. First, it is hard to get a tight install that hugs the seat well. We considered the experience of both parents and kids in using the seats, as well as how easy each seat was to clean. This sleek infant car seat has integrated wheels and converts to a stroller that maneuvers easily and is FAA-approved for use on an airplane. In September 2019, WAYB announced it was recalling 4,558 Pico car seats manufactured between March 1 and May 12, 2019, due to reports of breakage in the aluminum tube connecting the headrest to the seat, similar to the break we discovered on our test unit. Reviews Included: 1. The Diono Radian 3RXT only measures at 16.14 x 16.93 x 28.35 inches making it possible for you to install it 3 across. I am also a certified CPST myself, participating in a 40-hour training program through the Safe Kids Worldwide organization. As a group, the seats did better on chest displacement, which Bill Horn, the sled testing engineer, said was consistent with what he’s seen when car seat companies have performed side-impact testing at his lab. But it’s difficult to position snugly; our testers had trouble installing it properly without using a pool noodle or towel. Shop convertible car seats at Best Buy and find the right model to keep your child safe and comfortable for years. Though most 2-year-olds will be well under the Britax’s 40-pound weight limit for rear-facing, some other seats do have higher rear-facing weight limits. It can be used as a rear-facing harness with children 5 to 45 pounds and up to 44 inches tall and as a forward-facing harness for kids 20 to 65 pounds and whose height is under 57 inches. Easiest Convertible Car Seat to Install : Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car Seat; Best Convertible Car Seat : Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat; Most Foolproof Convertible Car Seat : Chicco NextFit Sport Convertible Car Seat; Most Comfortable Convertible Car Seat : Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seat Wirecutter says the top rated Britax Marathon ClickTight and Graco Extend2Fit are the safest convertible car seats. A car seat that has been involved in a moderate or serious accident should also be thrown away, though a seat can continue to be used after a minor crash if all of the following criteria are met: You are able to drive away from the crash site; airbags did not deploy; there are no injuries to passengers; there is no visible damage to the car seat; and the vehicle door nearest the car seat is left undamaged. It also has a much higher rear-facing weight limit than the Britax Marathon ClickTight—50 pounds versus 40—meaning you can keep an older kid in a rear-facing position for considerably longer in this seat if that’s what you choose. A separate seat is unnecessary, though, for parents who are still using an infant car seat with a base, such as our pick, the Chicco Keyfit 30, which like all good infant seats is relatively lightweight, is easy to click into and out of the base, and can be safely strapped in with a seatbelt only and no base. Parents who can’t leave their infant seat base installed in a specific car but instead need to travel by taxi or rideshare frequently may find the space-saving Doona to be a convenient option. It does come with a traditional infant car seat base that allows for an easy click in and out of a car, though its extra width means it could be impossible to fit three across in a backseat. Some parents find that air travel is easier when their child has their own seat. A Calspan technician installed each seat to the testing bench, which then accelerated to between 19.2 and 20.2 mph before braking abruptly to simulate impact. Safety 1st Grow & Go – Best Convertible Car Seat With Cup Holder. The dummy's head hit the door in a side-impact test. Photo: Rozette Rago, The Doona is the only hybrid car seat/stroller, convenient for parents who make frequent use of ridesharing services or taxis or who want one piece of equipment that can serve both functions. A convertible car seat, on the other hand, can start out as a rear-facing model and then provide at least one or two more years of service before becoming obsolete. With a long torso, the straps end up hitting below the shoulders, a situation that can compromise safety. I also interviewed representatives from six leading car seat manufacturers, including CEOs, product managers, engineers, and safety technicians from Britax, Chicco, Graco, and Diono. If that seems overly onerous, it’s because it is. Hours of hands-on research … The Radian’s narrow frame also means that three of these seats can fit across most bench-style back seats, which is key for many people with a sedan, wagon, or compact car who either have three kids or want to be able to carpool. I found that the heaviest seats are hard to maneuver and thus difficult to install. Instead of a push button to click out, there is a ribbon to pull back on, which makes uninstalling the seat with LATCH easier than the norm. Since most parents will use a convertible seat both front-facing and rear-facing over the life of the seat, we commissioned the crash-testing for both seat directions. The 6-Second Trick For The Best Convertible Car Seats - Reviews By Wirecutter. The Cosco’s low straps mean that many 3-year-olds with longer torsos may outgrow the seat in forward-facing mode, even though the seat’s height and weight limits indicate that it should fit an average-sized kid up to age 4. Each crash test took only a fraction of a second and relied on a Q3s dummy, which is a mannequin the size of a 3-year-old child and designed specifically for side-impact crash-testing. If you’re looking for a lightweight, inexpensive car seat to use as a backup or for travel, the Cosco is a better bet.Clek Foonf and Fllo Whenever possible, CPSTs like Lani Harrison from Car Seats for the Littles recommends that small children ride in car seats on airplanes. We paid attention. All cars and car seats manufactured after Sept 1, 2002, include the LATCH option.) Are the buckles easy for parents to clip and unclip but difficult to impossible for toddlers to mess with? Car seats are checked for free by most airlines but doing so has several potential problems. If having an included cupholder is something you consider crucial in a car seat, you should check out our runner-up pick, which has two. Getting the right install with many seats requires a great deal of muscle and maneuvering. You can gate- or baggage-check any car seat for free with most airlines, but lugging your regular seat in and out of the car and through the airport can be a major hassle. Are the straps simple to adjust to get a snug but comfortable fit in the five-point harness? It has hook latches, but I’ve personally found the seat-belt install to be easier to use in unfamiliar cars, and that prevents having to tug on the latches to get a tight fit. Learn more. It can also be hard to adjust the straps, and both a low shell height and low top-shoulder-strap slots mean the Tribute is often outgrown early, before a child is ready for a booster seat (the straps need to fall above the shoulders for forward-facing). There is limited real-world evidence for the benefit of rear-facing with older children due to the fact that so few Americans keep older kids rear-facing (making meaningful data collection difficult). The pricier Britax seats also offer the company’s Click & Safe Snug Harness, which gives an audible click to let you know that the harness is properly tensioned, and have added layers of side-impact protection (which do add a bit of weight and bulk). The Graco has lower sides than the Britax, so it is slightly easier to take a child in and out of. Clek was the first company to offer a seat that rear-faces until a child hits 50 pounds, and the company’s higher seat back and L-shaped angle make it easier for kids to sit rear-facing as they get older. Nearly anyone, regardless of their experience with car seats, can be quickly taught to install it properly. Both NHTSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that a child ride rear-facing until they reach the height and weight limit of the seat. After 10 hours of research and trying out eight travel car seats, we found that the Cosco Scenera Next is the best convertible option. There is good reason to focus on side-impact safety standards. Like most convertible car seats, the Extend2Fit can be installed using either your seat belt or your car’s LATCH system (though our pick can be installed with LATCH it’s specifically designed to work best with a seat belt install). Buckle up for safety. It’s doable, and Harrison offers some tips, but even professionals involved with our crash-testing noted that this seat is harder than others to install well. reviews. The Britax Emblem is a quality convertible seat with non-rethread height adjustment, push-button LATCH, and better comfort padding and fabric. “The newer vehicles may be able to avoid crashing into other objects but will not always be able to escape being struck by older, less technologically advanced vehicles.” According to Manary, the leading crash avoidance technologies will primarily help reduce frontal impact. As we wrote in our guide to infant car seats, the stringent rules surrounding car seat use are merited. Sienna Livermore. Most families will start with a dedicated infant seat (which we recommend) and move on to a convertible model sometime between 9 months and 2 years, depending on the size of the child and the type of seat(s) used. My reporting on policy and parenting has appeared in outlets including Slate, The Washington Post, Health Affairs, and Marie Claire. Many infant car seats are compatible with easy-to-fold carriers, such as the Chicco KeyFit Caddy or Shuttle, which turn the car seat into a stroller and can be convenient for travel. Few people strictly need a separate car seat for travel as you can gate- or baggage-check any car seat for free with most airlines. We spoke with experts on car seat safety, policy, and installation, and looked closely at the results of government testing conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), the federal agency charged with road safety, as well as at the findings of Consumer Reports and BabyGearLab, the two other media outlets that have conducted independent laboratory crash-testing of car seats. Chicco NextFit iX and NextFit iX Zip Even though they have the same 49-inch height limit as our pick, both the Boulevard and Advocate have shells that are about 2 inches taller than our pick, so a tall child with a long torso or head might be able to use the seat longer before outgrowing it. Be prepared to replace the seat if it’s broken or bent. We also gathered feedback on fabric, ease of cleaning, comfort, height, and the ability to fit with other car seats. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends that children stay rear-facing as long as possible (and not move to a booster seat until they have outgrown the weight and height requirements on their forward-facing convertible car seat). Safe: When it comes to travel, convenience can trump a minor safety edge. The seat gets strong safety ratings from NHTSA; it performed not quite as well as our eventual picks, the Britax Marathon ClickTight or Graco Extend2Fit, in the convertible car-seat crash-testing we commissioned in late 2017 but well enough that we consider it a safe seat. The addition of side-impact protection can mean a bulkier, wider, and heavier seat, which Jessica Jermakian, a senior research engineer with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, cautioned isn’t always more effective in furthering overall safety: “In order to meet those requirements for the bigger children, child-restraint manufacturers might decide to make [car seats] bigger and bulkier, which would make them more difficult for parents to fit in cars. It should be easy to get a child in and out of the seat quickly. 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