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What Is An All-in-One / 3-in-1 / 4-in-1 Carseat?


Graco 4Ever - StudioAll-in-One. 4-in-1. 3-in-1. Does it all. Last carseat you’ll ever need.

These promises sound exciting, don’t they? After all, you’ve probably shelled out over $100, maybe even close to $300 for a rear-facing only infant seat that only fit your child for about a year and now you have to buy another carseat already. Your kid keeps growing, wouldn’t it be nice to buy only one more carseat and be done with it all? Perhaps.

We need to get some basic terms out of the way since I’ll be addressing them frequently in this article. There are two types of carseats we’ll be discussing: convertible and combination. A convertible carseat is one that rear-faces or forward-faces, so it’s appropriate for newborns through preschoolers generally. A combination carseat is a forward-facing only carseat with a harness that can be removed to become a belt-positioning booster. Sometimes combo seats are called harnessed boosters. It’s all marketing, but the official class of seat is combination.

Let’s discuss what an all-in-one / 3-in-1 / 4-in-1 carseat is. These days it can be a convertible carseat or a combination carseat. An all-in-one carseat is one that “does it all.” This convertible carseat will go from infant to booster: rear-facing, forward-facing, and high-back booster. A 3-in-1 carseat does the same: rear-facing, forward-facing, and high-back booster. But a 3-in-1 carseat can also be a combination seat: forward-facing-only harness, high-back booster, and backless booster. Oh. That’s getting complicated. What about the 4-in-1 carseat? Well, that is a convertible carseat: rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back booster, AND backless booster.

What does one of these seats NOT do? It does NOT have a harness weight limit of 100 or 120 lbs. That’s a very common misconception. The carseat manufacturers are doing a much better job of labeling the boxes for their separate modes, but as you look at the pictures below, I think you’ll see why it’s easy to see why the harness might go to a super high weight limit. It doesn’t.

So we have the convertible vs. combination terminology out of the way and we know what an all-in-one vs. a 4-in-1 carseat is (er, basically the same thing, right?). Now let’s have some practice looking at these seats and their boxes so you know in the store *before* you buy if the carseat is appropriate for your 9 month old (of course, you could always consult our Recommended Carseats List and know which seats are appropriate right now and find one that will work for you!).

Questions to Ask Before You Shop

Does it have a rear-facing belt path? (Only if you are shopping for a rear-facing seat obviously.)

How long do I reasonably expect my child to use this seat?

Do I really want a carseat that I will be using for over 6 years? (Because really, what other piece of baby gear gets used for that long, let alone a safety device?)


The Evenflo Symphony LX is an all-in-one seat. It says so on the labels and on the box. Check out the label: 5-110 lbs. That’s misleading, because it makes you think the harness will take your child from 5-110 lbs., right? Wrong. It’s 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing, and 40-110 lbs. as a belt-positioning booster. There is a rear-facing belt path opening under where the child’s legs would sit, so you know it’s a convertible carseat. You could use this carseat from your child’s birth, provided he’s big enough.

Symphony LX box front Symphony LX box side


In Honor of Those Who Have Served



CarseatBlog would like to thank all of our veterans who have served our country as well as those who are still serving all over the world.  We appreciate the sacrifices they have made for all of us.  We also would like to thank their families, who support their loved ones always.

2015 IIHS Booster Ratings: Ranking the Safest Boosters

IIHS Awards “Best Bet” to 20 Models of Child Booster SeatsJenny

Every year, the list of great boosters for kids gets bigger and bigger, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Parents and caregivers have an easier task of finding a belt-positioning booster seat that will provide their child with a safe seat belt fit. The IIHS evaluated 23 highback and backless models for optimum seat belt fit on a 6 year old dummy; fit is determined by how well the seat belt lies across the shoulder and thighs. The booster is given a rating of “Best Bet,” “Good Bet,” “Check Fit,” or “Not Recommended.”

Booster seats are for an age group of kids (about 5-11) that are commonly known as the “forgotten kids” of child passenger safety. Well, *we* haven’t forgotten them, but they slide through the cracks of safety because they’re too big for convertible carseats and too small for the vehicle seat belt to fit safely. A recent Safe Kids survey found that 86% of parents switched their kids to just the vehicle seat belt before it fit properly. While you may frequently hear that it’s OK to move your child to a vehicle seat belt when he’s 4’9″ tall, as parents, we at CarseatBlog know our children didn’t fit in our vehicles using just the seat belt at that minimum height suggestion. Remember, these are adult seat belts so your kids must be adult-sized to use them. Until then, booster seats are the way to go.

What do the ratings mean? A “Best Bet” rating means it should correctly position the seat belt on a typical 4-8 year old child in most vehicles. But remember, your vehicle may not be “most” vehicles and may have a different belt geometry. Always try before you buy, if you can, and hold onto the box and receipt in case you need to return the booster.

A “Good Bet” means that the belt fit will be acceptable in most vehicles and these boosters shouldn’t be automatically shunned because they aren’t “top tier.” “Check Fit” means just that: it may fit a larger child better than a smaller child in some vehicles or vice versa. I’ve used “Check Fit” boosters quite successfully before with my kids in my cars—it definitely doesn’t mean you should chuck the seat out with the baby’s bathwater.

Graco Contender 65 Convertible Carseat Review: Contend with This

Graco Contender 65 Review


Contender PiedmontThe Graco Contender has been on the market now for a while and has proved to be a solid, easy-to-use convertible worthy of a look by parents considering that next-step carseat. It has great rear-facing capabilities, turns into a forward-facing carseat that will take most kids to booster age, easily installs, and has that ubiquitous cup holder. The Contender’s lower price point than its cousins, the Size4Me/My Size/Head Wise (aka “Clones”) puts it in that desirable position of being nice enough to be a main carseat yet inexpensive enough to be a backup seat.

Weight and Height Limits:

  • Rear-facing 5-40 lbs. AND child’s head is 1” below red adjustment handle
  • Forward-facing 20-65 lbs. (2016 models have a ff min. of 22 lbs.), 49″ or less, at least 1 year old*

*We recommend following the American Academy of Pediatrics minimum guidelines of rear-facing to at least age 2 before turning your child forward-facing. It’s safest to rear-face past the minimum of age 2.

Contender Overview:

  • 8-position headrest with no re-thread harness
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Color-coded recline flip-foot takes guesswork out of reclining carseat
  • FAA approved for use on aircraft
  • 7 yr lifespan before seat expires