The Best and Safest Carseat


BEST safest most desirable carseatblog recommended carseatI want the Best and Safest Carseat for my child. Before my first child was born, I tried to find information on what the best infant carseat was at the time; this was before Google, so not an easy feat. Then when he outgrew his infant seat, I wanted the best convertible seat for him, which led me on a multi-month search and ultimately to my becoming a child passenger safety technician instructor. We all want the very best for our progeny—it’s human nature. So how do we determine what the best carseat is?

If you’ve been around any carseat forums, you may have heard this timeworn phrase: the best carseat is the one that fits your vehicle, fits your child, and fits your budget. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Yet when we get to the store, or look online, we often throw caution to the wind and base our purchase on the appearance of the carseat. “Oh, I love the butterflies on this one,” or, “The red color of this carseat is so nice!” Or even, yes, “This one matches the baby’s nursery.”

Let’s examine each part of the phrase in detail.

Fits Your Vehicle

The carseat should fit in your vehicle moving less than 1” when you tug at the belt path. It will move more if you tug on it further away from the belt path because the only place securing it to the vehicle is at the belt path. If you’re buying a convertible carseat that rear-faces and forward-faces, you want it to fit both rear-facing and forward-facing. You cannot assume that just because it fits rear-facing, it will fit forward-facing too. Install it both ways before you buy it or keep the box and receipt so you can return it if it doesn’t fit when you get it home.

correct install testing at FF belt path

Fits Your Child

Your child *must* fit within the size and age (if any) requirements of the seat before being able to use it. For example, most rear-facing only infant seats require infants’ shoulders to be at or above the bottom slots. If your baby’s shoulders are below those bottom slots, she’s too small to use the seat. Another example is the Britax Frontier 90 combination carseat. Your child must be 25 lbs. AND at least age 2 to use this seat per the instruction manual.

Children also have preferences for carseats. Some kids don’t mind sparsely padded carseats, while others demand luxurious padding. Some children don’t tolerate certain fabrics or need harness shoulder pads. Trying your child out in the carseat in the store helps you determine which seat they may like.

 4-yr-old 40" FF in Momentum 4EVER HB Ody

Fits Your Budget

This is the “kind of goes without saying” part of the phrase. There are so many great carseats in so many different prices ranges now that with *any* budget, you can find a carseat to fit your requirements. Back when my son was born, if we wanted a carseat with EPS foam, we had two choices and both were over $150 (one was close to $300, if my poor memory serves me correctly). Parents back then really did go into debt to buy carseats. Now most carseats have some sort of energy management foam or system and you don’t have to promise that firstborn to a cult to get it.

Cooper Foonf Scenera NEXT

Use It Correctly Each and Every Ride

I’m adding in my own extra ending here. What’s the point of having a carseat that installs well in your car, fits your child well, and didn’t put you into debt if you don’t use it correctly every time? We techs all have seen the most expensive Clek and Britax seats with loose installations and loose harnesses that won’t do a darn thing in a crash for the kids riding in them. If you can’t use that carseat correctly each time, was it really a good deal? Nope.

You really can find a good carseat that meets all of the above criteria. By consulting lists, like our shiny new Comparison ToolRecommended Carseats List and our Carseat Reviews, and asking questions at our Forum, you’ll find the Best Carseat and learn from our mistakes.


Carseat Comparisons: Measurements and Features Data


Compare Child Restraint Safety Features and Carseat Dimensions

It’s been a very long time in the works, but we’re finally able to make public our database to compare carseat measurements and features, just in time to finish CPS Week, 2015.  The comparison tool uses measurements we take when we review products.  For products we haven’t measured ourselves, we use data contributed by Car-Seat.Org members.

Since measurements can vary from one person to another and even one day to the next, we caution that your own measurements may vary.  Plus, manufacturers update carseats from time to time, so there is absolutely no guarantee that these measurements are accurate or will reflect your own product.  This information is provided simply for rough comparisons among models.  To compare up to four carseats within a category, simply use the “Compare Carseats” pull-down menu option at the top of this page, click the links on the sidebar or click the “Go to” jump menu on mobile devices or click one of the category links below:

Compare Carseat Features ExampleCompare Rear-Facing Carseats

Compare Convertible Carseats

Compare Combination Carseats

Compare All-In-One Carseats

Compare High-Back Boosters

Compare Backless Boosters

Compare Carseats (Main Page)

More information, along with individual Carseat Data Capsules can still be found at Car-Seat.Org.

Among other measurements, we have compiled highest and lowest harness slot heights, crotch buckle depths, seating width and depth, and product weight as well as child age, weight and height ranges.  Where possible, we have also included valuable features like seatbelt lockoffs and product information such as lifespan.

CarseatBlog is not responsible for inaccurate information, omissions or other errors.  Some products have incomplete data and we apologize for any missing information.  We will slowly confirm or replace submitted information with our own measurements, but for many products we rely upon contributors to supply these measurements.  We would like to give a big Thank You to MomToEliEm and everyone from who contributed to this project over the years.    It originally was going to be hosted at the now defunct website, but technical hurdles made it too difficult.  The best intentions to create a new website just to host the comparison tool also ran into some challenges, but now it has found a home at CarseatBlog and better late than never!  We hope you find it useful when shopping for carseats or giving advice to friends and family.

This is still a work in progress.  We will be adding new products, filling in missing data and making other improvements regularly, so please check back again when comparing carseats.  We do welcome suggestions for products, comparison categories and general feedback about the appearance and usability of our data.  Please keep in mind that it is a commercial software product so we are limited in how it looks and feels.  Feel free to leave us a comment by replying to this blog!

All information is Copyright© 2001-2015, Carseat Media LLC, All Rights Reserved

To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn


Oliver RF/FFSometimes it’s hard for Child Passenger Safety Technicians to take their own advice—-or at least it is for me.

If a dad came to me and asked if it’s okay to put his mature, normal-sized 6-year-old in a booster, I’d say sure. If a mom came to me and asked if her tall 10-year-old, who passed the 5-step-test, was really all right without a booster, I’d say it’s fine. If another mom asked about forward-facing a 4-year-old, I’d congratulate her on doing an awesome job and I’d tell her that I would do the same thing if it were my own child.

And yet when I’ve reached these same milestones with my own children, the choice hasn’t always been easy. In fact, I’ve struggled with all these scenarios in the past year. This spring, I hesitated to let my 5-stepping, nearly-5-foot-tall oldest child ride without a booster (though I did give in). A month later when my extremely-compliant 6-year-old started begging to ride in a booster, it took me weeks before I finally allowed her to use one in our secondary car.

Yet my reluctance in making those decisions comes nowhere near the internal struggle I’m facing as I decide what to do with my youngest child, Oliver, who’s about to turn 4. He still rides rear-facing in both of our vehicles and has never asked to go forward-facing. I don’t think he even realizes it’s an option.

I didn’t hesitate when it was time to turn my two older children forward-facing, but it’s different with this one.

See, not only is Oliver my baby, he’s my last baby. As my kids have all gotten older, I’ve been able to cling to “still” having him as my tiny little one: My other two outgrew the ring sling, but I still had Oliver to carry. The other two outgrew the octopus costume, but Oliver could still wear it. The other two didn’t want to read Moo, Baa, La La La anymore, but Oliver still loved it. My other two got too big to rock to sleep, but Oliver still fit in my arms.

The other two could forward-face, but Oliver still…

Well, he still fits rear-facing and will for a while, and yes, rear-facing is safer. But my resistance to turn him around isn’t about safety, it’s about me. I have absolutely no qualms about a 4-year-old forward-facing; I just have qualms about this particular 4-year-old forward-facing, because I’m afraid of letting go. The reality is that turning him around will mark the end of an era for me. Once he rides forward-facing I’ll never again have a rear-facing child. I’ll have to admit my baby is growing up, and I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.

Recaro Recalls Certain ProRide and Performance Ride Convertible Seats


Today Recaro Child Safety announced a recall of convertible seats made between April 9, 2010 and June 9, 2015.  Over 173,000 carseats are affected.  These child restraints do not fully comply with the system integrity requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213. “When the affected child seats are installed using the top tether, the top portion of the restraint can crack and allow the top tether to separate from the restraint. As such, these seats fail to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, “Child Restraint Systems.” In the event of a crash, the child restraint could fail to protect the child from contacting interior surfaces of the vehicle, increasing the risk of injury.

Recaro submitted a petition for an exemption of non-compliance in July, 2014, and the NHTSA denied Recaro’s petition in July, 2015, after a public comment period in November, 2014.  “NHTSA’S Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that the ProRIDE and Performance RIDE’s noncompliance poses a risk to safety and is therefore not inconsequential. Recaro has not met its burden of persuasion that the FMVSS No. 213 noncompliance identified in Recaro’s noncompliance information report is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Recaro’s petition is hereby denied and Recaro is obligated to provide notification of, and a remedy for, that noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.”  The NHTSA also has recall related information.


Recaro ProRIDE convertible

Recaro ProRIDE convertible

Recaro Performance RIDE convertible

Recaro Performance RIDE convertible

What’s the Fix:

The remedy kit consists of a load limiting strap and instructions on how to install it on your carseat.

If you are a ProRIDE or Performance RIDE owner currently using a now-recalled seat, here’s our advice:

  • If you are using your ProRIDE or Performance RIDE convertible in the rear-facing position – you still need to contact Recaro for the recall fix, but the issue with the tether potentially separating from the shell doesn’t apply in your situation because that’s only a concern when the seat is installed forward-facing.
  • If you are using your ProRIDE or Performance RIDE convertible in the forward-facing position – consider whether or not your child could actually use this seat in the rear-facing position until you are able to obtain the recall fix kit. If your child weighs less than the rear-facing weight limit (which is either 35 or 40 lbs., depending on when your seat was made) and your child has a seated height (measure bottom of tush to top of head) of less than 22.5 inches tall – he or she can still use the seat rear-facing and you avoid the potential issue with the tether.
  • If you are using your ProRIDE or Performance RIDE convertible in the forward-facing position and using it rear-facing isn’t an option, please read Recaro’s statement below:

Recaro USA has issued the following statement:

What You Should Do:

During applicable tests conducted by NHTSA, the dynamic test scores that directly affect the child were still within the limits allowed by the FMVSS 213 standard, hence, you should continue to use your RECARO ProRIDE or Performance RIDE as instructed in your manual. You may check the model number and manufacture date on your child restraint to see if it is affected by this notice. You can find the model number and manufacture date on a white label on the left side of your child restraint. If your model is affected please email or call our customer service team at 1-866-628-4750 to obtain a repair kit. The repair kit will consist of a load limiting strap and instructions on how to install it in a vehicle.

Look for model numbers of 332.01.AK21, 332.01.KAEC, 332.01.KAEG, 332.01.KK91, 332.01.MC11, 332.01.MJ15, 332.01.QA56, 332.01.QA9N, 332.01.QQ11, 332.01.QQ14, 332.01.QQ95, 333.01.CHIL, 333.01.HABB, 333.01.HAZE, 333.01.JEBB, 333.01.JETT, 333.01.KNGT, 333.01.MABB, 333.01.MARI, 333.01.MNGT, 333.01.PLBB, 333.01.PLUM, 333.01.REBB, 333.01.REDD, 333.01.ROBB, 333.01.ROSE, 333.01.SABB, 333.01.SAPH, 333.01.SLBB, 333.01.SLTE, 333.01.VIBB, 333.01.VIBE and manufacturing dates between April 9, 2010 – June 9, 2015.

You can also order a fix kit directly by visiting Please be prepared to enter your model number and manufacture date of your child restraint.