CarseatBlog Helps You Find the Safest and Best Car Seats for 2021
Every year we make incremental updates to our Recommended Carseats award list. A couple of aging products are usually removed, and some new ones added. There are jump links and an improved pull-down menu for easier access to each section of the list. The intent of this list is to help consumers narrow down their choices to models we personally recommend after extensive hands-on experience. These models are likely to work well with the widest range of children and vehicles. In order to have a reasonable list that doesn’t include dozens of products in each category, we make tough choices to include fewer products in each category that we feel are the best places to start your search.
We also have a shortlist of Editors’ Picks, an award for our favorite models. This more exclusive list narrows down our larger number of Recommended Carseats to our top choices. For most categories, we also select our top picks by budget category, limiting the selections to just one or two seats in each price range. If you are in a hurry or are feeling overwhelmed by too many options, this is the place to start! While premium carseats usually offer more features and tend to be easier to use, our midrange and budget picks are also very safe choices that we would use without hesitation for our own children.
If your favorite carseat didn’t make our list, please don’t worry! We’re not saying these are the best choices for every parent or caregiver in every situation. Our lists are simply a good starting point for consumers who are shopping for a carseat or booster. And since there are no guarantees, we always recommend purchasing from a retailer with a free return policy of at least 30 days, or an online retailer like Amazon that offers free shipping and free returns on most carseats they sell directly. If a seat doesn’t work out for whatever reason, you don’t want to pay $50 to ship it back!
We acknowledge that many certified child passenger safety technicians have had it ingrained upon them that they are supposed to act completely neutral toward child restraints. All current seats pass the same FMVSS 213 testing standards, they are all safe when used correctly, etc., etc. In the course to become certified, most techs were told never to tell a parent that one child seat or brand is better than any other. Instead, technicians are encouraged to tell parents that the best seat is the one that fits their child, installs well in their vehicle, and is easy for them to use correctly. We agree.
However, the reality is that once you’ve installed even a dozen different seats, you quickly learn that there are real differences. Some child restraints do tend to install better in a variety of vehicles, and some really are easier to use overall. Features like lockoffs for seatbelt installations and premium push-on lower LATCH connectors do make a difference in the vast majority of installations, but that doesn’t mean that every seat that lacks those features is not worthy of your consideration.
Despite our best efforts, we recognize that no list of this type can be completely objective. And while our team of child passenger safety experts thoughtfully considered the pros and cons of each seat and combined that with our considerable hands-on experience with each product – there’s no crash testing involved. Some seats were omitted from the list only because we opted to include a similar model from the same manufacturer. For others, we simply didn’t have enough experience with the product yet to form an opinion. There are a number of excellent products that we have reviewed, that missed the cut for our awards but are still worthy of consideration. Conversely, we recognize that some of the models we recommend may not work well for your specific situation.
We hope you will use and share our recommendations as useful shopping advice in your search for the best carseat or booster for your needs!