CarseatBlog Helps You Find the Safest and Best Car Seats for 2018
Once or twice a year we make incremental updates to our Recommended Carseats award list. A couple aging products are usually removed, perhaps a replacement is added. We’ve also added jump links and an improved pull-down menu to allow easier access to each section of the list. The intent of this list is not to exclude the many fine carseats that didn’t quite make our cut, but instead to help consumers narrow down their choices to models we most highly recommend. These 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.
At the bottom is our helpful short list of Editors’ Picks, an award for favorite models rated by our expert staff. 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 carseats in each price range. If you are in a hurry and want to know what to buy, 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 one of our lists, please don’t despair! We’re not saying these are the best choices for every situation. Our lists are simply a good starting point for consumers who are carseat or booster shopping. And since there are no guarantees, we always recommend purchasing at a local store with a no-questions-asked free return policy of at least 30 days, or an online store like Amazon.com that offers free shipping and free returns on most carseats they sell directly. Sometimes, even our favorite products won’t work for a particular family, so you don’t want to pay a restocking fee or $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 minimum 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 often instructed to tell parents that the best seat is the one that fits their child, installs well in their vehicle and is easiest 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 general, while some really are easier to use in general. 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.
With all that said, please take our recommendations with a grain of salt. They are merely opinions, after all, and our criteria may vary from yours or those you find elsewhere online or in print. 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. In fact, there simply is no comprehensive system for safety comparisons based upon proven crash testing methods for carseats from any agency or website in the USA or Canada. In our ratings, some seats were omitted simply because we opted to include a very 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 great products that we have reviewed, but just missed the cut for our awards and are still worthy of consideration. Conversely, we recognize that some models we recommend won’t work well for everyone.
To summarize, our recommendations are a good starting place for shoppers and one of many resources to consider in your search. If a carseat does not appear on our list, that doesn’t necessarily mean we dislike the product or even imply that we give it a “Not Recommended” rating. We may simply not have a full review of it.
We hope you will use and share our recommendations as useful shopping advice in your search for the best carseat for your needs!