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2019 Recommended Carseats Update

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CarseatBlog Helps You Find the Safest and Best Car Seats for 2019

Once or twice a 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 not to exclude the many fine carseats that didn’t make our cut, but instead to help consumers narrow down their choices to models we personally 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.

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 no-questions-asked 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 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 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 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. 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 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 great products that we have reviewed, that missed the cut for our awards but are still worthy of consideration. Conversely, we recognize that some models we recommend won’t work well for everyone.

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!

Rear-Facing Carseats With European Beltpath Routing

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European Beltpath Routing

Phil7teds Alpha - Euro baseless installIf you’re not already familiar with the term – let me explain. It references a particular way to install a rear-facing convertible or infant carseat without using the base. European belt routing is only for installations using the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt. It does not apply to installations using the lower LATCH anchors or to installation of the infant seat base. Only some seats sold here in the U.S. allow European belt routing but it has become a popular feature so we decided to make a list of which seats currently available allow it.

Benefits of European Belt Routing:

When the shoulder belt is routed behind the shell of a rear-facing child restraint it helps to maintain a semi-upright position during a frontal crash. Limiting the downward rotation that a rear-facing seat makes during a frontal crash has several potential benefits. Maintaining a more upright angle during a crash means the impact loads are distributed more to the back of the child, which is ideal. The more a rear-facing seat rotates downward in a crash the more the impact loads are applied to the child’s shoulders and neck – as it stretches, pulling away from the body. The other potential benefit of maintaining a more upright orientation during a crash is that it may reduce the likelihood of the carseat striking the back of the front seat or console directly in front of it. If you are familiar with load legs on rear-facing only infant seat bases, then you’re already familiar with these safety concepts. Euro belt routing gives you the flexibility of having the safety benefits of a load leg without having to carry a base with you as you travel.

Installation Issues & Incompatibilities:

The biggest potential issue with Euro belt routing is that some seatbelts aren’t long enough to accommodate this routing. If that winds up being the case in your vehicle – you can install the seat without the base using the traditional seatbelt installation method instead. None of the carseats that allow Euro belt routing actually require it. They may recommend it, but they don’t mandate it. That’s because the carseat manufacturers understand that it’s not possible in all vehicles due to seatbelt length which varies from vehicle to vehicle.

 

Rear-Facing Carseats that Allow Euro Beltpath Routing:

Infant (Rear-Facing Only) Seats

Model Rear-Facing Wt Limits Rear-Facing Ht Limits
Baby Jogger cityGO 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Britax Endeavours 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Britax B-Safe Ultra 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Chicco Fit2 4-35 lbs. up to 35"
Clek Liing 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Cybex Aton 4-32 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton 2 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton M 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton Cloud Q 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Cybex Aton Q 4-35 lbs. up to 30"
Doona Car Seat 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Graco Classic Connect SnugRide 35* 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Graco Click Connect SnugRide ALL MODELS Check Label Check Label
Graco SnugRide SnugLock ALL MODELS Check Label Check Label
Mountain Buggy Protect 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Nuna Pipa 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 4-35 lbs 32" or less
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Nido 4-35 lbs. up to 32"
Phil&teds Alpha 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
Urbini Petal 4-35 lbs. 32" or less
www.CarseatBlog.com  © 2019 All Rights Reserved

*Graco now officially allows European belt routing ONLY with the Classic Connect Graco SnugRide 35. This update is retroactive and applies to all Classic Connect SnugRide 32/35 models. The last of the Classic Connect SnugRide 35 models will be expiring in the next year, so check your date of manufacture if you have one. All Classic Connect SnugRide 32 models are expired.

 

Convertible Seats

Model Rear-Facing Wt Limits Rear-Facing Ht Limits
Combi Coccoro 3-33 lbs up to 36"
www.CarseatBlog.com  © 2019 All Rights Reserved

coccoro euro beltpath routing

 

Updated July 2019

Amazon Prime Day 2019 Is Coming. Are You Ready?

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We at CarseatBlog want to make sure you spend your time and money wisely during the precious Amazon Prime Day hours on July 15 and 16. Our experience has taught us that the big deals go within minutes—you must make up your mind quickly and be ready to click that Buy Now button immediately when you see the offer. Because of Amazon’s generous return policy and friendly customer service, if you see a lower deal later on, you can take advantage of it. As the saying goes: better safe than sorry!

If you don’t already have a Prime membership, you can try one out for free for 30 days. I don’t think I have to tell you how amazing it is to have items appear at your doorstep in 2-3 days (sometimes overnight!), well before you can make it out to Target or Wal-Mart to get those same items. Plus you get access to Prime Video, Prime Music, and more.

Rear-Facing Only Infant Seats

SnugRide SnugLock Oakley KeyFit 30 Papyrus

Are you a new parent or shopping for one? There will definitely be some deals in the rear-facing only section. Have you considered an Amazon baby registry? What do you get when you create a registry? A free gift box valued at $35, a 90-day return policy for most items purchased from your registry, group gifting so multiple people can contribute to gifts, and more. Check it out!

Convertible Carseats

Extend2Fit Gotham 4Ever Matrix

Are you looking for a convertible carseat to move your child from a rear-facing only infant seat to the next step up? Convertibles rear-face to 40 lbs. or 50 lbs. then can be turned forward-facing to about 65 lbs. (there are some that go to 40 lbs.). Some of these seats are categorized as all-in-ones or 3- or 4-in-ones because they also convert to belt-positioning booster seats as kids grow bigger.

See our   favorites.

Extended Rear-Facing Carseats

Extend2Fit Davis Boulevard ClickTight Circa

Looking for a carseat for a child that will let them rear-face for the longest time? These carseats are taller and have higher weight limits so they can accommodate bigger kiddos.

2019 Best Convertible Carseats for Extended Rear-Facing

Combination Carseats

MyFit LE Anthem Nautilus SnugLock Zale

Combination carseats are forward-facing only carseats for preschoolers that have harnesses and can convert to belt-positioning boosters when the kiddos are older and bigger. Are you looking to compare features? We have a comparison feature to help you:

https://carseatblog.com/compare/combination-carseats/

Belt-Positioning Booster Seats

Highpoint Asher Affix Atomic

There will undoubtedly be deals on booster seats on Prime Day. Highback boosters provide carseat-like support for kids transitioning from harnessed seats to belt-positioning boosters; their head wings also provide great sleeping support. Backless boosters lift a child to position the lap belt low over the hips. All boosters should be evaluated for seat belt fit on a child since every booster fits every child differently.

2019 IIHS Booster Seat Ratings

 

CarseatBlog is an Amazon Affiliate, which means we earn a small commission based on what you buy from Amazon (at no cost to you!). These earnings allow us to travel to conferences and trade shows to stay on top of the latest carseat information so you stay on top of the latest information.

Having A Baby? Here Are the Carseat Basics You Need to Know

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Carseat 101

pg hwYou’ve peed on the stick and found out you’re pregnant. Yay! (Or not. Who am I to say?) You’ve gone to Target, Buy Buy Baby, and Amazon.com and registered for every single baby item under the sun that’s plastic and can be sanitized and trust me, it all coordinates, right? Now you’ve come down to the final weeks and it’s panic time when you realize this baby is coming out one way or another and you have to get it home. You just stick Baby in the carseat and go, right? No. Nope. No way, new parent. You are now attending Carseat 101 and there will be a quiz at the end. I have no doubt you will pass with flying colors!

First, let’s go over some vocab you’ll need for the next, oh, decade or so. Yeah, baby, your precious is going to be in a seat for a loonngg time. In chronological order, please:

Rear-facing only infant seat:

This carseat is used for newborns to sometimes toddlerhood. It’s easily identified by its handle, canopy, and left-in-the-car base. The carrier portion fits onto the base.

photo  

Convertible seat:

This carseat can be used for newborns, but is often used after a child outgrows a rear-facing only seat. It rear-faces, then converts to forward-facing for older kids.

GracoSize4Me70newborn2  

Combination (harness-to-booster) seat:

This carseat is for older kids, the kind who order combo meals at fast food restaurants (and yes, you too, will succumb to buying your child a grease-loaded meal item at some point). A combo seat FORWARD-FACES ONLY. It has a harness to keep wiggly kids safe, then the harness comes off (many store on the seat itself now) and it can be a belt-positioning booster. See why it’s for older kids only? It combines a harness and a booster into one seat. You don’t always need a combo seat. Sometimes your child can go straight from a convertible seat to a belt-positioning booster, depending on which convertible she uses and how old and big she is.

Photo Oct 02, 2 20 32 PM  

Belt-positioning booster seat:

This carseat is for kids who nearly have gray hair. Just kidding. Barely. The purpose of a booster seat is to boost a kid up higher so that the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt will fit them superbly over their bones, not their soft bellies. Kids have to have a certain amount of maturity in order to sit still in a vehicle seat belt and that comes around ages 4-6, depending on the child. Most parents find their kids transitioning out of a harness around ages 5-6, when “real” school starts, not that “pre-“ stuff. There are highback and backless varieties of boosters. Highbacks are great for the younger crowd because they provide head and torso support for sleeping. Backless boosters are harder to see from outside the car, so older, image-conscious kids like them better. Kids use booster seats until they can 5-step—fit in the belt like an adult—which is when they get to be the size of a small adult, around age 10-11.

lap and shoulder belt fit  

Let’s identify that you’ve gotten the right carseat for you. It used to be that an infant seat was an infant seat was an infant seat. Basically, all the carriers did more or less the same thing—it was the bases that distinguished them. Now we have carriers that fit small babies very well, some that don’t, some that have no-rethread harnesses, some that have canopies that disappear, and some still hanging around that fit kids up to 40 lbs. There’s quite a variety from which to choose and that can cause more confusion than ever! What’s my very first piece of advice to you in this area? Don’t insist on a travel system. Pick the very best rear-facing only seat that will work for you, then pick the very best stroller you can afford and put them together. Many strollers come with adapters and with a little bit of research on their website, you can find if the infant seat you want will fit on the stroller you want. The patterns may not match perfectly, but you will get a much better stroller this way usually unless you buy a high-end infant seat/stroller combo to begin with. I speak from experience: you don’t want to be stuck with a stroller you hate for years because you wanted to be all matchy-matchy with an infant seat you use for months. To help you in your search, we have both thorough, professional reviews and a list of our favorite seats.

Most of the time you will know if you’re going to have a small, average, or large baby by the end of your 40 weeks. If you and your partner are small folks and come from small families, genetics won’t let you down. Look for a rear-facing only seat that starts with a low birth weight of 4 lbs. It’s the same if you’re having a difficult pregnancy or if you’re having multiples. Fortunately, there are lots of rear-facing only seats that now have a minimum weight limit of 4 lbs., but they don’t always fit the preemie-sized babies well. We have a list of our favorite seats that fit preemies and multiples. If you’re having an average- or large-sized baby, any infant seat will do, though you’ll get more bang for your buck with a larger one. The size of your vehicle also has to be factored in since the larger the infant seat, the more space it takes up in the vehicle.

Now for some answers to common questions: