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Recommended Carseats

Our detailed reviews and ratings help you to find the safest infant, convertible, combination or booster carseat for your child!  We narrow down all the options in our shorter Editors’ Picks list to help you choose the best child safety seat for your vehicle.  

Updated 10/1/2017

JUMP TOINFANT – CONVERTIBLE – COMBINATIONBOOSTERS – EDITORS’ PICKS

Rec Seats Banner 2015

Here’s an article with some background to these recommendations. Feel free to comment about our list or about your favorite child seats there! If you’ve found our data helpful, we’d appreciate it if you’d consider purchasing your carseat and other household items from one of our links to Amazon or use our updated DEALS page.  This supports CarseatBlog’s mission to deliver the most thorough carseat reviews, and parent perspective on life, kids, and carseats.

Recommended Carseats

This award is a full listing of all of our recommendations for 2017 split into categories. These are based on many factors, including our extensive hands-on experience with each seat as well as the competition in each category and price point. We do not separate this list by price point. Our top picks in each budget category can be found at the bottom in our Editors’ Picks.

Rear-Facing Only (Infant Seats)

Infant seats typically have a base that stays in the vehicle although most (but not all) models can also be installed without the base. This type of carseat is rear-facing only for infants up to 22 or 30-something lbs. and is highly portable. For infant seats rated higher than 30 lbs., almost all babies will outgrow the seat by height before reaching the weight limit. You can purchase extra bases to use in other vehicles, if that suits your needs.

Click here to see our separate list of Recommended Carseats for Preemies & Multiples

Britax B-Safe 35

Britax B-Safe 35 - Stock red

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; impact-absorbing base with SafeCell Technology; unique center-pull lower LATCH strap installation; premium push-on lower anchor connectors; built-in lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; easy-to-read level indicators; extra large canopy; handle can be in any locked position during travel

Drawbacks: Interior space is narrow and better suited to thinner babies who don’t have broad shoulders. Proper installation without base is more difficult than usual and may require use of pool noodles to stabilize the recline angle.

Comments: Fits preemies and small newborns well. Easy to install in a variety of vehicles with either lower LATCH anchors or with seatbelt. See our full review of the B-Safe 35 here.

Chicco KeyFit 30

Chicco - KeyFit30_Midori

Features: 4-30 lbs.; up to 30″ tall; 3 sets of harness slots; 1 buckle position; adjustable base; unique center-pull lower LATCH anchor tightening adjustment; premium push-on lower anchor connectors; built-in lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; small storage compartment in base; EPS foam; newborn insert (4-11 lbs. use only); adjustable canopy; handle can be in any locked position during travel

Drawbacks: Canopy not as generous as some other models.

Our comments: Fits preemies and small newborns well. Very easy to install in a variety of vehicles using either lower LATCH anchors or seatbelt. Easy to attach and detach carrier from base. There’s also a Chicco KeyFit 22 version that has a maximum weight limit of 22 lbs. We have a full review of the KeyFit 30 here.

Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 35″ tall; no-rethread harness with 7 height positions; 2 crotch strap/buckle positions; adjustable base with anti-rebound bar; base has separate settings for infant & toddler; lockoffs for seatbelt installations; push-on lower LATCH connectors; energy-absorbing EPS foam; newborn insert; handle can be in any locked position during travel.

Drawbacks: Carrier is on the heavy side at 11 lbs.

Our comments: We love the anti-rebound bar and the 2-stage base with separate settings for infant & toddler. Fits preemies and small newborns well but also accommodates toddlers (up to 35″ tall) very nicely. Most toddlers could fit in this seat until their 2nd birthday and some kids will fit even beyond that. Very easy to install in a variety of vehicles using either lower LATCH anchors or seatbelt. We have a Complete Fit2 Review Here.

Cybex Aton Q

Cybex Aton Q - Autumn Gold

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 30″ tall; no re-thread harness with 8 height positions; single crotch strap/buckle position; adjustable base with load leg; base has tensioning plate for ease of installation with either lower LATCH connectors or seatbelt; premium push-on lower LATCH connectors; energy-absorbing EPS foam and telescoping Linear Side Impact protection feature; integrated UVP 50+ sun canopy; handle must be up during travel; allows European beltpath routing when installed without base

Drawbacks: Toddler-sized chest clip; carrier is on the heavy side at 11 lbs.; lacks built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations; outgrown by height more quickly than most other infant seats.

Our comments: The Aton Q is part of the “Platinum” series lineup from Cybex and has some unique features not found on the other Aton models. The load leg vastly improves crash protection and telescoping L.S.P. enhances protection in side-impacts. The addition of a no re-thread harness and an improved, integrated canopy on this model are nice upgrades. This particular model will fit preemies and small newborns better than the other Cybex Aton models. Like all Aton models, the Aton Q has a compact shell which means it will fit well in small backseats but the drawback is that it will be outgrown by height more quickly than most other infant seats. Since the tensioning plate does not act as a built-in lockoff when installing with seatbelt, you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this seat. See our full review of the Cybex Aton Q here.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLXSnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite

SnugRide SnugLock DLX SnugRide SnugLock Elite

DLX Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 harness height positions; 2 buckle positions; premium SnugLock DLX base which also acts as a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations; premium push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam; full-sized canopy; one-hand adjustable handle; handle can be in any locked position during travel

Elite Features:  4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall. Includes almost everything the DLX model has but adds a 15-position no-rethread harness, visor extension on the canopy and a rapid-remove cover for easy cleaning. However, the Elite model lacks the one-hand adjustable handle found on the DLX model. If you want the SnugLock model that comes with ALL the available features, check out the SnugLock Platinum & Platinum XT (with cold weather boot) models.

Drawbacks: All SnugRide SnugLock models allow European beltpath routing if installing the carrier directly (without the base) using a lap/shoulder seatbelt. It’s uncommon for most parents to install the infant seat without the base but the Euro belt routing option is a nice feature to have if you travel by taxi or car service often. Unfortunately, the Euro belt routing with the SnugLock models isn’t ideal since the shoulder belt often slips too low across the back of the shell to offer much support. This isn’t a deal breaker for most parents who use the base 99% of the time but if you are in the 1% who frequently install without the base, it’s something to be aware of. You can still install the carrier directly to the vehicle with seatbelt using the standard belt routing if you’re not happy with the Euro routing. We have more details and pictures of the issue in our full review.

Our comments: Don’t confuse these specific SnugRide SnugLock models with any of the other current Graco SnugRide models available (there are multiple Click Connect and SnugLock versions with various specs and features). The SnugRide SnugLock 35 DLX & Elite models both come with the premium SnugLock DLX base that we prefer. Both the DLX & Elite models fit preemies and small newborns well. Both have a tall shell so they also fit older babies and smaller toddlers well. The DLX model is currently only available at Babies R Us and BuyBuyBaby for MSRP $199.99. The MSRP on the Elite SnugLock model is $219.99 but it can often be found online for less.  See our full review of the SnugRide SnugLock 35.

Nuna PIPA

nuna-pipa-infant-car-seat-scarlet

Features: 4-32 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 3 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle position; adjustable base with load leg; rigid lower LATCH connectors; built-in lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; EPS foam & memory foam; newborn insert and separate low birthweight pillow insert; best-in-class canopy with “Dream Drape”; handle can be in any locked position during travel; allows European beltpath routing when installed without base

Drawbacks: Most vehicles don’t have dedicated lower LATCH anchors for the center seating position (although there are some that do). Just be aware that if you plan to install this seat (or any other carseat that has rigid connectors) with LATCH, that you will most likely need to install in an outboard (near the door) seating position. You can still install Pipa in the center position, but most likely you will need to install the base with the center seatbelt. Not a big deal since the Pipa base has a nice lockoff but something consumers should be aware of.

Our comments: Load leg vastly improves crash protection. Super easy to install in a variety of vehicles using rigid lower LATCH connectors. Easy seatbelt installation too with built-in lockoff. Harness adjuster is smooth and very easy to tighten and loosen straps. Fits preemies and small newborns well. The only infant seat currently on the market in the U.S. to feature both rigid lower LATCH connectors and a load leg. The “Dream Drape” feature is amazing. We have a full review of the Nuna PIPA here.

Peg Perego Nido

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no re-thread harness with 6 height positions; single buckle position; adjustable base with anti-rebound bar and load leg; push-on lower LATCH connectors; built-in lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; EPS foam; 2-stage infant insert; has unique anti-rebound handle and European beltpath routing when installed without base; huge canopy.

Drawbacks: Handle is recommended to be down in the vehicle. Tall seat so it’s going to take up a significant amount of front-to-back space in vehicles. Carrier is on the heavy side at 11 lbs.

Our comments: Love, love, love that the base has an anti-rebound bar AND a load leg. Should fit small newborns well. Very easy to install in a variety of vehicles using either lower LATCH anchors or seatbelt. One of the few infant seats not made in China, this product is made in Italy. See our full review of the Peg Perego Nido here.

Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air

 - flutter

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; 4 sets of harness slots; 3 buckle positions; “Air Protect” technology for enhanced side-impact protection; energy-absorbing EPP foam; adjustable base with premium push-on lower LATCH connectors; built-in lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; adjustable canopy; handle can be in any locked position during travel

Drawbacks: Since it’s a tall seat it may take up a lot of real estate in smaller backseats.

Our comments: Only the “Air” onBoard models have the premium base with lockoff and the carrier with Air Protect technology. Fits small babies and preemies exceptionally well. Also one of the tallest infant seats so it fits older babies and toddlers longer than many other infant seats. Made in USA! Read our review here.

UPPAbaby Mesa

Features: 4-35 lbs.; up to 32″ tall; no re-thread harness with 5 height positions; 2 buckle positions; adjustable base with tension indicator and auto-retracting lower LATCH connectors; built-in lockoff for easy seatbelt installations; EPS foam; integrated canopy made with SPF 50 material; handle can be in any locked position during travel

Drawbacks: No-rethread harness design lacks splitter plate so it may not be possible to replace the harness straps down the road if you wanted to do that. Other than that, there really aren’t any downsides to this seat.

Our comments: MESA is packed with safety and convenience features and is aesthetically pleasing. The base is a breeze to install with lower LATCH connectors. Seatbelt install is easy too thanks to lockoff on base. This model fits preemies and small newborns well. New for 2017: Henry fashion is the first (and currently the only) infant carseat that is naturally flame retardant. The Mesa has an industry leading 3-year warranty with product registration.  See our full UPPAbaby MESA review here.

Convertible and All-In-One Seats

Convertible seats can be used either rear-facing or forward-facing. They are generally the next step after the infant seat. However, many models will fit average-sized full term newborns well and many parents choose to skip the infant seat altogether and use a convertible right from the start. For optimal crash protection, use a convertible seat in the rear-facing position until the child reaches either the rear-facing weight or height limit. With a few exceptions for the smallest convertibles and/or the largest toddlers, most kids can remain safely rear-facing until they are 2 or 3 years old. Weight and height limits vary depending on the specific model. Convertible seats are more permanent in the vehicle, so you lose the convenience features of the infant seat.

Britax Boulevard ClickTight & Advocate ClickTight

britax-blvdCT-splash Britax Advocate CT - limelight

Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 20-65 lbs. forward-facing; Advocate model has “MAX” side-impact protection features including external energy-absorbing cushions. Both Boulevard CT and Advocate CT models have ClickTight installation system which also acts as a built-in lockoff device for the seatbelt; deep headwings with EPP foam and energy-absorbing headrest; no re-thread harness with 14 height positions; 2 buckle positions; non-twist harness straps; Click & Safe snug harness indicator; energy-absorbing HUGS harness pads; “rip stitch” energy management tether; anti-slip base with impact-absorbing technology and 7 recline positions; optional newborn insert and optional harness strap covers. Optional anti-rebound bar (sold separately).

Drawbacks: Very heavy; LATCH installations are very limited due to LATCH weight limits; if seat is attached with LATCH, the hook connectors can be very challenging to disconnect from the lower anchor bars in the vehicle; “Click & Safe” snug harness indicator may click too soon; HUGS pads can be bulky and annoying if you are using the seat for a newborn or small baby but they are optional for rear-facing so you can remove them if they get in the way more than anything else. Just remember to put them back on before using the seat forward-facing. HUGS pads are required for forward-facing. Models made after Jan 27, 2015 no longer allow rear-facing tethering.

Our comments: Consumers are encouraged to always use the seatbelt with the ClickTight system to install these seats. Very easy to install properly rear-facing or forward-facing with ClickTight. Very easy to use correctly but Click & Safe snug harness indicator feature may not work as well as intended so don’t rely on it completely. Excellent option for extended rear-facing for kids under 40 lbs. Fits newborns very well. If you don’t need the maximum recline angle (for a newborn or very young baby), then these seats do not take up a lot of space when rear-facing so they are a good option for smaller vehicles. Anti-rebound bar (ARB) accessory is available for purchase if you want that additional feature. See our full review of the Britax Boulevard CT here. See our full review of the Britax Advocate CT with ARB here.

Chicco NextFit Zip & NextFit iX Zip

Chicco NextFit Zip 

Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; no re-thread harness; 2 buckle positions; innovative SuperCinch LATCH tightening system; premium push-on LATCH connectors; 9 position base; energy-absorbing EPS foam; non-twist straps; built-in lockoffs for easy seatbelt installations; anti-slip base; ZIP models feature zip-off cover for easy washing

Differences between original NextFit and NextFit iX: iX model is new generation; iX model offers 9-position no-rethread harness; original model offers 6-position no-rethread harness; both models feature lockoffs for both rear-facing and forward-facing but the style of lockoff is different – the lockoffs on the original NF model are a clamp style and the iX models are a cinching style; iX models do not have 2-position chest clip featured on original NF models.

Drawbacks: Heavy and bulky; must switch to a seatbelt installation once child weighs more than 35 lbs. rear-facing or more than 40 lbs. forward-facing (not a big deal since you have lockoffs for easy seatbelt install but not quite as easy as using SuperCinch).

Our comments: One of the easiest convertibles to install correctly with either LATCH or seatbelt. Installing with SuperCinch is so quick and easy that it’s downright revolutionary. Use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 40 lbs. Fits newborns (even small newborns) very well. Doesn’t take up a lot of space when rear-facing so it’s a good option for smaller vehicles. Generous rear-facing height and weight limits. Almost all kids will be able to rear-face in the NextFit until they reach 40 lbs. Well-padded and very comfortable. We love the extra convenience of the zip-off cover found only on Zip models. See Kecia’s full review of the Chicco NextFit here.

Clek Foonf & Clek Fllo

 - Snowberry  fllo-ink

Features: 14-50 lbs. rear-facing, 20-65 lbs. forward-facing; 5 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; dual-length crotch strap; REACT Safety System (Foonf); EACT Safety System (Fllo); steel and magnesium sub-structure; anti-rebound bar; rigid lower LATCH connectors on Foonf (for forward-facing installations only); lockoffs for RF and FF installations with seatbelt; Crypton super fabrics

Differences between Foonf & Fllo: Foonf has rigid lower LATCH connectors for forward-facing; sits up higher when rear-facing due to its unique base; has rear-facing LATCH weight limit of 25 lbs. and requires using the anti-rebound bar. Fllo has flexible (typical) deluxe LATCH connectors for both rear-facing and forward-facing, a different base that sits a little bit lower; rear-facing LATCH weight limit of 35 lbs. and the anti-rebound bar is optional.

Drawbacks: Both seats are very heavy and there is a learning curve involved with both Foonf and Fllo. Cannot be used for newborns or small babies unless you purchase the “Infant Thingy” insert (sold separately) which modifies the seat to fit smaller babies. For rear-facing installations you must switch to seatbelt installation once your child reaches the LATCH weight limit. When forward-facing there are weight limits for LATCH connectors too. It’s too complicated to cover in a brief summary so please see our full reviews of Foonf and Fllo for all the important details.

Our comments: The rear-facing set-up is complicated. These aren’t seats that you can pull from the box and install quickly. This may not be an issue for “seasoned”, savvy CPS Techs and advocates, but could be challenging for many parents. However, once you’ve read the directions, have the anti-rebound bar attached and you’ve had some practice installing the seat – you’re golden. The payoff for your time and effort is that you get one of the most advanced convertible carseats on the market, with unique, high-tech safety features and exceptional rear-facing weight and height limits. Just make sure you understand the LATCH weight limits for both rear-facing and forward-facing. See our full review of the Clek Foonf here and our full review of the Clek Fllo here.

Cosco Scenera NEXT

Cosco Scenera Next - stock

Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing; 22-40 lbs. forward-facing and at least 2 years old; 4 sets of harness slots; 3 crotch strap positions; fits small newborns well; narrow; generally easy to install; lightweight; budget-friendly.

Drawbacks: No EPS or EPP foam; very low top harness slots; sparse padding; basic hook-style LATCH connectors; no lockoff for seatbelt installations but you can use LATCH up to the maximum weight limit of 40 lbs.

Our comments: The Scenera NEXT is a good budget-friendly seat for babies and small toddlers. Just don’t expect it to fit many kids over age 2 or 3. Also nice for traveling since it’s so lightweight. If installing with LATCH isn’t an option then you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt.  See our full review of the Cosco Scenera NEXT.  Also check out our Comparison of Convertible Seats Under $100.

Diono Radian RXT & Diono Rainier

  Diono Rainier - Graphite

Features: Rear-facing 5-45 lbs. (Radian RXT) or 5-50 lbs. (Rainier), Forward-facing 20-80 lbs. (Radian RXT) or 20-90 lbs. (Rainier); premium push-on lower LATCH connectors; 3 buckle positions, EPS foam; adjustable head wings for use with the top 3 harness slots; tether that can be used rear-facing as well as forward-facing; SafeStop crash force load limiter for forward-facing harness use (remove SafeStop at 40 lbs.); infant head support and body support; rubber grips on base of seat; folds flat for storage; steel frame

Differences between Radian RXT & Rainier: Rainier has deeper sides for enhanced side-impact protection, is rated to 50 lbs. rear-facing and up to 90 lbs. forward-facing. Rainier is a little wider than the RXT and less likely to “puzzle” next to other carseats when forward-facing. Radian RXT is more narrow and better suited for tight 3-across situations. Radian RXT is rated to 45 lbs. rear-facing and 80 lbs. forward-facing.

Drawbacks: Both seats are very heavy; lack no re-thread harness; lack built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations; are incompatible when forward-facing in some vehicles. Both will take up a lot of room rear-facing if your child isn’t old enough to use the optional angle adjuster accessory to make the seat more upright; may not fit a newborn. Shoulder belt guides are problematic when used in booster mode and we do not recommend either seat be used as a booster. SafeStop attachment must be added for forward-facing kids under 40 lbs. but must be removed once child hits 40 lbs. (and this process requires uninstalling the seat). You must switch from installing with lower LATCH anchors to installing with seatbelt in the rear-facing position once the child hits 35 lbs. When forward-facing you must switch from LATCH installation to seatbelt plus tether once the child hits 40 lbs.

Our comments: If you want to be able to rear-face your kid beyond 40 lbs., or if you’re trying to fit 3 seats across the back of a narrow vehicle then these may be the seats for you. The low profile of these seats makes it easy to load and unload kids. Forward-facing almost all kids will max the seat out by height before being anywhere near the weight limits. Installation can be challenging in many cases, especially if you can’t use lower LATCH anchors because your child is over the weight limits. In some cases the seat is just incompatible and a proper installation cannot be achieved. Since these seats lack a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install these carseats with seatbelt. The Diono rear-facing angle adjuster accessory can help make the seat more upright (subsequently taking up less space) for older rear-facing kids but there is no other way to adjust the rear-facing recline angle. We do not recommend using either seat in booster mode due to the seatbelt getting stuck in the shoulder belt guide. We have a full review of the Diono RXT here and a full review of the Diono Rainier here.

Evenflo Sonus & Evenflo Stratos 65

 

Features: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.; forward-facing at least 2 years old and 22-50 lbs. (Sonus) or 22-65 lbs. (Stratos); 6 sets of harness slots; 3 crotch strap positions; fits newborns well; generally easy to install; lightweight; budget-friendly

Differences Between Sonus & Stratos 65: Stratos has a higher weight limit for forward-facing and includes 5-position height-adjustable headrest with deep wings. Stratos also offers push-on LATCH connectors, removable cup holders, harness strap covers and an additional “recline stand leg” on base which makes it less likely that you would need to use a pool noodle or rolled up towel to achieve the proper rear-facing recline angle in vehicle.

Drawbacks: No lockoffs for seatbelt installation but you can use LATCH up to 50 lbs.; moving LATCH belt from RF beltpath to FF beltpath is challenging; both seats come out of the box with the LATCH strap routed in forward-facing beltpath which means parents will have to make this adjustment before they can install the seat in the rear-facing position.

Our comments: Budget friendly seats for extended rear-facing! 2 year age minimum age for forward-facing use. Both Sonus & Stratos fit a wide range of kids – from small babies to older kids ready for a booster. Lightweight and great for traveling. LATCH weight limit is higher than most other seats on the market. These seats lack a lockoff for seatbelt installations so you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt. Check out our Comparison of Convertible Seats Under $100.

Evenflo SureRide

Evenflo SureRide

Features: 5-40 lbs. rear-facing; 22-65 lbs. and at least 2 years old forward-facing; 6 sets of harness slots; 3 crotch strap positions; fits small newborns well; generally easy to install; lightweight; budget-friendly

Drawbacks: Basic hook-style LATCH connectors on most models, large gap between harness slots 3 and 4; deep sides make loading and unloading rear-facing child cumbersome; no lockoffs for seatbelt installation but you can use LATCH up to 50 lbs; moving LATCH belt from RF beltpath to FF beltpath is challenging; SureRide comes out of the box with the LATCH strap routed in forward-facing beltpath which means parents will have to make this adjustment before they can install the seat in the rear-facing position.

Our comments: This is the rare extended rear-facing seat available for less than $100! The SureRide is budget-friendly and fits a wide range of kids – from small babies to older school-age kids. Also nice for traveling since it’s so lightweight. This seat lacks a lockoff for seatbelt installations so you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt. See our full review of the Evenflo SureRide DLX.  Also check out our Comparison of Convertible Seats Under $100.

Graco 4Ever All-in-One & Milestone All-in-One

Graco 4Ever Graco Milestone - gotham

 

 

 

 


Features:
 4-40 lbs. (4Ever), 5-40 lbs. (Milestone) rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing with 5-point harness, booster up to 100 lbs.; no re-thread harness with 10 position headrest; 2 buckle positions; base with multiple recline positions for rear-facing and forward-facing; push-on LATCH connectors; EPS foam; infant insert; cup holder

Differences Between 4Ever & Milestone: 4Ever is rated from 4 lbs. because of its infant insert cushion and fits smaller newborns better than Milestone, which doesn’t have the same insert and starts at 5 lbs. 4Ever base has 6 recline positions (3 for rear-facing), Milestone base has 4 recline positions (2 can be used for rear-facing). 4Ever can be used as a highback or a backless booster, Milestone can only be used as highback booster.

Drawbacks: Both models lack a lockoff for seatbelt installations

Our Comments: Either is an excellent choice for extended rear-facing; they’re so tall that all kids will be able to rear-face in the 4Ever or Milestone until they reach 40 lbs. Easy to install in many vehicles but discontinue forward-facing installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 42 lbs. Since these seats lack a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install these carseats with seatbelt. Milestone should fit average-sized full term newborns well but may not be a good fit for low birthweight babies or preemies. 4Ever is better suited for smaller newborns. We have a complete review of the Graco 4Ever here and a complete review of the Graco Milestone here.

Graco Contender 65 & Graco Size4Me 65 

Graco Contender  

Features:  Rear-facing 4-40 lbs. (Size4Me), 5-40 lbs. (Contender), 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; both models have no re-thread harness with 8 height positions; EPS foam; 2 buckle positions; infant insert; integrated cup holder

Differences Between Size4Me/MySize & Contender: Size4Me 65 and its “clones” (MySize 65 & Fit4Me 65) are rated from 4 lbs. because of their infant insert cushion which helps to fit smaller newborns better than Contender, which doesn’t have the same insert and starts at 5 lbs. Contender has a different base design with a flip foot that you move back and forth for rear-facing and forward-facing. Size4Me has premium push-on LATCH connectors while Contender has basic hook-style connectors. Contender is generally about $30 cheaper, a few pounds lighter and its headwings are shaped differently.

Drawbacks: All models lack a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations; can be difficult to get the last bit of slack out of the harness when tightening, especially on a small baby; padding is minimal. Contender has basic hook style lower LATCH connectors.

Our Comments: Excellent choice for extended rear-facing; almost all kids will be able to rear-face in the Size4Me/MySize/Fit4Me or the Contender until they reach 40 lbs. Easy to install in most vehicles but discontinue installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 45 lbs. Since these seats lack a lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install these carseats with a seatbelt. Should fit average-sized full term newborns well but may not be a good fit for low birthweight babies or preemies. See our full Size4Me review here. Contender review here.

Graco Extend2Fit

Extend2Fit Gotham Target

Features: 4-50 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; 4-position legrest extension panel for rear-facing only, no re-thread harness with 10 height positions; 2 buckle positions; base has 6 positions; EPS foam; push-on LATCH connectors; harness storage pockets to hold harness out of the way during loading/unloading; infant insert; dual integrated cup holders.

Drawbacks: Lacks a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations; seat takes up more space rear-facing when the legrest panel is extended; can be difficult to get the last bit of slack out of the harness when tightening – especially on a smaller baby; moving LATCH belt from RF beltpath to FF beltpath is challenging because the cover is difficult to detach at the bottom; harness strap covers cannot be used when child is forward-facing; recline position #4 is required when the seat is installed forward-facing for a child weighing less than 40 lbs.

Our Comments: We jokingly refer to Extend2Fit as the “Shut Up and Take My Money Seat” because it’s a home run for Graco! A top choice for extended rear-facing. Easy to install in most vehicles but discontinue installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt (plus tether if forward-facing) to install if child weighs more than 45 lbs. Since this seat lacks a lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install the E2F with a seatbelt. Should fit average-sized full term newborns well but may not be a good fit for low birthweight babies or preemies. See our full Extend2Fit review here.

Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 & Pria 85

Maxi Cosi Pria 70 - 2015  Maxi-Cosi Pria 85

Features: Rear-facing 9-40 lbs. (Pria 70), 14-40 lbs. (Pria 85); Forward-facing 22-70 lbs. (Pria 70), 22-85 lbs. (Pria 85). Both seats have no re-thread harness; deep head wings with Air Protect technology for enhanced side-impact protection; push-on LATCH connectors; 3 position base; integrated cup holder, easy remove covers that are machine washable and dryer safe.

Differences between Pria 70 and Pria 85: Both seats are rated up to 40 lbs. and 40″ tall in the rear-facing position but the minimum weight limits are different. The Pria 70 model starts at 9 lbs. and the Pria 85 models starts at 14 lbs. The 70 model is rated to 70 lbs. forward-facing and the 85 model is rated to 85 lbs. Both seats have Air Protect cushions on the headwings for enhanced SIP. The Pria 85 model offers harness holders (clips on the sides of the seat that can hold the harness out of the way while loading/unloading).

Drawbacks: Lacks lockoff for seatbelt installations; 10″ bottom harness slots means most babies won’t fit until about 6 months old; recline position #2 is required when the seat is installed forward-facing for a child weighing less than 40 lbs.

Our comments: If you’re planning to use an infant seat first and then transition to a convertible when the baby is bigger, then the Pria 70 or Pria 85 models could be the seats for you. With tall 18″ top harness slots and generous rear-facing and forward-facing weight limits both Pria models are great for extended rear-facing and for forward-facing older kids too. Easy to install in most vehicles but discontinue installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 40 lbs. These seats have rules about what base positions must be used both RF and FF so make sure you read the instructions carefully. Since all Pria models lack a lockoff device for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install these carseats with seatbelt. Both Pria 70 and Pria 85 models have lots of padding in the cover – it’s like sitting on a cloud! See full Pria 85 review here.

Nuna Rava

Features: 5-50 lbs. rear-facing; 22-65 lbs. forward-facing and at least 1 year old (2 years old is suggested); 10-position headrest with no-rethread harness; 2 buckle positions; innovative “true tension doors” for ease of installation with seatbelt (preferred installation method); 10-position base; energy-absorbing EPS foam & side impact protection (SIP) pods; smooth harness adjustment; extension panel that can be used rear-facing for increased legroom or forward-facing for additional thigh support.

Drawbacks:  Heavy and bulky; may not fit newborns well; top harness slots not as tall as many other convertibles; “true tension doors” do NOT act as a lockoff for seatbelt installations so parents must still put seatbelt in locked mode if seating position has a switchable retractor.

Our comments: Excellent overall if you are planning to use an infant seat from birth and then transition to a convertible when your baby is bigger/older. The 50 lbs. rear-facing weight limit gives parents the option to keep their kids rear-facing longer but the top harness slots aren’t especially tall (16″) so it will be outgrown by height in the forward-facing position long before the 65 lbs. weight limit is reached. Rava is one of the most expensive convertibles on the market but the quality and features are all top-notch and the styling and fashions are luxurious. LATCH weight limits are 35. lbs in the rear-facing position and 40 lbs. forward-facing but Nuna recommends installation with seatbelt so you don’t have to remember to switch from one installation method to another when your child reaches a certain weight. See our complete Rava review here.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible

Features: 5-45 lbs. rear-facing, 22-65 lbs. forward-facing; deep headwings for enhanced side-impact protection; 10 harness height positions; no re-thread harness; 2 buckle positions; tether can also be used rear-facing; EPS foam; thick no-twist harness straps; push-on LATCH connectors; premium fabrics

Drawbacks: Rear-facing beltpath is tight to work with. What looks like it should be a lockoff for seatbelt installation is just a “guide” according to Peg Perego and you must still lock your seatbelt to install this seat correctly.

Our comments: One of the few convertibles rated beyond 40 lbs. in the rear-facing position but rear-facing height room is limited so most kids will outgrow the rear-facing position by height before reaching the weight limit. Very easy to install and use properly but discontinue installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt plus top tether to install if child weighs more than 40 lbs. Since this seat lacks a real lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt. Italian fabrics are high-end and luxurious. Molto Bello! See Heather’s full Primo Viaggio Convertible review here.




Forward-Facing Only Seats

Forward-facing only seats can be broken into two groups: forward-facing harnessed seats and combination seats. Forward-facing harnessed seats are seats that can only be used with the 5-point harness in the forward-facing position and do not convert for any other mode of usage. Combination seats are much more common and can be used with the 5-point harnesses and then converted to a belt-positioning booster seat after the harness is outgrown.

Combination Seats

Britax Frontier ClickTight & Britax Pinnacle ClickTight

Britax Frontier G1.1 - stock Britax Pinnacle G1.1BEST-BET-BOOSTER-LOGO small

 

 

 

Features: 5-point harness from 2 years old AND 25-90 lbs.; booster to 120 lbs.; innovative ClickTight installation system; easy no re-thread harness height adjuster; HUGS harness pads; 3 buckle positions; SafeCell technology in base; dual integrated cup holders; arm rests; Pinnacle 90 model has additional energy-absorbing “Side Impact Cushion Technology” bolsters on sides for increased protection in side impact crashes

Drawbacks: Heavy & bulky; Pinnacle model is very wide due to the additional side-impact bolsters; harness adjuster is hard to find at first (it’s set waaaay back); lower LATCH connectors limited to 40 lbs.—but who needs LATCH with ClickTight?

Our comments: Very high weight limits combined with very tall top harness slots will keep kids in a 5-point harness longer than any other seat on the market. ClickTight installation system makes it a dream to install properly with seatbelt and acts as a lockoff too. Requires tethering over 65 lbs. but ideally should be tethered at any weight. 9 year lifespan before expiration. Kudos to Britax for putting a 2 year minimum age limit and reasonable lower weight limit on the seat! If you don’t have the room for the additional width of the Pinnacle model then look at the Frontier instead. The Frontier CT and Pinnacle CT both have a Best Bet rating from the IIHS. See Darren’s review of the Frontier 90 here and Heather’s review of the Pinnacle 90 here.

Evenflo Maestro

Evenflo Maestro Keller

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Features: 5-point harness from 22-50 lbs. AND at least 2 years old; booster from 40 to 100 lbs. AND at least 4 years old; 4 sets of harness slots; EPS foam; 2 crotch strap positions; dual integrated cup holders; lightweight

Drawbacks: Not very tall in booster mode; non-adjustable headrest; basic hook-style LATCH connectors; lacks a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations

Our comments: A nice, lightweight seat for kids at least 2 years old that is also budget-friendly. Tall top harness slots combined with the 50 lbs. weight limit on the harness is enough to get many kids to the size/age/maturity to safely transition to a booster. Just don’t expect them to use this seat very long in booster mode. You can install with LATCH up to the maximum harness limit of 50 lbs. If installing with LATCH isn’t an option then you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt. The Maestro has a Best Bet booster rating from the IIHS. See the Evenflo Maestro review here.

Evenflo SecureKid LX & DLX

Evenflo SecureKid DLX - Grayson

 

 

Features: 5-point harness from 22-65 lbs. AND at least 2 years old; booster from 40 to 100 lbs. AND at least 4 years old; 4 sets of harness slots; 2 buckle positions; height-adjustable headrest; SureLATCH self-tightening LATCH connectors (DLX model); energy-absorbing “e3” foam; dual integrated cup holders; lightweight

Drawbacks: Harness might be a little tight for kids on the top end of the weight and height limits—especially if they are dressed for colder weather. Lacks a lockoff for seatbelt installations.

Our comments: Everything we love about the Maestro but better! Lightweight seat for kids at least 2 years old that is also budget-friendly. SureLATCH connectors on DLX model work really well due to the design of this seat. If you’re not planning to install with LATCH then save yourself a few bucks and opt for the Secure Kid LX model instead which costs a little less because it has standard push-on LATCH connectors instead. Discontinue installation with lower LATCH connectors and use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 50 lbs. Since this seat lacks a built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install this carseat with seatbelt. The SecureKid has a Best Bet booster rating from the IIHS. See Kecia’s full review of the SecureKid here.

Graco Nautilus 65 LX & Nautilus 80 Elite

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Features: 5-point harness from 22-65 lbs. (LX model) or 22-80 lbs. (Elite model); converts to a highback booster and backless booster; no-rethread harness; 3 buckle positions; 3-position recline; EPS foam; integrated cup holder; storage areas in each armrest.

Differences between 65 LX & 80 Elite models: 80 Elite model offers a higher weight limit and a lockoff for easy installation with seatbelt

Drawbacks: LX model lacks a lockoff for seatbelt installations; both models have basic hook-style lower LATCH connectors

Our comments: Current Nautilus models offer a no-rethread harness and a 3rd position for the crotch strap/buckle. These are nice improvements over the original Nautilus models. All Nautilus models are generally easy to install and use correctly although they still have the basic hook style LATCH connectors. Use seatbelt plus tether to install if child weighs more than 45 lbs. Since the Nautilus LX model lacks a lockoff for seatbelt installations you must read your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how your seatbelts lock in order to properly install that model with seatbelt. The Nautilus models have a Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in highback mode.

Highback Boosters

Highback booster seats are belt-positioning booster seats that have a back and head restraint. They do not have a built-in harness and must be used with the vehicle’s lap/shoulder seatbelt. Some models may also convert to a backless booster.

Britax Parkway SGL

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Features: 40-120 lbs.; adjustable “SecureGuard” lap belt clip to prevent submarining; removable back to convert to a backless booster; back adjusts height-wise with one hand; dual cup holders; SGL model has lower LATCH connectors

Drawbacks: Lap belt clip may annoy some children but it’s optional and can be removed.

Our comments: A versatile booster that will grow with your child. Tall maximum height setting. Good head and torso support for sleeping and for enhanced protection in side-impact crashes. Only the SGL model has lower LATCH connectors. Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in highback mode. See our Parkway SGL review here.

Chicco KidFit & KidFit Zip

 

 

Features: 30-100 lbs.; 40-110 lbs. as a backless booster; lower LATCH anchor connectors; 10 height positions; EPS foam in head rest; dual cup holders; zip models have machine washable zip-off pads.

Drawbacks: Minor assembly required; not as tall as other dedicated highback boosters

Our comments: We recommend only for kids over 4 years old who weigh at least 40 lbs. and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. It’s reasonably priced, comfortable, LATCHable and tends to fit kids of different ages and sizes well. We just wish it was a little bit taller! The KidFit has a Best Bet rating from the IIHS in both highback and backless mode. See our Chicco KidFit review here.

Clek Oobr

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Features: 33-100 lbs. with back; 40-100 lbs. as a backless booster; rigid lower LATCH connectors; EPS foam; open loop shoulder belt guides; tall armrests; recline feature when attached to lower LATCH anchors; magnesium frame; has a detachable drink-thingy; Crypton upholstery fabric.

Drawbacks: Wide; heavy; leg depth not as deep as some other dedicated boosters

Our comments: We appreciate the rigid lower LATCH connectors, a “true” recline feature and the Crypton fabrics (on all fashions except for Drift). We recommend only for kids over 4 years old who weigh at least 40 lbs. and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. The Oobr has a Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in highback mode. See our Oobr review here.

Evenflo Spectrum

Features: 40-110 lbs.; 44-57″ tall; at least 4 years old; Lyf+Guard side-impact protection bolsters on headrest; can be used as backless booster; dual cup holders/snack tray; 8 height positions; height adjusts with one hand

Drawbacks: Minor assembly required; it’s wide due to the extra side-impact protection on headrest so it won’t fit well next to another booster or forward-facing carseat.

Our comments: It’s one of the tallest booster seats on the market! It’s also budget-friendly, well-padded and has enhanced side-impact protection. It fits kids of different ages and sizes well. We only wish it had lower LATCH anchor attachments but considering everything that you’re getting for the price (under $60), we really can’t complain. Spectrum is new and has not yet been rated by the IIHS. See our full Spectrum Review here.

Graco Affix

Graco Affix - Atomic

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Features: 30-100 lbs.; 40-100 lbs. as a backless booster; lower LATCH anchor connectors; EPS foam in head rest; dual cup holders; height adjusts with one hand

Drawbacks: Assembly required; not as tall as other dedicated highback boosters

Our comments: We recommend only for kids over 4 years old who weigh at least 40 lbs. and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. It’s budget-friendly, LATCHable and tends to fit kids of different ages and sizes well. We only wish it was taller! The Affix has a Best Bet rating from the IIHS in both highback or backless mode. See our review of the Graco Affix here.

Graco TurboBooster

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Features: 30-100 lbs.; 40-100 lbs. as a backless booster; EPS foam in head rest; dual retractable cup holders; height-adjustable arm rests; back adjusts height-wise with one hand

Drawbacks: Complex assembly required (you’re going to have to read the manual). Armrests require screws to be installed (you’re going to need a screwdriver too)! Not as tall as other dedicated highback boosters.

Our comments: The TurboBooster has been a staple in the booster market for over 10 years. We recommend only for kids over 4 years old who weigh at least 40 lbs. and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. It’s budget-friendly and tends to fit kids of different ages and sizes well. We just wish it was taller! The screws provided in the little plastic bag with the manual (to secure the arm rests) are often lost and they are required, so look for them if you purchase the seat. The TurboBooster has a Best Bet rating from the IIHS when used in either highback or backless mode.

Maxi-Cosi RodiFix

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Features: 30-120 lbs.; highback only (does not convert to backless booster); rigid lower LATCH connectors; thick energy-absorbing EPS foam; Air Protect Technology for enhanced SIP; height-adjustable back; recline option; no armrests

Drawbacks: Side wings are just EPS foam and are not supported by plastic shell making them potentially fragile; narrow seat—is better suited to slim or average-sized kids

Our comments: RodiFix is a unique, high-end booster with innovative features that make it easy to install and easy for kids to buckle themselves. Deep head and torso wings plus the Air Protect cushions offer enhanced protection in side-impact crashes and make the RodiFix comfortable and supportive for sleeping. The rigid lower LATCH connectors are a huge bonus and we like the fact that it only weighs 14 lbs. We recommend only for kids over 4 years old who weigh at least 40 lbs. and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. The RodiFix has a Best Bet rating from IIHS. See our full review of the Maxi-Cosi RodiFix here.

Backless Boosters

Backless boosters are belt-positioning boosters that raise the child up so the lap/shoulder seatbelt fits correctly. The vehicle must have a head restraint for the child since the booster doesn’t provide head support for whiplash protection. Backless boosters are recommended for older kids who don’t sleep frequently in the car.

Evenflo AMP
 Performance - Blue BEST-BET-BOOSTER-LOGO small

 

 

 

Features: 40-100 lbs.; dual integrated cup holders; tall armrests for easy buckling; optional shoulder belt adjuster strap

Drawbacks: Wide; may not fit well in narrow or contoured seating positions.

Our comments: It’s a backless booster with cool, kid-pleasing colors at a reasonable price. We recommend only for older kids who weigh at least 40 lbs., don’t sleep in the car and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. What else is there to say? Well, there’s more to say in Kecia’s AMP Review! The AMP also has a Best Bet rating from IIHS.

Harmony Big Boost Deluxe with LATCH
Harmony Big Boost - stockBEST-BET-BOOSTER-LOGO small

 

 

Features: 30-110 lbs.; hook-style lower LATCH attachments; optional shoulder belt adjuster strap; cup holder can be attached to either side.

Drawbacks: Wide, may not be a great fit on smaller, lighter kids; currently only available at Walmart

Our comments: A great lightweight, LATCHable backless booster. Best suited for kids who weigh at least 50 lbs. We recommend only for older kids who don’t sleep in the car and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. Available at some Walmart stores and at Walmart.com. The Big Boost Deluxe has a Best Bet rating from IIHS. See Kecia’s Big Boost Deluxe review here.

Harmony Youth Booster
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Features: 30-100 lbs.; full-wrap cover; optional shoulder belt adjuster strap; size and shape make it a good option for narrow or contoured seating positions

Drawbacks: Low profile belt guides are easily missed by kids who buckle themselves (and inattentive parents or caregivers). Make sure you route the seatbelt properly under those little armrests!

Our comments: Narrow and lightweight. A great little booster for a great price. Fun fashions that appeal to big kids. We recommend only for older kids who weigh at least 40 lbs., don’t sleep in the car and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. Available at most Walmart stores. The Harmony Youth Booster has a Best Bet rating from IIHS.

Lil Fan No Back Slimline 

Lil Fan LBB - Ohio State Lil Fan LBB - Yankees

 

 

Features: 40-110 lbs.; for kids 40 – 57″ tall; optional shoulder belt adjuster strap; size and shape make it a good option for narrow or contoured seating positions; lightweight; full-wrap cover is machine washable;

Drawbacks: More expensive than a typical backless booster but you’re paying a premium to have a team logo on the cover. Licensing agreements aren’t cheap and Lil Fan has a lot of them.

Our comments: This is child passenger safety for the fanatical! Tons of NCAA and MLB teams to chose from. Also available as a highback booster. Relatively narrow and very lightweight. Fashions that appeal to big kids (and parents too!). We recommend only for older kids who weigh at least 40 lbs., don’t sleep in the car and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. The Lil Fan backless booster has a Best Bet rating from IIHS. We have a review of the Lil Fan Booster here.

BubbleBum

BubbleBum black and purple

 

 

 

Features: 40-100 lbs.; inflatable; extremely lightweight; optional shoulder belt adjuster strap; size and shape make it a good option for very narrow or contoured seating positions.

Drawbacks: Shallow leg depth; lap belt guides can be difficult for younger kids to navigate

Our comments: A niche product. Great for travel, carpooling and tight 3-across situations. We recommend only for older kids who weigh at least 40 lbs., don’t sleep in the car and are mature enough to sit properly in a booster. Newest models have updated lap belt guides which are easier for kids to use. The BubbleBum has a Best Bet rating from IIHS. See our BubbleBum review here.

Safety 1st Incognito

 - stock

Features: 60-120 lbs.; extremely lightweight; comes in vehicle seat colors

Drawbacks: Tab at back of seat can interfere with some vehicle seats

Our comments: This unique “kid-positioner” fits kids bigger, older kids when traditional boosters don’t. Its short stature boosts those bigger kids up just enough for proper belt fit while its plain design makes it look more like a vehicle cushion than a booster. Shorter adults have even been known to use it to improve belt fit! See our preview and kid-written review of this terrific product.

 





Editors’ Picks

This award goes to our favorite carseats in each category. Where possible, we separate categories by cost and limit the choices to one or two carseats at each price point.  If you want to narrow down your choices quickly, this is the place to start!

 

Rear-Facing Only (Infant Seats)
Convertible Carseats
All-In-One Carseats (RF/FF/Booster)
Combination Carseats
High Back Booster Seats
Backless Booster Seats

In many cases, manufacturers make nearly identical seats with different names or slightly different features. For simplicity, we do not list similar products on our Editors’ Picks list. Our full list of Recommended Carseats can be found above by scrolling UP.

For reference, here is an article with some background to these recommendations. Feel free to comment about our list or about your favorite child seats there.

Last Updated: August 2017

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