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.
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
We began by examining online customer reviews and existing media coverage, including BabyGearLab and Car Seats for the Littles. We also spoke with industry representatives at the 2018 Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association baby show in Washington, DC. That left us with a list of over 40 booster models, including those that convert from high-back to backless and those that are high-back or backless only.
With 3 recline positions and a rethread-only infant harness, getting your child strapped in correctly could pose a challenge. Some parents reported that the seat flopped around and they couldn’t get a proper incline angle to fully support the baby’s head when sleeping. This could be due to the type of backseat (i.e. bucket seats), so if you have a sports or compact car, this car seat may not work well for you.
Black fabric will hide stains better, but there are a wide variety of colors and patterns depending on the brand of car seat. Even the budget-friendly seats have a nice selection. The premium-priced seats usually have the best quality fabric and padding. They’re less likely to tear, pill and fade. We’ve found that breathability doesn’t depend much on price, however.
Our comments: Once you’ve read the directions, have the anti-rebound bar attached and you’ve had some practice installing the seat to master the learning curve – 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. See our full review of the Clek Foonf here and our full review of the Clek Fllo here.
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 our Amazon Storefront 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.
For infant car seats, height and weight limits vary greatly, with many of them topping out at about 25 – 30 pounds. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) now recommends that children ride rear-facing for as long as possible (as opposed to 2 years old). So car seat manufacturers are designing more infant seats with higher weight limits of 35 pounds and more. This allows extended rear-facing well past 2 years for most children.
Ease of Use: This is probably the most important factor to consider when purchasing a new car seat. You do not want to deal with a frustrating latch, annoying seat belt mechanism, clumsy chest clips, two-hands required handle folding, or an uncomfortable carrying handle multiple times a day. You won't care if you have the most stylish car seat on the market if you pinch your finger every time you fold down the handle, or find yourself cursing at the chest buckle while your baby is screaming. To put together our list of the best infant car seats, we tried out over two dozen options, putting them to the test with both calm and wiggly babies, with summer and winter outfits, and made sure they were not only intuitive to use, but also easy to buckle, unbuckle, attach to and detach from the base, adjust incline, rotate the handle, adjust the sun visor, and remove the cover for washing. In general, we found the pricier car seat options were the ones that are more user-friendly, but that doesn't mean you need to break the bank. There are some really great options for under $150.
Convert from a high-back to backless booster: Some families may want to keep spare lighter, more portable backless boosters around for carpools, but we wanted seats that would meet a range of needs for a longer period of time, which can be achieved with a seat that converts from high-back to backless. A seat designed to adjust or expand to better accommodate an older and larger-sized kid is a plus.
Hold. The. Phone! Fellow parents, the Orbit Baby G3 turns the convertible car seat world on its head. Walk with me through these awesome features: Not only does the G3 boast side-impact protection, side impact braces, and a 5-point harness, but it also features non-toxic, Brominated Flame Retardant/BFR-free fabrics and is the world’s first convertible car seat to dock onto a stroller and rocker. Hello, beautiful.
About $200, depending on color and pattern options. Though we've placed the Chicco KeyFit at #3 on our list for 2019, let's be clear that realistically you will likely be very happy with any of the top three to five infant car seats, and a lot of the decision comes down to preference. The Chicco KeyFit comes with a base that attaches into your car using either the Latch system or the conventional seat belt. We actually found that attaching and detaching this seat from the base was a bit easier than most others, making it easy to move around, and it only weighs 16 pounds overall (9-pound seat + 7-pound base; lighter than many). But of course, realize that other heavier infant car seats are probably heavier because they either have some additional safety technology (like the SafeCell tech and steel-reinforced frame in the Britax B-Safe), and might support heavier babies up to 35 pounds (like the Fit2), which makes those seats bigger and heavier by necessity. But Chicco didn't skimp on safety and convenience here, using premium LATCH connectors, EPS energy-absorbing foam, and RideRight bubble-level indicators to make sure you get a good install. The form and fit of this infant car seat are very good, and we really appreciated the soft-touch fabrics and trim. With the infant insert it can support very small infants down to 4 pounds. Unlike the Fit2 which can support babies up to 35 pounds and about 2 years old, the KeyFit 30 is better for babies up to about 1 year old or 30 pounds. So it's a great seat to use during the first year, which is the time when you'll want to be able to carry your baby around in the seat; after the first year, it will be a good time to upgrade to one of our best convertible car seats. Note that while the Chicco KeyFit infant car seat has multiple shoulder strap positions, it only has one crotch buckle position (many others have 2 crotch buckle positions). The shoulder straps are not adjustable without rethreading, though this is a feature you usually only get with more expensive units, like the Fit2, Peg Perego, or Britax B-Safe Elite. We thought the Chicco KeyFit's shoulder straps were better than several others on this list, mostly because they are a bit wider and therefore aren't as prone to twisting. However, the canopy is much smaller than some others, making it harder to fully cover the baby. This was one of the bigger drawbacks of the Chicco, as we tend to use the canopy quite a bit: for sunny days, for napping, and for rain or snow. You'll be fine until you want to cover more of your baby's body from the rain. Note that Chicco recently released a Chicco KeyFit 30 Zip Air Infant Car Seat, which uses a similar highly breathable technical fabric to the Britax Ultra Cool Flow. Overall, this is one of the best infant car seats on the market today, and we think it has a lot of great things going for it, at a very reasonable price. And the Magic infant car seat color is very popular right now, though there are several colors to choose from. Interested? You can check out the Chicco KeyFit 30 here.
The Britax Boulevard is an excellent car seat that will accommodate your newborn (5+ pounds) through her preschool and elementary years (up to 65 pounds). The Boulevard sports all the standard Britax safety characteristics, like the energy-absorbing Versa-Tether, true side-impact protection, SafeCell technology, and steel bars, and has additional comfort features, including a tangle-free five-point harness that never needs to be re-threaded.
Every time you put your infant in a car seat, you’ll be using a harness and chest clip. You’ll have to tighten the straps enough to secure the baby. Look for clips, buckles and straps that are simple to use and tighten. They should be intuitive enough to use without having to consult a manual. No-rethread harnesses are wonderful for adjusting the harness height as baby grows.
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. 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 Marathon CT here, full review of the Britax Boulevard CT here. See our full review of the Britax Advocate CT with ARB here.
Police can and will enforce car seat laws as a secondary offense. Harried parents and other caregivers may decide that a quick trip to the grocery store or local park doesn't require bundling the child in a rear-facing car seat and harness. But in the eyes of the law, there are very few excuses for putting a child at such risk. Drivers pulled over for minor traffic infractions can also be ticketed for violating child seat laws if the officer notices an improperly restrained child.
Once your little one grows too big for their car seat is it important to move to the next step. Booster seats for the car are important for your child’s safety. They come in multiple colours and patterns to match your child’s personality. Add some of the accessories to make the car journey more enjoyable. Follow the guidelines for weight requirements for the different types and brands. Save money and live better.
I’ve reported on car seats for Wirecutter for over a year, writing the infant and convertible car seat guides. I worked for almost a decade on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Commerce and am familiar with government rules and regulations of the type that affect car seat safety. My reporting on policy and parenting has appeared in outlets including Slate, The Washington Post, Health Affairs, and Marie Claire. My two kids, ages 5 and 2, aren’t yet in booster seats, but I’d be confident placing them in any of the Wirecutter picks below.
The seat is narrow enough that you can fit it comfortably in the backseat with other car seats or older passengers. A longer seat bottom and expandable sides provide extra leg room so that your child isn’t cramped. The best thing is that the seat folds flat for storage and comes with a protective bag so that you can easily transport it for plane rides or store it until you need it again.
A. For safety reasons, a booster seat should always go in the back of the car. In fact, in some states it's illegal for kids under a certain age to ride in a booster seat in the front of a vehicle. If it has a full three-point seat belt, the center rear seat is the safest spot in a car to position a booster seat. However, in many cars the center rear seat only has a lap belt. In this case, position the booster seat either in the left or right rear seat.
You might already know that the backseat is safer than the front, but just how much safer required some investigation. Enter the researchers from University of Buffalo who studied crash-related fatalities in relation to seat location. It turns out the backseat is 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seat. More astounding (at least to us) is that the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats in the back.