Selecting the perfect convertible car seat for your child is an important decision: you’ll want to make sure your child is both safe and comfortable while travelling. Convertible car seats are a great option in this case, as they allow you to tick both those boxes, but even better, they also adapt to fit the changing needs of your growing child.
We all know that the costs of clothes, diapers and childcare for your babies can quickly add up. So finding a convertible car seat which can potentially see your child through from birth to around age 8-10 is definitely a wise investment.
We reviewed dozens of convertible car seats to identify the best of the best. We looked at features including how long your child can stay rear-facing, ease of installation, whether or not the car seat can also be used as a booster, and additional extras like cup holders and washable covers.
Top pick – Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat, Binx (Baby Product)
This innovative car seat is packed full of features and allows your child to remain rear-facing until around age 2
Our top pick, the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat stood out as a clear winner. This seat includes many great features, including an extension panel which provides additional leg room for your child when they’re rear facing. The harness system is easy to adjust, while the LATCH attachment means this seat is easily secu
The 5 Top-Rated Convertible Car Seats
1. Our Top Pick: Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
The Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat takes our place as Top Pick, thanks to its wide range of great features, and large number of positive reviews. The innovative 4-position extension panel at the base of the car seat provides an extra 5 inches of legroom for your child, allowing them to stay in the safest, rear-facing position for as long as possible.
Adapting this car seat to fit the needs of your growing child couldn’t be easier. The Simply Safe Adjust Harness System allows you to adjust the headrest and harness height in one easy move. The Fuss Free harness storage system is also a great idea – simply secure the buckles and harness to the sides of the seat, to make getting your little one in and out a breeze.
This seat also comes with twin cup holders, which are an excellent feature for long car journeys, or during the summer when you want to make sure your child has access to water on car trips. This car seat also has a LATCH attachment and can be safely installed in seconds. The Grace Extend2Fit is a great value for money option from one of the top car seat brands.
2. Our Runner Up Pick: Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat
The Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is our Runner Up Pick. This car seat uses Britax’s ClickTight installation system to make securing the car seat as simple and quick as fastening a seat belt. The 14-position harness and 2-position buckle work together to provide a great level of comfort for your child.
This seat also has 7 different recline positions, so you can find the best one to suit your child. The deep energy-absorbing shell of this car seat helps to shield your child from side impacts, should a crash occur. The combination of plush foam padding and soft fabric gives an excellent level of comfort too.
Reviewers comment that this seat is quick and easy to install in a wide variety of different makes and model of car, and the ClickTight system is great for ensuring it’s properly secured.
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat Key Features:
- Rear-facing from 5-40 pounds
- Forward-facing from 20-65 pounds
- Safe and easy installation
- Made in the USA
3. Best Budget Pick: Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Coming in at well under $100, the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat still provides lots of great features to make it both easy, and safe to use. This car seat meets or exceeds all Federal Safety Standards. The 4 shoulder strap positions are designed to make it easy to adjust to your growing child. This is combined with the easy to access upfront buckle release which makes getting your child in and out of this seat quick and easy.
The energy absorbing foam liner provides two functions – to protect them in the event of an accident, but also to give a great level of comfort during long car trips. This convertible car seat comes with the LATCH system for easy installation. As a bonus for parents who travel a lot, this car seat is also lightweight meaning taking it through airports or transferring to different cars is easy.
Evenflo Tribute LX Key Features:
- Rear-facing from 5-30 pounds
- Front-facing from 22-40 pounds
- Compact, folding cup holder
- Side impact tested
4. Best Convertible Car Seat for Extended Rear-Facing: Clek Fllo Convertible Baby and Toddler Car Seat
The Clek Fllo Convertible Baby and Toddler Car Seat allows you to keep your child in the safest, rear-facing position in their car seat until they weigh 50 pounds. This car seat has a minimum weight recommendation of 14 pounds so isn’t suitable for newborns, but once your child hits 14 pounds they’ll be using this for a long time.
At less than 17 inches wide, the compact design of the Clek Fllo is perfect if you need to fit 3 car seats across your rear seat. The Advanced Side-Impact Protection protects your child using an adjustable headrest with deep side wings, layers of energy absorbing foam, and a metal substructure.
The Fllo car seat by Clek also features an Anti-Rebound bar for use in rear-facing mode. This improves stability by reducing the rotation of the seat. In the event of an accident, this helps protect your child’s head from an impact. It also serves to provide a snug fit, resting against the flat section of the rear seat. This helps to offer more legroom as your child grows.
Clek Fllo Convertible Baby and Toddler Car Seat Key Features:
- Rear-facing up to 50 pounds
- Forward-facing up to 65 pounds
- 1-year warranty
- Certified for use on aircraft
5. Best 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat: Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
If you’re looking for a 4-in-1 convertible car seat, the Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is our recommendation. This one car seat gives you up to 10 years of use, and is the only car seat on the market that we’ve found to take you all the way from newborn to around 10 years old.
The Graco 4Ever All-in-1 car seat offers 6 different recline positions to help keep your child comfortable. This, combined with the 10 position headrest which allows you to easily adjust the harness, provides great comfort and stability.
The LATCH system with its one-second attachment, makes installing and changing this car seat over to different cars hassle free. This car seat by Graco has a large number of positive reviews on Amazon, by users with children from newborns, up to 10 years of age. One thing to bear in mind if you’re using this with a newborn is that you won’t be easily able to carry them in the car seat if they fall asleep.
Graco 4Ever All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat Key Features:
- Rear-facing from 4-40 pounds
- Forward facing from 22-65 pounds
- High back, belt-positioning booster from 30-100 pounds
- Backless, belt-positioning booster from 40-120 pounds
Who Should Buy a Convertible Car Seat
If you’re a new parent looking for the safest way to take your child in the car, then convertible car seats should definitely be near the top of your priority list. Convertible car seats allow you to adjust their fittings as your child grows, meaning that rather than having to buy a new car seat every time your child has a growth spurt, you can simply change the settings of your convertible car seat to suit their needs.
The majority of convertible car seats on the market these days can be used as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat and a booster seat. Depending on which seat you select, you could potentially be looking at around 10 years of use. That’s great value for money!
Important Features to Consider
A convertible car seat should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting the best convertible car seat for your child:
- Weight limit. All convertible car seats will show weight and height limits for rear and forward facing use. It’s these, rather than the age of your child, that you need to pay attention to.
- Suitability for newborns. Some convertible car seats are suitable from birth, for babies of 4 pounds and upwards. For some brands, you need to purchase a cushioned insert which makes the seat smaller. Others include these with purchase. While these seats are fine for use with a smaller baby, bear in mind that the size and weight of convertible car seats mean that they’re reasonably tricky to take in and out of your car on a regular basis. For this reason, some parents decide to purchase a car seat specifically for smaller babies. These are usually lighter, and also come with handles so you can carry them out of the car if your baby is sleeping. Other parents choose to start off right away with a convertible car seat, and use a sling or pram so the car seat can remain in your vehicle.
- Washable covers. This might not seem like an important thing to think about when looking at brand new convertible car seats, but as any of us with children know, accidents happen. If your child spills a cup of milk on their seat, or gets car sick and vomits, the ability to remove and wash the cover of the car seat is a great bonus.
- Method of attachment. Many convertible car seats use the three-point seat belt to secure them in place. This can be a little tricky to get right the first time, but once you’re used to your own car seat it becomes quick and easy. Others use the LATCH attachment system. Both are secure and safety tested methods, but you might prefer one to the other. If you move the car seat between different cars, the LATCH system can be quicker.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a convertible car seat, and how does it work?
Convertible car seats are designed to be used in a number of different ways, making them a flexible and affordable way of keeping your child safe when travelling. Most convertible car seats allow you to start off in the safest mode, rear-facing. Once your child reaches a certain weight and height limit, you can switch the seat around to make it front-facing. The angle of the car seat can also be changed at this time, so your child will be sitting more upright.
As they grow again, the convertible car seat can be adjusted into a belt-positioning booster. These help maintain the correct placement of the seat belt over your child’s waist and torso. Some convertible car seats can then also be changed into a backless booster.
All convertible car seats allow for the head rest and harness height to be changed as your child grows. Some use a system which changes these at the same time, by use of a handle on the head rest. Others require a manual adjustment. In our opinion, those which allow adjustments via a handle are much quicker and easier, especially if you have multiple children using the same seat at different times.
When can a child be front-facing in a car seat?
As a general rule, most cat seat manufacturers recommend that you keep your child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children stay rear-facing until 2 years of age.
It will most likely be the height and weight of your child which determines this, rather than their age. Make sure you’re aware of the weight limits for rear-facing in your particular brand of car seat and use this as a guide for when to make the change.
Where is the safest place to put a car seat?
Most of us know that unless it’s totally necessary, we should avoid placing our child’s car seat in the front passenger seat. Rear facing car seats should never be placed on the front seat if there is an active airbag on the passenger side.
What fewer of us realize is that there are also differences between which seat you choose to place your child’s car seat on in the rear of your car.
As a general rule, it’s best to try and avoid putting your child’s car seat in the passenger seat behind the driver. Depending on where you have to park your car, using this seat can mean you may have to get your child out into oncoming traffic.
If the middle rear seat of your car is equipped with a three-point seat belt, this is generally the safest place to position your car seat. A study published in the journal Pediatrics found that for children from newborn to 3 years, the center seat is 43% safer than one of the side seats.
When should I switch to a booster seat?
There’s three things to check before switching your child into a booster seat. These are:
- Your child is at least 4 years old
- They weigh 40 pounds or more
- Their shoulders are higher than the top set of harness straps within the car seat
If you can tick all these options, then it might be the right time to make the switch. We advise to take care not to make the switch to soon, for example if your daughter has just turned four but doesn’t yet weigh 40 pounds, the right choice would be to keep her in her car seat for now. Many convertible car seats also include an option to convert the seat into a booster.
It’s also worth checking the law regarding car seats in your specific state, or any you’re planning on visiting or travelling through. These can vary depending on the height and age of your child.