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The Best Convertible Car Seats

The Best Convertible Car Seats

By RFD Staff

January 20, 2021

Safety starts from the very first car ride home from the hospital and having a good convertible car seat will keep your infant safe. With a variety of convertible car seats available for purchase, making sure you choose the right one can be difficult but if you do, it feels like a parenting win.

A convertible car seat should always start in a rear-facing position for newborns and infants, but some can adjust as you baby grows. Once you child is between the age 18 months and 2, you can switch the seat to a front-facing position. Many car seat manufacturers have added a little versatility to the mix, designing models that account for a child’s inevitable height and weight gains. We’ve highlighted a variety of models that you can take a look at when you’re making the decision to buy one for your new bundle of joy.

1. Editor's Pick: Britax Allegiance Convertible Car Seat

This convertible car seat is easy to install using the LATCH system. For babies and children weighing five to 40 pounds, the car seat should be installed facing the rear of your car. Once they reach 22 pounds or more, you can turn the car seat around to be a forward-facing seat. Not only does it have SafeCell impact protection but it also has impact protection and V-shaped tether, which helps reduce movement if there is a car accident.

It easily locks into place and releases with a touch of a button, and the straps are easily adjustable. It also has three reclining positions to keep your baby comfy and happy. The headrest is adjustable for comfort and safety and there is a removable pillow to support infants up to 22 pounds.

One drawback is the car seat does not have a cup holder. Also, some users have had difficulty installing it in older model vehicles.

ProsCons
  • Has three reclining positions for comfort
  • Cover and straps are easily removed for cleaning
  • Adjustable 10-point harness easily
  • No cup holder
  • Difficult to install in older model vehicles
  • For older children, there is not much leg room

Key Specs

Weight: 5-65kg
Rear-facing minimum child weight: 5 lbs.
Rear-facing maximum child weight: 40 lbs.
Forward-facing minimum child weight:: 22 lbs.
Forward-facing maximum child weight 65 lbs.
Item Weight:8.84kg

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This convertible car seat is easy to install using the LATCH system. For babies and children weighing five to 40 pounds, the car seat should be installed facing the rear of your car. Once they reach 22 pounds or more, you can turn the car seat around to be forward-facing. The Britax also has SafeCell impact protection, It has side impact protection, which keeps your baby safe and secure inside the seat’s foam-lined shell, and it has a V-shaped tether — to help reduce movement.

The car seat is made of durable, strong, and made of solid steel, which reinforces the seat and keeps it stable in any vehicle type. It also has three reclining positions to keep your baby comfy and happy and a 10-position harness you can adjust with ease. It's the perfect seat that can take your baby from newborn to preschool. The headrest is adjustable for comfort and safety. In addition, for infants up to 22 pounds, there is a removable pillow for extra support. There is also a carry handle.

2. Graco Extend2Fit Platinum Convertible Car Seat

ProsCons
  • EZ Tight universal anchorage system
  • Includes plush inserts and two cup holders
  • Extension panel provides 12.7 cm (5 feet) of extra room
  • Heavy to transport
  • Takes up a lot of space in backseat of car
  • Harness can be difficult to tighten

Key Specs

Minimum weight recommendation: 4kg
Maximum weight recommendation: 65kg
Item Weight: 8.99kg

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This convertible car seat is suitable for infants weighing 4 to 50 lbs. It can also be installed as a forward-facing seat when your child weighs more than 22 lbs. It's made with a steel-reinforced frame and is built to last for 10 years. One big feature about this car seat is that it has two cup holders, which is convenient for longer trips. The seat coverings are fairly easy to remove and they're machine-washable.

3. Diono 2020 Radian 3R, 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

ProsCons
  • Machine washable
  • Anti-slip memory foam for comfort
  • High back booster mode accommodates children up to 120 pounds
  • Expensive
  • Difficult to anchor when rear-facing
  • Heavy and not easy to reinstall in other cars

Key Specs

Rear-facing minimum child weight: 5 lbs.
Rear-facing maximum child weight: 50 lbs.
Forward-facing minimum child weight: 22 lbs.
Forward-facing maximum child weight: 120 lbs.
Item Weight: 11.8kg

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Although it's heavy to transport from car to car, this car seat has all the bells and whistles. It can be a rear-facing seat up to 50 lbs. and it can be a forward-facing seat up to 120 lbs. It has a five-point harness, and the harness pads are made of anti-slip memory foam for comfort and safety. If you're looking for a good car seat that will transition with your child up to the age of 4, this is a good option to consider.

4. Safety 1st Grow and Go Arb 3-In-1 Car Seat

ProsCons
  • Three-in-one: rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster
  • Easily installed with a mini-connector UAS
  • Side impact protection
  • Tension is hard to adjust
  • Difficult to transfer from car to car

Key Specs

Minimum weight recommendation:2.27kg
Maximum weight recommendation:45.36kg
Rear-facing minimum child weight5 lbs.
Rear-facing maximum child weight40 lbs.
Forward-facing minimum child weight22 lbs.
Forward-facing maximum child weight100 lbs.
Item weight: 8.18kg

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This convertible car seat is designed to adjust to your growing child and provide the best in comfort and safety along the way. It accommodates babies and children up to 40 pounds in its rear-facing position and 22 to 65 pounds as forward-facing, and up to 100 pounds as a booster seat. When your child is ready for the seat's booster mode, all you have to do is remove the harness and use your vehicle’s seatbelt instead. Other features include removable insert pillows and harness covers, and two cup holders for convenience.

5. Evenflo Symphony Elite Convertible Car Seat

ProsCons
  • All-in-one: rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seat
  • Safety features include an anti-rebound bar
  • Removable cup holders
  • Straps get tangled easily
  • Straps do not tighten up as easily in colder months
  • No holes for anti-rebound bar

Key Specs

Rear-facing minimum child weight5 lbs.
Rear-facing maximum child weight40 lbs.
Forward-facing minimum child weight22 lbs.
Forward-facing maximum child weight65 lbs.
Item weight: 9.53kg

See Price

The Evenflo Symphony Elite Convertible Car Seat will safely from 5 lbs. to 110 lbs. Simply put, it's the only car seat you will ever need! It’s yet another lightweight model that you can transport if you don’t own a car and its proprietary e3 Side Impact Protection technology reduce impact in car accidents. It’s easy to install and has a 5-point harness system that allows you to adjust it at any time. Other features include: energy absorbing foam liner; 1-hand adjustable headrest; removable head and body pillow for additional comfort and support; a machine-washable car seat pad; and an integrated cup holder for easy access to drinks.

Choosing the Right Convertible Car Seat

When you’re buying a convertible car seat, one of the most important things to do — especially if you own a car — is to get the dimensions so you know how it will fit in the back seat of your car. This is especially important if you’re buying one online. In some cases, it’s good to go into the store and test out a few models to see how well it fits in the backseat of your car. This way, if it’s too big, you can always exchange it or consider a different one that better suits your needs. Also, think about the following:

  • Will my child have enough legroom as he/she grows?
  • Can I easily adjust the harness straps?
  • How easy is the convertible car seat to install?
  • Does the seat fit properly against the back of the seat?

The Different Types of Convertible Car Seats

There are several types of convertible car seats you can choose. What works well for other people doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Based on your baby’s height, weight and age, there are a number of seats that cater to your needs. Always check out the product manual and safety instructions so you can better understand and make the most informed decision. There are three types of car seats to take a look at.

  • Infant Car Seats: These car seats are designed for babies and a generally lightweight; some can even connect to the stroller you’ve purchased. It can safely hold babies up to 22 lbs. Some models also come with a base to safely lock your child in the backseat of the car.

  • Rear-facing Car Seats: It’s generally recommended that you get one of these for as long as possible. It’s the safest position to have your child in. A child’s head, neck and spine are all supported by the car seat’s frame and can absorb most of the crash force that you’ll encounter if you’re in an accident or a rollover. Many convertible car seats can be rear-facing until it’s time to transfer to booster seat position.

  • Booster Seats: Mostly designed for toddlers and primary-school children, booster seats are seatbelt-secured instead of the standard harness you’ll see with in the smaller-aged car seats. Booster seats usually come without a back depending on your choice and may come with armrests.

Convertible Car Seat FAQs

If you spend a lot of time on the road, it’s important to make sure that the convertible car seat you buy is not only comfortable but as safe as possible. There are plenty of commonly asked questions that pull up when it’s time to figure out which model to buy. Check out some of the ones we’ve selected to get more information when shopping.

How Long Must a Child Stay in a Car Seat?

In most provinces and territories in Canada, you’re required to have a car seat that is rear-facing until your child is 22 lbs. After that you can transition to your seat’s forward-facing mode. For booster seats, your child must remain in the seat until the age of 9, they’re 4’9”, or at least 90 lbs.

How Many Years Does a Car Seat Last?

On average, most car seats need to be replaced every six years. There’s a date of expiration that is stamped on the manufacturer label located on both sides of the car seat. Frequent use or sunlight could weaken the plastic and food, cleaners, drinks and other materials spilled on the car seat could affect its performance as well.

Is it Illegal to Use Expired Car Seats?

Yes. A seller could be legally liable if anything happens but at the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to ensure you’re not buying OR selling an expired car seat. Canadian road regulations are pretty rigorous compared to other countries and both Transport Canada and Health Canada discourage new parents and family from buying seats outside of Canada.

When Can I Turn My Baby Forward-Facing?

Eighteen months is usually the minimum requirement but it’s recommended that you keep them in the rear-facing position for as long as possible, especially if your baby still has the appropriate legroom. The child should be at least 22 lbs. before you even consider it.

Tips for Convertible Car Seats

When picking the right car seat for your child, there are a number of factors to consider. Here are some common tips that you can use when buying a car seat:

  • Make sure your seat is tightly secured in the backseat
  • Ensure that your strap is tight and not too loose
  • Check to see that the car seat is flat on the surface of the backseat
  • Make sure that your harness retailer clip is in the right position

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