Whether you’re using the seat with or without a back, belt positioning is crucial: the shoulder and lap belt should fit over the kid’s thighs and diagonally across their chest, not their abdomen, which could be injured by the seat belt in the event of a crash. The chest and thighs are stronger parts of the body and are better able to absorb the pressure of a seat belt. A 2003 study found that booster seats are more than twice as effective in reducing risk of injury when compared with seat belts alone.
You probably know Peg Perego for its hip, Italian-made strollers, but did you know the brand also has car seats on offer? Excellent ones, in fact: the Primo Viaggio is a highly adjustable, extended rear-facing car seat with top safety ratings and glowing reviews. We love the Primo Viaggio’s safety features – side-impact protection, 10 adjustable positions for safest fit, energy-absorbing foam, shock-absorbing foam, and a quick-release 5-point harness – and love it even more for accommodating children up to 45 pounds for rear-facing and a whopping 70 pounds for front-facing.

We recognize that sometimes it’s just not possible to lug a backless booster—let alone a high-back booster—along when you travel, so for those instances, it’s better to use a travel booster than nothing at all. The travel booster still plays a key role: it moves the seat belt from softer parts like the stomach to stronger parts like the thighs, and across the hard parts of the chest. In a major crash it might not offer additional protection from head injuries, but in a less serious crash it can prevent internal bleeding and injury for a kid. Still, whenever possible, keep kids in a high-back booster until they outgrow it.

Can you use a convertible seat for a newborn? You can, though keep in mind that the AAP and several child safety experts recommend a dedicated infant seat for newborns up to 8 pounds or more. Convertible seats tend to be roomier, so they may not offer a snug enough fit for a very small baby or preemie. Otherwise, if your baby isn’t super small, a convertible seat should fit her just fine.
BRITAX infant/child seats can be used rear facing from 5 to 40 pounds (2.3 to 18.1 kilograms) and forward facing from 22 pounds and walks unassisted, up to 65 pounds (10 kilograms and walks unassisted, up to 29.4 kilograms), depending on the seat. High-capacity convertibles allow your child to stay in a five-point harness through the toddler years.
While we fully acknowledge the disparity between the standardized FMVSS213 test bench and some aspects of the real world, the Consumer Reports test bench is not an FMVSS213 approved bench.  All car seats sold today are designed and tested around this FMVSS213 test bench.  They’re not designed around Consumer Reports’ setup or methodology.  Or around any other well-intentioned organization that may choose to develop their own test setup and methodology.  They’re designed around FMVSS213 and they pass or exceed all criteria for FMVSS213.
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.
An all-in-one car seat is the safest car seats 2019 for growing children. Basically, the seat allows children to get bigger without any constrain. All the while, you just adjust the positioning and layout. However, it is ideal to buy a seat that supports a lot of weight in the rear-facing position. That way, you keep your child as safe as possible!
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
Another stylish convertible car seat from Recaro, the Performance Ride offers the latest in safety technology with the HERO harness system. With HERO, you can be absolutely sure that you’ve positioned the seat to fit your child’s head, neck and shoulders, without the harness twisting and while ensuring proper chest clip positioning. In other words, it’s the safest, most secure installation ever. Add on breathable mesh, memory foam, a comfort pad, and a bevy of safety features, and you see why the Performance Ride makes our list.
About $200-230 depending on whether you go for the regular B-Safe 35 (usually around $170), the B-Safe Elite (usually around $200), or the newest B-Safe Ultra (usually up to $230 depending on pattern choice). The one pictured is the 35 Ultra with Cool Flow fabric. There's a reason that the Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat is the #1 best-selling infant car seat on the market this year, because moms and dads love it, and you can't beat the Britax safety reputation. The B-Safe 35, B-Safe Elite, and B-Safe Ultra infant car seats come with a seat base that easily attaches into (and detaches from) your car using either the Latch system or the conventional seat belt. Made right here in the USA, moms love the form and fit of these seats, and we found that any of these models do a really nice job supporting even very small (4+ lbs) infants with use of the included infant padding insert. As the baby grows, you can remove the additional body and head padding to give your baby a bit more room. The car seat also has simple to adjust head protection pads, a 35-pound weight limit (which is at the higher end of the range), two crotch strap positions (in the Elite and Ultra), multiple shoulder harness strap positions to fit a growing baby, and we found it very easy with the Elite and Ultra versions to make on-the-fly adjustments to suit different size babies. The B-Safe 35 and B-Safe 35 Elite have three primary differences: the elite adds quick-adjust head protection, adjustable shoulder straps without rethreading (this is truly worth the cost), and a bit more padding and higher quality fabric. The B-Safe Elite and B-Safe Ultra have a few differences as well: the B-Safe Ultra adds a European belt path and the Cool Flow fabric option. The European style belt guide allows you to secure the seat without the base using the vehicle's seat belts; this is great for people who don't want to spend the extra cash for another base, have multiple cars, or want to be able to travel (and use a ride-sharing or a taxi) without bringing the base along. The Cool Flow fabric is amazing and provides extra ventilation for the warmer months to avoid a sweaty back and discomfort. Overall, we believe the extra $40-50 is worth all of the advantages of the Ultra version. But all those features mean a car seat that weighs about 20 pounds (seat is 11lb + base is 9lb), which we understand may be quite heavy for some parents. All three B-Safe versions use the Britax SafeCell technology, which combines side impact protection, a steel-reinforced frame, and EPS energy-absorbing foam. Those safety features really set this seat apart from the crowd, and we think it's worth the added weight. Relative to the Chicco car seats (see below), the B-Safe Elite and Ultra have slightly plusher and premium-feel fabric, and we found the fabric much easier to clean with wipes, and to remove for machine washing. The B-Safe also has the same weight capacity (35 pounds) as the Chicco Fit2, but a lower maximum baby height of 32" as opposed to the Chicco Fit2's 35". Related to sizing, in our testing we did find that the B-Safe can be a bit tight in the shoulder area for bigger babies, especially after they are about 10-12 months old. That's the only real limitation of this Britax car seat, though it won't impact you if you have a relatively normal-sized baby, or if you're going to switch a convertible car seat around 12-16 months anyway. A final point is that the B-Safe canopy is larger than most others and truly covers a baby during bright sun, rain, snow, or simply for privacy and during a nap. The B-Safe is made in the USA by a company with a stellar reputation for quality and safety, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, and toddler booster seats. As a bonus, it comes in a variety of colors/patterns. Yes, it's expensive, but we believe the quality, features, and safety reputation are well worth the cost. It is definitely one the best infant car seats available this year, and worthy of this spot on our list (and its spot at the top of our best travel systems list). Interested in our top-pick, the B-Safe Ultra? You can check it out here: Britax B-Safe 35 Ultra.
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.
All of the car seats on our list are not only well-rated, safe, and comfortable, but they also pass the test of time: reliability is very important for baby products, and sometimes the best-looking and functioning car seats can lead to disappointment after a few months. For example, malfunctioning chest buckles, finicky harness adjusters, and rips from poor fabric stitching.  As always, our reviews are impartial and honest, and we did not accept any freebie or discounted car seats for this hands-on review. The infant car seats included in this buying guide are all restricted to use as rearfacing seats, of course, so they will not function as frontfacing car seats, all-in-one car seats, highback booster car seats, or as youth boosters. Those can be seen in our other reviews: convertible car seats and booster car seats. Our best and safest infant car seats range in price from about $80 to $300; if you're looking for something a bit cheaper, we suggest checking out our list of the best infant car seats for under $100, here. Finally, we also suggest checkout out our reviews of the narrowest car seats if you're trying to fit three car seats in a row.
Extended Rear-Facing: You may have heard a lot about rear-facing versus front-facing car seats. Let’s cut to the chase: without a doubt, rear-facing is the safest way for your children to ride. Consider purchasing a seat that rear-faces to 40+ pounds. Remember, just because your child hits the minimum required to front-face (1+ year and 20+ pounds), doesn’t mean she should. Rear-facing saves lives.
Recaro’s reputation for style, form and function live on with the ProRIDE, a convertible car seat that employs serious safety features: a vehicle belt lock-off mechanism (for use when forward-facing), PUR foam in the head restraint, and racing-inspired side impact protection. And rest assured your little one won’t sacrifice comfort for safety, as the ProRIDE also comes equipped with an ergonomic shell, breathable fabric, and comfortable cushioning.
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.

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.
The AAP recommends not using car seats for sleeping in general. Sure, it’s fine to let baby sleep in the car or while you’re shopping. But for regular naps and bedtime, a crib is the safest place for your baby. Baby’s airway can be more restricted in a car seat. They can also overheat, and their heads could develop flat spots if left lying too long.
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.

The Evenflo Symphony is an all-in-one car seat, capable of converting from infant bucket seat to rear- or forward-facing toddler seat and, finally, to a booster seat for older children. Not only that, but the Symphony features SureLATCH® Technology (60-second installation!), e3 Side Impact™ Protection, and safety-tests at and incredible double the Federal Crash Test Standard. And if that’s not enough to pique your interest, get this: the Symphony is a steal at under $200.
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.
With the LATCH system, you use a the car’s built-in top tether or a top strap and the lower anchors (or the seat belt in pre-2001 cars). The top tether is a strap located above your backseat and helps secure the seat into the vehicle, making it less likely to move around if you have to make a sudden stop, sharp turn, or when you are in an accident. It also helps to keep the car seat in place on slick upholstery like leather or vinyl seats.

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.
But here’s the other thing: as parents, we all agree that car seats should be a hot topic because they’re one of the most important aspects to keeping our kids safe. The average family spends a lot of time in the car: grocery runs and after-school sports and weekend jaunts and, well, all those interminable minutes and hours you spend going to and fro, hither and thither.
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.

Do any convertible car seats have bases? The short answer is no. You may be able to find third-party vendors still selling a couple of seats such as the Graco SmartSeat or the Orbit Baby G3, which did have bases, but those have been discontinued. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing these, as the manufacturer may not update you about recalls, have available replacement parts, etc. Convertibles are meant to stay in the car so their base is built into the seat.
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.
Can you use a convertible seat for a newborn? You can, though keep in mind that the AAP and several child safety experts recommend a dedicated infant seat for newborns up to 8 pounds or more. Convertible seats tend to be roomier, so they may not offer a snug enough fit for a very small baby or preemie. Otherwise, if your baby isn’t super small, a convertible seat should fit her just fine.
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