When considering a convertible car seat, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost is the overall safety of the baby. How much padding is there? How will the seat hold up in an accident? Will the strap cause a rash or cut during seating or in an accident? Also important is transport and size. Will the car seat be used in more than one vehicle? Or will is primarily be stationary? If things like strollers and vehicles of relatives/partners are going to be in play, a unit that is transportable and easy to get set is key. Here are five best convertible car seat reviews, with the good and bad for each.
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat, Saturn
Value for your money- that is the name of the game with the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat. As anything found for sale in this category should be, this product meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety guidelines. The shoulder harness has multiple positions, which allows for continued use as your infant grows and develops. The head pillow is removable- a nice feature because as babies get older, keeping them comfortable in the car can be quite a challenge. The seat can be rear-faced for children up to 35 pounds although with small babies it can be nerve-racking just to have such a cheap product responsible for the safety of your child.
This product is on the cheap and fragile side. If an accident happens, it is not the most dependable or sturdy- a major issue. Driving with babies in an issue that should not be taken lightly, and caution should always be taken- make sure to buckle the child in very tightly in order to maximize the safety components of this unit. For extra sturdiness, drive primarily in the largest vehicle you have available so as to increase your ability to position the unit well and allow for extra cushion. There is no cloth guard on the chest strap. Tying or wrapping a piece of cloth can be a good addition to increase comfort and reduce the risk of a bruise.
Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat, Glacier
Graco Contender 65 is top of the line. Rear-facing infants can utilize the unit up to 40 pounds, and the unit is accessible up to 60 pounds when facing forwards- this provides a definitive advantage over other units, many of which only hold up to 40 or 45-pound infants. There is a good amount of cushion around the neck and head area, a strong plus and one of the Graco Contender’s best features. When driving, you will feel confident in your child’s safety. Graco’s ‘5-point harness system’ shows their true dedication to safety. While the price point is higher, the peace of mind that comes with the safety features is worth it. This unit is still much cheaper than premium car seats. The spend is unmatched by the majority of convertible car seats on the market. Thick foam cushions line the entire seat.
When rear facing, the unit is easy to maneuver after a few tries. At first, it can be tough to want to let go completely and trust that your child is safe, but fiddle around with it for a bit until you have complete stability. Another downside here is that the unit does not recline. While this is inconvenient, the unit is flyable and can be the perfect way to fly with small children. If your child spits up or has an accident, the cover can be removed and washed easily. Another strong feature is the removable pad underneath the baby’s bottom. The cup holder is useful and the unit is very lightweight- allowing for easy transport and storage. Once your children have outgrown it, you should have no problem selling or handing down the unit. All things considered, the Graco Contender 65 is a dependable car seat that is provides excellent safety features in the mid-price level range.
Disney APT Convertible Car Seat, Mouseketeer Minnie
Disney APT Convertible Car Seat is cheap and will not work for infants over 40 pounds. While Disney has put its name on it and that has a large appeal in many ways, your children’s safety should not be compromised simply for the sake of nostalgia or fun. The unit does have side impact protection and is usable in rear and front facing situations. It is not a very large car seat so it can fit quite well in smaller vehicles and the size allows for easy transport and moving, ideal for families that use multiple cars to transport their infant. The pillow can be removed and washed easily, but the rest of the unit is not as easily cleaned as nicer car seats. The head rest is in the shape of Minnie Mouse, and the ears can be tough to attach- look for the little black flaps on the back of them that connects to the seat belt holes above the shoulders. There seems to be less padding on this product than other units but that apparently does not affect child comfort.
Another issue with this car seat is that if your child is on the larger side, the belt may not stretch out enough to fit comfortably. Because of regulations, the manufacturer cannot offer a longer seatbelt. It is not advised to attempt tampering with the belt yourself due to safety issues that may be compromised, so keep this in mind before making a purchase. If problems with seat adjustment occur, a product called Diono Sit Rite Car Seat Installation Aid can be bought for very cheap and will assist in making sure that the right seating angle is attained and ensure maximized safety and stability for the child. Overall, this product is not the best available and while the price is convenient, your child will soon outgrow it, leaving you needing to purchase another car seat. Car seats that fit larger children are typically more expensive, so keep that in mind.
Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat, Coda
Graco offers long-term stability and dependability with the My Ride 65 LX. This unit fits children rear facing from 5 to 40 pounds, and front facing from 20 to 65 pounds. It is quite tall and large- 26 by 20.5 by 27 inches and weighing 15.7 pounds. Given its size, it remains relatively light and easy to transport. Despite its size, it still manages to fit on most mid to large sized airplanes and in a vast majority of cars and trucks- the only ones that may cause a struggle are compacts like Mini Coopers and Beetles (which, of course, are not the best for babies and infants anyway). It can be installed using normal seatbelts without the latch, allowing for flexibility as the child grows without compromising stability or any of the overall safety features.
What is very nice about the My Ride 65 and generally all of Graco’s car seats is the company’s commitment to exceeding safety standards. The five-point harness is adjustable and easy to secure and remove. The seat is adjustable to growing children and is LATCH-equipped. At $89.42* this unit is worth the investment because you are getting everything possible including safety, comfort, and easy to use features. It may wobble a bit until you find just the spot for it in your vehicle- this is standard with these mass-produced items. It can also seem a bit tight width wise if your child grows in that direction quicker than in height. While the odds are small that this will be an issue, it is something worth considering if that is the case. The unit is easy on the handler as far as comfort- it will not scratch up your hands or require a great deal of time bending over to install in the vehicle. For those planning to use the same car seat for an extended period of time, this can be a viable option.
Graco 4ever All-in-One Car Seat, Studio
Typically, when the phrase ‘what you see is what you get’ is brought up, it implies something standard or even sub-par. Not the case with the Graco 4ever All-in-One car seat. With a decent upfront investment of a few hundred dollars (less if you find a good sale), the user will be set for the entire duration of their infant’s car seat needs. Plus, this product is durable and sturdy enough to last through the use of multiple children- saving time, money, and energy. Up to ten years of use and accommodating children up to 120 pounds with the booster seat, this product is the real deal. The booster seat sits in high back belt-positioning mode, comfortably and safely holding children up to 100 pounds. The product features two cup holders and Graco’s standard InRight Latch system. Graco brags about the 1-second install- and they are not lying. It is incredibly easy to get this unit set up in your vehicle and feel confident in your child’s safety.
The downside here is that the 4ever All-in-One is meant to be installed and left inside the vehicle. It does not transport easily and it is not possible to transport with a child in it. It is not possible to use this unit in a stroller. It will also not fit into a click to connect base. It is called the All-in-One for a reason: the product is meant to be self-sufficient and serve its purpose without outside help. That being said, you will not find a better product to keep in your truck, car, or van. It sits comfortably with great stability and anchors the child securely from the sides, bottom, and back. If you have a large truck or SUV, it is possible to fit two of these units side by side on a longer seat and not compromise any of the safety. It can be tough accomplishing this in smaller cars and compacts, however. They may rub up against one another going around sharp turns.
The Disney APT Convertible should not be considered further due to the lack of padding. Two products clearly stand out here because of their on-board safety features and long term durability. First is the Graco 4ever All-In-One. This unit is everything you need in one place- newborn to toddler, soft and safe, easy to use, and long lasting. One higher up-front investment prevents further spending down the line, and the product can definitely be used by multiple children and easily sold or given to someone else when you are finished with it. There is little downside to the 4ever All-in-One other than its unease of transport.
The other strong option here is the Graco Contender 65 Convertible. While not containing quite as vast of performance spectrum as the 4ever All-in-One, the Contender provides everything needed to keep a baby safe and not have to stress about transport. Plus, this unit is smaller and easier to move around than the 4ever All-in-One. For those using multiple cars, perhaps that of a grandparent or friend, to transport the baby, this is a good option because of the size and quick install. The Evenflo Tribute LX offers most of these features and safety but is not as sturdy of a unit. When paying for the Graco name, you really do get what you pay for.
Convertible car seats are not something to be taken lightly. Ensuring the best safety for your child as well as maintaining some level of convenience and peace of mind for yourself is critical, especially when more than one baby is on the mind (or in place!). Go with Graco- and save yourself the headache of having to return a convertible car seat that does not cut it or that does not provide optimal safety. For long-term use in one consistent vehicle or little moving around of the unit, the 4ever All-in-One is the way to go. If more vehicles are at play or access to a stroller or other modes of transportation are necessary, the Contender 65 Convertible is the best option. Either way, a purchase now will provide long-term security and comfort not only for your baby but for you.