Keeping children safe when they ride in a car is one of the most important things parents can do. Proper use of a child safety seat can prevent injuries or death in vehicle crashes.
A car seat can be rear-facing or forward-facing, and it can also convert into a booster seat as your child grows. There are many different types of seats on the market, and it can be confusing to choose which one is right for your family.
The CDC recommends that infants stay in rear-facing seats until their head is fully covered by the car seat or reaches its maximum height and weight limits, which are usually around age 2. When your baby gets too big for this type of car seat, it’s time to switch to a forward-facing one with a harness and tether.
Most kids will start riding in front-facing seats between 9 and 12 months of age. When they reach that stage, they’re typically at least 4 feet and 7 inches tall, but may be much older.
They are generally more expensive than convertible car seats, but they can be a good choice for families who plan to travel often or have multiple children in their vehicles. They’re a little heavier, so they require more effort to install and clean, but that’s not really a dealbreaker for most families.
If you’re looking for a convertible seat with a high weight limit, we like Evenflo’s Sonus 65. It’s available in a green version that’s Greenguard Gold certified for low chemical emissions and it can stay rear-facing until your child reaches 40 pounds.
The GH Institute’s perennial favorite got an upgrade this year, with a larger canopy, an easier-to-expand headrest and more legroom to help your child stay comfortable longer while rear-facing. It also comes with an anti-rebound bar for added stability in a crash and two layers of plastic and foam for side impact protection.
This car seat is a great option for long-distance travel as it’s light enough to carry with you and can fit into a stroller, too. It’s also available in a Greenguard Gold certified version, which is good for low chemical emissions and for transporting in airplanes.
It’s also a popular model in our testing, with tons of great reviews from parents. It’s a convertible car seat that can be used rear-facing for children up to 40 pounds and then turned into a booster seat as your child grows.
We love that this car seat has an easy-to-use belt tightening system, and the clicktight installation means it’s a snap to get it installed correctly every time. However, we’re a bit disappointed that it barely passed the minimum federal safety standards in crash tests.
We’d recommend this seat if you want higher-than-average safety crash test results and easy installation, but it’s a little more expensive than some of our other contenders. If you’re willing to pay a little more, it’s well worth the price tag and should provide years of trouble-free use for your family.