man strapping child into convertible car seat

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“While many parents choose to use an infant car seat for the first few months of their babies’ lives, convertible car seats are designed to be used for the newborn through toddler years, and for some models, into the preschool and big kid years as well.”

“The seats are designed to be used rear-facing and then converted to forward-facing use. It is thought that you could buy a single seat to last through all of your child’s car seat years.”

The seats are designed to remain in the car. Some families choose to start with an infant carrier seat, where you can keep your newborn in their bucket seat, click the bucket out, and then trade up to a forward-facing car seat, for example.

That said, one reason why parents do opt for a convertible car seat is that they feature higher weight and height limits for the rear-facing position. This allows children to stay facing the rear for a longer period of time, which is safer, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Choosing a seat is a big decision and an investment. How do you choose the best convertible car seat?

Healthline has a guide to help you choose the best seat for your family.

“A convertible car seat can be used at different stages in a child’s life. Many convertible car seats can be used as baby seats, toddler seats, and car seats for older kids.”

The same car seat can be used to fit different ages and stages of a child. The car seats have different heights, straps, and padding that can be removed at different stages.

Many types of convertible car seats can be used to make a high-back booster and seat booster for school aged children. Kids can be in some convertible car seats.

If your car seat lasts for years, or you want to use it for more than one kid, make sure it’s within the manufacturer’s expiration date. Car seat expiration dates are often between 6 and 10 years after manufacture. Some companies, like Britax and Graco, publish car seat expiration dates online.

Convertible car seat vs. infant bucket car seat

A convertible car seat is different from an infant bucket seat because it must stay in the vehicle in one piece. The seat is not removed even though the child is fastened into it.

An infant bucket seat has a base that is in the vehicle, while the actual car seat has a base that is in the car, so it can be easily clipped into the car, or taken out.

“Parents are carrying their young babies in this seat at grocery stores and restaurants. The term infant bucket seats means that they can only be used for the first few months of a child’s life.”

The convertible car seat is larger than the infant seat because it is designed to fit a child up to 10 years old. They are not as easy to move as you might think, and they are not designed with routine movement in mind, as they are meant to stay in your vehicle.

Pros and cons of a convertible car seat

“There are benefits and drawbacks to convertible car seats that will vary depending on your family’s needs, and help determine whether this type of car seat is right for you.”

The pros of convertible seats.

  • They can be used through different ages and stages.
  • “You don’t need to buy multiple car seats.”
  • Installation of the seat is required once.
  • You could save money if you choose a cheaper model.

Before you buy, know that the seats have a few drawbacks.

  • They may not be as convenient as infant bucket seats.
  • These are heavier than infant seats.
  • The initial cost of convertible options is usually very high.
  • They are not as easy to move as other options.
  • “If you don’t want to remove and reinstall the car seat, cleaning may be more difficult.”

Is a convertible car seat right for you?

There is no definitive answer to this question. You have to consider all the pros and cons of this style of car seat to decide if it is the best option for your family.

“Families that don’t want to change their car seats frequently, prefer a car seat that can be used for a long time, or don’t want to purchase multiple car seats may find that a convertible car seat works well for their needs.”

People who need to fit multiple car seats or move a car seat between cars may find these not the best choices.

We used a combination of product testing, real-parent input, and reviews to pick out the best convertible car seats.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $150
  • $$ = $150–$250
  • $$$ = over $250

Best convertible car seat for travel

Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX Convertible Car Seat

  • Price: $
  • Size: 12.76 pounds, 17 by 22 by 23.5 inches

The Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX is an affordable and versatile option for families that travel a lot, or for those looking for a lightweight, easy-to-clean car seat.

The two-mode convertible car seat can accommodate children up to 40 pounds, but it is also safe for children up to 65 pounds.

It is not ideal for long trips in this position because it is not adjusted for rear-facing travel.

The Cosco Mighty Fit is an easy choice for families that are frequently on the jetway because it is lightweight and aircraft certified.

“Our favorite feature? The entire fabric covering is machine washed and dryer safe so you can toss the whole thing in the laundry when you’re done traveling.”


  • The lightweight car seat is easy to carry through security.
  • It can accommodate kids from 5 to 65 pounds in different configurations.
  • The outside is machine-washable and dryer-safe, making it easy to clean.


  • It may not be the best option for vehicle travel or extended rear-facing travel because there are not enough positions for it.
  • “It doesn’t have a lot of head support, so it may not be the most comfortable on long flights”

Best convertible seat for lasting use

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 24 pounds, 21 by 19 by 23 inches

“The car seat is pricey, but it can be used for 10 years, so it’s a good deal. You can buy an infant carrier, convertible car seat, and extended car seat for less than $300. This seat does the work of all four, so you may want a high-back or backless booster, but this seat does the work.”

The seat can accommodate children from 4 to 120 pounds, and it is a 4-in-1 seat. It is designed for children up to 50 pounds. The extension panel provides 5 inches of legroom for the rear-facing position, which is important to keep them comfortable.

This car seat has been reviewed over 6,000 times. One mom who owns this car seat tells us that she is incredibly impressed with how well-thought-out its design is, and that it has given her peace of mind to know that her baby will be able to comfortably face the rear for as long as possible.


  • Can be used in children up to 120 pounds.
  • The footrest panel has a comfortable extended rear-facing mode.
  • It is good for up to 10 years of use.


  • “This is a heavier car seat, so you won’t want to use it in multiple vehicles.”
  • It may be difficult to clean multiple layers.

Best easily washable convertible car seat

Chicco Nextfit Zip

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 25.1 pounds, 21 by 19 by 29.2 inches

“The Nextfit Zip is very easy to install and features innovative zip-off machine-washable padding that makes cleaning your baby’s car seat so much easier than dealing with straps. If you have ever had a car seat incident where you vomit, you know how life-changing zip-off car seat padding is.”

The focus of this car seat is on the outside, but it is built to last and has a full-steel frame so it can be used for a long time.

It has a cinching tightener with simple-to-understand straps and a belt-tightening system that makes it easy to position, tighten, and lock the belt into place.

The 9-position headrest and side impact protection make this a comfortable seat for your baby, but it is a little more bulky than other seats, so keep that in mind if you are limited on room.


  • NextFit Zip technology can be used to zip off layers and convert them to the next stage.
  • Can be used for children over 65 pounds.
  • It is machine-washable for easy clean-up.


  • “Can’t covert to a booster.”
  • “Children over 66 pounds can’t be accommodated.”

Best narrow convertible car seat

Diono 3RXT

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 28.1 pounds, 16 by 17 by 28.5 inches

If you need to fit three seats across or have a smaller vehicle, the Diono car seats are the best. The seats are heavy-duty, with a full steel frame, so if you transfer car seats a lot, keep that in mind.

They have one of the narrowest profiles for car seats around, so they can fit three across or into smaller cars. The seat is made for comfort with a memory foam bottom and a small insert for babies. The Diono can be used for children as light as 5 pounds.

The car seat is made with safety in mind. One mom tells us that she will always be a believer in this car seat, after seeing how it survived a driver running a red light and T-boning her car, directly into the side where the car seat was fastened. Her entire Chevy Traverse was totaled, but this car seat did not budge an inch, and it emerged completely without a scratch.

“The Diono 3RXT has a lot of features for its small frame, including a high-back booster for children up to 120 pounds, and a folding mechanism that can be used for travel. The seat is one of our favorites and with a mid-range price, you really can’t go wrong with it.”


  • Can be used for children up to 120 pounds.
  • It is a good fit for 3 across in narrow vehicles.
  • It folds flat for travel and transfers.


  • A car seat is heavier.
  • The headrest may not be able to accommodate taller children.

Best convertible car seat with hot car technology

CYBEX Eternis S with SensorSafe

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 26 pounds, 25.3 by 20 by 25.5 inches

The sensor technology in the CYBEX Eternis S with SensorSafe car seat is a good choice for parents or caregivers who want to add an extra layer of security. If you want a seat that can alert you to any problems in your car, it might be the best choice for you.

The technology works through the chest clips and an accompanying app that will alert you of any potentially unsafe situations.

  • If the car gets too cold or hot.
  • If your child gets unbuckled.
  • If the child is left in the car unattended, you will get a phone alert.

The SensorSafe technology is just one of the impressive features of this car seat. It can be used in the rear-facing mode for children from 4 pounds to 50 pounds, and in the forward-facing mode for children from 22 pounds to 120 pounds.

The car seat can be used for up to 10 years when used from the infant stage.

The CYBEX Eternis S with SensorSafe has a patented three-position European reclining headrest.

“The magnetic straps that make your child’s seat belt stay out of the way is a favorite among parents. One reviewer commented that it was like an extra pair of hands holding the seat belt out of the way, because you never knew you needed it until your hands were full.”


  • The smart chest clip can be used to alert you of potentially unsafe situations, such as an unbuckled child or extreme temperatures.
  • The car seat can be used for up to 10 years when a child is 4 pounds or more.
  • It has a reclining headrest.


  • The price of this car seat is higher than the average.
  • Some reviews mention issues with the software.
  • Reviewers said that the size and frame may not be comfortable for tall children.

Best convertible car seat for easy install

Britax Boulevard ClickTight

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 29.4 pounds, 23 by 18 by 23.4 inches

The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is one of the most expensive convertible car seats on the market, but parents rave about its ease of use. It might be worth the money if you want easy installation.

“They need to teach that in childbirth classes when they install car seats. The seat has a patented installation system that makes it easy to install. Britax says this car seat won’t need rethreading.”

The car seat has a lot to offer. It has a full steel frame, which is a great choice. The car seat is slim and good for smaller cars, with a profile of only 18 inches across.

The Britax can be used for babies from 5 pounds to 40 pounds and from 20 and 65 pounds.

Some users on Amazon caution against using Britax for small babies, since it is known for being a good brand for car seat safety.


  • The steel frame makes this seat very safe.
  • It is easy to install, with no rethreading or audible click tightness indicators.
  • The cover can be washed.
  • It is 18 inches wide and has a narrow profile.


  • The car seat can only hold children over 65 pounds.
  • This is the heaviest car seat on the list.

Best user-friendly convertible car seat

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1

  • Price: $$
  • Size: 18.4 pounds, 24.5 by 19.2 by 24.2 inches

The Safety 1st car seat has many features similar to more expensive seats for a budget-friendly price.

It can be used as a rear-facing seat for children between 5 and 40 pounds, as a forward-facing seat for children 22 to 65 pounds, and as a belt-positioning booster for children 40 to 100 pounds.

This option has all machine-washable seat padding that snaps on and off, which is pretty convenient. Safety 1st also includes two harness holders on the side of the car seat. This holds the harness in place so you can use it in a toddler.

“You know the moment when your child flops to the side and you have to dig under them to find the buckle? That won’t happen with this seat.”


  • The car seat has three recline positions.
  • It can hold children from 4 to 100 pounds.
  • The seat pad is machine washed.


  • The car seat can be hard to clean.
  • It is difficult to secure using the anchor.

Best convertible car seat for tall kids

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max 2-in-1

  • Price: $$$
  • Size: ‎22.9 pounds, 25.25 by 24 by 19.88 inches

The Pria 85 Max is the only convertible car seat that can accommodate up to 85 pounds in the forward-facing position, and it is also the only one that you can adjust the height of.

The higher price of this seat is due to the fact that taller children are more likely to fall, but it has some convenient features, like fully-removable machine-washable padding and harnesses, and a magnetic chest clip to help with buckled up.

“It has a flip-away buckle, which means it doesn’t get stuck under your child. This would be helpful in warmer climates, as metal buckles can heat up and be uncomfortable for your child, so you should not let them touch their skin until you are ready to put them in.”


  • The car seat can hold up to 85 pounds.
  • It has a one-handed height adjustment.
  • The padding is machine washed.


  • Difficulties with getting comfortable and correct positioning are mentioned in some reviews.

Best budget-friendly convertible car seat

Evenflo Tribute LX

  • Price: $
  • Size: 9.29 pounds, 18.5 by 22 by 25.5 inches

The Evenflo car seat is rated highly and has all the features you need for a child to be in a car seat: It is safe, has all the features you need, and is under $100. You can use this seat for up to 40 pounds or 37 inches tall.

This seat has a wider profile, so you may not be able to fit three car seats across it. It is easy to fit your child in as they grow because of the four shoulder strap positions.

The seat pad is machine-washable, but you have to wash the seat with soap and water, and make sure to let them dry completely, because the seat frame and buckles can be damaged.

The seat is seven different colors and you can choose the color you want. It is a small thing, but if you have more than one child in a car seat, it would be helpful to have the option of different colors.


  • The United States makes the Tribute 5.
  • This car seat is an affordable price.
  • The car seat is lightweight and a great choice for travel.


  • It can only be used for children over 40 pounds.
  • There is no recline on this seat.

Best splurge-worthy convertible car seat


  • Price: $$$
  • Size: 26.6 pounds, 22.5 by 18.5 by 26-33 inches.

If you have an unlimited budget, the Nuna EXEC is a great seat that is well-equipped and has all the bells and whistles. The seat can be used with babies starting at 5 pounds and going up to 50 pounds. It is also 18 inches across in width, so you can fit three seats across most vehicles.

The commitment to materials is one of the biggest draws for fans of the Nuna line. It has a quilted leg rest slip-cover, a certified organic cotton crotch cover, and a Merino wool body and head inserts.

The car seat has everything you would expect from a car seat of that price, including aircraft certified covers, Aeroflex side-impact protection, energy-absorbing EPP foam, and easy installation systems.


  • This is a car seat with top-tier comfort and safety features.
  • The car seat is 18 inches wide, which means it can fit three of the seats in some cars.
  • The seat can be used for children that weigh 120 pounds.


  • The Nuna Exec is a luxurious item and comes with a high price tag.
  • The crotch buckle cover falls off in some reviews.

Car seat Price Seat weight (pounds) Weight limits (pounds) Dimensions (inches)
Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX Convertible Car Seat $ 12.76 5–40 17 x 22 x 23.5
Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 $$$ 24 4–120 20 x 21.5 x 24
Chicco Nextfit Zip $$$ 25.1 5–65 21 x 19 x 29.2
Diono 3RXT $$ 28.1 5–120 16 x 17 x 28.5
CYBEX Eternis S with SensorSafe $$$ 26 4–120 25.3 x 20 x 25.5
Britax Boulevard ClickTight $$$ 29.4 5–65 23 x 18.5 x 23.5
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 $$ 18.4 15–100 31.75 x 19.25 x 28.75
Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max 2-in-1 $$$ 22.9 4–100 25.25 x 25.25 x 24
Evenflo Tribute LX $ 9.29 5–40 19 x 17 x 25
Nuna EXEC $$$ 26.6 5–120 22.5 x 18.5 x 26-33

When choosing a convertible car seat, you should look for features that make sense for you, your family, and your lifestyle.

Consider factors that can be considered.

  • Your vehicle size.
  • If you have other children in car seats, you need to fit three across.
  • If you will be transferring car seats frequently.
  • If the seat will be used for travel.
  • Low-emission fabric for certain sensitivities, or easy-off pads for babies who spit up a lot, are some of the special accommodations your child may need.
  • Your budget.

There is no one right car seat for every baby, so find the one that makes sense for your situation, and choose a convertible car seat that is the right one for your child.

Maybe you live in a rural area and need to make sure you are comfortable. If you make a lot of stops, easy buckled is important.

Whatever your priorities, know that any of these seats will offer safety for your little one, both when rear-facing and forward-facing.

What is the difference between a car seat and a convertible car seat?

Children are secured in car seats with a seat belt. It is not safe for infants, toddlers, and some older kids to ride in a car with just a seat belt, as it is not safe for them to ride in a car with just a seat belt. To attach a convertible car seat to a car seat, you need to be at least 2 years old.

The main difference between convertible car seats and other car seats for infants and older children is that they are designed to work as children grow. Adding padding, adjusting the seat height, or changing the orientation of the seat can help you make the car seat fit your child better.

It is important to follow manufacturer instructions when using products.

How do convertible car seats work?

All convertible car seats work differently, but in general, they convert to accommodate different sized children throughout the infant, toddler, and big kid stages. A convertible car seat may require the back to be raised for an older child or it may come with built-in layers that can be removed at different stages. You will want to follow the guidelines.

What age is a convertible car seat for?

Babies can be used in convertible car seats. Boosters can be used with older children, and some convertible car seats can be used that way. You should always check the weight and height of the car seat you choose for your child.

What is a convertible infant car seat?

A convertible infant car seat can be used in the newborn and infant stage and adjusted so it can be used for the child as they grow. These are not the same as infant bucket car seats, which only work when the baby is small.

What is the difference between a convertible car seat and an infant car seat?

“An infant car seat can only be used in the first few months of a baby’s life and can be removed easily in and out of a vehicle via a secure, separate base that’s installed on a seat.”

The convertible car seats can be used for older children because they can convert to accommodate different sizes, and for newborns because they stay in the car at all times. It is important to read the instructions and convert the seats yourself.

The best seat for your child is one that fits their height and weight, is installed in your car correctly, and is used correctly every time.

We hope this guide will help you choose a seat that you can rely on.