Buying a convertible car seat is a smart choice when a new baby arrives: It’s cheaper and simpler than buying an infant car seat and then switching to a convertible seat later. However, it can be overwhelming to choose the best option among all the convertible car seats available in stores. Keeping some key features in mind will help find the best convertible car seat.
Five Point Harness
Virtually all new convertible car seats have a five-point harness, which includes straps for each shoulder, each thigh, plus one that goes between the child’s legs. This style of harness is more adjustable and safer than older harness designs. If an older hand-me-down car seat is available, be sure it has the five-point harness design before accepting it.
LATCH, which stands for “lower anchors and tethers for children”, is a safety system that allows users to attach car seats to their vehicle instead of securing the seat using a seat belt. This system is both safer and easier to use. Like the five-point harness, all new car seats come equipped with this system, but it’s something to check for if choosing an older model.
Britax Marathon 70-G3 Convertible Car Seat
This seat stands out because it not only fits, it just feels like a quality seat all the way around. Fit and finish is great, and it seems super comfortable for babies.
Ease of Use
Not all convertible car seats are created equal. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration uses a rating system to indicate how easy a car seat is to use. The best convertible car seat can have up to a five-star rating; models with this top rating are the easiest ones to install and buckle the child into, and have the clearest instruction manuals.
Ease of Cleaning
One might assume that all convertible car seats would be easy to clean, given that children are messy by nature. However, many models don’t come with a cover that can be removed, which can make cleaning a hassle. The better convertible car seats will come with a machine-washable cover that’s easy to remove.
No matter how well a convertible car seat rates in other areas, it won’t be a good choice if the baby isn’t comfortable in it. Be sure the seat is soft and padded, with adequate head support to ensure a pleasant ride. Convertible car seats are meant to last, so be sure the seat will be equally comfortable for both an infant as well as an older baby or toddler.
It’s clear that there are many factors to consider when choosing a convertible car seat. While safety is paramount, convenience, comfort and ease of use are important too. Armed with the guidelines described above, it should easy to find the best convertible car seat to meet your needs.