Designed to face rearward (for infants) then forward according to manufacturers specified weight for your child. Usually you should turn the seat around when they reach approximately 20 lbs. and are at least one year old. Some consider this a more economical choice for the first car seat because it can be used much longer than an infant seat. However, convertible seats are not designed with infants in mind so fit will be a problem, as well as losing the use of the infant seat outside the car.
We recommend having your child in an infant seat until they reach the weight limit for that seat and then purchasing a convertible seat to be used until they are ready for a booster seat. While this is a more costly alternative, we believe that this approach will provide optimal safety and comfort for your child. When purchasing a convertible car seat, keep in mind that the 5-point harness system has been found to provide the highest level of protectionin product testing.
Fisher Price Safe Voyage Car Seat
Fisher Price’s Safe Voyage car seat provides the higher weight limits and ease-of-use features of more expensive car seats, but costs well under $200. The deeper sides provide a bit more side impact protection than some other car seats, and the front-access harness adjuster is very easy to use. Twist-free straps and a 55 lb. forward-facing weight limit make this seat a great buy (rear-facing limit is 33 lbs). The top tether can be used rear- and forward-facing.
Graco ComfortSport 5-Point Harness Car Seat
The Graco ComfortSport is a great basic car seat that’s available in several levels of padding and extras like snack/drink cups. Twisted harness straps can be a problem, but parents can smooth the straps each time to lessen the problem. In some vehicles, it may be difficult to reach the harness adjustment strap when the car seat is rear-facing. Note: Graco sells a ComfortSport model with an overhead shield – my recommendation is to stick with the 5-point harness models.
Evenflo Triumph Car Seat
The Evenflo Triumph has some of the same nice features, like EPS foam, as more expensive models, but at a budget-friendly price. Parents say the harness adjustment knobs are easy to use whether the seat is rear-facing or forward-facing. The harness height can be easily adjusted without uninstalling the car seat. A smaller shell may work well in compact cars, but the height may mean tall babies will outgrow the seat sooner.
Britax Marathon Car Seat
The Britax Marathon is an expensive car seat, but many parents say this car seat is well worth the cost. Higher weight limits mean larger babies may not outgrow this seat quickly. The Marathon features EPS foam, built-in locking clips, front- and rear-facing tether, a cushy padded seat and an easy adjustment mechanism for the twist-free straps. This car seat can be used forward-facing up to 65 pounds.
Britax Roundabout Car Seat
The Britax Roundabout car seat also features EPS foam and twist-free straps, as well as front- and rear-facing tethers and built-in locking clips. The harness adjustment on this car seat is consistently called one of the easiest to operate by parents and car seat safety experts. While most car seats only have the top harness slot reinforced for forward-facing toddlers, the Roundabout’s slots are all reinforced.
Britax Decathlon Car Seat
The Decathlon is a scaled-up version of the popular Marathon car seat. Additions include a toddler head pillow, infant pad, 3 lower-buckle positions and a push-button harness adjuster vs. the Marathon’s metal flap adjuster. If you plan to use this car seat from your baby’s birth, skipping the infant seat, the Decathlon is a good choice, due to the infant pillow, which provides a better fit for tiny babies. Rear-faces 5-33 lbs., forward-faces to 65 lbs.
Cosco Scenera 5-Point Harness Car Seat
One of the most economical car seats available, the Cosco Scenera doesn’t offer bells and whistles, but it will protect your baby in the car. The five-point harness model offers simple harness adjustments and a removable seat cover for easy cleaning. As on many inexpensive car seats, the harness straps may twist a lot, and should be smoothed with each use to keep baby safe. Note: Cosco sells an overhead shield Scenera – I recommend buying only the 5-point harness models.
Sunshine Kids Radian Folding Car Seat
The fairly new Radian car seat has a nice weight-limit and the ability to be tethered rear- and forward-facing. The narrow base makes it easier to fit several car seats in your vehicle, but the Radian car seat still has plenty of comfort for your baby thanks to a roomy seat space and forward-facing recline option. This car seat folds for travel outside the car. Rear-faces 5-33 lbs., forward-faces to 65 lbs.
Cosco Alpha Omega 5-Point Harness Car Seat
The popular Cosco Alpha Omega offers versatility and ease of use for parents. The sliding harness height adjuster means you don’t have to feed straps through tiny slots to get a good fit for baby. The built-in headrest and one-hand tilt recline are also nice. Cosco Alpha Omega can be used without the harness straps as a belt positioning booster. Choose the safer five-point harness models rather than the overhead shield version.
One of the more expensive car seat but well worth it. This one provides a 5-point harness, good anti-tangle belt, and built in locking clip. The seat is rear facing from 5 to 30 pounds, forward facing 20 to 40 lbs. (We have received several complaints that this seat could not be installed properly in the rear facing position. While we still believe that this product provides some of the best safety features in this category it may be prudent to consider using the Britax for older babies (1 year old and 20 lbs) in the front facing position only).
As with all quality seats today this one comes with a tether to better secure the seat. The seatbelt clamp on the side of the Roundabout, made for a much more secure hold than other seats tested. The padding is thick and the cover is machine washable. The adjustable shoulder straps are a breeze to use, making it all that much easier to get your child in and out of their car seat.
Evenflo Medallion V XL
This top of the line Evenflo convertible car seat features Best Fit For Infants and Toddlers. Exclusive “seat within a seat” provides proper cushioning to fit an infant better. As a child grows, use without inner seat for a spacious contoured seat for toddlers. Also features exclusive Belt-Trac door so auto belt may be installed much easier. It comes with 5 point belt protection, seat saver base and removable, washable pad and cushions. Rear facing for infants 5-30 lbs. Forward-facing for toddlers 20-40 lbs. Child 20-30 lbs. may be rear-facing or forward-facing depending on height.