Find the Best Car Seat Brands
Compare Reviews for Top Car Seat Brands
|Graco Baby Products|
Read 69 Reviews
Founded in 1942, Graco is an American baby product company. It offers a variety of products including baby swings, strollers, car seats, Pack ‘N Play playards and more. Its infant car seats start around $70.
Read 19 Reviews
Peg Perego is an Italian baby product manufacturer offering high chairs, strollers and travel systems. Its car seats feature advanced safety technology and are sold at buybuy BABY and select retailers starting around $300.
Read 39 Reviews
Founded in 1938, Britax is a child care product manufacturer headquartered in the U.K. Its products include strollers, car seats, high chairs and more. Britax car seats start around $150 and are rated highly for safety features.
|Baby Trend Car Seats|
Read 36 Reviews
Baby Trend is an Ontario-based baby product manufacturer. Its infant, convertible and booster car seats are available at major retailers like Walmart, Target and buybuy BABY and range from around $70 to $180.
|Evenflo Car Seats|
Read 54 Reviews
Founded in 1920, Evenflo is an American manufacturer of infant and child care products. It offers quality-tested and reasonably priced car seats, high chairs and more. Evenflo convertible car seats start around $60.
Read 40 Reviews
Safety 1st is a child-safety products company that sells baby monitors, car seats and more. Safety 1st infant car seats start around $70. Their analog baby monitors are around $20, and their wireless baby monitors are $150-$200.
|Cosco Car Seats||Read 27 Reviews|
Cosco Kids is a manufacturer of infant and children’s items including high chairs, play yards and more. It offers budget-friendly car seats and booster seats starting around $45 at major retailers including Walmart and Target.
|4moms Car Seats||Read Author Review|
4moms is a tech-enabled baby product company. Its self-installing car seat base automatically adjusts so you know it’s correctly installed. It retails for about $500 and is compatible with many Apple and Android devices.
|Chicco||Read Author Review|
Chicco is a European baby product manufacturer offering car seats, strollers and more in over 120 countries. It offers a narrow car seat, the Keyfit, which starts at about $200.
|Combi||Read Author Review|
Combi is a Japanese manufacturer of children’s products including strollers, travel systems and more. Its Coccoro convertible seat is one of the narrowest on the market and starts at around $225.
Features to consider when buying a car seat
Is the seat right for your child’s developmental stage?
As a baby grows into a toddler and then a preschooler, their car seat will also have to change to accommodate their size and keep them safe in the car.
- Rear-facing seats: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies stay rear-facing in vehicles until age 2 because this position protects them best in a crash. Infant seats are rear-facing for babies weighing 5 to 25 pounds. Some convertible seats can also be used rear-facing. Be sure to check both weight and height limits; many infants outgrow their seats in height before weight.
- Forward-facing seats: Your child can face forward around age 2, but keeping them rear-facing even longer may be safest. You can use a forward-facing seat or a convertible car seat when you decide to turn the child forward.
- Booster seats: Every state has laws that require children to be in a booster seat until a certain age or height. The specific requirements differ by state, so search online to find out what laws apply to you. For optimal safety, some experts recommend that children under 9 years old, 57 inches and 66 pounds should be in a booster seat.
Will the seat fit in your vehicle?
Consumers who drive compact cars or have multiple children will need to be conscious of the space available for the car seat. If you are not sure if a seat will fit, some baby-product retailers will allow you to take a car seat to the parking lot and try it in your vehicle before purchasing.
- Base width: The width of the base of the car seat determines how much space on the seat the car seat will occupy. Base width is measured at its widest point and can vary from around 17 inches for a narrow infant seat to over 20 inches wide for a large all-in-one seat.
- Length and height of seat: The length and height of the car seat is particularly important if you are planning on getting a convertible seat to use rear-facing. Make sure it fits between your vehicle’s back and front seats.
- Multiple seats: Families with more than one child in car seats need to consider whether all of the seats will fit together in the back seat of the family vehicle. Keep in mind that the safest place for a rear-facing seat is the center of the back seat.
Does the seat meet safety standards?
Car seats are strictly regulated for safety, so make sure yours meets federal safety standards.
- Safety label: All car seats in the United States are required by law to have a label indicating it is compliant with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213.
- New and unexpired: A car seat is an item you should never purchase second-hand. If a car seat has been in a car crash, its internal structure can be damaged and it can be ineffective in subsequent crashes. Additionally, all car seats have an expiration date printed on the bottom or back of the seat. Seats should not be used after this date.
- Air travel approved: You are not required to restrain a child in a car seat during air travel, but experts agree that infants and children are safer if they are in a car seat while flying. Car seats must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be used on commercial flights. Look for a sticker on your car seat that says it is “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
Will the seat grow with your child?
Some people prefer to purchase new car seats at various developmental stages, while others choose a seat that will accommodate their child as they grow.
- Convertible car seats: Convertible seats can be used from birth to around 45 pounds. They must be used rear-facing until your child is 2 years old then can be turned around and used forward-facing.
- All-in-one: All-in-one seats have the features of a convertible seat and can be used as a booster seat. These typically accommodate a child up to 100 pounds. Because they tend to be very large, these seats are not always the best option for those with limited space.
How is the seat installed?
Every car seat brand and model must be installed in a specific way to keep your child safe on the road. Before buying a car seat, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see what types of car seats will install correctly in your vehicle.
- Position in the car: The safest place for a car seat is always the middle of the back seat.
- Vehicle seat belt: Most car seats feature a seat belt pathway on the underside or back of the seat to secure it with the vehicle’s standard seat belts. The seat belts must have a locking system, and the seat must be secured tightly so it does not move or tip.
- LATCH system: Most vehicles manufactured after 2002 come equipped with a LATCH system, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The LATCH clip secures the car seat to the frame of the vehicle and is the safest way to install a car seat.
- Seat belt positioning system: Booster seats, but not infant car seats, often use a seat belt positioning system to keep the vehicle’s seat belt from falling across a child’s neck.
- Free installation help: Three out of four car seats are installed improperly. You can take your vehicle and car seat to any fire station and have the installation checked by a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician. These people are trained in proper car seat installation.
What convenience features come with the seat?
While the primary function of a car seat is to keep your child safe, other optional features can make your life more convenient and save you valuable time.
- Travel system: If you’re in the market for an infant seat, you might consider a travel system that converts the seat into a stroller for convenience. Most major car seat brands offer this option for around the same price as purchasing an infant seat and stroller separately.
- Washable seat cover: Many car seats come with a removable cover that can be laundered. You may also consider whether the fabric of the cover is easy to wipe down. Smooth fabrics are generally easier to spot-clean than textured ones.
- Cup holders: Most convertible seats and booster seats offer cup holders for your child’s bottle, sippy cup or snack. This comes in handy so you don’t have to reach into the backseat as often when driving.
Types of car seats
Infant car seats
These seats are designed and safety rated for newborn babies weighing from about 5 to around 20 to 30 pounds and measuring up to 32 inches. Infant car seats must be installed rear-facing in your vehicle. Typically, they come with a base that can be installed and left in the vehicle, while the seat itself can be easily snapped in and out of the base for easy removal.
Convertible car seat
Convertible car seats can be used both rear- and forward-facing and can accommodate both infants and young children, typically from birth through age 4. They use a five-point harness system for safety, but lack some of the convenience of an infant seat, since they can’t be used as a carrier.
Harness booster seat
Booster seats are forward-facing and designed for older children, typically ages 2 through 6. They raise a child’s height in a vehicle, reducing the risk of severe neck injury in a crash. Harnessed boosters use a five-point harness system to secure the child.
Belt-positioning booster seats
Belt-positioning boosters use the vehicle’s seat belt to secure a child in place. These are designed for children around ages 4 through 8; some models accommodate kids up to age 12 or 120 pounds. Belt-positioning booster seats come with or without a back.
All-in-one car seat
All-in-one car seats are similar to convertible car seats except they can also be used as a belt-positioning booster. These are typically the largest car seats, so it may not be a good option if you have a small vehicle or need to accommodate multiple car seats. However, they offer a great value since you only have to buy one seat for your child.
Some infant car seats can be purchased as part of a travel system. These snap into a stroller frame to convert to a stroller.
People who buy car seats
Parents and guardians
Parents or guardians need a safe car seat for every child under the age and height required for booster seat use (between 4 and 8 years old depending on the state). Some parents find it convenient to have multiple seats, one installed in each family vehicle.
Grandparents or other family members
If a family member or friend keeps your child at their home on a regular basis, it can be helpful if they have a car seat installed in their vehicle. This way you will not have to move your child’s seat from one vehicle to another or risk forgetting to leave the car seat with them when the child will be in their care.
If your child attends a daycare or child care center and will be going on outings or field trips, they will need a car seat. Be sure the center has a car seat for every child that is unexpired, age appropriate and checked for safe installation.
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Compare Reviews for Top Car Seat Brands
|Doona||Read Author Review|
Doona is an infant car seat made by the Simple Parenting company. It combines a rear-facing infant seat with the convenience of a stroller. It is the only car seat on the market with fold-up wheels and retails for about $500.
|Eddie Bauer First Adventure||Read Author Review|
A division of Eddie Bauer, Eddie Bauer First Adventure is a baby and child product brand that specializes in durable and classically-styled car seats, play yards and more. Its convertible car seats start at around $100.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.