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The Best Baby and Toddler Car Seats

The top car seats to take you through all stages of your child's growth – until they start driving.

We make some things needlessly convoluted. Car seats shouldn’t be one of those things. The guidelines, issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are clear: All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing only or rear-facing convertible car seat until the age of two.

You can choose between two types of car seats when it comes to your newborn. Rear-facing only car seats generally fit babies weighing up to 22 to 35 pounds, depending on the specific model, usually have a base that remains in the car, and have handles so you can lift the car seat in and out of the car.

Convertible car seats can be converted to forward-facing car seats for older children, once they outgrow either the weight or length limit for rear-facing seats, so they’re the more economical option. However, they are meant to stay in the car and do not have handles. Car seats can be installed with either the vehicle’s seat belt or it’s LATCH (lower anchors and tethers for children) attachment system.

See more: Best Travel Strollers 

“It doesn’t have to be that complicated in terms of seats,” says expert Dr. Benjamin D. Hoffman, the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention. “The convenience aspect of the rear-facing only car seats that come in and out of the car using a detachable base, that is invaluable. If the family doesn’t have the means to purchase two car seats, the convertible seat is fantastic. I know it can feel intimidating and complicated.”

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When kids outgrow the rear-facing weight or height limit for their convertible seat, they should use a forward-facing seat with a harness for as long as possible, per the AAP. Once they outgrow forward-facing car seats, they can switch a belt-positioning booster seat until the car seat belt fits properly, usually when kids are about four feet, nine inches tall, or about 8-12 years old.

These are some of the best rear-facing car seats for newborns, according to the AAP, as well as convertible car seats that can be used with newborn inserts/adapters. All of them meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 for safety. As for accessories to attach to your car seat to entertain your kid, like plastic mirrors, opt out. These items are not regulated and have never been crash-tested.

Best Infant Car Seats and Best Toddler Car Seat

One of the Chicco car seat's claims to fame is its easy installation process. This car seat clicks easily into the included stay-in-car base.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 car seat has a quick-remove seat pad for machine washing, and a breathable 3D AirMesh backrest. There’s a five-point harness with one-pull tightening to help keep your baby secure, and the carrier shell is lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam for improved impact protection. The car seat also features a large zip-off canopy with a zip-on visor.
Weight: 4-30 pounds
Height: Up to 30 inches in height.

This top-tier convertible car seat alerts you if you accidentally leave your baby in the car.

When synced with the installed vehicle receiver and the driver’s smartphone, this car seat monitors the wellbeing of the child and lets you know if you left your kid in the car. It has an adjustable Linear Side-Impact Protection (L.S.P.) System, which can reduce side impact forces by up to 25 percent when used properly, and a 12-position height adjustable headrest with integrated no-rethread harness.
Weight: 5-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

If you're looking for a car seat that's lightweight and easy to carry, the Cosco option is right for you.

The Cosco DX car seat includes an infant insert that gives smaller babies a more snug fit, and it weighs just over 10 pounds. It has a five-point harness with up-front adjustment.
Weight: 4-22 pounds
Height: 29 inches

This car seat is one of the easiest to install, period, and takes up the least amount of space.

This innovative beauty of a convertible car seat has some very cool features, like an anti-rebound bar, a steel magnesium frame, and GreenGuard Select certified Crypton fabric. It has an easy to install rigid LATCH system for the forward-facing configuration, and equally easy LATCH anchors for rear-facing use. Plus, it’s narrow enough to fit into smaller cars. The brand uses the most eco-friendly fabrics and materials possible, which is a huge bonus for parents to whom this stuff matters. Do note that you need to buy what the brand calls the infant-thingy if using this as a rear-facing infant car seat.
Weight: 14-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

The Evenflo LiteMax car seat is ideal for smaller babies. It has an adjustable support leg with easy-to-read indicators that helps stabilize the seat base, meaning fewer installation mishaps.

The Evenflo car seat has easy-to-slide harness straps to enable instant adjustment for your baby’s growth without removing and re-threading the annoying harness straps. It’s stellar quality for the price.
Weight: 4-35 pounds
Height: 32 inches

The Graco car seat has an adjustable base with four recline positions. Plus, there's an indicator that lets you know when the car seat is installed correctly.

Another car seat that has easy installation cred, the Graco grows with your infant. The brand’s Click Connect system provides a one-step secure attachment to all Click Connect strollers to create a handy and no-hassle travel system.
Weight: 4-30 pounds
Height: 30 inches

The Mesa car seat can accommodates babies as small as four pounds, up to tots weighing 35 pounds. It comes with an infant insert for smaller babies.

The Mesa car seat has a tightness indicator and self-retracting LATCH connectors for fast, accurate and easy installation, to minimize user error.
Weight: 4-35 pounds
Height: 32 inches

We like this car seat because it fits three across in most vehicles, so it's ideal for families with multiple kids.

The Sonus convertible car seats features an air flow ventilation system that provides a temperature-regulated, comfortable traveling experience for your kiddo. They theoretically won’t overheat. It has removable pads for easy machine washing, plus two cup holders, and a head pillow for support.
Weight: 5-50 pounds
Height: 50 inches

You don't need to waste time and energy figuring out installation with the Britax convertible car seat, thanks to its push button LATCH connectors and built-in lock-offs.

The Britax car seat has a quick-adjust 10 position harness with a headrest that grows along with your child. You can remove the car seat cover and clean it.
Weight: 5-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

This Britax rear-facing car seat has the brand's SafeCell impact protection, plus an impact-absorbing base and easy installation.

We like this Britax car seat because of its simple installation. It has center-pull straps and quick, push-button, lower LATCH connectors. It’s compatible with any Britax or BOB stroller.
Weight: 4-35 pounds
Height: 32 inches

If you really want to buy one car seat, this is it. The The Magellan convertible car seat grows with your child from birth to 10 years.

The Maxi-Cosi Magellan convertible car seat has 14 height positions and seven recline positions you can choose from, and it transforms into a booster seat when needed. The cover is machine-washable.
Weight: 5-120 pounds
Height: Adjustable

This convertible car seat accommodates kids weighing up to 65 pounds. Only the lower seven positions can be used in rear-facing mode. It weighs 28 pounds, so it's definitely on the heftier side for lugging around.

Peg Perego’s car seat comes with EPS side foam in the shell and in the head panels for extra side impact protection. It also has adjustable LATCH connectors to add stability and simplify installation.
Weight: 5-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

Graco's convertible car seat has dual cup holders, and can be customized to fit just about any child to make sure they ride in plush comfort.

The Graco convertible car seat has a six-position recline, and a four-position extension panel that adjusts to provide five inches of additional legroom, meaning your child can sit more comfortably when he or she is rear-facing. Most deluxe of all is the 10-position headrest, which will keep that noggin happy.
Weight: 4-65 pounds
Height: 49 inches

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