Babies, toddlers, and young children need to ride in car seats or booster seats whenever they are in a car. With all of the many options available, it can be difficult to decide which type you need, which brand to get, and what will best keep your little one safe and comfortable. Car seats range from those designed for infants to those designed for older children, plus everything in between. There are also convertible car seats and those that accommodate babies, toddlers, or older children of various weights.
We have evaluated dozens of car seats to bring you our list of the best ones. We looked at safety ratings, special features, overall value, and how Amazon customers described their experiences with the different seats.
Our top pick goes to Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat. This is a convertible car seat that will be with your little one from birth until the time they’re ready to move into a booster seat. It holds babies and toddlers in the rear-facing position up to 50 lbs, and it also holds toddlers over 22 lbs in the forward-facing position until they reach 65 lbs. Our favorite feature is that it provides up to five inches of extra leg room for growing toddlers to keep them safe in the rear-facing position for longer.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Car Seats
|Best Car Seat Overall||Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat||4.7|
|Best Infant Seat||Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat||4.8|
|Best Budget Buy||Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat||4.4|
|Best Toddler Seat||Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat||4.6|
|Best Booster Seat||Britax Skyline 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat||4.7|
*Ratings are from Amazon and might change over time.
Best Car Seat Overall: Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat made our top spot overall. We love that you can use it for years, starting when you bring your baby home from the hospital. As your little one grows, so does this car seat; it adds up to five inches of leg room to allow him or her to ride comfortably and safely in the rear-facing position until they reach 50 lbs. This also works for toddlers and preschoolers under 65 lbs in the forward-facing position.
This car seat has gone through rigorous testing so it is able to stand up to the forces caused by various types of collisions, including head-on, rear-end, side-impact, and even rollover crashes. It is also able to withstand the extreme temperatures that the interior of your car might be subject to if you live in an area with harsh winters or very hot summers. It is compatible with LATCH systems and has an easy-to-use headrest control, so you can raise or lower it as needed. It also has a harness holder that keeps the buckle out of the way when you are putting your baby into the seat.
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat Key Features:
- For children 4 to 65 lbs
- Holds rear-facing child up to 50 lbs
- Leg room extension feature
- Holds forward-facing child from 22 to 65 lbs
- Crash-tested in various conditions
- Compatible with LATCH
- Harness holder to keep buckle out of the way
Best Infant Car Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
The best infant car seat we found is the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat. This car seat makes it super easy to install, thanks to the RideRight bubble levels and ReclineSure leveling. These features allow you to feel assured that you baby’s car seat is at the optimal level to protect him or her and to prevent breathing restrictions caused by a newborn’s head falling forward. It is also compatible with LATCH and has a SuperCinch tightener.
To drive safely with very young babies, you can use the included head and body support; remove it once your baby no longer needs head support. The five-point harness has a single-pull tightener, so you can make sure your baby is nice and snug. If you have the Chicco travel system, this car seat is compatible with it: Simply snap it into place and off you go! This seat holds babies from 4 to 30 lbs and accommodates them up to 30 inches in length. Once your baby outgrows this seat, they’ll need to switch to a convertible or toddler seat.
Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat Key Features:
- For babies from 4 to 30 lbs
- Five-point harness
- Level indicators
- Works with LATCH
- Removable newborn head and body support
- Compatible with Chicco travel system
Best Budget Car Seat: Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
If you are looking for a budget-friendly option for your child or grandchild, consider our top pick in this category, which is the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat. This is a narrow car seat, which makes it perfect if you have a small car or if you need to fit three car seats across your backseat. It has a safe five-point harness and three buckle locations so it will fit your baby or young child well for years. This is why you’ll save money: You will not have to purchase another car seat until your child is old enough for a low-back booster, which are usually inexpensive.
It holds babies up to 40 lbs and 19 inches in the rear-facing position, then you can turn it around and keep your preschooler in it until they are 65 lbs. The head rest is adjustable, so it can accommodate your child as he or she grows. It has anti-rebound bolsters, which keep your child safer in case of an accident, and it also has side-impact protection. The seat pad is hand-washable. This seat comes with a removable cup holder and removable body pillows (used for small babies).
Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat Key Features:
- Holds children from 5 to 65 lbs
- Use both rear-facing and forward-facing
- Narrow, low profile for smaller cars
- Adjustable head rest and harness straps
- Removable cup holder
- Removable body pillows
Best Toddler Car Seat: Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat
The Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat is our top choice for toddler car seats. You can begin using this seat once your toddler is ready to turn around to forward-facing (which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you do after his or her second birthday). The minimum size limit is 22 lbs and 28 inches for the harness seat. Once your child is ready for a booster, there’s no need to purchase a separate one, because you can remove the harness straps and use it in booster mode, which is appropriate for children who weigh at least 40 lbs (and 44 inches tall) and will hold them until they are 110 lbs or 57 inches.
The harness is easy to use; you can tighten it by pulling the front strap, so there’s no need to reach behind the seat. There are seat belt guides to use when you switch over to booster mode. There are also two cup holders, so your child can have a drink and a snack within easy reach. The cover is easy to clean in the washing machine.
Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat Key Features:
- Accommodates children from 22 to 110 lbs (and 28 to 57 inches)
- Use forward-facing and also as a booster seat
- Seat belt guides
- Easy-to-adjust harness straps (car seat mode only)
- Two cup holders
- Washable cover
Best Booster Seat: Britax Skyline 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat
The Britax Skyline 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat is our top pick among booster seats. This seat holds children who are between 40 and 120 lbs (and between 44 and 63 inches) who are able to sit properly in a booster seat. You can use it as a full-back booster seat or, when your child is bigger and the seatbelt will sit properly across his or her chest, a backless booster.
When you are using the back, the seat has side-impact protection. The head rest has 10 levels to choose from, and there are seat belt guides to ensure that you are using the seat properly. A child using the back will also be able to nap comfortably, making it appropriate for younger kids who tend to fall asleep in the car. Whether you use it with or without the back, your child will enjoy the comforts of armrests and a detachable cup holder. The seat stays in place with LATCH clips.
Britax Skyline 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat Key Features:
- Holds children from 40 to 120 lbs and 44 to 63 inches
- Can be used with or without the back
- Seatbelt guides
- Side-impact protection (with back)
- Detachable cup holder
- Installs with LATCH
Who Should Buy a Car Seat
Any expectant parent or any parent of a young child (who is under 4’9″ tall or under 80 lbs) should have a car seat or booster seat to safely restrain their child in a car. This is true even if you don’t have a car but sometimes take taxis or use ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. Infant car seats and convertible car seats make great baby shower gifts, and a booster seat can be a great idea to buy someone who has a child who is about to outgrow their regular car seat.
Grandparents and babysitters should also have access to a car seat. It is often easier to simply buy an economical car seat to keep in their car if they take the child often, as installation can sometimes be a challenge.
Important Features to Consider
There are some important features to look for when you are choosing the right car seat to buy for your baby or child. Here are some criteria to keep in mind before you make your purchase.
- Five-point harness. A child safety seat with a harness should have five points of restraint. These are at each shoulder, at each side of the pelvis, and the crotch.
- Comfort features. You might want to look for a seat with features such as body pillows, a headrest, or cup holders. Note that using aftermarket products can make a car seat less effective in a crash and could void any warranty.
- Easy installation. It is not always easy to install a car seat or booster seat. The introduction of LATCH has made it easier in many cases, but in some cars, you will still need or choose to use the seat belt to install the seat.
- Weight limit. You need to purchase a car seat that is the right size for your child. A child under two years of age should usually ride rear-facing, so look for an infant or convertible seat with a high weight limit, since you might not know how large your child will be before his or her second birthday.
- Compatibility with your travel system. Some car seats are compatible with strollers of the same brand. If you already have a stroller, it might make sense to look for the seat that is compatible with it. Are you also in the market for a stroller? Here’s our list of the best baby strollers that you might consider.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the ages for different car seats?
Infants and young toddlers should ride rear-facing until their second birthday, at a minimum. Once your toddler is ready to turn around, he or she should be in a toddler seat (or a convertible car seat) that has the correct weight and height limit. For example, if your child is 35 lbs, you will not want to put him or her in a toddler seat that holds children over 40 lbs.
When it comes to a booster seat, your child should be at the correct height and weight as listed on the seat. He or she should also be able to sit up straight and not slump over (particularly if using a backless booster), shouldn’t try to unbuckle while driving, and should not have the seat belt rubbing against his or her neck. Most children should remain in booster seats until they are between 9 and 12 years old. Talk to your pediatrician for specific advice about your child.
What is a stage two car seat?
A stage two car seat is what your toddler will be in once you take him or her out of a rear-facing infant or convertible seat. This means that they are facing forward and still using the five-point harness.
What is the correct way to install a car seat?
Many parents install car seats incorrectly. It is important to read the directions in the car seat manual; it is not always obvious or intuitive. In general, you can use the seat belt or the LATCH system (not both) to make sure that your seat is in properly. The seat should be in very snugly and should not move more than an inch in any direction. Many police stations and fire departments can double-check your car seat installation. Your pediatrician or a nurse in the maternity ward at your hospital might also be able to do this. Call and ask if these places have someone who is able to check your installation if you are unsure. If you need more tips on some things to do before your little one comes along, check out our article on how to prepare for your baby.
How do you know when your child has outgrown their car seat?
Check the height and weight limits on your child’s car seat. If he or she has exceeded those limits, then you will know that they’ve outgrown the seat. There will also be instructions in the car seat manual that will tell you the other signs that your seat is ready to be upgraded. For some seats, for example, if your child’s head reaches the top of the seat, it is no longer sized properly. For others, however, the seat might be good until the top of the child’s ears reach the top of the seat. For your child’s safety, please follow the directions for the specific seat that you purchase.
Other Car Seats We Reviewed
In addition to the car seats that made our top 5 list, we also looked at 20 other car seats. These are the best of the rest and are great options to consider when purchasing a child safety restraint. The information you’ll need to make your decision is included with each listing.
Convertible Car Seats
Britax makes it easy to install and use this convertible car seat with lock-offs that work with almost any seatbelt, as well as a quick-adjust 10-position harness.
- Fits rear-facing 5 to 40 lbs
- Fits forward-facing 20 to 65 lbs
- Easy to clean
This seat goes above and beyond, having been tested at crash ratings approximately double the federal crash test standard. It has great side-impact protection.
- Holds babies and toddlers 5 to 40 lbs
- Comes in different colors
- Four shoulder-strap positions
This three-in-one seat will keep your child safe from infancy well into the elementary school years. It transitions from an infant seat to a toddler seat to a booster.
- Accommodates children 5 to 100 lbs
- Adjust the headrest and harness in one motion
- One-second LATCH installation
The Maxi-Cosi Pria uses side-impact technology to keep your little one safe where he or she needs it most. It accommodates babies and children up to 100 lbs.
- Holds children 4 to 100 lbs
- Quick-fit shoulder harness adjusts easily
- Installs with one click
This seat is built to grow along with your child, transitioning from an infant seat all the way up to a booster seat for older children.
- Holds children 4 to 100 lbs
- Machine-washable padding
- Harness holders to keep clips out of the way
Infant Car Seats
This infant carrier car seat unlocks from its easy-to-install base with just one hand, so you can carry baby inside along with your shopping bags or diaper bag.
- For babies up to 30 lbs and 30 inches
- Five-point safety harness
- Superior side-impact protection
This seat allows for baseless installation, which makes it simple to use in a taxi, ride-share, or grandparent’s car. It also has an anti-rebound bar.
- For babies up to 35 lbs
- Easy installation
- No rethreading of harness needed
Carry your baby with ease with the smooth handle and the full-coverage canopy. You can order extra bases to make installation easy in other cars.
- For babies up to 22 lbs
- Ultra lightweight
- Five-point safety harness
Snug-lock technology allows you to install the base of this seat in three simple steps. Then the seat snaps into the base with four recline positions.
- For babies up to 35 lbs
- Easy-to-read level indicator
- Protects well in all crash types
This seat has a five-point harness and is compatible with Vista and Cruz strollers. It installs within seconds for the ultimate ease of use.
- For babies up to 35 lbs
- Tightness indicator for easy installation
- Adjustable headrest
Toddler Car Seats
This car seat grows along with your child, fitting them from 25 to 120 lbs. Comfortable padding and great side-impact protection are two great features.
- Harnesses up to 65 lbs
- Booster seat for up to 120 lbs
- Many safety features
This seat absorbs a lot of energy thanks to steel reinforcement and extra side impact protection, so your child will be safer in any type of accident.
- Holds children 25 to 100 lbs
- Switches to a booster for bigger kids
- Three layers of comfort
This seat changes from a five-point harness for your toddler into a booster when your child is older. It’s lightweight for ease of moving to a different car as needed.
- Holds children 30 to 100 lbs
- Low profile, can be fit three across a backseat
- Dishwasher-safe cup holder
From forward-facing five-point harness seat to booster seat, this Graco product is easy to use with an adjustable headrest and machine-washable covers.
- Holds children 22 to 100 lbs
- Integrated harness storage compartment
- Five-position adjustable headrest
Choose from your toddler’s favorite Marvel characters to make riding in the car fun and not a chore! This one is Spiderman; there’s also Captain America, Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man.
- Holds children 22 to 100 lbs
- Comes in four fun character options
- Switches to a booster seat for older kids
This seat is a cinch to move from car to car, because it’s lightweight, backless, and has a built-in handle. It’s available in several colors.
- Holds kids 40 to 110 lbs
- Two foldaway cup holders
- Easy to clean
This is one of the biggest high back booster seats available, so you can keep your child in it longer. It also converts to a backless booster once the back is outgrown.
- Holds children 33 to 79 lbs
- Six headrest positions
- Lightweight and easy to move
Energy-absorbing foam and tests for structural integrity make this seat a safe choice for your child. This should be used only with children who are at least 4 years old.
- For children 40 to 110 lbs who are at least four years old
- Six height positions
- Also can be used backless
You can use the LATCH system to affix this booster to your car’s seat to keep it in place, then use the seatbelt as you normally would with a booster seat.
- For children 40 to 100 lbs
- Multi-layer headrest for comfort
- Energy-absorbing foam takes brunt of impact
Your big kid will be ready to go with this cool Batman booster seat. It grows along with your child and will transition into a backless booster when your child is ready.
- For children 30 to 100 lbs
- Has belt-positioning clips
- Includes cupholder