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Best Car Seat to Keep Your Kids Safe in the Car

As any parent knows, keeping your baby safe is your first and foremost priority, especially while driving. Car seats are required to provide the protection to your child while in a vehicle, but just as quickly as a baby grows through their clothing, they also have different car seat requirements depending on their weight.

Also covered on this list of the best car seats in 2021 are booster seats, which keep your children buckled correctly when they have outgrown a harnessed car seat. There are many options to choose from, including backless boosters, convertibles and high-back boosters. Your child's size will be the biggest factor in what seat you choose. When your child is ready to make the move into a big kid seat, get them involved with picking out an appropriate one. Keep her in her seat until she can fit your car's seats properly, even if that does mean she has to sneak out of the seat in front of her school to avoid embarrassment. Keeping your child safely buckled is paramount to keeping them safe in the car.

Front facing, rear facing, convertible, carrier, or booster car seat, this list is dedicated to the best available protection for your little bundle of joy.

What are the best car seats of 2021?

Britax Boulevard ClickTight, Cool N Dry Collection, Grey Car Seat - Best Car Seat Overall

Not only does this car seat allow for rear facing until the age of two, but it also features an Infinite Slide harness which allows for one-handed harness adjustment to ensure your child's security and comfort. The Evenflo Triumph 65 LX Convertible Car Seat also offers a body and head pillow which help to create a cozier and stable seating arrangement for your little one.

The seat is also manufactured with energy absorbing foam which will reduce the impact your child will experience should an accident occur, reducing the possibility of injury. This seat can accommodate children 5 to 40 pounds while rear facing and children up to 65 pounds while facing forward. The seat pad is completely removable and washable, which makes cleaning a cinch in the event of any accidents. With the added benefit of a built in cup holder, the Evenflo Triumph LX stands out as a safe, secure, and comfortable car seat for your consideration.

Graco My Ride 65 LX Convertible Car Seat - Runner Up

The Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat is a secure and comfortable convertible car seat which can be used by your child from infancy through toddlerhood. It accommodates children up to 40 pounds in the rear-facing position and turn it to the forward-facing position to seat kids up to 65 pounds. The EPS energy absorbing foam spread throughout the seat provides superior side impact protection while minimizing the force of impact, reducing your child’s risk of injury in the event of an accident.

The removable and adjustable headrest provides extra comfort and extra support for your child’s head. There’s also a front-adjustable harness which ensures your child is comfortably and securely seated at all times. Thanks to the dual cup holders, drinks and snacks can be kept nearby to keep even the fussiest child content. With so many safety and convenience features, this car seat is sure to please parents and children alike.

Kids Embrace Harness Booster Car Seat - Most Quiet

Capable of seating kids up to 100 pounds, the KidsEmbrace Friendship Combination Booster Car Seat features LATCH connectors for easy and secure vehicle installation and a five-point harness to keep your child safely in their seat. Other outstanding safety features include an adjustable deep headrest for head support, shock-absorbing eps foam, contoured seats with extra padding, and built-in belt guides for when your child is ready to use a seat belt.

This line of IIHS-approved booster seats also receive the top spot because they're designed to look like some of the most popular fantasy characters kids love, including Batman, Cinderella, Spiderman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dora the Explorer, and Sponge Bob. Your child will literally be sitting in the lap of one of these characters while molded cup holders keep their favorite drinks close at hand. With this booster seat, you'll love that your child is well protected and your child will love riding in the lap of their favorite cartoon character.

Graco Highback Turbobooster Car Seat - Consider

Your little one will feel comfortable and secure riding in the Graco Turbobooster Car Seat, and you'll have peace of mind knowing they're riding safely. Safe for use by children up to 100 pounds, the seat features energy absorbing foam which provides exceptional impact energy management. In the event of a crash, the force of the collision will be evenly distributed throughout the seat thereby reducing the possibility of injury.

The seat comes with a headrest for added head support and the height can be adjusted to keep pace with your child as they grow. The seats armrests can also be adjusted to enhance your child’s comfort while built-in cup holders keep favorite drinks and snacks close at hand. With its bright colors and fun patterns, your child will love riding in this booster every time it’s time for a car ride.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 Infant Car Seat - Best Infant Car Seat

The Primo Viaggio 4-35 is the newest rear facing infant car seat from Peg Pergeo. This infant car seat is designed to comfortably and safely accommodate babies from 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32 inches tall. The seats side impact protection can be adjusted to six different positions without the need to be rethreaded, so you can ensure that your baby’s head and shoulders are properly protected as they grow.

Lined with EPS energy absorbing foal, this car seat significantly minimizes the force of impact in the event of an auto collision. A Dual Stage Cushion System provides comes with two cushions so your baby’s head and shoulders are properly positioned within the protected side wings. The seat also features the “Right Tight System” and a level indicator which allows you to make sure the seat is securely placed in the car. Weighing in at only 9.35 pounds, this infant car seat is lightweight and easy to transport.

Baby Trend Snap-and-Go SX Universal Car Seat Carrier

Baby Trend Snap-and-Go SX Universal Car Seat Carrier - Best Car Seat Carrier

The Baby Trend Snap-N-Go SX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier gets our top slot because of its versatility versatile. This car seat carrier can accommodate a large variety of infant car seats so no matter what infant car seat you’re using, you’ll likely be able to use it with this carrier. Able to accommodate up to 40 pounds, this carrier features lightweight construction and it can be opened and folded with one hand in no time at all.

The rear wheels have been equipped with safety brakes while the double front wheels make this carrier easy to push along. This car seat carrier also comes with a convenient parent tray with two cup holders and a tray with a lid for storing keys, smartphone, or anything else you want to keep on-hand. Lastly, the oversized storage basket provides you with plenty of space for storing diaper bags, blankets, and all of baby’s other necessities.

Chicco Keyfit Caddy Stroller Frame - Best Car Seat Carrier

Designed exclusively to carry the Chicco Keyfit Infant Car Seat, the Chicco Keyfit Caddy has been designed with a lightweight and durable aluminum frame which can support up to 30 pounds. As with our other picks, this car seat carriers features a one-hand fold down into a nice compact size, making it easy to stow away even in the tightest of space. The caddy handle is adjustable to four different height positions, all-wheel suspension allows this stroller to easily make its way over all types of terrain, and the braking system provides stopping power when needed. This carrier also has an expandable under-seat basket so you’ll have plenty of space available to carry all of those necessities for your little one wherever you go. There’s also an integrated parent tray offering space for two drinks and a storage compartment to hold items you want to keep nearby such as car keys keys or smartphone.

Buyer's Guide

Best Car Seat Buying Guide

As a parent or guardian, nothing takes more precedence than keeping your child safe, most especially in a moving car. Babies, just like adults, need safety restraints in the vehicle, and since they're too small and naïve for seat belts, a car seat is an ideal option.
Randomly selecting a car seat for your baby is a reckless move. You must consider certain factors before choosing a car seat, and it doesn't have anything to do about the price because an expensive car seat may not necessarily be the best for your newborn. Choosing the right car seat will play a key role in keeping your baby comfortable and safe in a moving car, specifically during the unfortunate event of an accident.

Car seat models and recommendations change all the time, making it quite challenging to select the best car seat for your child. But don’t worry, our car seat buying guide will put you on the right track to choosing the best car seats available. We recommend that you test the car seat before proceeding to pay for it.

What are the factors to consider when buying a car seat?

Vehicle compatibility

Car seats can be attached to a vehicle with a seat belt or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), but not all cars are compatible with LATCH systems. If you own a vehicle manufactured before September 1, 2002, it will most likely be incompatible with LATCH systems. So, check for your vehicle's manufacturing date and confirm that it will be compatible with the car seat.

Testing and approval

There are two regulatory bodies that approve the use and safety of car seats for children: ECE R44 and UNR 129. For your child's safety, ensure that you only select a car seat that has been tested and approved by either one of them. An ECE R44-approved car seat has been tested for forward-facing and rear-facing collisions, while car seats approved by the UNR 129 have undergone and passed side-impact testing. We recommend that you lean towards UNR 129-approved seats because they are compliant with the latest safety requirements.

Vehicle space

Car seats come in various sizes, and some are bigger than others. If your car is big and spacious on the inside, then size shouldn't be a problem, but if your vehicle is relatively small, the wise thing is to get a small but comfortable car seat for your child.

Your child's height, age, and weight

Your child's age, height, and weight are some of the essential factors in selecting a comfortable and safe car seat. You can easily do this by reading the height, age, and weight limits on the car seat label and confirm if it will be suitable for your child. For online purchases, check the specifications for this information.

Also, remember this before making a choice:

  • Rear-facing seats are the best for infants.
  • Forward-facing seats are recommended for toddlers aged two and above.
  • Older kids are safe traveling in booster seats until they outgrow them.

Stroller compatibility

If you move a lot, and not just with your vehicle, you should consider buying a travel system - a combination of a stroller and a car seat. In this case, the car seat can be detached from the stroller or attached to it at your convenience. Plus, it will help you cut costs since you will get it at a discount price.

Retainer Clips

Kids are naturally curious and touchy, so they might end up innocently unclipping their car seats. To avoid this, consider getting a car safety seat with two-piece retainer clips. Safety seats with these clips offer better security and restraint because they are difficult for babies and older kids to unclip or unfasten, without sacrificing comfort, of course.

Car Seat FAQs

Is it okay to use used car seats?

It is only okay to install used car seats if you know their history and origin. Regardless of this, the best option is to buy and install a new car seat. New car seats are often safer and durable, plus they come with upgrades, labels, and facilities better than the old models.

How will I find out if my car seat is recalled for safety problems?

Your best option is to register the car seat officially. You can do this by sending the registration card that comes with the car seat to the manufacturer via email or register it online with the information on the car seat label. Another option is to enroll with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to register your car seat. In all cases, you will receive alerts concerning recalls, with instructions on how to get them fixed. Fixing a car seat recall often requires changing a label or changing and upgrading a component.

How can I confirm that my car seat is installed tightly enough?

After installing the car seat with LATCH or a seat belt, place your hand on the car seat and push it down till it pushes all the air out of the vehicle seat. Afterward, proceed to re-lock the seat belt or LATCH as tight as you possibly can. Completing this procedure confirms that your car seat is installed tightly enough.

Do car seats expire?

Yes. The lifespan of a car seat is between 6 and 10 years, after which it expires and becomes dysfunctional. You can check the car seat label to check for your car seat's expiry date.

Is it okay to buy the car seat before the baby is born?

Yes. In fact, it is a great move. We recommend that parents buy and test car seats before the baby is born (around the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy) to get acquainted with the car seat dynamics.

What are the available varieties of car seats?

Rear-facing/infant car seats:

For newly born babies (0-15 months) weighing between 4 to 40 lbs.

Forward-facing car seats:

For toddlers aged two and above.

Booster car seats:

For toddlers that have outgrown forward-facing car seats weighing as much as 90lbs.

Convertible car seats:

Can be installed as a rear-facing and a forward-facing car seat.

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