The Most Popular Car Seats for Babies, Toddlers & Kids

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best car seats
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

Car seats are so essential that you can’t leave the hospital with your baby without one. But when it comes to car seats, there are a few different types to choose from: infant car seats, all-in-one car seats, convertible car seats, booster seats, and travel car seats. Child passenger safety laws vary by state (you can search yours here), but the best car seat for your child ultimately depends on their age, weight, and height. You’ll also want to consider the size of your car and your priority features within your budget. 

Researching and planning for our children are always top priority, and whether you’re registering for a new arrival, looking to purchase an additional car seat, or replacing an expired car seat, it can be a lot to sort through, which is why we wanted to help simplify with a roundup of some of the best car seats on the market today.

A few things to pay attention to are overall investment, connectivity to your stroller system, height and weight requirements, and ease of car installation. 

 

Types of Car Seats

When choosing a car seat for your child, it is important to keep their age, weight, and height in mind. Not sure which car seat is best for your child? The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s website offers a handy car seat finder tool to recommend the best type of car seat based on their age, weight, and height. Whichever type of car seat you choose, always read the instructions carefully, register your seat to be informed of any recalls, and follow all safety guidelines.

Infant Car Seats: should only be used rear-facing, as they are not meant to withstand the force of an impact if they were to hit something head on. Infant car seats will have the lowest height and weight requirements since babies grow out of them quickly.

Convertible Car Seats (all-in-one): are a good option for parents who want to be able to use the same seat for more than one child (before the seat’s expiration date). These car seats can be used as rear-facing or forward-facing car seats, and many can also be turned into booster seats. Convertible car seats will have a higher height and weight requirement; however, you won’t be able to easily transition a sleeping baby to a stroller or their crib since the convertible car seat stays in the car. 

Booster Seats: are meant to be used with children who have outgrown their convertible or all-in-one car seats. Booster seats help raise a child up so that the seat belt fits properly across their body.

Travel Car Seats: are designed for use when you are on the go. These seats are typically lightweight and can be folded up for easy transport.

There are so many decisions, which is why we’re breaking down some of the top car seats below.

 

Best Infant Car Seats

If you select an infant car seat, the baby will fit in the car seat typically for 9 to 12 months. One perk is that infant car seats can clip into your stroller when you’re on the go—depending on your stroller, you may need an adapter. 

Most infant car seats can only be used rear-facing, as they are not meant to withstand the force of an impact if they were to hit something head on. If you opt for an infant car seat, be sure to pick something that’s compatible with your stroller system, too. Some of the best infant car seats on the market include the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base, Cybex Aton 2 Sensorsafe, and the Doona.

 

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base

This is one of the most popular infant car seats on the market. It’s known for being easy to install. Plus, it fits Chicco stroller systems, making it a seamless transition for the baby.

Highlighted Feature: ease of installation

What Reviewers are Saying: “This car seat was extremely easy to detach from the base. It’s just a simple push of a button!” and “We love the ease of use of the Chicco system. We have several bases and can easily move carrier to any of our vehicles.” – reviews on Buy Buy Baby.

Cybex Aton 2 Sensorsafe

This car seat is ultra-lightweight, weighing only 9.5 pounds. It’s an incredibly safe car seat with the load leg base, which stabilizes the car seat and can reduce crash forces by up to 50%.

Highlighted Feature: lightweight/comfort

What Reviewers are Saying: “Exactly what we were looking for. Easy to install, great safety ratings, stylish and comfortable for our baby.” and “My favorite carseat of all. Bought this carseat for my fourth child as well as my third.” – reviews on Amazon

CYBEX

Aton 2 SensorSafe™

4 colors available

The Doona Infant Car Seat

The Doona may be the most flexible car seat on the market. It’s incredibly popular in cities because it transfers from a portable car seat to a stroller instantly. However, because it’s essentially a car seat and stroller in one, it does come at a hefty price point (over $500).

Highlighted Feature: convenience/car seat + stroller in one

What Reviewers are Saying: “So convenient, worth every penny.
Yes it’s heavy, but so are all the baby carriers. It’s worth a little extra muscle power to have the benefit of rolling around 98% of the time.” and “Easy in aisles, restaurants airplanes etc. my baby likes to nap in this and be pushed back and forth.” – reviews on Amazon

Doona

Infant Carseat and Latch Base

6 colors available

 

Best All-in-One Car Seats

All-in-one car seats are a good choice for parents who want a seat that will grow with their child. These seats can be used as rear-facing or forward-facing car seats, and some can even be turned into booster seats. The best all-in-one car seats include the Nuna EXEC, Evenflo GOLD, Maxi-Cosi Pria, Britax One4Life, Graco 4Ever DLX, KNOX Convertible Car Seat by UPPAbaby, and Graco Extend2Fit.

 

Nuna EXEC™ All-In-One Car Seat

Aside from being GREENGUARD Gold Certified, meaning it reduces air pollution, the Nuna EXEC is an incredibly comfortable car seat, and with a multi-functioning adjustable leg rest, it offers more seating positions for your little one.

Highlighted Feature: compact (18.5 inches wide) for backseat room

What Reviewers are Saying: “The ease of install, the gorgeous detail and the ten year life span make this a win win!” and “This convertible car seat comes with all the bells and whistles your heart could ever desire for your most precious cargo. Not only is it really sleek and very well designed as far as the aesthetics, it’s also very safe and easy to install and use.” – reviews on Nordstrom

Nuna EXEC

All-In-One Car Seat

5 colors available

 

Evenflo GOLD Revolve360 All-In-One Car Seat

The Evenflo features a 360-degree swivel rotation, making it easy to flip from rear to a forward-facing car seat. Featuring three modes, the Evenflo car seat can comfortably fit your baby up to age 10.

Highlighted Feature: grows with child

What Reviewers are Saying: “Convenient especially in a small/short car, my baby seems very comfortable” and “Love that this rotates – makes getting baby in and out of the car seat so much easier!” – reviews on Target

 

Maxi-Cosi® Pria™ All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat in After Dark

The Maxi-Cosi Pria features GCell® patented foam, which absorbs crash energy and protects your child’s head where it’s needed most in a side-impact crash. It’s best known for superior comfort with its soft-to-touch cushions.

Highlighted Feature: well-padded

What Reviewers are Saying: “I absolutely love this car seat. I replaced a lower quality car seat and I’m so glad I did.” and “This carseat is extremely easy to install and my one year old seems REALLY comfortable in it.” – reviews on BuyBuyBaby

Britax One4Life

The Britax One4Life features Click Tight technology, making it super easy to install and transfer from car to car. Each component clicks, so you know it’s done properly. It fits your baby from their infant to toddler to child (up to age 10) stages.

Highlighted Feature: Ease of installation/transfer

What Reviewers are Saying: “The Click Tight feature is just amazing! I can get the car seat installed in under two minutes and that’s with adjusting to the correct angle.” and “Our little fella is now 16 months and 28+ pounds. He rides well in this seat with no complaints of being uncomfortable.” – reviews on Amazon

 

Graco 4Ever DLX

This car seat is one of the most popular, affordable car seats from Graco. The most notable feature is the Simply Safe Adjust harness system, which automatically adjusts both the harness and headrest height without the need for rethreading.

Highlighted Feature: easy harness adjustments

What Reviewers are Saying: “The kiddos love being able to sit up higher to see out of the windows and as a parent it’s an extra plus it’s so safe!” and “I like that when you pick it up it feels sturdy.” – reviews on Target

 

KNOX® Convertible Car Seat by UPPAbaby®

This car seat is a super comfortable, safe car seat for infants up to kids 10 years of age. It features Koroyd technology designed to absorb the maximum amount of energy from an impact.

Highlighted Feature: safety/comfort

What Reviewers are Saying: “I wouldn’t buy this seat with a plan to move it from car to car but as a seat that will stay in one car, it’s perfect.” and “The seat fabric is soft, and ample padding keeps my child comfortable. The best part is how easy it is to tighten the harness.” – reviews on BuyBuyBaby

UPPAbaby

KNOX® Convertible Car Seat

4 colors available

 

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Convertible Car Seat

This car seat features the ClickTight Installation System, which is the safest and simplest technology on the market. It holds little ones up to 65 pounds.

Highlighted Feature: Anti-Rebound Bar

What Reviewers are Saying: “We love this, and now own one for each child despite the high cost of these seats. Such a snug, secure fit in our car.” and ” It was easy to install and is very sturdy. Safety ratings are excellent and we feel good putting our son in this seat.” – reviews on Amazon

Graco® Extend2Fit® Convertible Car Seat

The Graco Extend2Fit provides five inches of extra leg room to keep your baby safely and comfortably seated in the rear-facing position longer—the safest position to ride.

Highlighted Feature: best crash test results

What Reviewers are Saying: “Buckles are nice and easy to loosen/tighten. Extremely easy to set up.” and “We’ve had this car seat since my daughter was almost 8 months & still rear facing, she’s now 4 almost 5 & is now front facing so it’s definitely grown with her.” – reviews on Target

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Best Booster Car Seats

Booster seats are meant to be used with children who have outgrown their convertible or all-in-one car seats. Booster seats help raise a child up so that the seat belt fits properly across their body. The best booster seats include the Nuna Ace Carseat, Britax Highpoint, Chicco Kid Fit 2-in-1, and the Maxi-Cosi Rodisport.

 

Nuna Ace Carseat

The Nuna Ace Car Seat features three depths to seamlessly grow with your child. It features armrests, a customizable recline, and side-impact protection (SIP) pods for added safety. It’s an ultra-comfy seat for toddlers.

Highlighted Feature: three seat depths for growing legs

What Reviewers are Saying: “Beautiful, fits easily, looks great and m easy to install and my kid finds it comfortable. What more can you ask for?” and “First it had a latch system (which not all booster seats do), the back comes off for when they are big kids, and it’s very sturdy and well made.” – reviews on Nordstrom

Nuna

AACE™ Booster Seat

2 colors available

 

Britax Highpoint

The Britax Highpoint is an affordable booster under $200. It features three layers of side-impact protection and a 10-position, quick-adjust headrest that grows with your child up to 63 inches and 120 pounds, making it one of the longest-lasting car seats.

Highlighted Feature: excellent safety features

What Reviewers are Saying: “Almost 9 months later and this booster is still fantastic. Looks new, no issues, easy in and out of the car. Have recommended it to multiple friends and everyone loves it.” and “The submarine belt is a necessity for us. We had just transitioned my daughter to this seat and we got into a car accident. My husband’s and my seat broke. My daughter didn’t feel a thing.” – reviews on Amazon

 

Chicco Kid Fit 2-in-1

The Chicco Kid Fit 2-in-1 is the most affordable booster seat on the market that checks nearly all of the boxes. It’s just over $100 and fits children up to 57 inches or 110 pounds.

Highlighted Feature: high quality at affordable price point

What Reviewers are Saying: “I didn’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a booster like I did for their convertible car seats, but didn’t want to sacrifice safety and these seats keep them secure.” and “We have bought lots of boosters over the years and this one is by far the best. We take a lot of road trips and the multi position back allows our child to tilt back a bit to sleep.” – reviews on Bed Bath & Beyond

Maxi-Cosi Rodisport

The Maxi-Cosi Rodisport may be the most versatile booster seat on the market. It’s a belt-positioning and backless booster.

Highlighted Feature: easy installation

What Reviewers are Saying: “The anchor system is awesome! You don’t have to mess around with trying to loosen the strap of the anchor. You just push a button and both are full my extended and click it into your car.” and “Easy to reach the belt. Very lightweight but still sturdy. We’ve tried so many seats and this is absolutely the best one we’ve tried.” – reviews on Target

Maxi-Cosi

RodiSport Belt Positioning Booster

3 colors available

 

Best Travel Car Seats

Travel car seats are convenient when you are on the go or often switching between cars. These seats are typically lightweight and affordable.

 

Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

The Cosco Scenera may be the most affordable car seat on the market. It’s less than $50 and can be used rear-facing for infants through 40-pound kids.

Highlighted Feature: affordable/reliable

What Reviewers are Saying: “I have to say that I enjoy many of the features that this car seat has to offer, specifically the fact that it is easy to transport from vehicle to vehicle, so incredibly EASY to take apart and wash, and—most importantly—can accommodate extended rear-facing which is something that was important to me.” and “These were easy to install as we had to switch them out from several cars for a while. They were economical with our daughters safety in mind.” – reviews on CoscoKids

 

Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat

The Cosco Finale is a lightweight car seat. It’s under $75 with the ability to hold children up to 100 pounds, making it ideal for travel.

Highlighted Feature: lightweight and easy to move

What Reviewers are Saying: “The car seat is very light and is great if you need to travel with it or transfer to another car. All in all this is a great seat for the price!” and “I love how it came already put together and I did not have to install anything except for the cupholder” – reviews on Walmart

Cosco

Finale 2-in-1

2 colors available

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