Infant/Child (Convertible) Seats

Infant/Child (convertible) seats

Infant/Child (also known as convertible) seats can be installed rear facing or forward facing.  Some can also be used a booster.  Please review and follow the manuals for your car and your car seat when installing a infant/child seat as they may use different installation methods depending on the seat.

We recommend looking for a seat that will keep your child rear facing for a long time.  Rear facing is the safest way to travel.  Transport Canada and Child Safety Link recommend that children rear face as long as possible, to the limits of their seat.  We also prefer seats that will keep your child in a harness until they are mature enough to sit safely in a booster – generally, around school age.  For some kids this will mean finding a seat with high top harness slots, for others it will mean finding one with a higher weight limit, and for still others it will mean finding both.

These are some of the commonly available seats, listed with both pros and cons.  All seats test to the same safety standard, no matter the price.  Just because we haven’t listed a seat does not necessarily mean we don’t recommend it, only that we haven’t had time/information to list it. Feel free to ask for more information if you are interested in a specific seat.  Other than the two seats we specifically do not recommend (found at the end of the list), the seats listed are in no particular order.

We have noted our favourite/most recommended seats with an *

Cosco/Safety 1st Scenera *

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 35 or 40lbs.  (There are two versions of this seat.)
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 40lbs
Top harness slot:
15 inches
Life Span:
6 years from date of manufacture

Average Price:
$69 – $100

Pros:

  • Low cost seats.
  • Simple install.
  • Great for rear facing.
  • Suitable for newborns (some versions now come with a newborn insert).
  • Great lightweight seat for travelling.

Cons:

  • Not tall enough to get a kid to booster age.
  • Little padding.
  • Often needs a pool noodle(s) or rolled towel to install rear facing.
  • UAS clips are not easy to use.
  • Can be ‘tippy’ when rear facing with a locked retractor.
  • Manufacturer is strict on the measured standing height limit of 32″ for rear facing

Graco MyRide 65 *

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40lbs.
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
16.5 inches
Life Span:
7 years

Average Price:
$200-230

Pros:

  • High weight limit for rear facing.
  • Easy to install.
  • Excellent for newborns when used with included insert.  Note: Never use a third-party insert with a car seat.
  • Lowest slots on the market (will fit a newborn weighing at least 5lbs).
  • Has separate UAS straps for forward facing and rear facing, which makes changing the direction of the seat easier.

Cons:

  • Must be taken apart to adjust harness height.
  • Shell may not be tall enough for tall children to get to booster age.
  • UAS clips are basic style.

Note: Is very reclined while forward facing; some kids really like this, some kids don’t.

Safety 1st Complete Air *

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40lbs.
Weight range forward facing:
22 to  65lbs (2012 compliant models – older models had a 50lbs FF limit)
Top harness slot:
17 inches
Life Span:
8 years
Average Price:
$200-230

Pros:

  • High weight limit for rear facing, tall shell.
  • Narrow seat suitable for three across situations.
  • Continuous harness (no re-threading to change harness height).
  • Level line available for both infant and toddler.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for newborns or younger babies.
  • Limited cover options.
  • No harness covers available; straps may irritate some children’s necks.
  • Manufacturer is strict on standing height limit of 36″ for rear facing

The First Years/Lamaze True Fit *

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 35lbs.
Weight range forward facing:
23 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
17.5 inches
Life Span:
7 years

Average Price:
$200

Pros:

  • Tall shell great for tall kids.
  • Removable headrest helps fit seat in car for young babies.
  • Excellent for newborns.
  • Built in lockoff reduces tipping and installation issues in older vehicles.
  • Cover removes quickly and easily to be cleaned.
  • Deluxe UAS clips.
  • Anti-rebound bar included.
  • Bubble indicator shows level for infant and toddler

Cons:

  • Lower rear facing limit may not get all kids to 3 years of age.
  • Lockoffs are mandatory but may be incompatible in some vehicles; they can also have a bit of a learning curve.
  • Big and bulky seat.
  • Anti-rebound bar may make more upright installation more difficult.

Diono Radian (65 and XT)

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40-45lbs. depending on model
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Weight range booster:
50-100lbs
Top harness slot:
18 inches
Life Span:
8 years


Average Price:

$280-$360

Pros:

  • Tall shell great for tall kids.
  • Highest rear facing weight limit on the market, with some of the highest slots for forward facing.
  • Steel reinforced shell.
  • Extremely narrow, useful for 3-across seat configurations.
  • Deluxe UAS clips
  • Folds flat for storage and travel (travel straps sold separately) and fits nicely on a plane with the child able to use the seat tray.
  • Booster fits safely on children of the right height (see “Cons”).

Cons:

  • Can be difficult to install.
  • Can be incompatible with some vehicles.
  • Available only in specialty stores.
  • Expensive.
  • Rear facing ‘boot’ detaches when used forward facing, increasing the chance that it could be lost.
  • Cover is difficult to remove.
  • Booster is not a practical feature as will be outgrown at the same time as the harness.

Britax Marathon 65/Boulevard 65/Advocate 65

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40lbs.
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
16.5 inches
Life Span:
6 years


Average Price:

$300

Pros:

  • Super easy to install with UAS (unique design) making it convenient for travel.
  • Built in lockoffs.
  • Many cute prints for covers.
  • Extremely comfortable for the child.
  • Nice high weight limits on new models.
  • Cover is easy to clean without removing the harness.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Very high on base which can make it difficult to get an older child in and out of vehicle.
  • Not suitable for newborns without insert (which must be bought separately).
  • Some models include things like headwings, airbags, etc. which are all unproven features that Transport Canada does not test.
  • The seat shell height and top harness slots are the same in all models.

Eddie Bauer/Safety 1st/ Alpha Omega 3 in 1  (New Models)

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 35lbs or 5 to 40lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs OR 22 to 50lbs OR 22 to 40lbs
Weight range booster:
40 to 80 OR 100lbs
Top harness slot:
17 inches
Life Span:
8 years
Average Price:
$115 – 240

We do NOT recommend using this seat as a booster, barring emergency (see “Cons”).

Pros:

  • Widely available.
  • Some models have no re-thread harness.
  • Low cost models available.
  • Most newer models should get an average child to booster age.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for a newborn or young baby.
  • Can be tricky to install rear facing.
  • Multiple models make this seat confusing to buy and recommend – always check and comply with the manual.
  • For some models, the top slot is not able to be used in harness-mode which severely limits the usefulness.
  • Eddie Bauer model is very high priced despite being exactly the same seat, structurally, as lower cost models.
  • UAS clips are not easy to use.
  • Booster mode does not fit well on most children – it fits loosely on lap making it possible for the belt to ride up too high on belly. As well, shoulder guides are quite low, making a poor fit that is quickly outgrown.  We do NOT recommend using this seat as a booster, barring emergency.  It is on the IIHS ‘Not Recommended’ list.

Evenflo Symphony 65

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 30lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Weight range booster:
40 to 100lbs
Top harness slot
 17 inches

Life Span
 8 years
Average Price:
$250-270

Pros:

  • No re-thread harness.
  • Sure Latch Technology is very easy to use.
  • Booster fits most children safely.
  • Easy to use in all stages of use.

Cons:

  • Sure Latch is incompatible with some vehicles.
  • Extremely low rear-facing weight limit.
  • Top slots may not get all children to a safe booster age.
  • Booster has unrealistically high top weight limit and will be outgrown long before the manufacturer-stated 100lbs.

Safety 1st Guide 65

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
16.5 inches
Life Span:
6 years

Average Price:

$130-$149

Pros:

  • Slim profile good for 3 across.
  • Should get an average child to a safe booster age forward facing.
  • Easily affordable.
  • Widely available seat.
  • Plenty of leg room while rear facing.

Cons:

  • Headrest design may push some children into an uncomfortable/dangerous position.
  • Must be taken apart to adjust harness height.
  • May not be tall enough to get all children to a safe booster age.
  • Manufacturer is very strict on standing height limit of 36″ for rear facing

Safety 1st Onside Air

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 40lbs
Top harness slot:
15 inches
Life Span:
6 years

Average Price:
$130-150

Pros:

  • Some models have alligator style UAS clips.
  • Should accommodate an average size newborn.
  • Has ‘air protect’ technology.

Cons:

  • Must be taken apart to adjust harness height.
  • Similar to the Safety 1st Scenera (which is a significantly less expensive seat), this seat is not tall enough to get all children to a safe booster age.
  • Manufacturer is strict on standing height limit of 36″ for rear facing

Evenflo Momentum

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 30lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
17 inches
Life Span:
6 years

Average Price:
$250

Pros:

  • Fits most children well, from infant to booster age.
  • Infinite adjust harness never needs to be adjusted.
  • Sure Latch is easy to use.

Cons:

  • Low rear facing weight limit will not keep most children rear facing long enough.
  • Sure Latch technology is incompatible with some vehicles.
  • Slim harness straps can be uncomfortable for some children.

Evenflo Triumph 65

Weight range rear facing:
5 to 40lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
17 inches
Life Span:
6 years

Average Price:
$150-180

Pros

  • Fits most children well, from infants to booster age.
  • Infinite adjust harness never needs to be adjusted.
  • Unique harness tightening mechanism is easier on people who have difficulty using their hands.

Cons:

  • Harness tightening knobs are incompatible with many mini-van’s captain’s chairs.
  • Harness tabs can irritate children’s necks.

Clek Foonf

Weight range rear facing:
15 to 40lbs
Weight range forward facing:
22 to 65lbs
Top harness slot:
18 inches
Life Span:
8 years

Average Price:
$350-500

Pros

  • Unique design is more upright, taking up less room in the car
  • Fabric is stain resistant
  • Available in fun patterns
  • Easy installation

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Heavy, with metal frame
  • Not suitable for newborns and younger infants at all

 

We do not recommend buying:

  • Evenflo Titan
  • Graco Comfortsport

They both have incredibly short shells and low weight limits, and will be completely outgrown by 3 at the latest.  They do not last long enough to justify the cost.

This doesn’t mean they are unsafe and if a trusted friend or relative hands one down to you, I would still use it as long as your child fits appropriately.  Just be aware that it will not hold most children as long as some other seats.

About Atlantic Car Seat Safety

We are two Children's Restraint Systems Technicians who live in the Halifax area and volunteer through the IWK's Child Safety Link. We aim to answer questions and provide support as well as posting recalls, updates, reviews and how-tos.
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29 Responses to Infant/Child (Convertible) Seats

  1. Jenn says:

    Wow! Awesome rundown on the seats! Thanks 🙂

  2. Nancy Thurston says:

    Very helpful listing of the most commonly seen seats. 🙂 The Scenera…. I presume that should read 6 years in service, not 16??
    Thank you!!

  3. Riann says:

    Love all the tips and things you guys provide! We bought 2 safety 1st complete air last week during the amazing sale babies r us has on; 2 great seats for under $300, you can’t beat that!!

  4. Catherine says:

    Diono is now available at Toys R Us and Sears too I think.

  5. Shalan says:

    Absolutely LOVE this page!! Keep up the hard work.

  6. Colleen says:

    What about the Graco Nautilus? I think it’s the only Graco that Wal-Mart carries.

    • Hi Colleen,

      The Graco Nautilus is a Child/Booster seat, meaning that it cannot be used rearfacing at all. Therefore it is not part of the group of seats we have reviewed here. It is a great seat for most people. It will keep all but the tallest children harnessed until a safe booster age and works well as a booster. It installs well in almost all vehicles. Some boys find that there isn’t enough room in the crotch area. We will at some point add more blog posts about these issues.

  7. Laura says:

    Great and informative read! I am surprised to see the Diono and Britax are not among your “favorites” as the quality seems to be superior to that of the cheaper car seats. Although most modern car seats are tested and reliable, you certainly get what you pay for, be it a higher weight limit, more prominent side impact protection, or a comfortable fit. A $20-50 difference in cost seems justifiable in something that your child will use often for upwards of four years.

    • As a rule, we find Britax and Diono seats to be out of reach for many people. We don’t recommend them outside of special circumstances. They are wonderful seats, but it is possible to find almost all of their features, weight limits etc at a lower price point.

      ETA: (Not sure where you are located) In Canada, it’s more like a $75-$100 difference in cost.

  8. Shalan says:

    What are the chances of have the height limits listed for each seat? Especially for the rf limits. I know some go by the 1 in rule and others are firm on their numerical number.

  9. Lori says:

    Yes, I would be very interested to know how to tell when my son is too tall for his First Years True Fit seat. He’s a very tall 3.5 year old. Great info btw!

    • The True Fit goes by the 1″ rule. As long as he has 1″ of head clearance at the top of his seat, he fits rear facing (provided he is under 35lbs). Forward facing, as long as the top slots are above his shoulders, the tops of his ears are below the top of the seat and he is under 65lbs he still fits.

  10. Meghan says:

    Thank you for the run down. I have a concern though. I have read that children are to remain in a stage 2 car seat until 65lbs before transitioning to a booster. Yet, many of the seats you have reccommended only rate to 40lbs. While I agree that many car seats are very overpriced, buying one of the cheaper models like the Serena means that eventually, you will still need to buy a seat to accomdate from 40-65 lbs. So why the reccommendation?

    Also, I have read some concerning reviews of companies like Cosco and Safety 1st regarding quality issues, and while the tested seat passed safety requirements, many seats in production have issues that may render them unsafe. Is this true?

    • We actually don’t recommend that children remain harnessed until 65lbs. We recommend that children remain harnessed until they are old enough to sit safely in a belt positioning booster. Generally this happens between age 4-7. Children of this age can weigh anywhere between 40 and 65lbs.

      Also, for some parents, they simply cannot afford to buy a seat with a higher weight limit now. Buying a seat like the Scenera enables them to buy a year or two during which time they can save for a larger forward facing/booster seat like the Graco Nautilus or Evenflo SecureKid.

      While some parents do have concerns about the safety of seats made by Cosco and Safety 1st (both owned by the parent company Dorel), I’ve never seen them act any differently than the makers of more expensive seats. As a rule, more expensive seats come with features that make them easier to use. This doesn’t make less expensive seats unsafe, just more difficult to use. Check out our article ‘Bursting the Britax Bubble’ here on the blog for more info.

  11. Karen says:

    We are getting a new seat from Safety 1st to replace our 2008 Apex 65 (no longer being made) because of a fraying strap. They were going to send us the Alpha Omega in exchange, until I read this information (which was also supported by information on Mothering.com). Interesting though that when I spoke with Safety 1st just now, the rep said that these negative reviews were all because of one test done with children or dummies that were not the appropriate size, in booster mode. Seemed like a convenient response… either way, we are getting the Complete Air instead (why not get a better seat that doesn’t go to booster mode than another one not recommended for booster mode). So thanks so much for this information — it saved us from accepting a not-so-great seat in exchange.

  12. Holly says:

    We are getting the Peg Perego Primo Viaggo seat. It’s expensive but forwards faces until 45 lbs, from the research I have done it forward faces the longest in Canada

    • There are two seats that REAR face to 45 lbs in Canada, the Peg Perego Convertible seat and the Diono Radian. Many seats FORWARD face to 65lbs, which is the maximum allowed for a harnessed child seat in Canada.

  13. brigette says:

    Do you have a review on the Graco mysize 70? I would love to hear your opinion on that.

  14. Amazing Web site, Carry on the great job. Appreciate it!

  15. Sarah says:

    What about Foonf? I drive a civic and hear they take up minimal space. Also looking for something that will not hold heat as my son seems to get warm very easily. Thanks!

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