Picking the right car seat for your baby, toddler, or child can be HARD and overwhelming with so many options available. How do you know which one is the safest and how much should you spend? Keep reading below to find out Renée’s (national certified car seat technician) favorite car seats based on different budgets to help narrow down the search for you!
Before we start, it’s important to know and understand that the price of the car seat has nothing to do with how safe it is. Expensive car seats are not safer. Many people wonder what makes an expensive car seat better or safer than a less expensive car seat? The answer is NOTHING. All car seats are heavily regulated and must pass the same intensive safety standards.
So, what’s the best car seat to get? The answer is the one that fits the child, fits the vehicle and that the caregiver can use correctly every time. The key to making a car seat as safe as possible is how YOU (the caregiver) installs it and safely harnesses your child in the car seat every time.
Did you know that Renée offers in-person and video chat car seat consults to help make sure your seat(s) are installed correctly and that you feel confident knowing how to install and harness correctly every time you get in the car? She also offers a mini 20 minute video chat car seat check if you just want to double check that you installed it properly! Click here to book today!
Favorite infant-only rear-facing only car seats (from least expensive to most expensive)
- Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite -$195 – good for tiger spaces and it’s budget friendly
- Chicco Keyfit Infant Car Seat – $199 – easy installation and is a solid car seat for its price!
- UPPA BabyMESSA infant – $299 – super convenient if you have the UPPA Baby Vista stroller because it clicks right in without any adapters!
- Nuna Pipa Infant car seat – $319 – the car seat itself only weighs 8 lbs which is what attracts people to this one! Note: the Nuna Pipa Lite model cannot be used without the car seat base!
- Clek Ling Infant Car Seat – $419 – the most compact infant car seat that’s great for behind tall passengers or drivers and weighs only 9 lbs. without the base
Do you know how to install the car seat without the base? This is a great option for traveling or if you don’t want to invest in an extra base to use in another car! Book a video chat consult with Renée if you don’t know how to do this, she can help walk you through how to do this in the safest way possible!
Favorite convertible car seats
- Graco Extend2Fit 2-in-1 ($149) or Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 ($219) – easy installation and is a solid car seat for its price! This is what Kate uses with Beesie and Finn. The 3-in-1 Turns into a high-back booster seat and the 2-in-1 is just rear-facing and forward-facing. This is a popular choice because it allows your child to stay rear-facing for up to 50 pounds! (Read this blog post for when you should turn your child to forward-facing)
- Britax Boulevards ClickTight – ($324) – solid car seat that fits forward-facing for up to 65 pounds with 7 recline positions
- Diono Radian 3RXT convertible car seat ($329) – This is popular choice to put 3 car seats in one row because of its slim profile. It also turns into a booster seat and fits a child up to 120 pounds!
- Nuna Rava ($449) – This is a popular choice because it offers 10 recline positions and also allows your child to stay rear-facing for up to 50 pounds! This is what I use for my daughter.
**Favorite travel convertible car seat: only $49! I love the Cosco Scenera Next convertible car seat because it’s SUPER light weight to travel with (easy to bring on planes too) and fits rear-facing 5-40 pounds and forward-facing 22-40 pounds. For more travel tips read our how to travel with kids blog post! It’s also perfect for second cars or grandparents cars too! If you need help installing this, Renée can help you in a consult!
Favorite booster seats:
Combination (5-point harness booster, to a high back booster to a backless booster seat)
- Graco Transition – $99 – This is my favorite combination because it’s light weight and easy to install (holds up to 100 pounds).
- Britax Grow With You Clicktight – $299 – This is popular because it has 2 layers making it very comfortable and can hold up to 120 pounds in booster mode!
High back booster seats that convert into backless booster seats:
- Graco AFFIX Highback Booster -$55 – up to 100 pounds that is super easy to install! People like this one because you can install with LATCH.
- Britax Skyline Booster -$99 – up to 120 pounds and is great for long car rides because it has extra plush seating!
- Diono Cambria 2 Highback Booster Seat – $79 – up to 120 pounds that also has the option to install with LATCH. This is a popular choice because you can remove the covers and throw it into the washing machine (for other car seats be sure to read the car seat manual for how you should clean it). It also has 6 head rest positions! (the recent recall only affects these booster seats manufactured between 9/5/2020 and 11/30/2020).
- Nuna Booster Seat – $199 – easy to install, comfortable, up to 120 pounds in backless mode and can be installed with lower anchors!
Backless booster seats:
- Graco Backless Turbobooster– $24 – solid seat for its price and easy to install with the seat belt! My nieces use this in my parents car!
- Diono Solana Backless Booster – $39 – popular because it’s easy to install with lower anchors and is easy to take the cover off to wash in the machine!
- Clek Ozzi Backless Booster – $99 – super comfortable for longer rides and can be connected using the lower anchors!
**How do you know if your child is ready for a booster seat? Read this blog post!
**If you need help with configuring your car seats as your family grows, schedule a consult with Renée. She can help you pick the right car seats based on dimensions and your family dynamic!
Helpful blog post: 5 things most parents don’t know about car seat safety
Car seat consults:
- Email 2 questions – Email Renée 2 questions that you have about your cat seat and she will respond within 72 hours.
- 20 minute video chat car seat check – if you want to make sure your car seat(s) are installed correctly, but don’t need a full hour consult, this mini consult is perfect for you!
- 1 hour video chat consult – Renée can help you install your car seat and educate you on the best practices for car seat safety so that you and your child’s caregivers feel confident (invite grandparents too!)
- 1 hour In-home consult – Chicagoland area only
Recorded car seat safety + tips for every stage workshop:
Renée discusses car seat progression, harnessing tips for every age, choosing the right car seat for your family, how to know when it’s time to move to forward-facing and booster seats, and other important things that most parents don’t know about car seat safety. This is a 60 minute workshop (30 minutes lecture and 30 minutes Q+A).
Watch our Proper Car Seat Harnessing reel here.
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above