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Tested: The Best Convertible Car Seats

Height and weight limits

Every convertible car seat will have height and weight limits for kids in all configurations: rear-facing, forward-facing, and, if applicable, booster. Good Housekeeping recommends you be sure your car seat is set up according to your child’s current height and weight and that you maintain each configuration until your child reaches the upper limit of either the seat’s height or weight limit.

Installation efforts

Installing a car seat correctly is crucial for safety purposes, but it can take a lot of strength to properly secure a seat. Many seats are compatible with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children), an easy-to-use system of attachment points in your vehicle that the car seat attaches to. If your vehicle is not compatible with LATCH, then you’ll likely install your car seat using your vehicle’s seatbelt. The GHI suggests hiring a professional if you need help.

Vehicle size

The folks at Good Housekeeping have seen a lot of returned car seats, simply because they won’t fit in some back seats. They recommend you measure the available space in your vehicle’s back seat before deciding which car seat to buy. Also, note the retailer’s return policy before purchase, just in case the size doesn’t work out.

Ease of cleaning

Convertible car seats are meant to last for many years, so finding one that’s easy to clean can save a lot of hassle. The GHI recommends looking for models with removable, machine-washable seat padding and covers.

Seat adjustments

Since a convertible car seat can see your child from newborn to big kid, look for one that can “grow” with them with multi-position headrest and recline options, Good Housekeeping says. A no-rethread harness will allow you to easily make seat adjustments without requiring you to reconfigure the seatbelt.

Expiration date

Over time, the materials in a car seat can compress or get worn down, so all convertible car seats are stamped with an expiration date. Plus, newer test standards are introduced over time to help ensure better safety. If you are planning on using the same seat for many years or for multiple children, take note of the recommended usage. The GHI is clear on this point: Never use an expired car seat or one that’s been in an accident. If you’re ever unsure about any car seat or its operation, construction, or safety, the GHI says you should assume the worst and replace it.

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