This storage helps ensure you have the answers at your fingertips should a problem or question arise concerning installation or use. But, after you narrow down your list to one or two finalists for your car seat, we suggest you consider compatible strollers if you plan to use your infant car seat in combination with a stroller to create a travel system. The forward-facing installation of the Clek Foonf for kids over 2 years old using the vehicle belt is very secure feeling and easy to accomplish. Not using the harness or seat correctly could lead to injury or possible death in the event of a crash, so this is an important feature to consider on any seat. All trademarks property of their respective owners The construction and design work similarly to a bike helmet, by using an exterior hard plastic shell combined with a layer of energy-absorbing hard foam placed between the shell and your head. Our expert panel was led by Dr. Juliet Spurrier, Board-Certified Pediatrician, mother of two, and founder of BabyGearLab. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight is one of the easiest seats to use. The photos above show a few of the side impact features marketed by the manufacturers of some of the seats in this review. We analyzed the data and rated the seats in comparison with one another apples to apples. Once you've narrowed to a handful of seats based on ease of use and installation considerations, we'd recommend you consider crash test results to narrow down your selection further. According to NHTSA, over 60% of parents place their infant car seats on the left or right side. The Cybex (shown here) also offers a under the fabric newborn foam insert to help give baby a safer, more comfortable ride, The Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 appears to use the same tested technology as the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air for side impact protection design. Notice the side belt threads are open as opposed to closed like the majority of bases we looked at. Other buckles are stiff, but at least they don't require cussing to use. This clean-up process is far better than the majority of contenders that often include handwashing and air drying, such as the Britax ClickTight four-part cover. The Mesa uses the so-called "American belt path" method over the lower portion of the carrier. The Chicco NextFit has a unique chest clip with a two-setting adjustment for a more customizable fitting. The simplest method is a non-rethread style that involves moving the headrest/harness shoulder strap assembly up and down (above left). We think most parents would consider keeping the child restrained in the event of a side-impact to be a basic feature offered by all products, rather than a specific side-impact protection feature. Even if the inner LATCH anchors from the side positions are close enough to use, most vehicle and seat manuals do not allow the use of these LATCH anchors for the center position installation. Thanks to the innovative ClickTight and strap tightening system, this option almost installs itself with only a little human assistance. However, each seat we tested responded differently in the sled testing, and we believe the results can help differentiate the seats from one another. In the beginning, we consulted with experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about their protocol and crash test results. Dr. Spurrier loves the Clek's quality, finds it easy to use, and her kids love it. We needed a towel for the rear installation of the Evenflo Tribute to obtain the proper angle of the seat. The seats all have similarities like a plastic shell, impact foam, comfort padding, and a fabric cover. However, convertible seats offer compatibility with infants as small as 5 lbs and up to 40-70 lbs depending on the model. During our installation testing, we found significant differences between car seats regarding ease of installation with a seat belt depending on the vehicle we were using. This change happens when the baby reaches somewhere between 9-12 months of age, depending on your particular car seat and how fast your baby grows. Some seats performed better in crash tests, so we gave higher scores to those seats with the assumption that they offer an extra margin of protection based on crash test results. The carrier weights vary between 8.48 lbs for the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 (above left) and 16.8 lbs for the Doona; the average for the group is 10.5 lbs. For comfort and quality, we consider materials and overall construction. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 (above left) uses the European path, while the Graco SnugLock 35 (above right) features the American method. The Extend2Fit isn't the highest quality, and it feels like it doesn't offer as much for comfort as similarly priced seats, so it might be less cozy for long distances. While each seat meets the minimum Federal safety requirements, some have managed to pass the tests with better results than the others. Amazon. Our favorite seats for height adjustment allow adjustments without re-threading the harness straps from one slot to another or detaching the straps from the splitter plate. The Boulevard has an easy to adjust, non-rethread harness height adjustment that work smoothly and is easy to operate. Nearly every car seat, and most vehicles manufactured since September 1, 2002, have the LATCH system. The canopy on the Aton 2 is small and the plastic visor doesn't provide much additional coverage. While Graco also claims independent testing for SIP, but their definition and test results only cover keeping your child contained in the harness in the event of a side collision. We found that options with a lock-off were every bit as secure feeling when installed with a belt as they were with the LATCH (some even more so). Also, you may need to give more attention to installation to ensure it is spot on, given the installation performance we experienced. A few of the seats also have metal frame components or features that offer increased shell stability that potentially improve seat performance in the event of a crash (though this is difficult to prove in standard tests). Shown above is the percentage margin by which each seat exceeded the maximum Head Injury Criteria (HIC) score established by the Federal NHTSA standard. The Doona earned top results for ease of use with an 8 of 10. We suggest you keep your baby in their infant seat until they transition in the 9-12 months' age range or as their height starts to push the infant seat's maximum length. Britax’s One4Life convertible car seat – like ... #2. The Cybex Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 also has a unique chest clip that includes SensorSafe technology that relays a variety of different information to a device connected to the car and your smartphone. Our panel of experts includes Dr. Juliet Spurrier, a Board-Certified Pediatrician, mother, and founder of BabyGearLab with a background in urgent pediatric care. The major issue with this kind of adjustment is you may not notice the adjustment need until your baby is already in the carrier. The back of the Chicco plastic shell is smooth and easy to clean. The ability to easily adjust the harness height on the seat can mean the difference between an infant that is secure restrained, and one that is not. We prefer the non-rethread style because it is simple, and we think busy parents will be more likely to keep the harness properly fitted if they can accomplish this quickly without removing their child from the seat. The Graco chest clips are the most challenging to operate during testing, with clips that require excessive squeezing of buttons that hurt to operate. Several other award winners have higher prices, but their features and performance or crash test analysis make them a good value if their strong points are the most important to you. Some of the seats also offer padding or "head wings" around the head area. This is one of the easiest adjustment options in the review. So, the good news is you should be able to utilize the LATCH method until your child outgrows the weight limit of the LATCH connectors (please see your safety seat user manual). This problem is most prevalent in the Graco seats, though the Peg Perego Nido also struggles. There are currently no boosters on the market with this designation. Some of these seats are heavy, and this should be a factor for parents who won't be installing the seat in their car and forgetting about it. The research also shows that more than 80% of car seats have a minimum of one serious problem with the installation. Several high scoring seats tied for second place with impressive 9s, the UPPAbaby Mesa, the Chicco Keyfit 30, the Nuna Pipa, and the Cybex Aton 2. The good news is that your infant car seat and vehicle are likely LATCH-compatible on the left or right side of the back seat. As we did with the HIC scores, we focused on how large a margin of protection each product provided below the score of 60, Federal maximum Chest (G) Clip score. The taller the bar, the better the margin of protection. Taller bars incidate better results and a potentially higher margin of protection. There are primarily two types of car seats, the infant car seat, and the convertible car seat. The UPPAbaby Mesa, Chicco Keyfit 30, and the Cybex Aton 2 all tied with impressive 9s. There are two belt paths for installing a carrier without the base, European, and American. This fact can be a relief when you need to install the seat with a belt, which is highly likely given the weight limitations of LATCH systems. The Clek Foonf is a very heavy seat at 38 lbs and 6 ounces; it is cumbersome to carry and more than a handful. Tested vehicle: 2018 Lincoln MKX Select 4-door 4wd The Lincoln MKX was redesigned for the 2016 model year. Seats further below the Federal maximum chest score have a more significant percentage difference, and one could consider them as potentially providing an additional margin of protection. How can we improve BabyGearLab? The Clek Foonf has the best Chest Clip score in the group, but its HIC result is below average, which results in a crash-test score of 7. The easiest to change, and thus our favorite seats, are those whose height can move without the need for rethreading. This style of an indicator is best used from a distance and on a level surface comparing the line to the vehicle bottom not the ground (see your user manual for specific details). We measured them completely and their the width and weight had equal impact on the final score for size. The LATCH straps on the Evenflo Tribute LX are relatively easy to tighten, but we had some difficulty loosening the LATCH strap when trying to uninstall the seat. The good news for parents is that these Federal safety requirements ensure that every seat sold in the US provides at least a basic level of crash protection, and thus can be considered safe. We combined our test data with crash test data obtained from NHTSA's own tests to create a comprehensive analysis of each seat. We aren't sure, and as a result, we remain skeptical and don't consider these kinds of features to be mandatory. A while ago I stumbled upon an internet petition someone had created to try to get the car seat governing body to release crash test data for car seat companies in Europe. We’ve said it before: every car seat sold in the U.S. meets the minimum Federal safety standards. This feature can only be used when the seat next to it is empty, to avoid injuries to other passengers, Most of the seats incorporated dense foam as their energy absorption material for crashes. The Maxi-Cosi weighs over 18 pounds and is the widest seat in the review at 21 inches. For each crash test, there are sensors in the head and chest of a crash test dummy buckled into a car seat and placed on the "sled." Copyright © 2020 BabyGearLab LLC So, if you are going to place the seat in the center, it usually means you are going to need to master the relatively tricky process of anchoring the base using the seat belt. Chances are you have a few seats on your list after considering installation locations and how easy it is to install. Being able to alter the harness quickly and easily means your child will be using a correct fitting harness at all times. Even though we like the idea of the bar, we think that currently there is not enough information available for caregivers to believe that the absence of this should be a deal-breaker. LATCH connectors are only the first part of the strap equation for infant car seat installation. Monitoring your baby can be the difference between restful... Avoid diaper disasters with the best performing diapers on... Dr. Juliet Spurrier, Board-Certified Pediatrician, 84% of infant seats exhibited critical misuse, study of 267 families by Portland's top Children's Hospital, Studies show that more than 7 out of 10 car seats are incorrectly installed or the baby was improperly restrained, and, help you learn to correctly install your infant car seat, you can ignore this section and move on to Ease of Use, this action could be potentially dangerous, 8,000 infants a year are treated in hospitals because of fall injuries suffered while using an infant seat or baby carrier outside of a vehicle, read our complete review of infant car seats to learn more, CDC baby boy age vs weight growth charts (pdf), average baby girl will reach 32 inches and 25 lbs around 19 months, Cybex Aton 2 has a hard plastic side-impact "lever", liked that the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 has a hard foam headpiece, our review of the most popular full-size strollers, which looks specifically at which seats work best in combination with each stroller, check out our review of the best performing baby carriers, a 43% lower risk of injury for seats placed in the center, Ease of Installing the Base with the Seat Belt, mistakes when installing a car seat or adjusting the harness are so common, 80% of parents improperly use or install the car seat, evaluate the crash tests of each seat in this review, Take a look at our comprehensive review of the most popular and highly regarded full-size strollers, Check out our Stroller and Car Seat Combo Review for more info, Top Performer, but Limited Stroller Compatibility, Ease of Installation with the LATCH System. Infant car seats install rear-facing only, and are best for babies up to a year old and weighing between 4 and 40 pounds. Because there is no industry standard, and each manufacturer means something different when they say pretty much the same thing, it means the terms used to describe "side impact" have no meaning in and of themselves. The Chicco Keyfit 30 is an easy-to-use car seat that performs well overall with better crash tests results than the average seat. These were not the only options with this feature in the group, but they are the ones we liked the best. The final component is primarily for comfort and includes a layer of padding and fabric that gives the seat its overall look and helps position the baby properly in the seat. Alternatively, the Evenflo Tribute (above right) is basic and functions well despite the lack of additional features and details with a more unfinished look overall. Each one includes a zippy turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and good crash-test ratings. Let us know! You push the rigid LATCH connectors onto the anchors, and that's it! Also, the term is filled with ambiguity. Analysis of child auto crash injuries shows that head and chest injuries present the two highest risks for serious or fatal injury. Most choose the passenger side so that the driver can more easily see their baby. The Evenflo Tribute LX is a top-performer for removing the cover and straightforward, parent-friendly cleaning. But, it is worth noting that most parents (61%) place the infant car seat on one of the side seats, most often the right rear passenger side which allows the driver to see the baby more easily. Suddenly, you collide head-on with the northbound vehicle. This information is why we believe that ease-of-installation and ease-of-use are critical considerations and encourage parents to include these metrics in their review process prior to making a buying decision as it encompasses more than just making life easier. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB has one of the highest overall results in our tests with perfect scores for both installation methods (LATCH and Belt) creating a practically foolproof installation car seat. The CDC stats show that the average boy baby will reach 30 inches long in about 12 months, and girls will get there about 14 months old. The … We hoped they'd alter the design in newer seats, but the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 remains the same. In this round, Consumer Reports crash tested 23 combination seat models with various dummy sizes, using LATCH or a 3-point lap/shoulder seatbelt as required depending on the weight of the dummy being used. However, the Nido chest clip is stiff and can create pain. This seat is a unique option we think lots of parents will love and one our founder and Mom-in-Chief, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, uses with her children. This Cybex also has a higher than average price tag, so families on a tight budget will need to plan or add this seat to their registry. The Clek Foonf is the only option in our review that doesn't provide a removable cover; it is spot clean only, and while you can purchase a cleaning kit from Clek, you will likely require a steam cleaner for bigger messes. At first glance, the infant seats seem similar and look like they function virtually identical. Crash tests and results are important, but most parents don't know that improper installation and misuse of infant car seats are a significant cause of injury in car accidents. Feedback from testers was averaged to determine the final score for the metric. All of the Britax options earned a high score of 8 for ease of use. They also don't supply any information on their testing process or how the safe cell options compare to those without the feature. For comfort and quality, we compare the materials and how well they are assembled and blend together. We like them as a safety feature, but we feel actual crash testing data is more important than stated features or claims. We include graphs comparing the actual crash test data in each product review and summarize them below. It is also cumbersome, and you it's unlikely you'll want to move it regularly or travel with it. This seat is not that easy to install, but it does offer higher than average crash test results. Only the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible scored as well without the help of an onboard lock-off. The Chicco NextFit and the Peg Pergo Primo Viaggio Convertible earned 8s. Searching for the best convertible car seat for your growing baby? This picture includes the original lineup, several of which have been replaced as some seats have been discontinued and others replaced with new and exciting potential options. The Graco Extend2Fit has the highest score for crash test results with a combined head and chest sensor result that surpasses the competition. Other standouts include the Chicco Fit2 and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 with 8s. It might honestly be one of the only must-have items on your baby gear list (okay diapers too, but you get the point). The top LATCH installation score goes to the Chicco Fit2 and Nuna Pipa with perfect 10s. The Institute puts the booster seats it tests into four categories: BEST BETs are seats that provide good belt fit for typical 4 to 8 year-olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV. Depending on your installation method of choice, either seat could easily meet your requirements. Wearing your baby can create a higher level of intimacy and bonding with your baby, and is fun for both parent and baby. The next key question is where will the seat be located in your car, and whether the seat base is going to be anchored using the LATCH system (on a side seat location) or using the seat belt (in the center). It is important to keep in mind that all of the seats comply with Federal safety guidelines, but each seat responded differently in sled testing and resulted in scores that we believe can help differentiate one seat from another for the purposes of comparison. The Britax Emblem, Evenflo Tribute LX, and Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 also earned 8s. There are pros and cons to each style of seat thanks to their designs and overall limitations. $199.99. We consulted with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) experts about their testing protocol and resulting crash test data. We've crash-tested 44 seats, including the 14 infant car seats we purchased for this review. Luckily, you can avoid carrying it by pairing the Fit2 with a compatible award-winning frame stroller. With our detailed tests and crash testing analysis, we believe we can help you narrow the field of options to a handful of potential contenders that can meet your needs and align with your budget. The Aton 2 has impressive crash test results, with the lowest G clip result in this review and the second-lowest HIC result. Given that many of the products have a weight limit of 50-80 lbs, it is clear that most children will utilize the vehicle belt at some point. Overall, we advise that you largely ignore size and weight capacity as a critical consideration in your car seat decision. The Clek Foonf lock-off (above left) is super easy to use, even though you need to lift the seat bottom to access the rear-facing lock-off. The level line should be parallel to the ground after installation, and it is best to observe by standing back from the vehicle. However, the Boulevard offers impressive performance in most test areas, making it a potential choice if your budget allows. Many of the cheaper options in this review have straps that can hinder a carrier connection. Some seats provide other indicators that aid in installation. The LATCH connectors on the Emblem have a one sides tightening strap which in our experience takes more strength to use than some of the unique LATCH straps with center connectors or self-ratcheting features. Each car seat must pass a Federal crash test safety standard. We think every infant car seat should have this. However, overall, transparency concerning SIP is surprisingly lacking across brands and several brands don't bother to define what it means at all, leaving parents to guess. Car Tech; Best toddler car seats of 2020. Many parents might consider crash test performance to be the most critical factor in choosing a seat. The most impressive for comfort and quality is the Nuna Pipa (above left) with a 9. One could consider the car seats with lower HIC scores as providing an additional margin of protection compared to the competition. That is a big responsibility to dump on parents, and often the information is not available or accessible (trust us, we spent a significant amount of time looking and asking). The harness release button and tightening strap on the Graco MyRide 65 LX are both located near the foot of the seat and they are the easiest ones in the group to use. The sled is used to simulate the forces in an actual car crash, and the sensors record the forces on the "child's" body during the simulated crash. The Evenflo Tribute LX is a very basic seat with the lowest price in this review. Whether you base your decision on crash testing alone or other factors, you'll find the details that will guide you there in this review of excellent contenders. It isn't the best choice for all families, but if you want the absolute highest crash-test score, it is a good choice. So, you can see from CDC data that your baby is likely to exceed the height limit long before they exceed the weight limit. Next, they either have softer comfort style padding and/or a fabric cover, and some of the seats also offer additional inserts to help position baby more comfortably or safely. The UPPAbaby Mesa received a 9. Some seats are easier to install using a seat belt than competitors and most of these seats have a trick by way of a belt lock-off located on the seat. The Maxi–Cosi Pria 70 earned the highest score for buckle ease of use, while the Diono Radian RXT is the most difficult. We recommend that you switch from an infant seat to a convertible car seat when your baby is 9 to 11 months old. Several new convertible options were added to this review giving you more information on potential competitors than ever before. We love this Chicco, but it might not be the best option for families who live in the city or may need to carry it for longer periods. However, they shouldn't be so difficult to use that an adult can't do it with one finger. Parents must use the level as instructed in the user guide with their product. That isn't a problem, but it's something to keep in mind. The widest option in the group is the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70, and we think it will be impossible to use it with more than two car seats in a row in the majority of vehicles. Products that are further left (with higher bars) can be considered as providing an additional margin of protection. While you might be intrigued by an option that brags about side impact protection (SIP) or an anti-rebound bar, we suggest that you avoid making a selection based only on these features or claims as information about efficacy is shockingly lacking. The longer a seat can sit rear-facing, the better. Unfortunately, the Evenflo required a towel in our rear-facing tests in at least one of our test vehicles, so you'll need to bring something to use a bolster depending on the car when traveling (see the user manual). The belt lock off on the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 shown in light grey with a yellow mock seatbelt running through it. We love the UPPAbaby Mesa's self-retracting straps and the Chicco Keyfit 30 also sports an easy to adjust strap, while the Graco LATCH straps are more challenging to tighten and loosen than most of the competition. All of the Graco handles and canopies we've ever tested are the same height, which makes it challenging to use the handle when the canopy is open. For example, if a seat's sensor measures significantly lower impact forces (better) in the head sensors of the crash test dummy, resulting in a lower Head Injury Criteria (HIC) score, we believe the seat offers a higher margin of protection than competitors with higher (more forces) HIC scores. The Aton 2 has a HIC score of 340 using the load leg and 521 without the leg (a lower number is better); these results indicate a higher margin of protection when using the leg with the Aton 2. In our tests, we determined that some seats are easier to install using LATCH instead of the vehicle belt. For harness tightening and loosening in our tests, the Doona impresses. Interestingly enough, all of these seats ranked near the top and have the highest scores for installation using a vehicle belt. 2020 Mahindra Thar Crash Test Global NCAP has crash tested the made in India 2020 Mahindra Thar and has awarded it a 4 star rating for adult as well as child safety 2020 … There aren't large differences between the seats in this regard, with all of them having a hard plastic shell with a dense foam padding as the second layer. Studies show that more than 7 out of 10 car seats are incorrectly installed or the baby was improperly restrained, and 93% of parents make mistakes on car seat use on the way home from the hospital. Some lock-offs work a little better than others, but even those that are challenging, still provide a more secure feeling installation in our tests than seats without a lock-off. About $200-230 depending on whether you go for the regular … The ability to use a convertible seat with an infant may tempt you into buying only a convertible car seat and skip purchasing an infant seat entirely. Each seat must achieve a HIC score of 1000 or lower to pass. Our in-house testing development was led by Certified Passenger Safety Technician, Bob Wofford. BabyGearLab contracted with the same test facility that is used by NHTSA to perform crash tests on car seats. In the end, If you don' t use the seat correctly, it won't matter how safe it is. These tests were repeated for installation using the LATCH system, the vehicle seat belt, and without the base. Research shows a 43% lower risk of injury for car seats secured in the center, but the center location is only safe if you properly anchor the seat. This pairing can offset the burden, creating an excellent combination for city dwellers who have the space for extra gear. To help you delve deep into all things car seat, we want to provide a little insight into the terminology you might see or hear when reviewing information about them. The majority of the seats have a hard plastic outer shell with a dense foam padding as the second layer. Most vehicles do not offer LATCH anchors in the center location. There is no chance these straps will impinge on the carrier's ability to attach to the base. We've broken the process down into steps that help you determine what to consider when deciding which option is best for you and your child. Our commissioned crash tests and hands-on use provides the information you need to help you choose the best safety seat for your baby. The buckle on the Evenflo Tribute LX is one of the easiest in the group to use. No matter what the level looks like, it is crucial that you use it as intended because it helps you determine when the car seat is correctly installed. The Evenflo Tribute has high marks in crash testing, and at just over 9 lbs you will have an easier time carrying it than you would the Clek Foonf at over 38 lbs in its rear-facing configuration, or the Britax Boulevard ClickTight ARB at over 28 lbs. Will your seat be installed in the center seat or on the side? Overall, we didn't factor these features or claims in our analysis because there is little to no real-world or test data available to support or analyze the claims or features. Then you will need to reinstall the seat before you place your baby inside and get on your way.