Purchasing a good car seat is not only a good idea, it is a necessity. Whether you have or are expecting a newborn, it is mandatory by law that you have a good car seat. In some states which require your child to have a special seat tailored to fit their needs up to the age of 15.
Like most decisions you will be required to make, going expensive does not guarantee you will have the best quality. Furthermore, there are several types of child car seats, it is important to think about the quality which also fits your needs and your babies needs.
If you didn’t know, there are several different types of car seats, three main groups, and they are all used for different periods of the child’s growth and have different perks and functions.
What makes a good car seat?
Finding a good fit for your needs won’t be that easy, especially if you factor in the price, some car seats are adaptable to fit the child throughout his whole infant to toddler growth time, while some others focus on one growth period. While purchasing an adaptable combination seat will save you money and the pain of buying more as the child grows, the seats which specialize in only one growth period do have its perks.
For instance, a combination child car seat will last you longer and save you money, but a baby car seat for infants (0+ group) often comes with a base which is strapped in the car and a removable carry-on car seat. The adaptable, multi-group car seats do not have this perk, because only seats for newborns are small enough to provide you with this. You can imagine how this can make your life easier when you do not need to wake you baby up when you want to carry it in or out of your car. The baby sleeps in the seat, and you simply put it in the base, or remove it when you get there.
The following 5 car seats will contain seats from all groups, providing you with a list that is the most versatile, good quality, low price, and best fit for your needs. The most bang for your buck.
Best Car Seats
The Cybex Aton is an infant car seat, meaning it falls into the 0+ group. The entire Aton series is widely considered to be the most innovative on the market, and while so far there have been newer models, this first one still holds up and is very affordable. It is also known to probably have the most features out of all infant car seats at the time it was released and its design is one of the safest up to date.
It is designed to hold the baby in a perfect lie-flat position, which all parents know is a must because of the risk of suffocation and head tipping forwards if your seat is facing front and you hit the brakes a bit too tight. Even as the baby grows, the design is such that it will hold up all the way until your child outgrows the seat.
Another feature that makes this seat earn its high-safety title is its huge XXL Foldaway Sun Canopy, which is great for the winter and the summer weather. It features a UVP50+ Sun protection. The baby’s eyesight development is very important, and it is thus important that the baby can see things from its seat, but when you carry the seat outside with the baby, if the weather is too sunny or too cold, the large and thick cover will really come in handy. Especially if it is snowing or raining, you would want to have that cover all over the seat, so that it covers up your baby completely.
The seat’s build is high quality and quite sturdy, with one of its most notable features being the triple side impact protection. This means there are three individual protection layers on all sides of the seat.
The first one on the outside is made up of two momentum absorbing, telescopic arms both can be sprung out or kept seethed in case you do not need them. This is known as the Linear Side-Impact protection, or the L.S.P. System. In a potential collision, if the seat is propelled to the side, the extending arms will act as a buffer i.e. shock absorber. These arms can be easily extended or put back in at any time, and do not interfere in carrying.
The second protection element is the EPS foam-lined flexible shell, which is designed to absorb a maximum amount of shock energy while remaining sturdy.
The third layer, internal, is made up of the inside cushions, all 100% mead up of EPS foam. The cushions are adjustable and quite comfortable. The head cushion can be adjusted to the height of your baby easily, by pulling a single knob behind the cushion. By pulling the head part all the way up, the bottom of the seat automatically lowers and gains more space, giving the baby more room by adjusting the height of the pelvis.
The 3-point harness system has integrated guides, as it is highly adjustable and adaptable, giving a tight hold but also remaining comfortable. The entire harness system is made up of wide Y-belts which are also lined with cushions.
The base also has a low-leg, which is designed especially to prevent and absorb the forward momentum in the event of a collision, stopping the rotation and again keeping the seat and the baby the safest possible.
This baby seat is detached and attached with a simple click on the side button, which makes removing it from the car and attaching it to a travel system (if you purchase one) much easier. Installing and operating this seat is quite easy and it can even be installed with a car seat belt, without using the base. This is handy if you are switching cars often. For additional help, you can refer to the instruction manual underneath the seat.
Using its Isofix base is still the best solution and should be your preferred type of transportation, because it offers additional safety and stability. Installing the base in your car and removing it is also quite easy, taking only a few clicks and a couple of seconds.
Soft but sturdy, safe and reliable, the Cybex Aton first model is old but gold.
- 3 layers for maximum protection and comfort
- Extendable absorption legs or the LSP
- XXL Foldaway Sun Canopy, one of the largest on the market
- The baby will outgrow it in approximately one year
Designed to last throughout the entire 0+, 1, 2, and 3 group of your child’s growth, the Graco Milestone All-in-One car seat might just be the time and money saver you’ve been hoping for. Again, please note that the down side of the all-in-one combination seat like this is that it misses a lot of the perks of that you find on car seats which are specialized for only one growth period.
For instance, an infant car seat in 0+ group comes with a base, which is installed in the car and holds the seat while you driving, but you can detach it from the base and carry it around with you if you need too. Seats for other child sizes, like this all-in-one, do not have this perk. But, there are some advantages to go along with the all-in-one package too, and with that said, this budget friendly child seat has earned high popularity.
It is designed to fit children from newborns to children weighing up to 36kg, and it is both rear and front facing, which is very important. You are advised to drive with your baby’s seat in a rear-facing position, because it offers the best possible protection and it also appeals to the baby’s developing eyesight, but you can also turn it to face the front of your car, if you need your baby to interact with you or other passengers in the car. This will come in handy if, for instance, you are driving and your spouse is taking care of the baby, or the sunlight is coming in through the rear wind shield too strongly, and you want to turn your baby away.
The build quality of this car seat is probably the best one in the market. It is quite heavy and durable, having a metal base at the back of the seat. This provides the seat with incredible stability and durability, but as a drawback it makes it a bit heavier. Since the seat is not intended for carrying around, this won’t be a problem, although you could feel the weight if you move the seat often from one car to another. This type of child car seat doesn’t have a base and it comes in one peace. The only detachable parts are cushions inside, which you can take out as your child grows, to make more room.
The seat has over 10 position and height adjustable modes, with an extra padded cushion insert for babies. Its 5-point harness provides maximum protection and it’s highly adjustable. In fact, the same harness system is used for all positions, as it adapts to whatever size you set it on and actually looks like the harness system pilots use in military air planes.
The seat cushions have predetermined cuts at the pelvis area, through which you can put your harness through, so that it always fits tightly but provides the child with sufficient room. The back cushions can be extended easily by pulling the slider at the top, which needs to be pressed to unlock it, otherwise it doesn’t move.
Graco Milestone’s harness system is in its entirety removable. This is meant for when the child outgrows the seat’s harness, and you need to start using your car’s belts.
Even if the seat is installed, you can still see the advisory labels on the back for easy reference. Blue labels are meant for when the seat is rear-facing, and red labels are for the front-facing positioning. The rear-facing weight limits are 0-13kg, while the forward-facing weight limits are from 9-18 or from 15-26kg, depending on the size setting you go for. In 9-18kg group your seat can still be titled a bit to provide extra safety and stability, but when you begin using the highest size, 15-36kg, your seat needs to be completely upright.
The side cushions and padding provides maximum protection, both for impact and for comfort. Even when you remove all the inserts for the baby, the final toddler seat is still surrounded by padded protection all the way around. Additional perks include the cup holder and the arm rests, which is important for comfort and the correct child posture.
The armrests are from rubber, which is much better than plastic because then need to be soft but still let your child rest arms. The cup holder is removable, and you can switch it to the either side of the seat.
It is also good to note that once the child is safely buckled in this baby car seat, the position and the harness system will hold the child in such a way where it is quite easy for them to fall asleep, no matter the growth period.
All perks taken into consideration, Graco Milestone All-In-One baby car seat is probably among the most versatile and adaptable in the market.
- This seat can last up to the child’s 11-12 year
- All parts and positions are easily interchangeable
- One of the safest seats on the market
- Doesn’t have a base and cannot be used as a carrying seat
- If you want to switch cars, you need to switch the entire seat and install it anew in the other vehicle
A relatively new edition, this Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air infant car seat comes with many new and innovative perks and high quality in every way. The first thing people tend to notice is how good this seat looks, in any of its colour variations, but the looks is secondary to the excellent build this baby car seat has.
It is designed for infants up to 35 pounds in weight and 32 inches in height. As most with most car seats, it comes with a detachable base, which is installed and remains in your car, while you can carry the top portion with you anywhere, not having to disturb your baby when you do so.
All of the materials inside the seat, cushions and pads, are hand washable which is important for keeping it clean at all times for your baby.
This Onboard 35 model is said to have one of the highest quality materials used for its cushions. The padding provides maximum comfort and maximum safety, while you also get a removable insert pad for a newborn, which is by far the softest in the bunch. When the baby gets larger, you can remove the initial insert, but each layer fits to a single belt harness system, which is also highly adjustable.
On the back side of the seat are the 4 different cuts, through which you can place the upper harness thus making it fit to your child as it grows larger. You’ll find 3 such cuts on the bottom side at the pelvic area, which are there to also increase room horizontally. Using these 4 by 3 combinations of harness positions, you can literally make the harness fir tightly and comfortably to any child size, up to 35 pounds or 32 inches in height, of course.
After you’ve successfully determined the best position of your harness and you tuck the baby in, you can tighten up the whole system by finally pulling a single strap you’ll find at the very bottom of the seat, right at the babies feet.
The carrying handle has 4 different positions, each with its own functionality purpose. For instance, the first default position is when the handle is directly over the seat, which is there for the carrying mode. The final position is when the handle is the farthest back as it can be, and it serves as a stability tool for when you put the seat down on a surface. Other two positions are there to provide protection. There is a green light indicator on the side of the handle, to tell you when the handle is in the locked position, when you switch it.
To remove the seat from the base, you are to hold the handle with one hand, when it is ideally in the far-upright position, and press the handle on the back-bottom side of the seat. There is another handle under the initial one, which is there to help set up the base in the car.
The cover gives the baby nice shade and protection, but it does not cover the seat too much. It provides the baby with the optimum amount of Sun/weather protection, but if you require more you can easily solve this issue by wrapping a blanket or an alternative cover over it. While it is better for safety that the canopy covers the seat as much as possible, you must also keep in mind that a child needs fresh air and a clear view of its surroundings, to help develop its eyesight.
The entire Safety 1st Onboard 35 Air Infant Car Seat can be adjusted easily, with all of the parts easily separable. The base is also providing a firm hold, with a 3-way connect hold. This model has a well build and is durable, providing convenience, safety, and comfort.
- Maximum comfort and safety
- Easily interchangeable
- Has intuitively easy-to-understand functions
- High quality build and durable
- Will approximately last you 4 years of your child’s growth
- None at this time
The Graco Affix Highback Youth Booster, with safety surround and latch system, is designed for kinds from 3-10 years old, 30-100 pounds, and up to 57 inches in height. This booster seat is advertised to have the best head protection in this group, as well as a well adjustable height range. When you unpack the seat, the headrest as well as some other parts will require assembly, but it is quite easy to do so.
The headrest in this car seat is one of the best on the market. Being quite deep, it offers maximum comfort and protection at the same time, the best feature of this seat is the Safety Surround certificate, meaning this seat meets both Graco impact rigorous testing and Europe’s side impact drive standard. This means this seat has officially passed the most rigorous testing and is certified to be one of the safest ways for children to travel.
In short, this Graco Affix Highback model is the most rigorously tested child car seat currently available and it is widely accepted that it provides the best protection in its child growth group (2 and 3).
Its superior side impact protection owes its prestige to the EPS foam lined cushions, which are the biggest ones you’ll probably see on a toddler seat. Both the headrest and the high-back part are made up of a thick cushion layer with a very high side-impact protection. The booster seat part can naturally be used without the high-back part, but the law in the U.K. states that you need to use the high back part also, which makes the seat not only safer but also more comfortable. Another reason why the law demands that you use the high-back bit is that your child isn’t fit enough or large enough for your car’s seat belt to hold if tightly enough, so the back bit gives the child just what it needs, in order for the seat belt to work properly.
This model also has other convenient features, like the one-hand front adjusting latch. Once you strap in your child in the seat, you can then pull that bottom latch to tighten the entire harness system, for a better hold. The seat’s simple attaching system uses your vehicle’s seat and can be tightened down with the front strap, making for a firm hold. Probably the tightest hold for a booster seat ever, while still remaining very simple to use. Please not that while it does allow for quite a firm hold for maximum safety, the harness system still remains quite comfortable for the child.
The High back title is earned by its extendable back system, which can be adjusted to accommodate kids up to 57 inches tall. It is made up of the previously mentioned parts – head rest and the high back part. They are easily assembled together, just by inserting the headrest in the appropriate slots on the high back bit. These two are then connected to the bottom part, and then you have your whole seat. And, even after you child outgrows the seat, you can easily remove the back part and still have a seat booster.
The booster part has rubber arm rests, which is important because they need to be firm but elastic at the same time. They not only provide your child with the place to rest their arms, but also serve as protection. The booster also has a cup holder on the side, similar like on the movie seats. There is also a small drawer on the other side, with space to put away some valuables or other stuff your child might need.
All fabrics on the cushions are washable. You can keep the seat clean at all times easily, by simply wiping it regularly with a damp cloth. You can naturally wash this seat while washing your car in the cleaners, but be light on using chemicals, because the material the cushions are made of may retain the smell a bit longer.
The seat’s full dimensions are 64x42x27cm, and it weighs 4,5kg, which is actually very light comparing to some other models. This seat manages to achieve maximum protection, with plenty of comfort, and all that with being quite light and durable. The down side of the protection and the functionality this seat offers is that its bulky size makes it a bit cumbersome. Even though it only takes 3 main parts to dissemble and assemble, if you want to change cars, you will need to take a bit longer than with some other smaller seats. Everything has its price, but since safety is in question, you should take your time anyway.
- Extra side padding provide extra protection
- Quite durable and high quality while still affordable
- Can last you a number of years
- The material of the cushions itself is a bit rough so you might need to put something over
- The seat is a bit bulky, so you it may take longer to dissemble and assemble again if you are changing cars often
If you do not go for the combination all-in-on, but still want to reap the benefits and enjoy the perks infant car seats offer, than you still need to pick a good quality one. The Evenflo Embrace LX is a popular choice precisely because it brings a low price with high quality and excellent features. It is a 2016 model but it is still competitive even amongst the newest additions in the 2018.
This car seat accommodates babies from 4 pounds to up to 35 pounds, or up to 30 inches.
This means it will last you approximately a little over one year, depending on your child’s growth. Since it is an infant car seat, it can be detached and used as a carrier. When it is detached from its base, the carrier alone weighs 8 pounds, which is in the lower end comapred to other carriers on the market. This is important because you will carrying it a lot of carrying with your baby in it. This light weight Evenflo Embrace LX seat will pay off once you realize that you can move your baby in it without disturbing it or waking it up. This will not only save you a lot of trouble and time, but is actually beneficial to your babies rest rate and ultimately it’s health.
The carrier is removed from the base by easily pressing a large knob on the back of the seat, and the main handle has 5 positions. Naturally, the most upright position is for when you carry the seat with you, and other four each have their own functions. When you want to put the carrier down on a flat surface, you can pull the handle back to the farthest position, and it will actually act as a stabilization device. Detaching, attaching, and handle repositioning all make very little noise and are easy to execute, again allowing you to do so without disturbing your baby.
The design of the seat is basic, but it provides a thick padded layer on all sides, providing maximum comfort and safety. Different versions of the Evenflo Embrace LX seat come with some unique perks, not available on all versions, like an additional head support cushion, so take that into consideration when making your choice.
The cover on this baby car seat however is considered too small by most of the user reviews out there. It doesn’t even reach the first half of the seat, and doesn’t provide the maximum cover, but in all honestly maximum cover is not needed very often. Only during winter time or when the Sun is too bright. Other times, you actually do want your cover to be moderate, because the infant needs to adapt and develop its eyesight. And, besides, you can easily fix this short cover issue by placing a blanket over the top, which is what you will probably end up doing anyway in the winter, with any model.
The EPS foam is lined around the entire back and bottom side of the seat, right underneath the cushion layer. This makes up for an additional comfort and safety combination, and that paired with the 5 point harness system makes this Evenflo Embrace LX seat quite the safe place for your baby.
The harness can be adjusted manually, with up to 4 positions vertically, and up to 5 positions horizontally, under the crotch part, so you will be able to follow your child’s growth and still keep the harness system fit tight. These alternative harness positions are important, because you do not want your harness to be too loose or too tight. The best thing is to measure it to fit to your baby’s size, and then after you strap the child in you can use the bottom line which then pulled additionally tightens everything in its place.
You do not want too tight grip on the baby, so keep that in mind. The harness system is released with the same system. You simply push the button at the bottom noose, and then retract the harness.
The shock absorbing cushions are quite soft to the touch and gentle, which is important since this is an infant car seat. You will naturally need to cover them up with a soft baby blanket. They are also easily washable and you are advised to only do so by hand. Do not wash this seat in the car wash, because you are not advised to use car washing chemicals on these fabrics, because they are in contact with infants.
The headrest cushions can be removed to provide you with a bit more space in the top portion of the seat, while you can also make more room at the bottom. But, essentially, just by adapting the harness system to your child’s size will be enough.
The fact that this model is lined with shock absorbing foam all the way and the extra cushion layer does however mean that your baby will outgrow it faster than most other infant carriers in the same class. You will however probably use this seat approximately until your baby is 12 months and over. It is a standard drawback of all infant car seats, but the perks and advantages they offer are well worth the investment.
The perks and the safety Evenflo Embrace LX offers easily place this seat well above its price range, which is a budget. The soft cushions, the safe padding, the extra safety foam layer, and the overall high quality build of this baby car seat will be well worth the investment.
- Soft cushions and additional foam padding
- Extremely light and easy to carry
- Soft on the babies skin
- Versatile functionality
- As with most infant car seats, your baby will outgrow it in approximately one year