Compare the best car seats

Safely strap in your most precious cargo.

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The latest recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority state that children should ride in a car seat or booster until they turn 12 or meet specific height and weight requirements, outlined by each state. Ensure your child is securely strapped in for every car ride with the proper car seat.

Compare some of the best car seats

Name Average price Type Item weight (lbs) Max weight limit (lbs) Max height limit (in) Purchase
Graco Contender 65 $120 Convertible 15.2 65 49 Buy now
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible $200 All-in-one 23 120 57 Buy now
Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus $300 Rear-facing 20 30 32 Buy now
Britax DualFit Harness-2-Booster $170 Booster 22 100 58 Buy now
Chicco Booster $50 Backless booster 5 110 57 Buy now
Diono Radian 3RXT $300 All-in-one 28 120 57 Buy now
Data obtained May 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Car seat guidelines

All infants, toddlers and children must ride in the proper type of car or booster seat until they reach a certain height and weight. Specific car seat regulations vary by state, so check with your state’s department of motor vehicles or local authorities to find this information. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority offers its own age guidelines for children up to age 12.

This table provides a general timeline to help you decide what type of seat your child needs, based on his or her age. The transition periods will vary based on your child’s height and weight and your state’s specific laws.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Rear-facing
Front-facing
Booster
Seatbelt

Types of car seats

Choose the right type of car seat for your child based on the latest age, weight and height guidelines.

  • Rear-facing only. These car seats are designed to be placed in your vehicle facing backwards and are meant for newborns, up to age two or three.
  • Convertible seats. These seats can be converted to be rear- and front-facing, based on your child’s needs. This can be a cost-effective way to get more use out of one seat.
  • Booster seats. Booster seats come in both backless and high-back versions, but the concept is the same: to prop your child up so he or she can properly use a seat belt.
  • All-in-one seats. While usually more expensive, these models can save money in the long-run, since they convert to every type of seat your child will need.

How long is a car seat good for?

Most car seats expire six years after the date they were manufactured. Look for the expiration date printed on the manufacturer’s label on the side or base of the seat. If you can’t find it, call the manufacturer to be sure.

Car seats expire because the plastic, nylon and other materials used to make them can wear down over time, potentially putting your child at risk in the event of an accident. If buying a used car seat, check the expiration date to see how much use you’ll get out of it before it expires. Your money may be better spent on a new seat, especially if you’re looking into an all-in-one model for long-term use.

How to compare car seats

Consider these important features when shopping for a car seat:

  • Price. New car seats and boosters range in price from around $30 to $300 or more, depending on the type, brand and model.
  • Type. Select the proper type of car seat for your child’s age, height and weight. Investing in a more expensive convertible model can be cost-effective in the long run. Otherwise, plan to shop for a new seat again in a few years.
  • Height and weight limits. Check to make sure the seat you’re buying is rated to safely accommodate your child, based on his or her height and weight.
  • LATCH connectors. All cars built after 2002 come equipped with LATCH (lower anchor and tethers for children) anchors built into the seat. The LATCH connectors on the car seat attach to these anchors. Make sure your vehicle will be compatible with your car seat’s LATCH system.
  • Harness system. All car seats, excluding some booster seats, come with an adjustable harness system that you’ll need to adjust as your child grows. The style, design and fit of the harness can vary across models, so compare some options to find your favorite setup.
  • Covers and cushions. Some models come with removable covers, cushions and pads for improved comfort. Check to see which parts and accessories come with the seat you’re looking at.

Car seat safety check

Before hitting the road, check to make sure your vehicle and car seat are safe and secure for the ride. These are just a few basic safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always read the instruction manual that came with your car or booster seat before using and installing.
  • Make sure you’re using the right car seat type and position for your child’s age, weight and height.
  • Never place a car seat in front of an airbag.
  • Avoid placing blankets or heavy winter coats in the car seat with your child, as these items can prevent the safety harness from working properly in a crash.
  • Always buckle your child in snugly and properly.
  • Check the expiration date of your car seat, especially if using a hand-me-down.
  • Don’t reuse a car seat that’s been in a crash.

Bottom line

A properly-installed car seat is one of the most important parts of your car ride with your little one. Compare some of the top options and be sure to purchase the correct type for your child’s age, weight and height.

Ready to buy? Compare top car seats

Searching for more baby essentials? Compare top high chairs or use our guide to find the right stroller.

How did we choose these products?

We conducted online research to compare the price, type, size and overall features of some of the most popular car seats and booster seats currently available. We also factored in our own personal experiences and third-party product reviews.

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