Cheaper isn’t always better when your child’s safety is involved. After all, the price you pay for a malfunctioning car seat could be your little one’s health. You want to ensure the product you buy will do its job regardless of the price. That said, you’ll find affordable, high-value items and pricey versions with all the bells and whistles, necessary or not.
So if you’re shopping for convertible car seats, you can find one that will keep your child safe while staying within your budget. In fact, a few of the best models cost less than $200.
What is a convertible car seat?
Health and safety experts recommend that infants and young children — usually those aged 0 to 3 years and weighing less than 35 pounds — should sit in rear-facing car seats to mitigate the risk of serious injury or death during a crash. Manufacturers design these products to sit on a base for easy removal from your vehicle for use in a stroller or elsewhere.
Convertible car seats are larger than infant seats. They can be positioned to face the front or rear of the car. You can use them for infants, toddlers, and young children up to age 8. Many parents prefer convertible car seats for their versatility. However, they’re usually much heavier than infant car seats and harder to transfer out of vehicles.
Once your child outgrows a convertible seat, however, it’s time for a booster seat. Available with or without a back, these products give kids the boost they need so that they can enjoy the full protection of a car’s seatbelt.
Features you should look for in a convertible car seat
If you’re looking for an affordable convertible car seat, online sources have done some of the homework for you. Babylist published a list of its top recommendations based on criteria that parents should consider when evaluating their options.
Start by selecting a seat that’s not only easy to install but also comes with safety indicators to let you know when the seat is installed improperly. You also want one that fits well in your car. A recommended car seat may look great, but if it’s oversized relative to your vehicle, there’s a higher chance of poor installation.
Babylist also notes there’s evidence that the rear-facing position is the safest for your child. Therefore, a convertible car seat with a high rear-facing weight limit is ideal because it allows you to keep your child as protected as possible for as long as possible. Also, look for seats that are easy to clean and come with extra safety features like shock absorption.
3 models for under $200
If you’re looking at models under $200, start your search with the Graco Extend2Fit, which comes in at $199.99. It’s easy to install, and though its width isn’t ideal if two others need to share the backseat, it’s safe and affordable. It also has a 50-pound rear-facing weight limit, along with an extendable leg rest to keep your child both safe and comfortable.
For only $159.99, the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is lightweight and holds newborns to kids who weigh 100 pounds. It also comes with multiple recline positions and cup holders. Despite its low price, it’s safe and easy to maintain.
And if you need something even less expensive, consider the Cosco Scenera. Priced at under $100, this convertible car seat is aircraft-certified, Healthline reports. The seat pad and cup are dishwasher safe, and the whole seat is lightweight, making it easy to transfer from your vehicle.
You can find car seats that run as much as $500 and boast unique features. For example, the Cybex Sirona S SensorSafe comes with sensors that can help detect potentially dangerous situations, Healthline says. Although these features are nifty and handy, they’re unnecessary to protect your child. Any of the above models under $200 will ensure your child receives the protection they require.