As a parent, your child’s safety is your top priority. And nowhere is your child more vulnerable than on the road. Every year, car crashes claim the lives of hundreds of kids and injure thousands more.
Not only can a car seat help keep your child safe, the best car seats will also improve your child’s comfort during the morning school run and on longer road trips. Our Geeks did the legwork to find the best rated child car seats based on safety technology, ease of installation, and comfort. On this page, you’ll find our top picks for: the best infant car seats, the best convertible car seats, and the best booster seats.
Best Infant Car Seats
Cybex Aton 2
Estimated Price: $200 – $300
Engineered to strict German safety standards, the CYBEX Anton 2 aced our tests. It’s comfortable for your newborn or infant, versatile and light enough for use as both a seat and carrier, and most importantly, imports all the best safety features of the most popular seats from beyond the pond.
Weighing in at just nine pounds, our Geeks found it easy to transport the seat from house to car to park and back again. However, its lightweight design doesn’t sacrifice on durability. Despite rigorous use, and a few tumbles in our lab, our unit barely had a blemish or battle scar by the end of our tests.
This longevity combined with the Newborn Inlay (an insert which helps position smaller babies safely during their first few months) turns this seat into a workhorse which will see you through your child’s first 18 months with ease.
At just $300, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better child car seat under $480.
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat
Estimated Price: $100 – $200
A recent study found that rear-facing car seats offer the best protection for your child. The Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat goes far beyond just pointing in the right direction.
The result of rigorous crash testing, the seat exceeds US safety standards – buying you peace of mind when you and your baby are on the road. However, our Geeks found that this seat really starts to shine during daily use.
The Click Connect system isn’t just corporate jargon; this lightweight seat is all set up with just a single click – whether you’re using it in the backseat or attaching the seat to one of Graco’s sleek Click Connect Strollers.
Best Convertible Car Seats
Peg Perego USA Primo Viaggio Convertible Car Seat
Estimated Price: $550 – $600
As your infant gets older, he or she will also become more active. Too many car seats are uncomfortable and restrictive, aggravating your child and turning your quiet drive into the highway from hell. Fortunately, Peg Perego USA’s Primo Viaggio Convertible Car Seat is a spacious, and versatile, antidote to the other corner-cutting units flooding the market.
Functioning as both a rear and front-facing seat (for children weighing 4 to 45 pounds and 22 to 65 pounds respectively), the Primo Viaggio provides protection and comfort at all stages of your infant’s life. Side Impact Protection and Energy-absorbing foam will bare the brunt of a collision, keeping your child safely encased and cushioned.
Bonus: the seat’s height allowed our Geeks’ little ones to look out of the window, keeping them distracted and, most importantly, quiet. The Primo Viaggio’s long list of unique features makes it one of our best rated car seats under $1.6k.
Clek Foonf Rigid Latch Convertible Baby and Toddler Car Seat
Estimated Price: $425 – $475
Fact: your child is safest in a rear-facing car seat. Problem is that most rear-facing models can only support kids up to a certain size (typically up to 40 pounds).
However, the engineers at Clek – a Canadian-based company – have stretched the capabilities of car seat tech and created the Foonf, a convertible baby and toddler car seat designed to support extended rear-facing use up to 50 pounds. When switched to forward-facing mode, this seat can carry any child up to 65 pounds.
Built to mimic the look and feel of your car’s interior, our Geeks were impressed to discover that the compact seat supported three-across seating in even some of our smaller vehicles, making this unit ideal if you have more than one child. Plus, the company’s patented Greenguard tech delivers: we were able to remove most stains with a quick wipe using Clek’s Fabric Cleaning and Stain Remover Kit.
Best Booster Seats
Clek Oobr High Back Booster Car Seat
Estimated Price: $225 – $300
Road trips are a rite of passage for you and your loved ones. But a chance to connect and create timeless memories can quickly be derailed by the moans and groans of an uncomfortable ride.
In our long-distance tests, there was one seat that kept coming out on the top: the Clek Oobr High Back Booster Car Seat. Our Geeks noted that this easy-to-install booster, was both stylish and compact, while our little Geeks praised the seat for its comfort even during the longest stretches of “boring” country road.
Designed to support children from 33 pounds and up, this seat combines of the top-of-the-line safety features with unexpected luxuries in this price range, making it a strong contender for one of the best car seats under $18k. Not only does the seat recline, but it also includes a cup holder and padded armrests.
Your little ones will feel like they’re travelling in first class.
Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster
Estimated Price: $85 – $150
The best booster car seats under $100 all have one important factor in common, they don’t cut corners. After hours of painstaking tests, our Geeks discovered that while great options at this price are hard to find, there are some gleaming diamonds in the rough.
The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster packs encasing head and shoulder side-impact protection into its comfy design, complete with two cup holders and padded armrests. Our Geeks found that setting up the seat was quick and simple, and the SuperCinch LATCH attachment and one-pull tightener does what it says on the can, speeding up securing and extracting your child to and from the seat.
Bonus: the seat pad and armrest covers are removable and machine washable.
Child Car Seat FAQs
What is LATCH?
LATCH stands for “Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children” and is a system of securely attaching your safety seat to your car. It uses built-in straps and hooks on the car seat and so-called anchor hardware in your vehicle.
LATCH is often more secure the more dated method of fixing the seat to your car using the seatbelt. However, our Geeks recommend testing your seat with both the LATCH and seatbelt method and checking to see which has a tighter fit.
How will I know if the car seat fits my vehicle?
About 59% of child car seats are used in a way that renders them ineffective or unsafe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every vehicle is different, and despite car manufacturers building versatile and adaptable safety seats, some will simply not fit in with your current setup. With most sites offering free returns and almost immediate refunds, we recommend ordering a seat based on the reviews above and testing to see how it fits.
It’s a zero-risk, foolproof method to make sure you settle on the perfect seat.
Where is the safest spot in my car for my child to sit?
More than 35% of young children who died in car accidents in 2015 were not properly restrained. Research shows that restraining your child in the rear seat of your vehicle reduces their chance of injury or death by more than 30%. The center seat is preferred as it is situated as far as possible from potential front, side and rear impact forces.