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Mifold Booster Seat Review: A Great Booster with Amazing Value!

Mifold Booster Seat Review: A Great Booster with Amazing Value!

Pediatricians recommend that children remain in the most restrictive car seat available for as long as possible. With these facts in mind, a booster seat is an important investment for parents to make. In this Mifold Booster Seat review, we will compare the Mifold Booster seat with a few similar seats that are on the market.

Years ago, when children outgrew their five-point harness car seats they simply transitioned to regular seatbelts. Today, we have more stringent safety laws. 

What Is the Mifold Booster Seat?

The Mifold Booster Seat is a booster seat that folds up, making it ten times smaller than the average booster seat. The creators invented it because they noticed that their own children often had to ride in cars without a booster seat: for example, when they were riding in cars with friends’ parents who didn’t have an extra booster seat on hand.

They saw a need for a compact, safe, and portable booster seat that could be used for carpooling, taxi rides, and everyday use.

mifold Original Grab-and-go Car Booster Seat with Carry Bag, Slate...
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Mifold Booster Seat Review: Product Specs

Designed for children ages four and up, the Mifold Booster Seat can be used when children are between 40 and 100 pounds, and between 40 and 57 inches tall. 

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

  • Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat
  • Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat
  • BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat

Mifold Booster Seat

Let’s take a quick look at the Mifold models.

Comfort

According to Mifold Booster Seat reviews by parents, this seat is not very comfortable. It contains less cushioning than most booster seats, most likely because adding extra cushioning would take away from its portability and convenience.

Children are able to tolerate it for shorter rides, and that is what it is designed for.

Convenience 

The ability to fold this car seat to a size smaller than a water bottle makes this car seat especially convenient for busy parents. It can easily be stored in a backpack or even a purse.

In some Mifold Booster Seat reviews, parents mentioned that they bought several of these car seats to keep on hand for when their children have friends along with them. It is slender enough that three of them can fit side by side on a bench seat, even in a compact car. 

One thing some parents complain about in Mifold Booster Seat reviews is that it is difficult for children, especially the younger ones, to buckle themselves in. An adult must often assist them.

However, the entire process of setting up the booster seat and strapping the child in takes only about 30 seconds, which is not a major inconvenience. Some parents have also mentioned that it can be difficult to thread the seatbelt into the repositioning clip.

Design Quality 

This seat is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and Dupont Delrin 100ST, so it is very durable. It differs from other booster seats because, instead of lifting the child up so that the lap belt can fit them securely, it has a clip that holds the seatbelt down in the correct position. 

It has side panels that can be adjusted to support children of various sizes, from the 40-pound, 40-inch tall preschooler to the 100 pounds, 57-inch tall middle schooler.

One thing older kids like about it is that it does not look like a traditional booster seat. It sits flat on the seat, creating the appearance and feel of sitting on a plain seat.

Warranty

The company offers a limited one-year guarantee.

mifold Original Grab-and-go Car Booster Seat, Perfect Pink – Compact...
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Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat

This booster seat can be used as a high back booster for children who are 30 to 100 pounds and 38 to 57 inches tall or as a backless booster for children who are 40 to 100 pounds and 40 to 67 inches tall.

It is rated a “Best Bet” booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It is engineered and crash tested to meet or exceed US standards, is Side Impact Tested, and uses EPS energy-absorbing foam for additional safety.

Comfort 

Unlike in the Mifold Booster Seat reviews, parents say that this booster seat is comfortable for children. It is a little wider than many other similar booster seats. (The dimensions are 10.5” D x 16.75” W x 25.4” H.)

It also has lots of padding. The high back position has a comfortable headrest and full back support. It also has adequate leg support.

Convenience

While this seat cannot be folded up and packed in a backpack, parents do say that it is lightweight and easy to install. It must be assembled after being purchased, but parents say it is easy to assemble.

It also stays in one piece when being transferred in and out of a car.

Design Quality

This seat uses the LATCH system, which many other booster seats do not have. The benefit of using the LATCH system on a booster seat is that it stays in place more securely, preventing it from moving around in the car when the child is not seated in it.

Some parents say it is also easier for the child to buckle their seatbelt when the seat is secured with the LATCH system because the seat stays still. 

The LATCH system uses a hook system rather than a push on system, and it can be somewhat difficult to secure. However, using the LATCH system with this seat is optional if you don’t like it.  

The seat has two cup holders and a special compartment where children can store small toys and other treasures. Some parents reported that their children found it hard to pull out the drawer when they were sitting in the seat, which led to frustration. One of the cup holders is stored under the seat and needs to be folded out for use.

The headrest, which is used only in the highback position, has six height positions. It comes in five different color patterns.

Warranty

The company offers a limited one-year guarantee.

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Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster Car Seat

This is a backless booster seat that can be used by children who are between 40 and 110 pounds and between 40 and 57 inches tall.

It is rated a “Best Bet” booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It exceeds safety standards and was crash tested at energy levels that were twice the federal crash test standard. It has been side impact tested and has also been tested for integrity and durability at high and low temperatures such as cars are subject to.

Comfort

Reviews of this booster differ from Mifold Booster Seat reviews, as parents say this seat is very comfortable. It has a contoured pad that can easily be removed and cleaned in a washing machine.

The armrests are padded as well. It is a little wider than other backless seats, which means that it may be more comfortable for bigger kids.

Convenience

This seat is easy to install and comes with a belt-positioning clip to make sure that the belt fits the child properly. Parents like that the armrests can easily be wiped down and that the seat padding can be either wiped down or removed for laundering.

The seat is lightweight and can easily be transferred in and out of a car. However, it is bulky and not nearly as easy to carry around as the Mifold.

Design Quality

Children love the fact that this seat comes in lots of design choices. Parent reviewers loved that it exceeds safety standards and was crash tested at energy levels that were twice the federal crash test standard.

Warranty

This seat comes with a 90-day limited warranty.

Evenflo Big Kid AMP No Back Booster Car Seat
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BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat

This booster can be used by children who are between 40 and 100 pounds and between 40 and 67 inches tall. It is rated a “Best Bet” booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

It was invented by a mother from North Ireland who was frustrated with the inconvenience of having to carry traditional booster seats while traveling.

Comfort 

Reviews of this booster differ from Mifold Booster Seat reviews because most children find this seat to be very comfortable. The memory foam filling makes it especially cushiony.

An included shoulder belt positioner is optional for children who are irritated by the seat belt rubbing against their shoulders.

Convenience 

One thing parents loved was the convenience of being able to fold up the seat for travel or storage. This seat is similarly easy to travel with.

However, instead of folding up, it deflates. It weighs about a pound or less, making it ideal for families who want to travel light. 

To install, you will need to inflate it, put it on the seat, and thread the lap belt through the side buckles on the BubbleBum. It is narrow enough to fit in most cars as well as in airplane seats.

When parents are ready to remove the seat and pack it up, they just deflate it by rolling it and flattening it. It is not as simple as the Mifold, but it is more comfortable.

Design Quality 

While some users worried at first about how durable and safe a booster seat filled with air would be, the BubbleBum is more similar to an inflatable life jacket than to an inflatable pool toy.

The thick outer shell is made of heavy-duty plastic and memory foam. Even if it becomes deflated somehow, it is still sturdy enough to pass crash tests. 

Some parents have said that their children felt like it would tip over at first, but eventually, the children got used to the different style of the BubbleBum seat.

It comes in various color combinations, including black and silver, a Union Jack, an American flag pattern, a pink zigzag pattern, and a green shamrock pattern. The seats come with their own carrying bags.

Warranty 

The BubbleBum comes with a one-year limited warranty.

BubbleBum Inflatable Backless Booster Car Seat, Black
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Conclusion

In our research for this article, we found that many parents who wrote Mifold Booster Seat reviews had mixed feelings about the product.

The one thing that Mifold Booster Seat reviewers liked was that it folds up into such a small size, making it very easy to transport and store and perfect for “emergency” rides in a relative’s car when no booster seat is available.

Yet it does not contain much cushioning and therefore is not very comfortable for children to ride in. It could be something to be purchased for use in a pinch, such as to use on short taxi rides or for when you have an extra child on board.

Overall, we would rate the Mifold Booster Seat a 4 out of 5. This is a great seat to have around. It offers you more options for staying in compliance with local laws and yet is very convenient.

For parents who would rather opt for a traditional, yet lightweight, booster, either the Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat or the Evenflo Amp Performance No Back Booster would be great options.

Parents should be sure to do their research in order to decide which booster seat is the best choice for their family. Be sure to follow your local car seat laws as well; and remember that experts recommend that children remain in their five-point harness car seats for as long as possible until they exceed the height and weight limits.

Best 3 and 1 Car Seat for Long-time Use!

infant secure in rear facing car seat

Buying a car seat used to be simple. Today there are so many choices it is really hard to decide on the best car seat!

One popular model is the 3 in 1 car seat, which grows with the child. In this article, we will review ten of the best 3 and 1 car seats to help you choose the best for your needs.

Comparison Table

Best 3 and 1 Car Seat FAQ

1. What is a 3 and 1 Car Seat?

A 3 in one car seat, or convertible car seat, is a seat that can be used in three different positions. Usually, the positions include a rear facing seat, a front facing car seat, and a high backed booster seat. Some include a backless booster seat.

2. What Are the Advantages of a 3 in 1 Car Seat?

It used to be that a car seat was only needed until a child reached about 2 years old. Today, children are expected to ride in car seats throughout elementary school.

Parents often like 3 in 1 car seats because they don’t have to purchase a new car seat every time their child grows out of the old one. The best 3 in 1 car seats often also have extended rear facing weight and height limits.

3. Why is an Extended Rear Facing Weight and Height Limit a Good Thing?

Pediatricians and other experts recommend that children remain in rear facing car seats as long as possible, as this is the safest possible postion in a car for a small child.

An extended rear facing weight and height limit allows for a child to remain rear facing until they are two or three years old, or even older.

4. What is the Difference Between a Front Facing Car Seat and a Booster Seat?

A front facing car seat uses a five point harness to keep a child secure. A high back booster seat uses the car’s regular seatbelt, but allows the child to be positioned in such a way that the seat belt keeps them safe.

It also usually has a guide that keeps the shoulder belt in place. A backless booster seat simply lifts the child a little higher in the seat so that the regular seat belt fits them correctly.

Experts suggest that children ride in the most restrictive type of seat that their height and weight allow, for maximum safety.

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters Features, Pros & Cons, Budget, Where to Buy, and Warranty.

We looked at many of the best 3 in 1 car seats on the market, and chose the ones that stood out due to easy installation, extra safety features, added comfort, and other details.

Evenflo Symphony Elite All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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Evenflo Symphony DLX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, Paramount,...
  • RIGHT AND TIGHT IN SECONDS: EasyClick LATCH system easily ratchets to achieve a 3xtighter*, rock-solid installation and...
  • ONE FOR ALL: Designed for children 5–110 lb and features 3 modes—rear facing, forward facing harness and...
  • GOESTHE DISTANCE:5-point harness is tested to a 65 lb weight limit and can be used until your child is ready for a...

Features

This seat can be used as a rear facing seat, forward facing seat, or high back booster seat. The seat uses Evenflo‘s auto-retracting Sure LATCH system, which makes it possible to install the seat in your car within 60 seconds.

It also has a five-point Infinite Slide Harness. Unlike some seats that require you to rethread it every time your child outgrows the current harness height, this car seat’s harness height can be adjusted by squeezing a handle and sliding it up to the correct height.

It has an adjustable headrest that should be moved up if your child’s head is above the top of the car seat, or if their shoulders are even with the head protection area.

One thing that puts this seat in the running as the best 3 and 1 car seat is the multiple forward facing reclining positions.

Toddlers who are used to rear facing seats may balk at the idea of riding sitting straight up in a forward facing seat. This seat can be reclined to a more comfortable position.

Another thing that makes it one of the best 3 and 1 car seats is that, in the booster seat position, it is rated Best Bet by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

This car seat has elastic cup holders instead of regular cup holders, and some parents complain about that.

PROS

  • Great safety rating in booster mode
  • Sure LATCH system
  • Infinite Slide Harness
  • Recline options in forward or rear facing positions

CONS

  • Large and bulky, especially with the side head rests
  • Elastic cup holders
  • Shorter height limit than some other car seats

Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat

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Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3 in 1 Harness Booster Car Seat, Featuring...
  • Integrated harness storage compartment holds unused harness straps while in the belt positioning booster mode
  • One-hand, 5-position adjustable headrest is easy to use and adapts for your growing child.Do not use bleach
  • Keeps your child in a booster up to 120 pounds for longevity of use, in keeping with American Academy of Pediatrics'...

Features

This seat can be a forward facing seat, a high back booster seat, or a backless booster seat. While this is one of the best 3 and 1 car seats, parents should note that this one does not have a rear facing function.

It features harness straps that are designed to be easy for parents to loosen as they transfer children in and out of the seat, and do not need to be rethreaded in order to adjust the height.

It also has an adjustable bottom buckle to accommodate growing children. Some users have mentioned that the bottom buckle is difficult to adjust.

Like many of the best 3 and 1 car seats, this one is large and heavy, and can be challenging to move around. While this seat meets federal safety guidelines, some independent crash tests have given it lower scores than similar car seats.

PROS

  • Easy to loosen harness straps
  • No rethreading harness straps to adjust height
  • Adjustable bottom buckle

CONS

  • Bottom buckle may be difficult to adjust
  • Heavy and bulky
  • Has gotten lower scores in independent crash tests

Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat featuring TrueShield Technology

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Graco Extend2Fit 3 in 1 Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with...
  • 3 car seats in 1 – Rear-facing for infants 4-50 pounds | Front-facing for toddlers 22-65 pounds and for big kids...
  • Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x 19” W x 24.5” H | Product weight – 19.25 lbs.
  • 4-position extension panel adjusts to provide 5 inches of additional legroom, allowing your child to ride safely rear...

Features

Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat may be the best 3 and 1 car seat for parents who want their children to ride in the rear facing position for as long as possible, because children up to 50 pounds can ride rear facing. It can also be used as a forward facing seat or a high back booster seat.

Because the rear facing position can support heavier children, it also has a leg extension to accommodate them as they grow taller. The leg extension panel gives children up to five extra inches.

It uses the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System for both rear and front facing positions to adjust the harness and headrest at the same time. This seat uses the InRight LATCH system to make it as easy as possible to install.

The TrueShield technology provides extra side impact protection. The car seat meets or exceeds all federal guidelines.

PROS

  • Rear facing up to 50 pounds, with leg extension
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System
  • InRight LATCH system
  • TrueShield technology

CONS

  • Heavy and wide
  • Some users say the cover is difficult to remove for cleaning

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Car Seat, Blue Coral
  • Built to grow with your child, this safety 1st car seat supports infants from 5 pounds to toddlers of 40 pounds as a...
  • An adjustable 3 position recline makes it easy to get a good fit for the seat in your car, assembled product dimensions...
  • Harness holders keep the harness open, making it easier to get into and out of the seat; Front seat passengers can enjoy...

Features

This seat can be used as a rear facing seat for children up to 40 pounds, and between 19 and 40 inches tall. It can be used as a forward facing seat for children between 22 and 65 pounds, who are between 29 and 49 inches tall.

It becomes a high back booster for children who are between 40 and 100 pounds, and who are 43 to 52 inches tall.

It uses a color coded system to make it easier to install. This seat has a Quickfit no-rethread harness system for growing children, but it uses a separate position for newborns that does need to be rethreaded.

Some parents say that this seat can be a little tricky to install at the correct angle and correct belt position.

This seat is narrower than many of the best 3 and 1 car seats, which means it will fit better for families who are using multiple car seats at once. Parents also liked the soft and comfortable padding on the seat.

PROS

  • Quickfit no-rethread harness system
  • Seat is narrow
  • Comfortable padding

CONS

  • Newborns do need harness to be rethreaded
  • Newborn harness straps can be difficult to tighten

Diono Rainier All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Diono Rainier All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, from Birth to 120...
  • TOP-TIER SAFETY WITH A STREAMLINED DESIGN: Diono’s convertible car seats feature a fully integrated steel frame...
  • STYLISH AND SNUG FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE’S COMFORT: The Rainier features a 12-position, aluminum reinforced adjustable...
  • EXTENDED REAR-FACING CAPACITY FOR THE SAFEST RIDE: The Rainier offers an extended rear-facing capacity of 5-50 lbs,...

Features

This is another one of the best 3 and 1 car seats for people who want to keep their children rear facing. Children can ride rear facing when they weigh up to 50 pounds, and are 44 inches tall. It can also be a forward facing car seat or a high back booster seat.

This seat’s shape is narrow, but tall. One unique feature is that it can be folded up and carried like a backpack during travel.

However, it is very heavy. Although it uses a SuperLATCH system that has an audible click and a visual indicator to let you know when it is installed correctly, getting it to that correct point can be difficult.

PROS

  • Chidren can ride rear facing up to 50 pounds
  • Narrow
  • Can be folded up for travel

CONS

  • Heavy
  • Difficult to install

Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Car Seat

Evenflo EveryStage DLX All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, Reef
  • Infant + Convertible + Booster: Rear-Facing Harness, Forward-Facing Harness and Belt-Positioning Booster provides a safe...
  • Grows with Child to 120lbs: The only seat you’ll ever need, this seat is tested in high back booster mode up to 120...
  • Rear Facing Longer- to 50 lbs: Adjusts to multiple positions, allowing your toddler to stay rear-facing longer, beyond 2...

Features

This car seat allows children to ride rear facing if they are up to 50 pounds, and 17 to 48 inches tall. After that, it becomes a forward facing car seat or a high back booster seat. The EasyClick lower anchor tightening system makes it especially easy and quick to install.

It has three reclining positions in the rear facing mode, and when the headrest is all the way down, it automatically corrects itself to the best recline position for newborns. The forward facing mode has two reclining positions.

When being used as a booster seat, the harness can be stored on the seat. Many users like that the seat is comfortably padded.

PROS

  • Rear facing up to 50 pounds
  • Easy to install
  • Multiple reclining positions
  • Harness can be stored on the seat
  • Comfortable padding

CONS

  • More expensive than other similar seats
  • Manual may be confusing

Maxi-Cosi Magellan All-in-One Convertible Car Seat 

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Maxi-Cosi Magellan All-In-One Convertible Car Seat With 5 Modes,...
  • 10 YEARS OF ADVENTURE, 1 CAR SEAT: The Magellan 5-in-1 convertible car seat grows with your child and provides a perfect...
  • KEEP SAFETY WHERE YOU NEED IT: The only adjustable torso side impact protection with 14-position headrest adjustment...
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Integrated belt lock-offs designed for easy and secure installation; One-click LATCH connectors install...

Features

Children can ride rear facing in this seat when they are up to 40 pounds and between 19 and 40 inches tall. They can ride front facing when they are between 22 and 65 pounds, and between 29 and 49 inches tall.

The seat can become a high back booster when children are between 40 and 120 pounds, and between 43 and 57 inches tall.

One thing that makes it one of the best 3 and 1 car seats is its three torso settings that raise and lower the shell of the car seat with the push of a button. This helps ensure that the car seat is the best possible fit for the child.

It also has an AirProtect headrest, which inflates and deflates as it’s squeezed, providing more protection and security for a child’s head.

The fabric cover and cup holders can easily be removed for cleaning. In addition, users report that the padding is very comfortable.

PROS

  • Three torso settings
  • AirProtect headrest
  • Easy to clean
  • Comfortable

CONS

  • Difficult to install

Diono Radian 3RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Diono 2019 Radian 3RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
  • JOY OF THE JOURNEY: From birth, keep your little one rear-facing longer to 40 lbs., and as they grow to 100 lbs. (10...
  • THREES NOT A CROWD: For safety that fits 3 across the Radian 3RXT packs all our innovative safety features into a sleek...
  • LOVINGLY ENGINEERED: The Radian 3RXT is built with automotive-strength steel, engineered into a dual spine, which...

Features

Children can ride rear facing in this seat if they weigh up to 45 pounds and are up to 44 inches tall. It can be used as a forward facing car seat or a high back booster seat. It has memory foam padding for extra comfort.

It also can be folded up for travel. It has a narrower frame than most of the best 3 and 1 car seats. However, it is still rather heavy and can be difficult to install.

PROS

  • Rear facing up to 45 pounds
  • Memory foam padding
  • Narrow
  • Folds for travel

CONS

  • Can be difficult to install

Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Grow & Go Comfort Cool 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Niagara...
  • Built to grow for extended use through 3 stages: Rear-facing 5-50 lbs., forward-facing 22-65 lbs., and belt-positioning...
  • Comfort cool technology keeps baby cool, dry and comfortable
  • Side Impact protection

Features

While the Safety 1st Grow and Go seat made our list of the best 3 and 1 car seats, the EX Air model has some added features.

While children can ride rear facing in the original Safety 1st Grow and Go when they are up to 40 pounds, they can ride rear facing in the EX Air until they are 50 pounds.

They also benefit from the AirProtect system, which provides extra cushioning for safety. In addition, there is a seat pillow on this model, instead of just head and back pillows.

PROS

  • Rear facing up to 50 pounds
  • AirProtect system
  • Seat pillow
  • All of the features of the original Grow and Go seat

CONS

  • Some users still say it is hard to tighten the straps

Baby Jogger City View Space Saving All-in-One Car Seat

Baby Jogger City View Space Saving All-in-One Car Seat, Mineral
  • Narrow design saves space
  • All-in-one car seat offers 3 ways to ride for children 5-100 lbs.: rear-facing, forward-facing harness, and booster car...
  • SecureStopTM Anti-Rebound Bar provides a 45% reduction in rearward movement of the car seat during a frontal collision...

Features

This seat can be used as a rear facing seat, a front facing seat, and a high back booster seat.

One thing that makes it one of the best 3 and 1 car seats is the SecureStop Anti-Rebound Bar for the rear facing position, which keeps the seat from moving around in a crash.

It is relatively easy to install using the push button LATCH system and easy to convert from one mode to another. The no-rethread harness system has ten positions which adjust along with the headrest.

It has a thick and comfortable cover that can be easily removed for cleaning.

This seat is also narrower than many. One complaint some users have is that the harness straps get tangled in the back of the seat and are difficult to tighten.

Another complaint is that the cup holder is made from a flexible material that doesn’t work very well at keeping drinks from spilling or falling out.

PROS

  • Easy to install
  • SecureStop Anti-Rebound Bar
  • No-rethread harness system with ten positions
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to clean
  • Narrow

CONS

  • Harness straps are difficult to tighten
  • Cup holder doesn’t hold cups well

The Verdict

There are many benefits to having one of the best 3 and 1 car seats. Many of the seats on our list are easy to install, have great safety features, and grow with your child.

We were impressed with the Baby Jogger City View’s anti-rebound bar, which is a fairly new concept in the USA. Our top pick, though, is the Safety 1st Grow and Go EX Air.

It has all of the features we look for in a 3 in 1 car seat, such as the 50 pound rear facing weight limit, no-rethread harness with an adjustable headrest, and comfortable padding.

We also love that it has the extra safety feature of the AirProtect system. It is a good car seat, at an affordable budget.

All families are different, though, so be sure to do your research to find a car seat you and your kids will love.

Graco 4Ever Vs Extend2Fit: Which One Wins?

baby in a car seat

With new research proving the need to keep children in child safety seats for longer, and new laws requiring the seats, buying a car seat for a child is no longer as simple as just buying the first one you see at the store. Parents expect more from their car seats now. They often prefer seats that will last for years, growing and adjusting with their child, so that they don’t have to go back and buy a whole new seat every six months when their child’s needs change. The Graco 4Ever and Extend2Fit child safety seats are two popular models, but which one is best? In this article, we will help you decide the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit debate for yourself.

Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit — What Are They?

The Graco 4Ever is a car seat that works as a rear-facing seat, forward-facing seat, high-back booster seat, and backless booster seat. The Extend2Fit, on the other hand, works as a rear-facing seat, forward-facing seat, and high-back booster, but does not become a backless booster seat. While the Extend2Fit’s lack of backless booster seat capabilities is one difference, there are other features of the seats that should be compared.

Product Specs

baby on car seat

Image from Flickr

First, we’d like to look at the technical specifications of the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit.

Rear Facing

The Graco4Ever can remain rear-facing for children up to 40 pounds. Children in Canada must be 43 inches tall or less for the rear-facing setting, while children in the USA need only be one inch below the adjuster button on the headrest when it is fully extended. Children can use the rear-facing setting of the Extend2Fit seat if they weigh 50 pounds or less. The height requirements are the same as the Graco4Ever requirements. When comparing the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit, the Extend2Fit wins this round because of the higher weight limit for the rear-facing position.

Forward Facing

In both the Graco4Ever and the Extend2Fit, children can use the forward facing setting if they are between 22 and 65 pounds, and less than 49 inches tall.

High-Back Booster

Children can use the high-back booster setting of the Graco 4Ever seat if they are at least 30 pounds in the USA, 40 pounds in Canada, and less than 100 pounds in both countries. They must be between 38 and 57 inches tall in the USA, and between 40 and 57 inches tall in Canada. The specifications are the same for the Extend2Fit.

Backless Booster

Children can use Graco4Ever’s backless booster if they are between 40 and 120 pounds, and if they are between 40 and 57 inches tall. The Extend2Fit does not have a backless booster feature.

Harness Positions

The Graco4Ever’s lowest harness position is six inches, with an infant insert. Its highest harness position is 18 inches. The Extend2Fit’s lowest harness position is seven inches with an infant insert, while its highest harness position is 17.5 inches. When comparing the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit, the Graco 4Ever gets a point here for the wider range of harness positions.

Seat Measurements

The Graco4Ever seat is 20 inches wide with the cup holders or 19 inches wide without. It is 28 inches tall and weighs 22.8 pounds.

The Extend2Fit seat is 20 inches wide, including the cup holders. It is 30 inches tall and weighs 18.5 pounds.

Safety Features

The comparison of safety features on the Graco 4ever vs Extend2Fit seats is equal. They both have Safety Surround Side Impact Protection, which means that the child’s head is protected from all angles. They both have EPS — energy-absorbing foam that protects the child by absorbing the impact in a crash as much as possible. They both have steel frames for durability and strength. Graco puts their car seats through testing procedures that include frontal, rear and side impact testing, roll testing, and extreme interior temperature testing.

Pricing

Both seats are very similar in price. The price also varies depending on color pattern.

Graco 4Ever

Sale
Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit 4 in 1 Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with...
  • 4-in-1 seat grows with your child, so you can enjoy 10 years of use, from 4 - 120 lb Extend2Fit 4-position extension...
  • Up to 50 lb rear-facing allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer plush inserts keep your child comfortable...
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System headrest and Harness adjust together one-hand, 10-position adjustable headrest easily...

The Graco 4Ever car seat is a seat that is designed to grow with a child from the time they are a newborn until the time that they no longer need a car seat at all. It includes two removable cup holders so that when a child is old enough to have snacks and drinks in the car, they have a nice place to set them. Safety features include a steel-reinforced frame, side impact technology, and energy-absorbing foam.

  • Ease of Use
  • Versatility
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

Most users agree that the Graco4Ever seat is easy to install, with clearly labeled and color-coded belt paths to take away the guesswork. It has only one set of LATCH straps, which have to be used in both the front-facing and rear-facing positions. When switching positions you’ll have to move them, which is not very difficult to do. The LATCH system is easy to install, and you’ll hear an audible click when it is installed correctly. The rear-facing position makes use of a bubble indicator so you can be sure that it is level when you install it. Users said that the hardest part of this seat’s installation process was tightening the seatbelt in the rear-facing position.

Converting the seat from one position to another is also simple, but needs to be done outside of the car for best results. Transitioning from rear-facing to forward-facing involves moving the LATCH connectors to the forward-facing position. Converting it to a booster position won’t require removing the harness, but simply tucking it into a special compartment on the seat. Eventually, when a child is ready for a backless booster, you remove the back of the seat.

While this car seat is durable and has lots of great features, it may not be the most comfortable seat. Some parents pointed out that the rear-facing position doesn’t recline as much as a regular infant seat. If the seat is installed in a sedan, there may be even less room to recline in. Infants who like to be in the reclining position, or who need to recline while sleeping because of issues such as GERD, might not be comfortable. The back of the seat is also hard, so once children outgrow the infant insert they might be uncomfortable, especially on longer drives. Some parents complained that their children sweated a lot while riding in this car seat. As far as being aesthetically pleasing, this car seat comes in a variety of patterns, so parents can choose the one that they or their child like best.

This unit comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Converts to four positions
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to convert
  • Wide range of harness positions
  • Many color patterns available

Cons

  • Infant position reclines less than regular infant seats
  • Difficult to rec
  • Uncomfortable back
  • Child may sweat a lot while riding

Extend2Fit

Sale
Graco Extend2Fit 3 in 1 Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with...
  • 3 car seats in 1 – Rear-facing for infants 4-50 pounds | Front-facing for toddlers 22-65 pounds and for big kids...
  • Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x 19” W x 24.5” H | Product weight – 19.25 lbs.
  • 4-position extension panel adjusts to provide 5 inches of additional legroom, allowing your child to ride safely rear...

The Extend 2Fit car seat is similar to the Graco 4Ever in many ways. It is a convertible car seat that grows with a child, though it does not have the Graco 4Ever’s backless booster seat feature. It also has two removable cup holders. Like the Graco 4Ever, its safety features include a steel-reinforced frame, side impact technology, and energy-absorbing foam.

  • Ease of Use
  • Versatility
  • Design Quality
  • Warranty

Users found that installing this car seat using the LATCH system is fairly easy as it just snaps into the vehicle’s LATCH anchors. The seatbelt method is more difficult, especially in the rear-facing position. When comparing the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit, it seems that the Extend2Fit’s seatbelt path is smaller and a little harder to weave a belt through. Transitioning the seat to a booster is just as easy as the Graco 4Ever’s transition, involving tucking the harness into a special compartment.

In the comparison between Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit, the Graco 4Ever has an edge in one area because it includes a backless booster seat option. This means that children can continue riding in the seat after they’ve outgrown a high-back booster seat. However, the Extend2Fit has a different edge because of its leg extender for the rear-facing mode. Because children are now expected to ride rear-facing when they are older and taller than previous generations, they need a little more leg room. Newborns and small babies won’t need the leg extender. Once children’s feet begin to hang over the edge of the seat, they can make use of the leg extender’s three positions. By the time they outgrow the leg extender, they’ll be ready to sit facing forward.

When it comes to the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit discussion, many parents’ favorite aspect of the Extend2Fit seat is the extra ten pounds allowance for sitting in the rear-facing position. Parents also love the six reclining position options for the rear-facing seat, offering extra comfort for children. Many parents pointed out the no-rethread harness design that allows you to adjust the height of the harness and headrest without having to rethread it. One thing that parents complained about was the removable seat cover. It can be difficult to remove, and just as difficult to reattach. The fact that it can be removed at all, and then machine washed, is still a plus. The Extend2Fit has more padding than the Graco 4Ever, which is a plus for a child’s comfort but can also make them hot. Many parents also wished that this seat was less bulky.

This unit comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to install using LATCH system
  • Six different reclining positions for rear-facing children
  • Leg extender with four positions
  • Children up to 50 pounds can ride rear-facing
  • No-rethread harness
  • Easy to transition to booster seat

Cons

  • Seat cover is difficult to remove and reattach
  • Bulky
  • No backless booster seat option
  • Installation using seatbelt can be difficult

Conclusion

It is difficult to compare the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2fit, when they are similar in so many ways. They are both convertible car seats with easy-to-install LATCH systems, six reclining options in the rear-facing position, no-rethread harnesses, and adjustable headrests. While the Graco 4Ever car seat converts to a backless booster seat for after a child has outgrown the high-back booster, the Extend2Fit offers leg extension and is good for an extra ten pounds in the rear-facing position. Price-wise, the two seats are very similar. It may come down to a parent’s personal preferences. If parents really want their child to ride in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, the Extend2Fit is the obvious choice. Keep in mind that there is also a height limit for the car seat’s rear-facing position, so if your child is tall he may very likely outgrow the rear-facing position before he hits fifty pounds, anyway.

Parents should also take into consideration the fact that car seats have expiration dates. In the case of both the Graco 4Ever car seat and the Extend2Fit car seat, the expiration date is ten years after the seat is manufactured. This means if you have a newborn, by the time she is tall enough and heavy enough for a backless booster seat, your convertible seat may be close to expiring — or newer and even safer versions of backless booster seats may be on the market to replace your convertible seat. If this is the case, going with the Extend2Fit and forgoing Graco 4Ever’s backless booster seat option may be a good choice. On the other hand, if your child is three or four years old and is very close to outgrowing the height requirement for the Extend2Fit’s rear-facing option, going with the Graco 4Ever may be the more sensible choice.

There is definitely a lot to think about when it comes to choosing between the Graco 4Ever vs Extend2Fit. Take your time, do your research, and choose the seat that will be the perfect fit for your family. Your child’s safety is always the top priority.

Best High Back Booster for Your Little Ones!

toddler sleeping on the best high back booster car seat

So your child has outgrown the infant car seat, and you are in the market for a high back booster seat: time flies by, doesn’t it? Well, you have come to the right place. Here we will present our list of the ten best high back booster seats. We will review their features and give you our pick for the absolute best high back booster seat.

High Back Booster FAQ

1. What Is a High Back Booster Seat?

A high back booster seat is used when your child outgrows his or her infant car seat. These seats are front-facing and often have a harness to use for children below a certain weight and can then be used with just a seat belt once that weight has been exceeded. The high backs on these seats are often adjustable so they can grow with your child and many have a removable back so they can be used as a belt-positioned backless booster seat.

2. What Should I Look for in a High Back Booster Seat?

Safety is always the top priority when buying a car seat of any kind for your child. You want a seat that meets or exceeds federal and industry safety standards. The comfort of the child is also important, so look carefully at the padding, straps, and headrest positioning. Kids also like to have their favorite things within reach during car rides; seats with cup/snack holders and hideaway compartments keep the kids happy.

3. Where Can I Buy High Back Booster Seats?

These seats can be found at department stores, big box stores, and on online marketplaces such as Amazon.com.

How We Reviewed the Best High Back Booster Seats

In compiling this list we considered safety features, ease of installation, convenience features, and overall customer satisfaction. We also weight the pros and cons of each seat to give you an at-a-glance overview of the strengths and weaknesses each model presented.

Britax Highpoint Belt-Positioning Booster Seat

Britax Highpoint Highback Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat | 3 Layer...
  • Easy installation: Color coded belt guides ensure proper seat belt positioning and the push button lower connectors...
  • Ride comfortably: 10 Position quick adjust head headrest grows along with your child and soft, breathable knit fabrics...
  • Surrounded in safety: 3 layers of side impact protection featuring external impact cushions

Features

First on our list of the best high back boosters is the Highpoint from Britax. The sleek design and five available colors ensure that your little one is riding in style. You won’t spend too much time on installation as the color-coded belt guides make this seat an easy install. The quick-adjust headrest offers ten positions and is covered in a soft knit fabric to keep your child comfy even as they grow.

Removable and dishwasher-safe cup holders add convenience for long trips when your child may need a snack at hand or when you are running behind and need a meal on the go. Most importantly, three layers of side impact protection featuring external impact cushions ensure your child’s safety in the event of a collision.

Pros

  • Stylish design available in 5 colors
  • Color-coded belt guide for easy installation
  • Removable and dishwasher safe cup holders
  • 10-position adjustable headrest

Con​​​s

  • Adjusting the lap belt can be difficult
  • Expensive

Buy on Amazon

Evenflo Big Kid High Back Booster Car Seat

Big Kid LX High Back Booster, Denver
  • 2 seats in 1 removable back for easy transition to a no-back booster
  • One-hand, 6 position height adjustment to accommodate growing children longer
  • Two elastic cup holders

Features

The second of the best high back boosters on our list is a model from Evenflo, a trusted brand in the parenting world. Made in the USA and rated a Best Bet Booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the back on this seat can be removed for a simple transition to a no-back booster seat.

The 6-position height adjustment ensures your child’s comfort and safety as they grow. When used as a high back booster the weight recommendation is 30 to 110 pounds and the height recommendation is 40 to 57 inches. When used as a no back booster, the weight recommendation changes to 40 to 110 pounds. The booster pad is machine washable, and you can choose from seven fun colors and styles.

Pros

  • Use as high back or no back booster
  • 6-position height adjustment
  • Machine washable pad
  • Rated Best Bet Booster by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Insubstantial cup holders don’t always work well

Buy on Amazon

Diono Cambria Booster – 2-in-1 Car Seat – High Back and Backless Booster

No products found.

Features

This entry for the best high back booster is kind of like the Cadillac of boosters. A six-position headrest is easily adjusted with one hand and two recline positions keep the kiddos comfy. Total side impact protection and full body side walls lined with energy-absorbing EPS foam give you peace of mind while traveling.

Two retractable snack holders offer convenience for you and your child. This seat can also be converted to a backless booster and comes with a one-year warranty. Choose from color schemes of Graphite, Raspberry, or Sunburst.

Pros

  • Spacious
  • Total side impact protection and full body side walls with EPE foam
  • Retractable snack holders
  • One-year warranty

Cons

  • Removable cover wears easily

No products found.

Graco Affix Youth High Back Booster Car Seat

No products found.

Features

Graco is another well-known name by parents. The Affix Youth High Back Booster converts to a backless model, so you get the most out of this seat. This affordable seat is easy to install with only one hand due to its front-adjust latch system. This system also makes it quick and easy to tighten the booster.

What your child will appreciate about this seat is that it is easy for them to self-buckle and they will have access to integrated cup holders and a hideaway storage compartment. The weight and height recommendations are 30 to 100 pounds and 38 to 57 inches for high back mode, and 40 to 100 pounds and 40 to 57 inches for backless mode.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to self-buckle
  • Two cup holders and hideaway storage compartment

Cons

  • Difficulties with proper installation if headrest is not flush with the back seat

No products found.

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat Thunder

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat Thunder
  • This 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat fitting children from 22-110 lbs. converts from a 5-point harnessed car seat to...
  • The Maestro Harness Booster Car seat helps protect harnessed children from 22-50 pounds and belt-positioned children...
  • This lightweight Booster Car Seat comes equipped for LATCH systems allowing for easy installation and transfer between...

Features

Our second model from Evenflo on the list of the best high back boosters, the Maestro converts from a 5-point harness car seat to a belt-position booster, and will accommodate your child from 22 to 110 pounds. Use the harness when your child is 22 to 50 pounds and the belt-positioned booster from 40 to 110 pounds.

The use of easy latch systems provide quick installation and transfer between vehicles, and front harness adjustment allows you to easily secure your child. Four harness positions and two crotch buckle positions keep your child safe and comfortable as they grow. You can travel with ease knowing this seat was tested for side-impact and structural integrity at energy levels about two times what Federal crash test standards require. Choose from seven colors.

Pros

  • Exceeds federal safety standards
  • Four harness positions and two crotch buckle positions
  • Converts from high back to backless

Cons

  • Plastic clips used to secure padding fall off

Buy on Amazon

Graco TurboBooster LX High Back Car Seat

Graco TurboBooster LX High Back Booster Seat, Featuring TrueShield...
  • Easy to carry; seat back and bottom stay connected, making it easy to transfer from car to car with ease.
  • Integrated LATCH system stabilizes booster for easy self-buckling for your independent child
  • Cup holder keeps your child's drinks or snacks close at hand

Features

Your child will find self-buckling quite easy in Graco TurboBooster, making it one of the best high back booster seats for child satisfaction. Your big kid will also love the integrated cup holders and hideaway storage compartment.

The one-hand front-adjusting Latch system keeps the seat securely in place providing safety and stability. The machine washable seat cushion is also a nice touch. Use this seat for your child between 30 and 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall.

Pros

  • Easy self-buckling
  • Machine washable seat cushion
  • Latching storage drawer below
  • One-hand front-adjusting Latch system

Cons

  • Limited color options

Buy on Amazon

Safety 1st Backed Store ‘n Go Booster Car Seat

Safety 1st Grand Booster Car Seat, Black Sparrow, One Size (BC149EZA)
  • Extended Use: forward-facing with harness, 30-65 pounds and Belt-positioning Booster, 40-120 pounds
  • Designed to fit 3 ACROSS in most vehicles - Great for growing families and car pools
  • Lightweight and easy to move from car to car

Features

It’s no surprise that Safety 1st has an entry on our list of the best high back booster seats, as it is a well-known brand among parents. This seat comes with a removable and adjustable headrest so it can grow with your child and eventually be used as a backless booster.

Use this seat from 40 to 100 pounds and 43 to 57 inches in height. Two cup holders and a latching storage compartment keep your child happy with all of his or her favorite things within reach.

Pros

  • Reputable brand
  • Washable cover
  • Latching storage drawer below

Cons

  • Arm rests could be longer

Buy on Amazon

 Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat - 2 Layer Impact...
  • Toddler to Big Kid: Easily transition from harness to belt-positioning booster as your child grows
  • Easy installation: Patented ClickTight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
  • No rethreading, ever: Quick-adjust 9-position harness with headrest for a comfortable, secure fit

Features

Here we have the second Britax model on our list of the best high back booster seats in the Frontier. This seat has the appealing design Britax is known for and allows you to easily transition from a 5-point harness to a belt-positioned booster seat.

Britax’s patented ClickTight technology means installation is quick and easy. You never have to worry about re-threading with the quick-adjust 9-position harness. The Frontier offers two layers of side impact protection, a steel frame, an impact absorbing base, and a forward-movement-reducing V-shaped tether.

Pros

  • Visually appealing
  • Easy conversion from 5-point harness to belt-positioned booster
  • ClickTight easy installation
  • Several layers of protection
  • No re-threading necessary

Cons

  • Expensive

Buy on Amazon

 Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat

Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat (Dusk)
  • The Cosco Finale DX 2 in 1 Combination Booster Car Seat features a 5 point safety harness that converts to a belt...
  • With extended use in both of its 2 modes, this car seat accommodates children from 30 to 65 pounds forward facing with a...
  • Perfect for growing families and carpools, this lightweight seat is easy to move from car to car; 3 of these car seats...

Features

The Cosco Finale may be the best high back booster seat when you need to fit multiple car seats in the back of your car. This lightweight seat is designed so that three of them can fit in the back seat of a standard-sized vehicle. Children from 30 to 65 pounds can use this seat forward-facing with the 5-point harness or as a belt-positioned booster at 40 to 100 pounds.

The cup holder and the booster pad are both removable and washable in the dishwasher/washing machine. The safety of this seat is provenby the fact that it meets or exceeds federal, ASTM, and JPMA safety standards. The cherry on top is the one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Meets or exceeds federal and industry safety standards
  • Lightweight and can be fitted with two others in the back of a standard-sized vehicle
  • Affordable
  • One-year limited warranty

Cons

  • Material wears easily

Buy on Amazon

Graco Atlas 65 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Sea

No products found.

Features

Last on our list of the best high back booster seats is the Graco Atlas. Children of 22 to 65 pounds can use this as a forward-facing 5-point harness seat. From 30 to 100 pounds, it can be used as a high back belt-positioned booster seat.

The open-loop belt guide makes installation a breeze, and the five-position headrest allows the seat to grow with the child. The seat pad, harness, and buckle covers are all washable

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • 5-position adjustable headrest
  • Washable seat pad, harness, and buckle covers

Cons

  • Limited color options

No products found.

The Verdict

Now it is time to name the best of the best high back booster seats, and that title goes to the Britax Frontier. This seat offers layers of safety for peace of mind and convenience for parents with easy installation and adjustments, all with an appealing design. However, you do pay for all the great features, as this model is at the highest end of our budget range.

If you are on a tighter budget and can do without some bells and whistles, the Evenflo Maestro is a great choice. It still offers a lot of convenience features and doesn’t skimp on safety at all, meeting or exceeding all federal and industry safety standards. You can get the Maestro for a fraction of the cost of the Britax Frontier. In terms of value, the Evenflo Maestro is the best on this list.

We hope we have been able to give you guidance in your search for the best high back booster seat. Each seat on our list earned its spot for a reason, and we’re sure any of them will serve you and your not-so-little one well in your future journeys.

When Do Car Seats Expire-Know Car Seats And Their Laws

baby sleeping in car seat

A car seat is one of a few products you will invest in that is designed to save the life of your child. An expired car seat may not be able to adequately protect your child in the event of a collision. This article discusses car seat expiration dates and why they should be taken seriously.

Car Seats and Expiration Dates

Consider some statistics gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): Since the mid-1970s, the number of children under three years old who die in car crashes has lowered by 66 percent. Similarly, the number of infants who die in crashes has dropped by 80 percent. The fatalities have decreased even though the number of children riding in vehicles has concurrently increased by 5%. 

What has changed in the past 40 years? Most significantly, it is the use of car seats and booster seats. A report by the National Institute of Health (NIH) concluded that a properly used restraint system can lower fatal injuries to a child by 70 to 80 percent.

Do Car Seats Really Expire?

child sleeping in car

Image via Flickr

Your existing car seat worked perfectly well for your older child. Why should you invest in a new one for your newborn? Aren’t car seat expiration dates just a ploy by manufacturers to scare you into spending money on a newer model you don’t actually need? Would you give your sick child medicine that expired five years ago? Of course you wouldn’t, because that medicine is no longer effective.

Your current model may still look great, but the damage done to an old car seat is not necessarily visible to the naked eye. Think about the conditions you put a car seat through. Day after day, it sits in the back seat of your car, pelted by the sun’s damaging rays. If you live in a cold climate, it is subjected to extreme weather as your car is stationed in your driveway or a parking lot. Car seats are primarily made out of plastic. Have you ever mistakenly left a toy outside for an extended period of time until it was damaged beyond use? Have you noticed that your lawn furniture begins to deteriorate after a few years of consistent outdoor wear and tear? As durable as they are, plastics do break down over time. They crack and tear, and parts become loose. When subjected to the stress of a car crash, brittle plastic is not dependable. 

The car seat is one of very few products that is specifically designed to save your child’s life. New design features are being created every day in order to increase its effectiveness in doing just that. Today’s professional football players don’t use the same helmets as their 1960s counterparts. Over the years, helmets have been tweaked and improved to keep the players as safe as possible. Apply that same logic to car seats. It is important to take advantage of the latest in technology to keep your children as safe as possible. If you wouldn’t send your child onto the field in a 1960s football helmet, why would you place him or her in an outdated car seat? Take a look at a car seat that was designed five to 10 years ago and compare it to a brand-new model. You’ll notice differences in design and materials.

If your vehicle is a 2003 model or later, it is equipped with the LATCH system. LATCH stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. The system allows you to attach your child’s car seat to the car using secure metal anchors. Car seats must be tightly secured in the car so that even pushing or pulling on them cannot move them more than an inch. The LATCH system is designed to increase that security and keep your child as safe as possible in the case of an accident. All car seats manufactured after September of 2002 are designed to be compatible with LATCH.

child sitting in car seat

Image via Flickr

Many car seat manufacturers fit their products with safety features that exceed the current federal standards for safety. These features that are considered extras today will likely become federally mandated in the future. Thanks to industry research, crash tests, and advancing technologies, car seats will continue to feature new innovations year after year.

Consider the SafeCell Impact Protection technology from Britax. It is a combination of parts that work together to keep your child secure. It is designed to absorb energy and limit movement in a collision. Side impact protection shields your child from flying debris and absorbs crash forces. It provides extra protection for your child’s head and neck. An impact-absorbing base counteracts forward movement so that your child does not collide with the front seat upon impact. An impact-stabilizing steel frame provides extra strength. 

Britax’s ClickTight system is designed to provide even easier and more secure installation than LATCH. The system has no weight restrictions and uses only the car’s existing seat belt path for secure attachment. Unlike LATCH, it can also be used in the car’s center and third row.  

How Do I Know if My Car Seat Has Expired?

Generally, most car seats expire around six years after their initial release, though some can be used for up to ten years. To find out if your specific seat has expired, check the manufacturer label on the unit. This is usually located on the bottom or on the side of the car seat. If you can’t find a label, check the instruction manual that came with the seat. If you still can’t find the information, call the manufacturer directly. With certain models, some parts can expire before others. Make sure you have the complete expiration information about your model before trusting it with your child’s safety. 

It is also possible for an older model car seat to be recalled due to faulty parts or operation without you being aware of it. Therefore, it is imperative to stay on top of any news about your specific model. You can check for any recall information on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website at safercar.gov. You can also register your car seat with the site and sign up for updates and recall notices. Some organizations, like hospitals or local police departments, offer free car seat inspections. Their technicians can examine your car seat, show you how to use it properly, and help you choose a new one if necessary. Your local American Automobile Association (AAA) can help you locate an inspection station near you.

child laughing in car seat

Image via Flickr

What Are the Federal Standards for Car Seat Manufacturers?

Car seat manufacturers must design their products to meet specific NHTSA mandated performance standards, also known as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. Most importantly, each child restraint system must pass a test that simulates a collision at 30 miles per hour. Additionally, the system must meet flammability requirements, have adequate buckle release pressure, and meet certain requirements for padding around the head area of the seat.

LATCH systems on car seats must have two distinct sets of features. The first set is lower anchor connectors that replace seat belt installation. The second set is tether connectors designed to reduce forward motion upon impact. This second feature is not a requirement for rear-facing car seats. 

Finally, each car seat must also have a visible label that lists instructions for installation and use, verification that it has passed required safety tests, the name and address of the manufacturer, and the date the product was manufactured.

What Are the Car Seat Laws?

Each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia have car seat laws on their books. These laws require that children under a certain age must be placed in an appropriate child restraint system when traveling in a vehicle. However, the specifics of the laws vary from state to state. You can find the exact laws of your state by visiting the IIHS website at iihs.org.

It is a parent or driver’s responsibility to ensure that a child is properly fastened when riding in a vehicle. Depending on the state, failure to adhere to the law can result in monetary fines. Some states penalize noncompliance by giving drivers points on their licenses. 

Minister of Transport placing child

Image via Flickr

Generally, children aged two or younger should be placed in a rear-facing car seat. This is a recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In fact, the NHTSA recommends that you keep your child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Once your child physically outgrows a rear-facing seat, it is time to switch to a forward-facing seat with a tether and a harness. A child typically outgrows a forward-facing seat between 4 and 7 years old, depending on his or her weight and height. At this point, it is time to use a booster seat. A booster seat should be used until the child is big enough to safely use a regular seat belt.

When driving, your child is your most precious cargo. Expiration dates on car seats must be taken seriously; they are meant to help keep your child as safe as possible while out on the road. Even the most safety-conscious drivers are not immune to vehicle collisions. Your choice of car seat is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent to a young child. Don’t make the mistake of trying to stretch the life of your current model. If your car seat has expired or is about to expire, it is time to invest in a new one. Not only will your child be safer, but you’ll enjoy peace of mind that you’re doing everything in your control to keep him or her secure.

Featured Image: Flickr