From harness to booster, rear-facing to forward-facing, or highback to backless booster, convertible car seats give you the versatility of getting two car seats in a single purchase. You simply do some minor adjustments and removal, and then your seat can already transition to the next car seat stage.
But why limit yourself in two transitions when you can get another car seat mode? Manufacturers have now developed 3 in 1 models that can be advantageous for fast-growing children. Getting another mode means your child can use it earlier or longer, so you don’t have to buy a separate seat once he/she has outgrown the current mode.
More than practicality in budget, using a convertible seat gives both you and your child familiarity with the model as the years go by. It will also be safer because you’ll be sticking with the appropriate type of car seat depending on your child’s current height and weight.
But when buying a model, it can get overwhelming because each car seat in the market has its own strengths and weaknesses. That is why we have reviewed a diverse list of 3 in 1 car seats, so you don’t have to go through numerous websites to compare each seat. And to help you further in selecting, we also wrote some information in our buyer’s guide that you can use to create your own criteria.
Best 3 in 1 Car Seat Comparison Table
|Model||Modes||Size (inches)||Maximum Weight Limit||Price|
|Cybex Eternis S||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||25.3 x 20 x 25.5||120 lbs|
|Diono Radian 3RXT||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||16.1 x 16.9 x 28.4||120 lbs|
|Evenflo EveryStage||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||22 x 19 x 26.5||120 lbs|
|Diono Radian 3R||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||16.1 x 16.9 x 28.4||100 lbs|
|Graco Milestone||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||21 x 17.5 x 21||100 lbs|
|Safety 1st Grow N Go EX Air||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||24 x 19 x 23.8||100 lbs|
|Evenflo Symphony||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||30 x 20 x 20||110 lbs|
|Safety 1st Grow and Go||Rear-facing, forward-facing, highback booster||24.5 x 19.2 x 24.2||100 lbs|
|Graco Nautilus 65 LX||Forward-facing, highback booster, backless booster||18 x 20 x 28||120 lbs|
|Graco Tranzitions||Forward-facing, highback booster, backless booster||18.9 x 10.5 x 33.5||100 lbs|
Best 3 in 1 Car Seat Reviews
Cybex Eternis S All-in-One Car Seat – Editor’s Choice
One of the most good-looking seats in our review, the Cybex Eternis S is definitely a model that you’d like matching with your car’s interior. But more than just good looks, this seat is also packed with different safety features for your little one.
Sensor Safe Technology
Right off the bat, you’d notice that the seat’s chest clip looks different to other models. The reason for this is because Cybex Eternis decided to take advantage of the technology in regards to safety. To use Sensor Safe, you will connect it to your vehicle and phone to act as a sensor and notifier.
The gadget will notify you if you turned your car off and your child is still buckled in the seat. Even though it might seem like something a napping child wouldn’t appreciate, tired parents can definitely use this extra safety feature. From 1998 to 2017, there have been 700 cases of children dying of heatstroke from being left in the car. Unfortunately, sometimes exhaustion takes a toll on your body that can lead to accidents like this.
Aside from notifying you of the child still being buckled when you’re leaving the car, Sensor Safe also alerts you of the following:
- If the child managed to unbuckle himself/herself out of the car
- If the temperature surrounding the seat is hazardous
Another useful feature that this gadget has is it has an allotted time for a response. What this means is if no action is done within that time frame, it will send alerts to the designated emergency contact.
Besides the Sensor Safe Technology, the overall built and physical features of Cybex Eternis S influence its capacity to protect the child. For stability, the seat utilizes a steel-reinforced frame which also helps with its durability. However, the cushioning of the seat doesn’t feel as plush and soft.
For side impact protection, the seat uses the LSP system or Linear Side Impact Protection System. According to Cybex, LSP absorbs 25% more impact compared to other protection systems. You can even adjust this feature to fit your child’s height.
Adjustable Recline Angle, Headrest, and Harness Height
The proper installation and fit to the child are essential for the car seat to be effective in doing its job. Let’s start first with how the model installs. You can install the seat using the LATCH system or your vehicle seat belt. You can access the LATCH system in its dedicated storage underneath the seat pad, which we think is excellent to keep everything neat. The LATCH system is also push-button style to make installment even easier compared to using clip-type connectors.
For the forward-facing mode, you have to install the seat using the vehicle seat belt. But don’t worry, the Cybex Eternis S has a lockoff device to help in keeping the model in place. Installing the seat using the seat belt is easy because once you pull back the seat cover, you will see the belt path and lockoff device. Threading the belt in the path and tightening it into place doesn’t require much effort but we do have a minor issue with the seat’s LSP system. When installing with the seat belt, the lockoff device sits on top of the LSP and can interfere with the tightness of the seat belt.
What Can You Adjust with the Seat?
The seat has 4 recline angles to choose from in the rear-facing mode and 3 recline angles for the forward-facing mode. You can also make use of the patented 3 reclining angles of the seat’s headrest to prevent your child’s head from slumping when he/she sleeps in the seat. The shoulder harness also moves up or down when you adjust the headrest, so you don’t have to rethread it when your child grows taller.
Some other features that Cybex Eternis S has are removable, machine-washable cover and a removable cup holder. Of course, the former is always better for busy parents who prefer to wash and go, while children can use the latter for toys and snacks.
Lastly, the seat offers a 50-pound weight limit in its rear-facing mode; this is 10 pounds higher compared to other seats! Why is this weight limit relevant? Out of all the car seats, the rear-facing seat is the safest whether the impact comes from behind or from the front. Therefore, a seat where you can keep your child in rear-facing mode longer makes it a great candidate compared to those with lower limits.
Diono Radian 3RXT – The Small Car-Friendly Convertible
Our best 3 in 1 car seat review will not be complete without a seat that is small car-friendly. We included our top pick in the best convertible car seat for small cars because even if you have a smaller vehicle, that doesn’t mean that you have to overlook the advantages of 3-in-1 models.
Narrow and Portable
The Diono Radian 3RXT only measures at 16.14 x 16.93 x 28.35 inches making it possible for you to install it 3 across. But besides less footprint inside the car, you can also fold this model flat and use its carrying case for travel. You can even purchase straps so you can carry it as a backpack, and since it is FAA-approved for airline travel, portability is out of the question,
The overall built of the seat feels sturdy and comfortable thanks to its steel-reinforced frame, memory foam seat, and non-slip rubber base. For side impact protection, its side walls are made of aluminum and are lined with energy-absorbing EPS foam.
SuperLATCH System and SafeStop Harness
You can install the 3RXT using the vehicle seat belt or via the SuperLATCH system. But what makes it super? These SuperLATCH connectors are push-on style similar to our previous model. However, for added peace of mind, you will hear a click sound serving as an indicator that you have correctly installed the seat.
Besides the SuperLATCH System, this model also has a patented SafeStop Harness. The SafeStop harness provides added protection in forward-facing mode by helping the seat in impact absorption. Diono Radian designed it to go between the belt and the seat so that it can lessen the time when the child receives the impact. Although, do take note that you cannot use the SafeStop load limiter in rear-facing mode and it is only a requirement for a child under 40 pounds who needs to use the forward-facing mode.
For installation using the seatbelt, the seat has a locking clip that you can access inside the back compartment along the SafeStop and SuperLatch. Locking clips are useful because it keeps the lap belt tight on the car seat. But for us, tightening the seat in place is quite tricky, especially in the rear-facing mode because the belt path for this mode is enclosed in plastic.
We should also mention that the seat has a fixed internal recline angle and if you need to adjust it, you have to buy the adjuster separately. But other than the recline angle, you can adjust other features of the seat. For example, the 3RXT offers 5 shoulder height positions and 3 crotch buckle positions. You can also expand the seat’s leg rests to accommodate your child’s height. A drawback we have, however, is even though the seat has 12 positions for the headrest, the headwings take some effort to adjust up and down.
Evenflo EveryStage DLX – Effortless Installation
Pushing, pulling, squeezing inside the vehicle, these are some of the dreaded moments every caretaker or parent has to do when they tighten the car seat using the LATCH system. Thankfully, Evenflo EveryStage DLX has a remedy for this; the EasyClick ratcheting lever.
You can choose to install EveryStage with the seat belt or via the LATCH system. With the latter, you don’t have to wiggle the seat tight after you connected the seat’s lower anchors to your vehicle’s lower anchor connector. You just have to unfold the handle/ratcheting lever and move it back and forth to tighten the seat in place. And when it comes to using the seat belt for installing, the path is well-spaced to prevent twisting nor scratching your knuckles when reaching through.
How about the seat’s convertibility? Unlike the Cybex Eternis S, you have to remove the harness when you transition the seat to a booster. But in contrast, adjusting the harness height takes less effort than conversion.
You don’t need to rethread the seat harness as your child grows. A no-rethread harness is always a plus when it comes to car seats since it lessens the time and effort needed compared to those that need rethreading.
However, adjusting the chest clip is a different story. We would’ve preferred it if there are buckle holders, so you don’t have to dig underneath your child when you’re buckling him/her. The harness adjustment release button also requires some effort, and the crotch buckle position can be uncomfortable for a bigger child since it’s quite deep into the seat.
Newborn In-Seat Recline Feature
Besides EasyClick, EveryStage also has a unique feature called the Newborn In-Seat Recline Angle. What this feature does is it guarantees you that the seat is on the proper recline angle for a newborn. When you put the headrest on the lowest position (the appropriate position for newborns), the seat inside, or the part that holds the child, will automatically angle itself at the correct position.
Besides the newborn recline feature, you can also customize the seat’s recline angle with positions 1, 2, and 3 for rear-facing and positions 4 and 5 for forward-facing. You can see these markings outside the base of the seat, but we would’ve preferred if they put them in a different color to make them more visible. Nonetheless, we like that the seat has a bubble recline indicator to serve as your guide.
Unlike the Diono Radian 3RXT earlier, the EveryStage isn’t going to be small-car friendly. The seat measures a total of 32 inches from front to back when you install it in rear-facing so be wary of the footprint this model takes. However, EveryStage will allow your child to use it in rear-facing mode until he/she reaches 50 pounds, so are you willing to compensate the overall bulk with that limit?
Diono Radian 3R – The Budget-Friendly Diono Radian 3RXT
If you like the 3RXT, but you already have an allotted budget in mind, you can consider the Diono Radian 3R for a lower price. You can also install the 3R in small vehicles since it only measures at 16.1 x 16.9 x 28.4 inches, yes, the exact same measurement of the 3RXT! And it even folds flat too!
A 3RXT Clone But…
So how does 3R differs to the 3RXT? For a lower price, the 3R has a lower weight limit in its rear-facing and booster mode. In the rear-facing mode, it only allows a 40-pound weight limit (5 pounds less), while in booster mode, it is 20 pounds less (100 pounds) than the weight limit of 3RXT. The 3R’s headrest is also not adjustable, and the unit does not come with infant support cushions and removable cup holder.
But don’t worry, besides the headrest adjustment, accessories, and weight limits, the 3R has similarities with the 3RXT that you’ll appreciate. Like its slightly expensive cousin, the 3R also uses a steel frame with memory foam and side impact protection walls made of aluminum and lined with EPS foam. And if you’re thinking on how to clean the seat, the fabric of the 3R is also machine washable like the 3RXT.
For adjustment, you have a choice of 5 shoulder height positions and 3 crotch buckle positions. And when you switched to booster mode, releasing the harness straps are as easy as in the 3RXT model. The straps and clips also have their dedicated storage space at the back of the seat shell to keep everything neat.
And for the installment, you can only adjust the model’s recline angle when you purchase the separate foam block. If you can remember, this fixed angle is also the drawback we have with the 3RXT. However, we are glad that the 3R still uses Diono Radian’s SuperLATCH system, which we praised in the 3RXT.
Graco Milestone – The Budget-Friendly Graco 4Ever
Another familiar seat in this review is our top pick for the best car seat for 3-year-olds. We have to include this model because it is packed with useful features that not only 3-year-olds can appreciate. If you are also familiar with the popular Graco 4Ever, you will like the Milestone for a lower price in exchange of weight limits and having no backless booster mode.
The built of the Graco Milestone is quite similar to our previous models with a steel-reinforced frame and EPS energy-absorbing foam. It has a recline bubble indicator, removable cup holder, infant inserts, and a machine-washable cover that you can take off without removing the harness. Do we have a drawback with the seat’s overall built? A noticeable difference is that compared to the previous 3R and 3RXT, the Milestone is quite bulky.
Simply Safe Adjust Harness System
The model uses the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. What this feature does is you can adjust the harness height and the headrest in one motion. Simply Safe eliminates rethreading and makes your height adjustments effortless and quick. We should also note that the model offers 10 headrest positions and 3 crotch strap positions both useful for tall children.
InRight LATCH System
For installation, you can use your vehicle seat belt or the LATCH system. The seat also offers 2 recline positions each for the rear-facing mode and forward-facing mode that you can choose from during installing.
Graco Milestone’s installation with LATCH has a similarity with the SuperLATCH system of the Diono Radian seats that we’ve reviewed. With Graco’s InRight LATCH system, you will also hear an audible click as a confirmation that you have installed the seat securely. Do take note that the Milestone does not have separate LATCH straps for the rear-facing mode and forward-facing mode. Switching the straps is easy, but a nice touch would be to have them separate for each mode.
How about the installation with the seat belt? Unlike the car seats we’ve reviewed from Cybex and Diono Radian, the Milestone doesn’t have a lockoff device. How important is a lockoff device? The primary purpose of this device is to tighten the seat belt to prevent it from loosening. But don’t worry, other than this minor drawback, the seat belt paths of this model aren’t stressful to pass the belt through, and they are well marked for each mode.
IIHS Best Bet Booster
When converting the seat to the booster mode, you don’t have to remove the harness. Simply tuck it in the harness compartment, and you don’t have to worry about misplacing the harness somewhere else.
However, what makes the Graco Milestone’s booster mode noticeable for us is it is rated Best Bet by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS.) What does Best Bet means? As tested by the IIHS, boosters with this rating means that they provide a good belt fit for most 4 to 8 year-olds in almost any car, minivan, or SUV. We think that parents will appreciate this rating because it verifies the quality of the seat as a booster.
Safety 1st Grow N Go EX Air – Straightforward Buckling and Height Adjustments
It seems like a trend in convertible car seats right now is a feature where you can adjust the harness height and headrest in one motion. Similar to the previous Simply Safe Adjust harness system of the Graco Milestone, Safety 1st also has the QuickFit feature.
QuickFit Harness and Harness Holders
The Grow N Go EX Air has a lot of useful features regarding its harness. As we have said, you can adjust the harness height along with the headrest by squeezing the handle at the top. QuickFit eliminates the need for rethreading and is useful, especially if you are using the seat for more than one child. Speaking of adjustments, it is also worth noting that you can adjust the crotch buckle positions at the back of the seat into three positions (4.5, 5.5, and 6.5 inches.)
But other than the QuickFit feature, this model also has harness holders for both the rear-facing and forward-facing mode. This means that you don’t have to dig through the seat when buckling your child in for a faster way of getting in and out of the seat.
Other than those harness features, we love that the Grow N Go EX Air offers a 50-pound weight limit in its rear-facing mode. Throughout this review, we have reminded you of the importance of extended usage in the rear-facing mode in regards to safety. That is why we appreciate this higher weight limit which children up to 3 years of age can use before transitioning to a forward-facing seat.
Air Protect Cushioning
Upon seeing Safety 1st, you are probably thinking about their other popular 3 in 1 model, the Grow and Go. So how does EX Air differs from the former? First, EX Air has a longer rear-facing usage and an extra reversible insert for the seat (Grow and Go only has pillows for the head and lumbar regions.) But the most striking advantage of the EX Air over the Grow and Go is its cushioning specifically for side impact protection at the headwings.
Lastly, the EX Air has other useful physical features that can lessen time and effort for busy parents. We like how there is no need to remove the harness when you take off the car seat cover for clean-up. The cover is machine and dryer-friendly, and it is easy to put back because they attach via snaps.
Evenflo Symphony – Fuss-Free LATCH Installation
You can correlate the word symphony with balance and harmony. So the question is, does this model from Evenflo lives up to its name?
Infinite Slide Harness
The Infinite Slide Harness feature of Symphony lessens the danger of incorrect tightness and harness placement on your child. The harness has 2 red tabs that you will place at your child’s shoulder. You will then tighten it by adjusting up and down, and if you happen to position the harness higher after adjustment, it will automatically slide down to the correct position. The Infinite Slide Harness means you don’t have to rethread it when your child grows.
If you like the ease of tightening that comes with Evenflo EveryStage, then you will also like the SureLatch System of Symphony. For a child weighing less than 40 pounds, you can take advantage of the ratcheting lever inside the SureLatch connectors to tighten the seat effortlessly.
Auto-Retract LATCH connectors
How does this feature work? After you hook the SureLatch connectors onto your vehicle, you will just push downwards to where your child will sit. After this, SureLatch will auto-retract itself, and if the tightness isn’t secure enough after you test it, just repeat the process again. It is also worth noting that you can still use the LATCH system in booster mode.
What about installation using the seat belt? Like with most of the models in this review, using the seat belt is straightforward, and you can quickly locate the belt paths. Although sadly, Evenflo Symphony has no lockoff device.
In regards to durability and safety, the Symphony uses a steel-reinforced frame and Evenflo’s E3 side impact protection in its headwings. Evenflo calls it E3 because the seat uses three layers of engineered foam that is designed to reduce the forces of an impact by up to 50%.
You will also get 2 integrated cup holders which for us, becomes both an advantage and a disadvantage. What we mean by this is getting 2 cup holders means additional storage for your child. However, the 2 cups add width to the seat, which makes it problematic for 3-across installation.
Safety 1st Grow and Go – The Budget-Friendly Safety 1st EX Air
We have reviewed the Safety 1st Grow N Go EX Air earlier and right there we have already introduced you to the toned down version of that seat; the Grow and Go. As a recap, the 3 main advantages of the EX Air to our current seat are its 50-pound rear-facing weight limit, extra insert and the Air Protect cushioning at the side wings. With these features in mind, what makes the Grow and Go still worthy of being included in our list of best 3 in 1 car seats?
This model happens to be our pick as the best affordable car seat for 3-year-olds. The Grow and Go has a lot of features that give you value for money. First, is it has similarities with the EX Air. The Grow and Go has harness holders and uses the QuickFit Harness feature that you have seen with the EX Air. This features mean less hassle in buckling and unbuckling your child into the seat and no need for rethreading when adjusting the shoulder height of the harness.
The Grow and Go has the same machine and dryer-friendly snapping cover, and the seat also has integrated cup holders on both sides. However, another similarity that this model shares with the EX Air is that it is also heavy and bulky. The cup holders add to the extra width, and the farthest reclining angle will take up the legroom of the front passenger.
Graco Nautilus 65 LX – Best Value for Money
Our last 2 models are from Graco, and you have probably seen the Nautilus in our review for convertible car seats for small cars. The Nautilus and the next car seat both offer a backless booster mode.
What is the benefit of getting a backless booster? Backless boosters are particularly useful for children who are taller for their age. Getting a model who can convert to a backless booster means you don’t need to buy it separately once your child outgrows the highback booster mode. In this particular seat, the highest weight limit that it offers in the backless booster mode is 120 pounds.
Another advantage that you can get when you convert the seat into a backless booster is it lessens the overall bulk, which in turn, reduces the hassle during traveling (e.g., taxi rides.)
Simply Safe Harness Adjustment
Like the previous seat we reviewed from Graco, the Nautilus 65 LX also utilizes the Simply Safe Harness Adjustment feature. You don’t need to rethread the harness because the shoulder harness height moves along the headrest (5 positions.) There are also pockets that you can use to hold the metal buckles, so you don’t have to dig through the seat when buckling and unbuckling your child.
For installation, using both the LATCH system and vehicle seat belt are pretty straightforward. You will notice that the LATCH strap is already routed in the belt path and you can use this system for the highback booster mode. With the vehicle seat belt, on the other hand, the model comes with a locking clip, and there is a dedicated storage for the lower anchors.
But don’t worry, converting the seat from different modes is easier. For switching to booster mode, you can find a dedicated harness storage to keep everything neat. It is also worth noting that the highback booster mode of the Nautilus was rated Best Bet by the IIHS like the Graco Milestone.
Lastly, for the overall built, Graco made the seat with steel-integrated frame and a comfortable padding of EPS energy-absorbing foam. The seat may not be the most lightweight out there, but if additional weight is what the seat has in exchange for added safety and stability, we think it’s not a problematic compromise.
Graco Tranzitions – Lightweight and Affordable
Our final model in this review also happens to be from Graco and transitions to a backless booster; the Tranzitions 3-in-1. It costs less than the Nautilus 65 LX in the expense of having a lower backless booster weight limit at 100 pounds. However, compared to the previous seat, Graco Tranzitions only weighs less than 15 pounds with a width of less than 11 inches. We think that at this price point and the features that you’ll see below, this model makes a great choice as an additional seat if you have another vehicle.
What about its overall built? We’re assuming that in order to cut the cost in production, Graco chose to use blow-molded plastic instead of EPS foam. Is it still safe? Graco tested this model for side impact, and the seat has passed the US Safety Standard. What blow molding does is it creates a hollow plastic shell that aids in absorbing energy similar to EPS foam in case of an impact. And in terms of comfort and clean-up, the seat is lightly padded, and the covers are machine-washable as well.
Simply Safe Adjust Harness System
Graco Tranzitions also uses the no-rethread harness feature you’ve seen in the previous Graco seats that we’ve reviewed. The harness height moves with the headrest that offers 8 positions to choose from. Speaking of adjustments, do take note that you can’t customize the recline angle of theTranzitions.
The installation with the Graco Tranzitions is straightforward. With the LATCH system, it uses j-hook connectors instead of the push-button style you see in the previous models. And if you choose to use the seat belt, you can store the LATCH connectors on the plastic loops and the edge of the seat cover. Do take note that this model has no locking clip for seat belt installation.
Best 3 in 1 Car Seat Buyer’s Guide
Types of 3 in 1 Car Seats
The complete cycle of car seat stages that your child must undergo to is composed of the following:
Rear-facing harness seats and forward-facing harness seats are the safest out of all the car seat stages. The reason for this is they offer more restraint (usually a 5-point harness) compared to belt-positioning booster seats.
The rear-facing seat is even the safest choice out of all 4 car seats because of its shell and the way its “cradling” the child. The combination of these two features helps in absorbing the crash impact and distributing the forces on the large area of the child’s back, neck, and head.
If you have seen our other car seat reviews, we always remind you that the best and safest way is to wait until your child has outgrown his/her current seat before transitioning him/her to the next. So once your child has reached the height and weight limits of the rear-facing model, a 3-in-1 that can convert to a forward-facing seat is good news.
Forward-facing seats typically use a 5-point harness that restrains the child on both of his/her shoulders, hips, and crotch. This seat is safer than a booster, especially for a child who constantly moves during car rides.
Highback Booster Seat
Car manufacturers designed seat belts for adults; thus, a smaller child would need something to boost his/her height to get the proper belt fit. This is the reason why manufacturers have invented boosters.
Boosters can either be highback or backless. Highback boosters are going to be safer than the latter because it helps the child maintain an upright posture, especially when he/she sleeps in the car. Proper posture is vital for safety because slouching puts the child at a higher risk for fatal neck or back injuries.
Backless Booster Seat
Some manufacturers have now included this mode in their 3-in-1 seats. And typically, backless boosters offer a higher weight limit compared to other modes. This feature is excellent to have if you are still not sure about your child’s demeanor in using a seat belt on its own.
With 3 in 1 car seats, models are capable of converting either from stage 1 to 3 or stage 2 to 4.
Rear-Facing Harness Seat to Highback Booster Seat
This type of 3-in-1 car seat is the most common out of the two. Because it starts as a rear-facing seat, your child can literally use this seat from infancy to toddler stage (depending on the height and weight limits.)
Forward-Facing Harness Seat to Backless Booster Seat
If you happen to have a separate infant car seat and your child is in need of moving to a forward-facing seat, this type of 3 in 1 is an excellent choice. Besides converting from a forward-facing seat to a highback booster seat, the seat can also detach its back and turn into a backless booster seat.
What is the benefit of getting a backless booster? For portability, the backless booster is a more practical choice compared to the bulkier highback booster. Backless boosters are also suitable for children who are taller and older but still needs a “boost” in their seat belt fit.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a 3 in 1 Car Seat
Height and Weight Limits
As we have mentioned earlier, the best and safest reason to know when to transition your child to the next car seat stage is when he/she has outgrown the seat. If you think about it, as the stages go higher, the number of restraints go lower.
What this means is using a car seat stage too early for a child who still cannot properly sit throughout the ride (e.g., hunching, leaning forward/sideways, playing with the seat belt, etc.) is a dangerous idea.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using the rear-facing seat for as long as possible. With this information in mind, you can check what model offers a high height and weight limit in rear-facing. A good EXAMPLE is
For the harness seats, a model with high shoulder harness slots is going to last for a fast-growing child longer compared to those with lower height limits.
Some useful safety features that can you can look for in a car seat includes:
- Side impact protection
- Infant inserts
- Side wings
- Impact-absorbing foam
- Steel-reinforced frame /steel frame
- Lockoff device
We should also include the model’s ease of adjustment, conversion, and installation here in safety features. After all, a car seat can only do its job if it is correctly fitted to the child and installed securely in the car. So what should you look for?
- Adjustable harness/ Multiple harness slots
- Adjustable reclining position with angle indicator
- LATCH system
- Seat belt guide
- Separate harness storage
- Harness holders
Besides safety features, you should also check the safety tests and standards that the car seat has undergone to. What guidelines has the model passed? How did it do in crash tests? And to serve as a guide, here are some of the familiar tests and criteria that you might have seen in our reviews:
- Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213: the standard regulating the performance and design criteria for child restraint systems.
- NCAP Standards: checks how well the restraint fits and verifies the protection offered by the restraint.
- Side-impact tests
- Crash tests
You can either choose a car seat that can convert from rear-facing to highback booster or forward-facing to backless booster. If you notice, the former starts at the first car seat stage cycle, while the latter ends in the last car seat stage. There is really no right or wrong choice, and it’s only going to be a matter of preference about which 3 in 1 is going to be practical for you and your child.
Sometimes, size does matter. For example, if you’re traveling a lot with your child or if you’re planning to transfer the seat from car to car, it’s going to be difficult not just with portability but also with installment if the seat is bulky. Another reason for considering the car seat size is if you have a small vehicle. But don’t worry because there are models that manufacturers have designed specifically to fit in smaller vehicles. An EXAMPLE
Children will make you aware if they feel uncomfortable and the last thing you want is a car ride tantrum. Opt for a model with a breathable fabric and plush feel so that your child will enjoy the ride safely and stress-free. Other features that can add in comfort are infant inserts and cup holders. Inserts are essential to give your baby a snug fit with the seat, while the cup holders are useful for your little one to put their snack or toys in. This way, they don’t have to try and reach these things further.
Car seats that you can convert into three modes are not only practical but also gives you and your child a sense of familiarity. As you have seen in our buyer’s guide, there are a lot of features and factors that influence your decision, whether a particular model is going to be the best one for you and your child.
Our top pick in this review is the Cybex Eternis S because not only is it good-looking, but it also uses different features that are advantageous for your child’s safety. However, there are other models that you can also consider depending on your needs and priorities.
We hope that we have helped you decide on choosing the best 3 in 1 car seat for your little one. You can also check our other car seat reviews if you have a more specific factor in mind. And if you have any questions, feel free to comment down below!