Types of Car Seats - Car Seat Buying Guide

Last updated: October 2020

In this guide:

Car seats are an extremely important purchase. While you can rest assured car seats have to pass safety regulations, there are still so many things to consider. Betty's guide outlines everything you need to know to make a decision that's right for you. And the best part? It's short and to the point.


Car Seat Age-Appropriate Positions

Before we dive into the types of car seats, it’s important to explain the different seating positions and why they’re important.


Car-Seat Age Appropriate Positions | Car Seat Buying Guide

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention



Rear-facing car seat have your child facing the seat, opposite the direction of other passengers. This is the safest seating position, which is why car seats that have higher maximum height or weight limitations in the rear-facing position are attractive to parents.



Front-facing car seats have your child facing forward, the same direction as other passengers. A child transitions from the rear-facing to front-facing position when they outgrow the rear-facing limits.



Booster car seats have your child facing forward on an elevated seat. This is often used when your child has outgrown their front-facing seat but are still too small to use the seatbelt safely on it’s own. The elevated seat ensures that the seatbelt is strapped in at the correct height. There are two types of booster seats (high-back booster and backless booster), which we get more into detail on below.


Types of Car Seats

Now that you have an understanding of the different seating positions and when they're appropriate, we can dive into the different types of car seats.



Infant Car Seat | Car Seat Buying Guide

Infant car seats are meant to be taken in and out of the car with your little one strapped in. Most models also have a detachable base that stays in the car. This allows for you to quickly and easily attach and detach the seat safely each time. Because of its mobility, infant car seats can also attach to strollers to create a travel system. All infant car seats are rear-facing to ensure maximum protection for newborns and small babies.

Size limit: 4lbs to approximately 35lbs, but most children outgrow the seat’s height limit first at around nine to twelve months.

Infant car seats are great for parents who…

  • want to avoid waking your sleeping baby when taking them out of the car
  • use cabs or friends’ cars since they’re easier carry and install (note: not all infant car seats can be installed without the base)
  • want the ease of having a detachable base to quickly and safely click in and out of the car
  • are a multi-car family, since you can install a base in each car to use with the one car seat
  • want to attach a car seat to a stroller

Not so great for parents who...

  • want an option that you can use for longer. (Your child may outgrow this within nine to twelve months)

Infant car seat price range: $50 to $350



Convertible Car Seat | Car Seat Buying Guide

Convertible strollers can be rear-facing and front-facing. Because of this, convertible car seats are appropriate for newborns and young toddlers.

Size limit: 4lbs to 65 lbs. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines recommend that you place your child in a rear-facing position until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer.

Convertible car seats are great for parents who…

  • want one car seat to last from newborn to toddler years
  • already have an infant car seat and want to invest in another car seat for a second car

Not so great for parents who...

  • want to take in and out of the car, or easily use with multiple cars
  • want one car seat for your child’s life

Convertible car seat price range: $70 to $500



All-in-one Car Seat | Car Seat Buying Guide

All in one car seats can transition into three positions - rear-facing, front-facing, and booster. Some all-in-one car seats distinguish between booster seats with a back and those without, but we won’t overcomplicate things. Because of its versatility, all-in-one car seats can be used for as long as your child is required to be in a car seat.

Size limit: 4lbs to 120lb or until your child is 5ft tall and can comfortably use the seatbelt.

All-in-one car seats are great for parents who…

  • need a long term value option that your child can grow with

Not so great for parents who...

  • your little one is premature or on the smaller side
  • you want a car seat for your infant that you can attach to a stroller, take in and out of the car, easily use with multiple cars
  • you want a slimmer car seat, as most all-in-one options tend to be larger
  • you want the latest car seat features and standards - all-in-one can be used for ~10 years, and car seat standards and features could potentially change during that time

All-in-one car seat price range: $150 to $650




Booster Car Seat | Car Seat Buying Guide

As the name suggests, booster seats elevate your child. This allows for the seatbelt to properly strap over your child’s shoulder and across their body as it’s intended to. There are two types of booster seats:

  • High back booster which not only boosts your child's height but also provides neck and head support. These can be used with or without headrests.

  • Backless booster which should be used with your car’s headrests.

Size limit: Typically from 40lbs to 120lbs, or until your child is tall enough to use a seatbelt.

Booster car seats are great for parents who…

  • Your child has outgrown their toddler car seat but are still below the recommended size for using a seatbelt alone.

Booster car seat price range: $35 to $300

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