I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went to purchase a convertible carseat for my daughter…
Over a period of about six months, I purchased six convertible carseats before I finally, FINALLY, found one that I liked.
Yes, you read that right. Six.
I was shocked at how difficult it was for me to find something that I liked. I loved the very first infant carseat that we purchased, and assumed that it would be that simple for the next one. I imagine you all know what it means to assume though…
I am pretty sure that somewhere around carseat #4 my husband started to think I had gone crazy. For me though, if this was going to be a carseat that I (and my daughter) was going to have to live with for quite a few years, I wanted to make sure I really loved it.
So, I thought I would give you my own personal comparison, in order to hopefully save some of you from the same fate.
These are my own personal opinions. I purchased each of these carseats on my own, based on my own research and preferences.
(This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my full disclosure here.)
I had the Britax B-Safe infant carseat for my daughter and, as I said earlier, loved it. So, it was only natural for me to stick with Britax when it was time to move up to a convertible seat.
Unfortunately, I was not nearly as thrilled with the Marathon as I had been with the B-Safe.
What I liked about it: It was easy to install and got great safety ratings. It was also built well and seemed well cushioned.
What I didn’t like: I found it difficult to get my daughter buckled into this seat. There was no way to move the straps out of the way when placing her in the seat. So, I had to sit her on top of the straps, then try to dig the straps out from underneath her in order to buckle her in. I found the rubber grips on the shoulder straps made it hard to adjust the clip. Finally, I really felt like her face was crowded with the shoulder strap pads and rubber grips around the clip. Granted, the shoulder strap pads can be removed, but since I had more complaints than just that, I went looking for something else.
My research after the Britax led me to the –
After doing a fair amount of research online, I settled on the Diono Radian RXT for my second purchase. This seat got great safety ratings, boasted a full steel frame, and received amazing reviews.
What I liked about it: I actually really liked this car seat. It was very easy to get my daughter in and out of, which was key for me, and she seemed happy in it.
What I didn’t like: This was the most challenging, out of all the seats I purchased, to install. It was also so tall that in order for it to fit in my car (a Jeep Patriot) I had to have the front passenger seat pushed all the way forward, rendering it (the front seat) unusable. This is apparently a common problem with this carseat, because Diono produces an insert that can be placed under the carseat, in order to give you a few extra inches between the back of the carseat and the back of the front seat. The insert essentially props up the back end of the carseat. I was not impressed with the reviews for the insert though. Many people complained that the insert became compressed over time and had to be frequently replaced. Some also complained that it put the carseat in such an upright position, that their child’s head would fall forward if they ever fell asleep in the car. So, it was back to the drawing board for me.
After hearing that I was struggling to find a carseat, I had more than one friend recommend the Chicco Nextfit. The Chicco Keyfit 30 had been very popular among my friends and family with their infants, and I knew it was rated well. So, I went and purchased lucky number three.
3. Chicco NextFit Convertible Car Seat, Matrix
I actually ended up using this carseat for about six months hoping that it would grow on me. Unfortunately, it just never did, and I finally became fed up and went on the hunt again.
What I liked about it: It was easy to install, and therefore, easy to transfer from vehicle to vehicle. It was also easy to adjust all around and fit well in my car.
What I didn’t like: The sides of this carseat are pretty high and the seat is quite deep, creating a bit of a well or bucket. This made it difficult to get my daughter into the seat as she is still rear-facing. I also had the same issue I did with the Britax of having to sit her on top of the straps, and then dig them out from underneath her. I just really felt like it was more of a struggle to get her in and buckled than it should have been.
After a road trip to Florida (a 7.5 hour drive), I decided it wasn’t worth struggling with for the next few years, and I began researching again. My research led me to –
This was listed as one of Consumer Reports 5 Top-Rated Convertible Carseats in January of 2016.
What I liked about it: It was easy to install. I felt that it was much easier to get my daughter in and out of. Plus, the price just couldn’t be beat.
What I didn’t like: After having purchased three pretty high-end carseats to try, this one just felt cheap. It did not seem nearly as sturdy as the others, plus it did not have much padding on it. None of our family lives in the same state as we do, so we take a fair amount of road trips to visit family. I was concerned that this seat would not be comfortable for a long car ride.
At this point I was getting really frustrated with the whole thing. Why could I not find a carseat that I liked? I started to question my own sanity and whether or not I was being way too nit-picky.
I decided to stop worrying about reports and reviews and just go to the store and pick what looked like a good fit. On my final trip to Babies-R-Us, I came home with two seats.
This seat is nearly identical to the Cosco Scenera NEXT, except it has better padding. Cosco and Safety 1st are owned by the same parent company, and I believe the shell on these two carseats (Scenera and Sportfit 65) is the same. This one is a bit pricier than the Scenera though, due to the extra padding.
What I liked about it: It was easy to install, and easy to get my daughter in and out of. While not quite as cheap as the Scenera, it was still a great price.
What I didn’t like: Because I had purchased a number of expensive carseats prior to this, it just felt a bit flimsy. It didn’t seem as heavy or durable as some of the other carseats. And though it was cushioned better than the Scenera, I still worried about comfort during long road trips.
Honestly, had I not purchased the sixth and final carseat at the same time that I purchased this one, I may have ended up keeping the Sportfit. BUT…fortunately, the sixth convertible carseat purchased ended up being a winner.
At this point in the game, I had really narrowed down specifically what I was looking for in a convertible carseat. When I saw this seat in the store, it appeared to match most of my criteria.
I knew almost immediately after installing this seat into my car, that I had finally found the one. (Are we still talking about a carseat here, or a date?!?!)
What I like about it: The sides are not too high, nor is the seat too deep, like the Chicco, which makes it much easier to get my daughter in and out of. There are cushions on the straps for her shoulders, but they are not too bulky. I can move the straps out of the way when putting her in, so I don’t have to dig them out from beneath her. It is incredibly easy to install, as it uses the Latch system when rear-facing. It’s padded well and seems comfortable for long travel. It’s easy to adjust and allows my daughter to sleep in the car when needed. It has a few extra bells and whistles, such as two cup holders and various recline positions. Finally, it’s heavy and appears to be well-constructed and durable.
What I don’t like: Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve come across anything yet. It is a pricy seat, but knowing that this is the last carseat she will ever need, I’m happy to spend the money.
So, there you have it. If you are just starting on your journey to purchase a convertible carseat, hopefully this post will save you some of the headache I went through.