When it comes to choosing a long-lasting car seat for your child, you have two main options: the convertible car seat and the all-in-one. Both have their pros and cons, so how do you know which one is right for you? In this blog post, we’ll break down the differences between convertible car seats and all-in-ones so that you can make an informed decision.
Key Differences: Convertible car seat vs All-in-one
|Convertible Car Seat||All-in-one Car Seat|
|Ideal for infants from birth (age 0) to age 6 or 7||Ideal for infants from birth (age 0) to age 8 to 10|
|Have a max weight limit of 65 to 80 pounds||Have a higher max weight limit of up to 120 pounds|
|Can be used as a rear-facing and forward-facing seat||can be used as a rear-facing, forward-facing, high-back booster and a backless booster seat|
|Max height limit of 50 inches||A max height limit of 70 inches|
|Lighter with most weighing around 15 to 20 pounds||Heavier with most weighing over 22 pounds|
|Cheaper than all-in-one||More expensive than convertible by over $100|
Convertible car seats can be converted from forward-facing to rear-facing car seats. It can be used for kids from age 0 to 6 or 7 years. Convertible car seats have a weight limit ranging from 40 and 80 pounds and up to 50 inches in height
All-in-one can be used rear-facing, forward-facing, and as a booster as well – Essentially, the baby can use it from age 0 to 8. The biggest pros of an all-in-one seat are cost and convenience. All-in-one car seats have a higher weight limit than convertible car seats of up to 100 or even 120 pounds.
Both convertible and all-in-one car seats look very similar as you can see in the images below;
Below is an image of a convertible car seat
Below is an image of an All-in-one car seat
Pros of Convertible car seats:
- Cheaper: Convertible car seats cost less than an all-in-one.
Cons of Convertible car seats:
- Safety: Experts claim that infants are safer in infant car seats than in convertible ones.
- Too much space for infants requiring the need of inserts, pillows to keep the baby intact
- Not very portable compared to infant seats: Most convertible car seats weigh 20 to 25 pounds, which is much heavier than infant-only seats that usually weigh 10 to 12 pounds.
- Not suitable for newborns: Some kids are born premature and require a rear-facing position for as long as possible. With a convertible seat, the child would need to be at least 4 months old before they could sit in a rear-facing position.
Some all-in-one (also known as 3-in-1) car seats are not suitable for babies. They are only forward-facing and convert from a car seat to a high-back booster and then to a backless booster.
Safety: All-in-one vs Convertible
All-in-one is fitted with more safety and comfort features to better protect your child from infancy until they no longer need a car seat and are therefore considered safer than convertible car seats.
When to pick convertible car seat over all-in-one
If you are on a tight budget, convertible car seats are great value for your money.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and what is most important for your family. Convertible car seats are less expensive than an all-in-one but also have fewer features, so there isn’t a right or wrong answer. What matters most is that you pick a car seat that feels safe and comfortable for your child AND fits well in your car, so that everyone can have a smooth ride.
When to pick an all-in-one car seat over a convertible car seat?
If you prefer to stick with one car seat for your baby from birth until they won’t need a car seat, go for the 3-in-one car seat. All-in-one car seats are usually very large and heavy; if you have a sedan or smaller vehicle, make sure your all-in-one fits well before deciding to purchase.
Convertible vs infant car seats:
Infant car seats are designed for infants from birth to approximately 24 months of age, weighing between 5 and 40 pounds. An infant car seat can be used in a rear-facing position for babies from newborn to about two years old or 40 pounds.
Infant car seats are the easiest type of car seat to use. They are usually installed quickly and easily in the rear-facing position, and many models can be used without a base or installed with a seat belt. The downside is that infant seats typically do not last beyond age 2 so if you want to avoid purchasing multiple seats this may not be the best option for you.
Convertible car seats are designed to be used both rear-facing (from birth until between 2 and 4 years of age, weighing 20–40 pounds) and forward-facing (four years old or older, 20–65 pounds).
More seating: Convertible car seats usually allow for rear-facing use for infants and then can be turned forward-facing to hold children up to 4 or 5 years old. This will save you the money of having to purchase multiple car seats over your child’s lifetime as they grow.
Lower price: The average cost is slightly less than two separate car seats.
Weight: Most convertible car seats weigh 20 to 25 pounds, which is much heavier than infant-only seats that usually weigh 10 to 12 pounds. This may be a problem if you have a smaller vehicle, especially if you need to switch between multiple vehicles frequently.
Not suitable for newborns: Some kids are born premature and require a rear-facing position for as long as possible. With a convertible seat, the child would need to be at least 4 months old before they could sit in a rear-facing position.
Safety: Convertible vs Infant Car Seat
Infant seats are fitted with more safety and comfort features to better protect your child from infancy until age 2 and are therefore considered safer for infants than convertible car seats.
It is important to note that all car seats from every manufacturer go through the same rigorous testing to be certified, regardless of whether or not it has more features. In other words, you can feel confident in your choice regardless of which type. Check out our safety rating for different car seats linked below;
Hi there! I am Kate, a mother of two and a child mobility expert here at Motherhood HQ. I am very passionate about creating awareness and educating parents about strollers and car seat safety. I write a lot about car seats and pay close attention to the safety ratings of different brands from NHTSA and CR. I also write about the changing car seat safety laws in different states and occasionally work as a consultant to parents looking to get some help when deciding on the best car seat, travel system, and stroller to pick. I also blog in different blogs and have been recognized as a baby mobility expert. If you have any questions, you can reach me using; firstname.lastname@example.org.