Child Restraint Guidelines – Keeping Children Safe While Travelling In Vehicles

child safety restraint guide

These Child Restraint Guidelines for the Safe Restraint of Children Travelling in Motor Vehicles have been developed by Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) and Kidsafe - The Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. The National Guidelines provide best practice recommendations that have been approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

NeuRA and Kidsafe want to see all children as safe as they can be when travelling in cars. Ensuring that parents receive straightforward, consistent advice from all sources on how to keep children safe in cars is an important step in making this happen.

Rear Facing Child Restraint

Rear Facing Child Restraint

Rearward Facing Child Restraint

For children from birth, with a built-in 5 or 6 point harness, where the child faces the rear of the car. Type A in the Australian Standard.

NB. Rearward facing restraints come in three types: Type A1 for children up to 70cm tall (approx 6-9 months), Type A2 for children up to 80cm tall (approx 12 months), and a new category Type A4, for children up to 2-3 years of age.

Forward Facing Child Restraint

Forward Facing Child Restraint

Forward Facing Child Restraint

For children who have outgrown their rear facing restraint up until at least 4 years of age, with a built-in 5 or 6 point harness where the child faces the front of the car. Type B in the Australian Standard.

NB. Forward Facing restraints, Type B, fit most children up to at least 4 years of age. A new forward-facing restraint with an inbuilt harness, Type G, is now available which can be used up to approximately 8 years of age.

Booster Seat

Booster Seat

Booster Seat

For children who have outgrown their forward facing restraint up to at least 8-10 years of age, to position the lap and sash belts safely. Use of an add-on harness is not recommended. Type E, F in the Australian Standard.

NB. Booster Cushions are boosters without the back and side wings that protect the child's head. They are being phased out, except for those built into cars.

Lap sash seatbelt

Lap sash seatbelt

Lap sash seatbelt

A seatbelt that has one part that goes across the lap and another that goes over the shoulder. Use when a child is big enough to meet all parts of the '5 step test'. Only use a 'lap only belt' when there is no lap sash belt available.

Convertible Restraint
A child restraint that combines 2 or more types. These include:

Rearward/forward facing convertible

Can be converted from a rearward facing to a forward facing child restraint.

Rearward/forward facing convertible

Forward facing/booster convertible

Can be converted from a forward facing child restraint to a booster seat.

Forward facing/booster convertible

Child Restraint Guidelines Infographic

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Ten Essential Things When Using Restraints

  • The Use of any restraint is preferable to not using a restraint. Most injuries happen when part of a child’s body hits something rigid. Restraints prevent the child from being thrown out of a car and from hitting rigid parts of the car. They also distribute crash forces to the strongest parts of their body. While different types of restraints are associated with different levels of protection (depending upon the size of the child), overall there is strong evidence that a child wearing an appropriate restraint has a 30-96% lower risk of serious injury in the event of a motor vehicle crash than an unrestrained child
  • Infants are safest if they remain in their rear facing restraint as long as they still fit in their rear facing restraint. Rear facing restraints are highly effective in preventing injuries if used correctly, because they fully support the child’s head and neck in the event of a crash. This is important as infants have relatively large heads and weak necks which put them at particularly high risk of serious injuries if the head and neck are not supported. Rearward facing restraints support the child’s head and neck in severe frontal crashes better than forward-facing restraints
  • Once a child is too tall for their rear facing child restraint, they should use a forward-facing child restraint (with built-in 6 point harness) until they are too tall for itNumerous studies provide evidence that forward facing restraints, particularly those with top tether straps, as required in Australia, better protect children than an adult seat belt during a crash, all the way up to the age of 6 (and in some studies, older).  Children are best protected if the restraint straps spread the crash forces over the body, and the built-in harness in forward-facing restraints can do this better than booster seats or seat belts. Also, young children’s hip bones are not developed enough to hold a seat belt down securely in a booster seat or seat belt
  • Once a child is too tall for a forward facing child restraint, they should use a booster seat with a lap-sash seat belt until they are tall enough to fit properly into an adult seat beltIn a crash, booster seats reduce the risk of serious injuries to children too small for adult seat belts, by positioning the belt where it is safest - over the bony areas of the shoulder and pelvis rather than the neck or abdomen. Poor lap belt fit increases the risk of abdominal and head injuries. Poor shoulder belt fit increases the risk of neck injuries.
  • For a child in a booster seat or an adult seatbelt, use a seating position with a lap-sash (lap and shoulder) belt in preference to one with a lap-only belt. Lap-only belts (and lap-sash belts if the shoulder part of a lap-sash belt is not used properly) allow the upper body to be thrown forward in a crash. The shoulder part of the belt restrains the chest, and spreads the crash force over a larger body area reducing injuries to the abdomen, head and spine
  • 0
    All child restraints and booster seats must be installed correctly and the child strapped in correctly, according to the manufacturer’s instructions
    • 1
      Always use a top tether strap for all rearward facing child restraints, forward facing child restraints and booster seats that have them
    • 2
      Always thread the seatbelt through the correct path (following the colour coding available for newer restraints
    • 3
      Ensure there is no slack or looseness in any part of the system. Check the harness straps around the child, the top tether, the seatbelt anchoring the restraint to the vehicle, and the seatbelt used by a child in a booster seat

  • Children 12 years of age and under are safest in the rear seat. Injury risk to children aged 12 and under is nearly double in the front seat compared to the back seat, irrespective of restraint type

  • seat belts should never be used with the sash belt under the child’s arm or behind the child’s back, Lap-only belts (and lap-sash belts if the shoulder part of a lap-sash belt is not used properly) allow the upper body to be thrown forward in a crash. The shoulder part
    of the belt restrains the chest, and spreads the crash force over a larger body area reducing injuries to the abdomen, head and spine
  • When planning any journey with children, use a motor vehicle which allows each child to be in the appropriate restraint for their size. The safety issues when travelling in any vehicle are the same, irrespective of whether the vehicle is a taxi, rental car, or a private vehicle, so the safest option is to follow the best practice recommendations, even if the laws do not require it
  • Regularly check that child restraints are correctly installed and that the restraint is adjusted properly for the child's size according to the restraint users' manual. The risk of life threatening injuries has been shown to be 4-6 times greater with incorrect installation or when the child is incorrectly strapped into the restraint. While some errors are more serious than others, a combination of even minor errors can increase the risk of injury significantly

Best FAA Approved Car Seat For Airplane Travel Reviewed and Rated

Best faa approved car seat

Have you ever wondered if you need to use a child restraint system (CRS) or a car seat on an airplane? Well you are not alone.

If you're taking it on an airplane, it will need to be FAA approved, of course!

While there are so many guides offering tips on child safety seat installation and use for your vehicle, there are so few such recommendations for best child safety seats for travel or for FAA approved car seats.

Funnily enough, even the FAA website will not provide an FAA approved car seats list!

Since you do not want to arrive at the airport and be told your seat is not approved fro airplane use, I have prepared this essential guide for FAA car seats for travel.

Check out our quick FAA Approved Car Seats List:

1. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat Review
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat Review
Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat Azul Review
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat Reviews
Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat Review

"While child safety seats are not required while traveling in an aircraft in the US or Canada, nor are there airline approved car seats, the Federal Aviation Authority recommends that you secure your child on the aircraft using a proper seat."

Many parents with kids under two years will just have the kid on their lap for the entire flight, though flying with an FAA child seat is always the safest way to travel.

Bear in mind that you'll have to buy a seat for your infant in this case, whereas if you're traveling with them in your lap, you can just get a lap infant fare.

Best FAA Approved Car Seat: Safety 1st Guide

best FAA Approved Car Seat

Out of the best FAA Approved car seats on the list the Safety 1st Guide 65 is the best portable safety seat for travel with its small size, adjustable headrest, side impact protection and 5 point harness.

But here's the thing:

If you have a child older than two years, and you are on a long haul flight you will have either of two problems or both:

  • Such a child is very active and will not be content to sit on your lap the entire time. I can tell you from experience, they can get bored very easily and want to walk all over the plane playing with other passengers
  • A toddler without a child car seat will be a nuisance on the flight since even if they are on your lap they will never let you enjoy your airplane movie or a meal, at least with a seat your hands will be free.

While there are many child safety seats on the market, some that claim to be the best seats for airplanes, you can only use an FAA approved car seat on an airplane. 

FAA Certified Car Seat:

Your car seat is FAA approved if it has the sticker on it declaring "this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft"

car seat faa approved

FAA Approved Car Seats: A Comparison Chart




Our Rating




Evenflo Tribute LX

Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat

9.1 Pounds


Britax Marathon g4.1

Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat

19.4 Pounds


Safety 1st Guide

Safety 1st

Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

14 Pounds


Cosco Scenera NEXT

Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

11.4 Pounds


Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Graco 4Ever

 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

27.9 Pounds

How to Install an FAA Approved Child Safety Seat 

FAA Recommendation and Regulations for Child Car Seats

  • Ensure that your child restraint device (CRS) is FAA approved for use in an airplane.
  • The best car seat for flying are no wider than the FAA recommended 16 inches.
  • You are permitted use the child seat for a kid of any size or age as long as they within the weight and age limits set out in the car seat manufacturer's manual.
  • You may use a child safety seat as long as you ensure that you use it in the five point harness mode and that the seat has been approved for use in airplanes and in motor vehicles.
  • You have the right to install the airplane child seat on a seat in any of the classes of the airplane if you bought the ticket as long as the child safety seat does not interfere with safety procedures or with the movement of passengers during an emergency. Note that the best plane seats for installing the safety seat are the ones on the windows.
  • Call ahead arrange for a discounted price from the airline if you will be using an FAA car seat. You can only use the car seat if you purchase a ticket for your baby.
  • When calling the airline, ensure that you not only book adjoining seats but also a window seat so that the safety seat will not block the exit or be a source of discomfort to other passengers.
  • If you do not want to purchase a ticket, ask the airline if they would be fine if you used an empty seat for your CRS (practically the best car seat for airplane travel). nonetheless, if you plan to travel on busy days or seasons it is highly unlikely you will find an empty seat.
  • If you will be making connecting flights, ask the airline to assist you with protocols for lugging a child car seat and luggage through the airport.

5 Infant Airplane/FAA Approved Car Seats 2018 Reviewed

FAA Approved car seat
Rear facing seat

Have you ever been in an airport with a million bags and trolleys, and a toddler on one hand and yet also have to tote along a huge car seat? sounds familiar doesn't it?

If you are someone like me who travels often this can be quite a frustrating experience all round that we often wish we could just not have to travel, but travel we must. 

When it comes to child safety seats, most are designed for cars which makes them totally unsuited for us travelers who have to go through check in at airports sometimes several times a month. 

Would it not be nice if you could have something small and portable that you could get in and out of your car and dash across the airport with without too much hassle. 

This is what the Safety 1st Guide 65 is built for. The Safety 1st is the best FAA Approved car seat if you are looking for a small and portable car seat for travel.

In addition to being small and portable car seat for travel, you also get the following benefits with the Safety 1st guide:

  • Enjoy a lightweight child safety seat that you can carry around the airport and when you are not traveling can transfer easily from vehicle to vehicle if that is your thing
  • If you travel a lot you do not have to worry about the child seat getting messy as the Safety 1st Guide comes with a machine washable pad. It also has a cup holder to prevent messes from spilling fluids or food
  • The Safety 1st Guide 65 is the best travel car seat for small cars as its small footprint means you can install up to three seats in the back seat of your car without inconveniencing other passengers, if you have a large family.
  • Provide the kid with safety and comfort with the adjustable headrest and robust side impact protection of the Safety 1st child safety seat
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Robust safety features
  • Great for small cars
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    Machine washable pad
  • Few range of colors to choose from
Safety 1st Guide
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Rear-facing Recline

While the airline wont charge you to check in your child safety seat, lugging around a heavy convertible seat is not the best of experiences.

However getting a balance between safe and convenient has often led to safety seats that are for lack of a better word just a pain if you travel a lot or even if you are just tired from a long commute.

But did you know that you can get an FAA Approved car seat that weighs in at only 9 pounds? Yep the Evenflo Tribute LX weighs in at 9 pounds making it the lightest FAA Approved seat for travel we review.

  • The Evenflo Tribute LX provides excellent safety standards despite being the most lightweight car seat, as it has met and exceeded most Federal crash safety standards
  • This is a great child seat for the growing child from toddler and upwards as it comes with multiple harnesses that you can easily adjust for comfort and fit as the child grows
  • You do not have to worry about the child making a mess and dirtying the seat as the Evenflo Tribute LX has a machine washable pad that you can easily take off whenever it gets dirty
  • You can make the seat even lighter by removing the head pillow if you are using the seat for older children who may not need the pillow
  • Lightweight car seat
  • Machine washable Pad
  • Extended use with adjustable harnesses
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    Excellent Safety Standards
  • Ugly seat even if it does its job
Britax Marathon G4. 1 faa approved Car Seat

Britax Marathon G4. 1 Convertible

best travel car seat

Safe and Easy Installation with Latch

Even as a portable or lightweight FAA Approved seat is important, sometimes you just need a seat that is not only safe in airplanes but also for use in the car where you will definitely be using it more often

Most car seats will either do one or two things really well, but a seat that does more than that is definitely better. However, such a seat is often more expensive given that it provides not only convenience but also safety.

"All Britax harnessed car seats, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, and combination harness-2-booster seats, are certified for use on aircraft. Belt-positioning booster seats (backless booster seats) are NOT FAA approved and should not be used to secure your child on a plane."

Enter the Britax Marathon G4. 1, the safest and best travel car seat for infants as it is a car seat that you can use it for your newborn and older children in both the rear and forward facing modes.

It is quite a fancy child safety seat from the biggest brand of safety car seats that not only provides safety for the child but also comfort and convenience for both the child and the parent that is using the Britax child seat.

  • If you are looking for safety, then this is it as it provides your child with superior protection and safety through its steel frame, impact absorbing tether and the integrated Safecell Impact Protection system
  • Your child gets to enjoy enhanced comfort and safety through an easy to adjust 12 position harness which makes the seat an excellent choice for long term use 
  • Safety sometimes has all to do with installation and this is where the Britax Marathon G4.1 excels with its easy to use LATCH system that you can easily unlock and lock into vehicle seats and install on a plane with the push of a button
  • If you are worried about side impacts then worry no more as the car seat is the best when it comes from frontal and side impacts as the deep energy absorbent shell and tether will shield the child from most severe impacts. 
  • Made by trusted brand
  • Enhanced safety and comfort
  • Excellent side and frontal protection
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    Easy installation with Clicktight
  • Rather heavy because its built like a tank
  • Button hard to access
graco 4ever car seat airline approved
Forward-facing Car Seat

Sometimes you just want that one car seat that you can use for everything not just for when you are traveling on an airplane. But truth be said there are very few seats that come close to being multipurpose car seats.

As I have previously said, trying to make a car seat good for everything is tough and oftentimes can make the safety seat quite expensive. This means that most of the FAA Approved seats even the ones on this list do just one thing very well.

Well except for the Graco 4Ever All in One child seat which is the best car seat for air travel on the market hands down. Apart from being the best convertible car seat, the Graco is also the longest lasting car seat that happens to be FAA Approved.

The Graco 4Ever All in One is a 4 in 1 car seat that your child will use right from when they are an infant, to toddler and when they transition to harness boosters and finally to seat belts as a teen. 

  • The kid can ride in safety and comfort having their snacks and drinks close at hand through the dual cup holders and reclining in comfort from six recline positions and plush inserts that your younger children really do need
  • The Graco 4Ever All in One FAA car seat provides easy installation and adjustment for you through the simply safe adjust harness systems that makes this the easiest safety seat to use for even the first time parent
  • Even as the toddler airplane seat lasts for up to ten years you do not have to worry about it getting dirty as in addition to the plush fabrics, the seat pad is machine washable for its lifetime of use
  • Unlike the other child safety seats on this review, the Graco comes with deep seats which makes it excellent not only for the infant, but also the older toddler who may not fit in the smaller car seats
  • You can rest assured that your child is secure and safe with the Graco 4Ever as it has undergone the most rigorous testing to ensure it is durable and strong and that it protects the child from the most severe crashes
  • Safest car seat for travel you could buy
  • Provides Ultimate comfort for the kid
  • Easy adjustment and installation
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    Longest lasting car seat
  • Swallows small items such as pacifiers
  • Excellent as it is, it is expensive
Cosco Snenera NEXT

While some parents may prefers the bells and whistles in their car seats, in some instance a bare bones FAA Approved child car seat will do just fine, if you can find it.

In the quest to make the best multipurpose safety seat, the manufacturers seems to have forgotten about the budget consumer who just needs the car seat to transport their child in the airport and keep them safe while on the plane.

However, there is one brand, the Cosco Scenera NEXT that fulfills this very niche being the very best of the affordable FAA car seats on the market.

I got to warn you that while it is an FAA approved car seat, it is the last option I would go for, if I was traveling with my kid since its ratings on comfort, convenience, and safety are just so so

  • If you are looking for an affordable FAA Approved car seat then the Cosco Scenera NEXT is definitely it. Of all the car seats reviewed on the list, it comes at the cheapest price though it has to be said that it is a no frills car seat, After all you get what you pay for. 
  • It is the best car seats for airplanes as you can easily carry the Cosco Scenera NEXT around the airport as it comes at only 11 pounds which makes it the second lightest car seat I have reviewed
  • Toss this car seat into any child seat transporter and you are ready to go. Unlike some seats that have to be put in specialty carriers, virtually any transporter is a good fit for the Cosco given its small dimensions
  • The Cosco Scenera is adjustable to some extent as it has four harness positions. However for the most part it is a stiff car seat to move the child from point A to point B cheaply
  • Lightweight portable car seat for travel
  • Most affordable FAA car seat
  • fits in all car seat transports
  • Not very adjustable
  • Made of low quality materials

FAA Weight Recommendations for Airplane Travel

  • More that 40 pounds - Airplane seat belt
  • 22-44 pounds - CARES Child Restraint System

FAA Approved Child Airplane Travel Harness - Cares Safety Restraint System

Cares Safety Restraint System

According to the FAA regulations and laws on car seats the CARES Child Safety Restraint which is the only FAA Approved child restraint recommended by the FAA for children weighing in at not less that 22 pounds and not exceeding 44 pounds.

If you want a light alternative to hard backed child safety seats, then this is what you need to buy. However you need to remember that the CARES Child Safety Device is only approved for use in aircraft and never in motor vehicles.

If you buy this child safety restraint device ensure it has the sticker written

 "FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.305(d), Amd 21.50 6-9-1980, Approved for Aircraft Use Only" on it or "FAA Approved in Accordance with 14 CFR 21.8(d), Approved for Aircraft Use Only"

  • Never have to worry again about installation and fit as the CRS is a great fit for almost any size of seat on the plane as it is for the most part made of adjustable straps
  • Instead of toting along a bulky car seat, just toss the CRS into  a backpack or even a handbag and you are off. You dont have to worry about pounds of car seat weighing you down. 
  • Unlike some seats which have restrictions on age or height and weight limits, the CARES child car seat is a great fit for children of any age except for infants below age 1
  • Lightweight Car Seat
  • FAA Approved restraint
  • Fits most plane seats
  • check
    Fits all children above age 1
  • Cannot be used on a car

How to Install a the Child Safety Seat on the Plane

. Follow these instructions to install your aircraft approved car seat relatively fast and easily.

  • Recline the airplane seat back
  • Thread the belt through the safety seat belt path. Cinch the belt with the buckle flap facing the aircraft's seat back making it easy to release.
  • Tighten the seat belt and raise the back of the seat

It is always best to install the aircraft baby seat the same way that you install it in your vehicle.

If the passenger sitting in the front seat complains that the seat prevents them from reclining, politely tell them that your baby will sleep better and will not disturb them by kicking the the seat.

You need a greater deal of time and attention installing a forward facing car seat than you would a rear facing one

Best FAA Approved Car Seat: Safety 1st Guide 65

Safety 1st Guide 65

Out of the FAA Approved car seats the Safety 1st Guide 65 is the best car seat with its small size, adjustable headrest, side impact protection and 5 point harness.

Best 3 in 1 Car Seat Reviews and Ratings: The Ultimate Guide

best 3 in 1 car seat

I am sure you will agree with me when I say that having to pick out a new child safety seat whenever your baby outgrows their current one every few months or years sucks.

It gets really frustrating having to trawl through a whole bunch of child safety seats to buy the best newborn car seat, the best convertible car seat and then the best booster seat before you are finished with the safety seat business.

"An average of 46% of child seats are misused where misuse refers to incorrectly installation of the child seat that would make the child safety restraint ineffective in a crash - NHTSA"

Well if you go with the best 3 in one car seat otherwise referred to as a 3 stage child seat you can avoid all the hassle.

With a these safety seats you can still follow American Academy of Pediatricians guidelines on car seat safety while using only one child seat. 

best 3 in 1 car seat

Baby in 3 in 1 seat

Best 3 in 1 Car Seat: Safety 1st Grow and Go

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

Out of the top 3 in 1 carseats the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 child Seat all in one is the best child safety seat with its long years of use, adjustable headrest and harness, side impact protection and ease of installation..

Factors to Consider When Buying a 3 in 1 Child Seat

With so many choices of all in one car seats, selecting the best one for your kid may not be an easy task. The good thing is that once you select the seat you may be set for quite a long time.

The following are some of the most important considerations when buying these types of child seats:

  • Weight, Size, and Fit: before you buy that car seat you need to make sure that it is the right size, fit, and weight for your child and vehicle. Given that rear facing is recommended by experts as the safest position, you need to go for an a child safety seat that can accommodate the child at 20 pounds or more so that they can remain in the rear facing mode for as long as possible.
  • Restraint System: Harness systems will generally bet more versatile and safer for your child as compared to the T-bat or older shield restraints. You could also go for five-point harnesses which connect at the kid's shoulders and hips and between the legs as opposed to the three point harnesses that do not have hip connections.
  • Check Weight and Size Limits for the Model: Once the child shifts to rear facing they will be safe in a harness if they weight between 18 and 36 kilograms. However, once they weigh more than 80kg you need to shift to a booster or the vehicle safety belt. It is always advisable to find one with a higher weight limit of at least 18 kilograms to ensure the child rides in a harness for as long as possible,
  • Given that you are going to be using the seat for a long time, it may be tempting to go a good looking car seat. However, while an attractive seat is desirable, it is also very important to go for a safety seat that is functional and attractive - one that is safe, fits in your small car, and provides comfort for your kid.
best 3 in 1 car seat

In this article, I will point out the best 3 in 1 child safety seats to ensure that your child rides in comfort from birth until they are ready for seat belts.

The Best 3 In 1 Car Seats 2018 Reviews and Ratings




Our Rating




Graco SlimFit All-in-One

Graco SlimFit


19.7 Pounds


Safety 1st  Grow and Go

Safety 1st 

Grow and Go

18.7 Pounds


Safety 1st Continuum

Safety 1st Continuum

18.7 Pounds


Graco 4Ever All-in-one

Graco 4Ever


27.8 Pounds


Evenflo Tribute LX

Evenflo Tribute


9.1 Pounds

Why You Need An Three In One Safety Seat

  • While the three in one car seat will always be more expensive than your regular child seat, over the long term, they may make more economical sense. Instead of buying three seats, you can just use one until the child is old enough for seat belts
  • The best 3-1 car seats come with significantly higher weight and height limits in both the front facing and rear facing positions. This means the child will stay in the recommended rear facing mode for longer keeping them safer.
  • Instead of buying and familiarizing yourself and the child with a new seat every few months or years, this type of safety seat allows you and the child to enjoy a seat you are familiar with from birth until they are 12 years old.

How To Install An All In One Baby Car Seat

Best 3 in 1 Car Seats 2018 Reviews

Safety 1st Grow and Go all in one Car Seat

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

belt 3 in 1 car seat

belt positioning seat

The safety 3 in 1 car seat is a top quality top multi mode car seat from Safety 1st, a top child safety seat manufacturers known for excellent safety standards

As is evident from the name the car seat grows with your child as it can accommodate the kid in the rear facing, forward facing and booster seat mode.

The safety 1st all-in- one safety seat is the best all in one car seat with higher than average structural integrity scores in test conducted by Federal authorities

  • The Safety 1st not only provides extended use but also convenience for you and the child. There is no other safety seat that provides up to seven inches of legroom when installed in the backseat and comfortable three position recline for the kid as they grow
  • The safety seat provides the easiest installation as unlike with other car seats that you have to fumble around to find harnesses in the back of the seat, the safety 1st has convenient harness holders 
  • Given that you will be using the child seat for a long time it is bound to get messy, and hence you will be pleased to learn that the car seat comes with an easy to remove machine washable pad
  • You get to enjoy the convenience of having the child's drinks easily accessible on this seat as it comes with two cup holders for the sippy cup or water bottle
  • Safety and Comfort for child and mother
  • Cup holder for convenience 
  • Easy installation
  • check
    Rear, forward facing and booster mode
  • check
    Machine washable pad
  • Installation can be tough for the first timer
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3 in 1 car seat

Graco SlimFit Car Seat Reviews - Best All in One Car Seat

Graco SlimFit All-in-One Car Seat

Graco SlimFit All-in-One

10% Space Saving design

10% Space Saving design

Given that you most likely will be using a three in one car seat for a long time, you may have to install more than one car seat in the car or just have a child seat that does not have too big of a footprint to be an inconvenience

The Graco SlimFit All-in-One Car Seat is the most popular of the new breed of multi stage child safety seats specifically made by Graco to combat this very issue. As its name implies it is made very slim to make for a small footprint

Similar to other car seats in the revolutionary trend of multi mode safety seats, you can use this seat in all three modes until the kid is 12 years old and transitions to seat belts.

It is also the best 3 in 1 convertible seat that is reasonably priced considering that you will probably use it for over a decade.

  • The Graco slimfit child seat provides ultimate safety as it has been tested under vigorous standards and provides a snug installation for the child through a five point harness system
  • Enjoy easy installation as the Graco provides easy installation through the use of LATCH connectors so that you never have to worry about how safe the installation is
  • The seat is comfortable for the kid which are a combination of an adjustable headrest and several position harnesses
  • The Slimfit is quite the narrow seat but you can make it even slimmer by rotating away your cupholders which will give you so much space that you fit up to three seats in the back seat of the car
  • Graco is a convenient car seat not only for you with its machine washable seat pad, but it is also a very easy car seat to use and you will be surprised that your toddler can buckle themselves in very easily
  • Slimmest 3 1 car seat
  • Can be used in three modes 
  • Excellent safety and comfort
  • check
    Great convenience for child and mother
  • check
    Easy installation
  • Lacks lockoff seat belt installations
  • check
    Basic LATCH
Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Harness Booster
Harness and headrest

The previous 3 and 1 car seats are car seats that could be used from infancy up to the time your child no longer needs the child seat and shifts to seat belts. However, you may be past the infancy stage with your child hence the need for a more advanced stage seat.

While many top seats are good as 3in1 car seats, the Graco Tranzitions stand out as a specialized harness booster seat that you can use from toddlerhood until the child graduates to seat belts. 

The 3 in 1 toddler car seat protects your toddler from 22-65 pounds as a harness booster, 30-100 pounds as a high back booster and 40-100 pounds as  backless booster. 

  • What I really love about this seat apart from the three modes of seating is that it comes with no rethread harness making it an easy install which comes in handy for the toddler that wants to buckle themselves in
  • It does not stop there as this is the seat for the active or busy parent as it is is the most portable and lightweight 3 in 1 booster car seat you could get for your toddler or teen
  • If safety is a concern, you will be pleased to know that the seat is engineered to the highest standards that include rigorous side impact protection through the 5 point harnesses
  • For your convenience the car seat is made of plastic and metal parts which make it easy to clean. It also comes with cup holders for the child's drinks and comfort is provided through harness covers, and body support
  • Three modes of seating
  • No rethread harness
  • Lightweight portable car seat
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    Easy to clean parts
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    High safety ratings
  • Tends to rattle with no passenger in it
  • Sits crooked in bucket backseats
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Rear-facing baby car seat

Rear-facing baby seat

Otherwise known as an all in one or 4 in 1 car seat the Graco 4Ever is the Swiss knife of car seats that does everything that you would ever want from a car seat.

You can use the Graco 4Ever for up to ten years in four modes that is; as a rear facing infant safety seat, forward facing as a harness booster, high back belt positioning booster, and finally as a backless belt positioning booster.

With nearly 2000 positive and glowing reviews from parents, the Graco combines extended use, ease of use and installation, high safety ratings, convenience and great looks that you will absolutely love

  • Get to experience some of the easiest of car seat installations that even your five year old toddler will buckle themselves in and out of this 3 in 1 convertible car seat with no problems whatsoever given that it employs LATCH technologies
  • Worry no more about the safety and comfort of the child with the Graco 4ever which comes with the best safety ratings from crash tests not to mention that it is a very comfortable seat in all the four modes of use
  • For your convenience you can remove the machine washable pad of the car seat when it gets dirty(inevitable with the extended use) not to mention the integrated harness storage compartments
  •  Great car seat for tall and big children as your kid will never outgrow this seat unless they are heading for the seat belt as teens. This seat has the highest weight and height limits to ensure the safety of the child throughout its use. 
  • Extended decade long use
  • Easy to install in any car
  • Comfortable and safe
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    Machine washable pad
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    High height and weight limits
  • Graveyard for pacifiers
  • A little bit on the heavier side
Evenflo Tribute LX Car Seat

Evenflo Tribute LX

Rear-facing Recline

Rear-facing Recline

If you are going to have a car seat for a long time, you want a safety seat that is both safe yet is not very heavy that you will get tired of it before you or your child are done with it

There are many car seats that promise a combination of these features but none comes as close to achieving this great mix as the Evenflo Tribute LX

The Evenflo Tribute LX is a top rated 3 n 1 safety seats with the highest structural integrity ratings from the Federal Government testing bodies and at only 9 pounds is the safest and best lightweight child seat you could buy

Moreover, it also comes at the most affordable prices, yet provides all the conveniences, bells and whistles such as cup holders and LATCH installation that you would expect from a premium car seat

  • An easy car seat to install that provides you with two modes of installation, self tightening sureLATCH or seat belts just in case you are not very comfortable with one method or just prefer one over the other.
  • The best cheap rear facing car seat, the Evenflo Tribute LX comes at an affordable price compared to the other 3 in 1 car seats and hence your kid can ride in comfort and safety without you having to break the bank for it
  • Have a clean car seat even it is old or several years old with the Evenflo's machine washable cover which you can always clean whenever it gets dirty
  • Excellent side impact protection for your child is provided by this very highly rated car seat which is achieved by the innovative E3 foam that is exclusive to the Evenflo range of car seats
  • Excellent safety ratings
  • Side impact protection
  • Easy installation with sureLATCH
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    Affordable price
  • The colors are pretty basic

Best 3 in 1 Car Seat: Safety 1st Grow and Go

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

Out of all of these five, I quite like the the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 as the best 3 in 1 child safety seat. I think it has the most value and with the longest expiration dates, there is nothing better on the market.

Add to that 6 recline positions, ease of installation and the fact that it works well for both newborns and older children make this choice a no brainer.

The price point is not bad either, particularly if you are looking for a very durable car seat.

Maintenance and Use of All in One Car Seats

Regardless of which safety seat you decide to go for, to ensure that your kid is safe and comfortable, you have to use it correctly.

Read the recommendations and tips offered by safety agencies and most important those of the child safety seat manufacturer.

According to, rear facing mode is the safest position for your kid to ride in.

Once the kid attains the maximum height and weight for the given model you can turn the seat around to forward facing by making use of the harness's maximum wight limit, then when they outgrow that switch to seat belt or booster mode.

Switch the child to booster mode when they are approximately 144.76 centimeters or 4 foot 9.

Child safet seats that come with LATCH connectors are your best bet. These seats are easier to install thus reducing installation errors and keeping your child safe.

Always ensure that the harness on your rear facing 3 in 1 child safety seat is below or at the baby's shoulder level, it is snug and not in any way twisted.

You can tell that the harness is too loose if you can pinch it away from the child after buckling them in.

If you are using the car seat for travel, ensure that you go for the best all in one car seat that is FAA approved. This means one that is narrower than 16 inches so that it can fit on the plane seat.

Given that you will be using the combination car seat for a long time, in some instances for over 10 years, you need to find a child safety seat that is machine washable, or has resistant colors that will not stain easily

Related Links

Best Compact Convertible Car Seat for Small Cars Rated and Reviewed

best convertible car seat for small car

Lets face it, safety is the most important thing when finding a convertible car seat for your child.

But while the child's safety is important your comfort or that of your passenger is important too.

The question of what is the best convertible child safety seat for a small car is one that you have probably had to face after you or your passengers got all cramped up because you are too tall or maybe you drive a mini.

However, the safety of the child is also of critical importance and the child safety seat has to be installed correctly, even if you drive a small vehicle. 

"A recently published Nova Scotia study found 55 percent of convertible and booster seats were installed or used incorrectly. The figures go as high as 90% for small vehicles"

Best Car Seat for Small Car: Britax Frontier Clicktight

Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Combination Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight

Out of the child seats for small cars in this guide the Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight  is the best car seats for small cars with its small size, adjustable recline, side impact protection and 5 point harness.

best car seats for small cars

Even as some of the best travel car seats for toddlers offer utmost safety and protection, they may never fit in your little car, making travel a nightmare.

However, you should not have to sacrifice your comfort and safety every time you travel.

We have a compile a list of the top rated compact convertible car seats that will fit in any small car allowing you to travel comfortably while confident that your kid is also safe.

You wanna know the good thing about these safety seats? You can also use most of them as infant car seats. You may be surprised to hear that some of my best car seats for infants have also been the best car seats for small vehicles.

Best Car Seat for Small Cars of 2018 Reviewed

Comparison of Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Cars




Our Rating




Graco 4Ever All-in-One

Graco 4Ever


27.93 Pounds


Safety 1st Guide 65

Safety 1st  Guide 65

15 Pounds


Britax Marathon Frontier

Britax Marathon Frontier

24.9 Pounds


Maxi Cosi Pria 70


Pria 70

23 Pounds


Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30

Graco Snugride Click Connect

11 Pounds

Benefits of a Best Convertible Car Seat for Compact Cars

There are several benefits you stand to gain by going for a small child safety seat if you have a small or medium sized vehicle.

  • Small carseats are lightweight and compact making them easy to lug around. This is especially convenient if you move around a lot or move the seat from vehicle to vehicle, whereby a big carseat can become huge inconvenience due to its bulk and weight. 
  • A compact child safety seat does take a lot of space in the vehicle meaning you can have enough space for your grocery shopping or any other thing you need to carry around in the car on the regular
  • With small child seats, you can typically fit more safety seats into the backseat, allowing you to carry several of your children safely
  • The best small car seats leave enough room for your spouse, other children or any other passengers that you may want to carry around. Small seats leave more legroom ensuring your passengers are more comfortable on the ride

Using the above criteria, we narrowed our original list of 10 down to five top convertible car seats for small cars in:

Best Car Seat For Smaller Cars On The Market Today:

Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight - Best Convertible Car Seat for Small Cars

best car seats for small cars

Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight

clicktight installation system

Clicktight installation

The Britax Clicktight has made a name for itself as making some of the most beloved, popular and best of all safest baby products, particularly with its range of child safety seats. 

For many convertible car seats, the most important if not the only concern is the safety and looks of the car seat which you may end to look at first when considering what safety seat to buy.

The Britax Clicktight is a great seat both in the rear facing mode for infants and the rear facing mode for toddlers and older children. As such you will not have to purchase two seats as your child grows.

Given how notorious rear facing child safety seats are for taking up too much space, the Britax is the most compact rear facing convertible seats given its relatively small footprint, which can be reduced even further with adjustment of its recline

  • The Britax has excellent safety ratings and will offer high grade protection to your child through its innovative Clicktight installation systems and the Safecell integrated impact protection systems
  • Let your kid enjoy a comfortable ride in the Britax which provides the most number of recline options of any small car car seat. With 14 adjustment options, the child can ride in almost unlimited recline positions that are suitable for their needs.
  • Worry no more about whether you have correctly installed your child car seat when you buy the Britax. You can always be certain that the child is comfortable and safe in their seat as it comes with a angle recline bubble adjust and a Safesnug harness indicator so that you are never in doubt.
  • The smart design of the child safety seat makes it very easy to adjust the heights of the car seat as the child grows thus providing maximum comfort and fit all through the push of a button
  • Both rear and forward facing 
  • best compact car seat
  • Excellent safety ratings
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    Safe and comfortable installation
  • Cushions rattle without passenger
Britax G1.1 car seat
Graco 4 Ever All in One

Graco 4 Ever All in One

Backless belt positioning Mode

Backless belt-positioning mode from 40 to 120 pounds.

You may drive your small car for years and given the headache of finding the appropriate child safety seat for a small car, it would also be great if you found the right seat that you could use for an extended period

However many car seats for small cars tend to fit your car alright but barely last for more than two or three years, leaving you scrambling for another seat since your kid still has to ride.

If this is you then the small rear facing car seat that is the Graco 4Ever is just the child seat for you as it comes with the longest extended use of all car seats in the market of up to ten years.

The extended use is because you can use the Graco right from infancy until the child shifts to seats through the rear facing, forward facing, high back booster, and backless belt positioning mode.

To add on to this, it is a small and lightweight car seat that is a great fit for most medium and small size cars that you drive or even services such as Uber or Lyft 

  • The widest weight and height limits of the car seat make this car seat suitable for children right from infancy right up to when they switch to seat belts as early teens
  • Dont have to deal with annoying straps and harnesses as the Graco comes with integrated harnesses that make it easy to put away the straps when they are not in use particularly when you are in booster mode
  • A safe car seat that will give you peace of mind with the installation and crash impact protections. The seat comes with read level indicators, no rethread harness and a reinforced steel frame
  • Installation is easy and convenient through the inright LATCH attachment that p[roduces an audible click when the harnesses and the child car seat are correctly installed into the car at the right snugness and angle
  •  The kid gets to enjoy all kid comforts including infant inserts and drinks on the go as the seat comes with integrated cup holders. For your convenience you will be happy to know the seat is machine washable 

"The Graco 4Ever makes use of EPS or Expanded Polystyrene, a resilient and lightweight foam plastic in the shell and head restraints. The EPS absorbs crash forces thus minimizing injury to the child."

  • Extended use
  • Small Portable and lightweight
  • Innovative safety devices
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    Easy and safe installation
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  • Swallows small baby items 
  • Installation requires getting used to
Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Guide 65 Seat

Side Impact Protection

Side Impact Protection

A small car seat is always a good thing for persons that are traveling but even more so if you have a small car. As such the quest for the smallest convertible car seat is one that I am sure you started as soon as you bought that car seat and found it too big for your car

However, with manufacturing companies now alive to the need for small car seats, many are venturing into the manufacture of compact toddler car seats that will fit into your small or luxury car perfectly

The Safety 1st Guide range of car seats is the most compact toddler car seat and definitely the best car seat for compact car. It will fit in all manner of medium and small cars and I am yet to find a car that it will not fit into. 

  • It has been made for the small car being lightweight and small in size yet having the highest standards of safety and quality we always associate with the safety 1st range of child seats
  • It is not only about the car seat fitting into the small car you also need the seat to be comfortable and safe and in this regard the Safety first guide delivers a great ride for the kid
  • As a small car seat you get to enjoy the use of the safety first car seat right from the time of the infancy of the child up to the time they are toddlers of up to 52 pounds since you can use it in both rear and forward facing modes
  • You can comfortably fit three of the Safety first car seats in the backseat of almost any car give that it has a very small footprint making it the best convertible car seat for legroom. Moreover, the small toddler car seats will not interfere with the comfort of the passengers in the front seat
  • Even as it is best known for being a compact car seat, the Safety first is also a very safe seat and comes with integrated anti rebound bolster, five position harnesses, and 3 buckle positions to enhance safety in the instance of a crash
  • Small, compact and lightweight
  • Safe and comfortable
  • Forward and rear facing mode
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    Fits three in the backseat
  • Not great for tall toddlers
Small maxi cosi convertible
machine washable

Easy to Clean

The Maxi Cosi is a convertible car seat for compact car that combines being small and portable with superior protection for your infant and toddler making it an excellent choice for your small car.

The Maxi Cosi Pria is the smallest child car seats yet a very safe and most secure car seat of the maxi cosi safety seats. It is the most compact seats that does fit children above the age of two.

It is very convenient as you can use it for your child during infancy and when they are a toddlers given that it is a two mode car seat.

Small as it is, you can use it as an bucket seat for preemies from 4 to 40 pounds in the rear facing mode then shift it to forward facing where you can use it from 22 to 70 pounds.

  • The Maxi Cosi provides safety for your child as you can use it in the recommended rear facing mode for the infant before turning it forward facing when the child is older
  • Experience easy installation of the car seat as the Maxi Cosi is LATCH compatible. Besides that, it will fit in almost any type of car seat as it supports deep recline adjustment for a custom fit into the vehicle 
  • The child rides in comfort and safety from a combination of plush infant inserts, 3 harness shoulder heights and an advanced proprietary cushioning system that will protect your child from all manner of crashes
  • The child gets to grow with the car seat which provides a perfect fit as you can always adjust the heights as the child grows thus ensuring they are always safe and comfortable in their seat
  • The Maxi Cosi is the best carseat for small cars as you wont have to deal with cramped legs It is a small car seat that takes very little space in the car and hence your passengers will enjoy their space whether they ride in the front or the back
  • Small footprint for passenger comfort
  • Easy installation with LATCH
  • Comfort and safety
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    Perfect fit that grows with child
  • Low height limits
Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30 Car Seat
Ultra-Lightweight and Loaded with Safety Features

Do you just need an ultra lightweight car seat but do want to buy the convertible car seat just yet since you have an infant. Well, get the most ultra lightweight infant car car seat which I have found will always be a great fit for small cars

The Graco Snugride Click Connect is one of the best car seats for compact cars that you could find in the market that has the best conveniences and accessories to not only protect but only provide comfort to your child

The best thing about the Graco Snugride that makes it so popular is that it is an ultra lightweight compact infant car seat that can fit in the back seat of most medium size and small vehicles and can be carried around with ease

  • If you are the parent that moves car seats from car to car then this is the car seat for you as it is ultra lightweight making it easy to get in and out of the small car and even your stroller
  • The Graco will provide you with convenience particularly if you are a Graco product fan as it is compatible with all Graco Click connect strollers for when you get out of the car
  • One of the smaller car seats that you will love with the ease of installation of this car seat as it comes with Click Connect and LATCH technology which makes installation not only a breeze but also snug and safe
  • Excellent safety standards as the car seat has undergone rigorous testing to meet and exceed most federal child safety standards that include certifications from organizations such as the JPMA.
  • Ultra-lightweight infant seat
  • Compact to fit most small cars
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    Easy installation with LATCH
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    High safety ratings
  • Sunshade is noisy when adjusted

Best Car Seat for Small Car: Britax Frontier Clicktight

Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight Combination

Britax G1.1 Frontier Clicktight

Of all the small convertible car seat for small vehicles reviewed, the Britax G1.1 takes the prize. It is small enough that it fits in any small car and yet provides utmost safety and comfort for your child

It is also easy to install and can be carried around given that it is a relatively lightweight child safety seat and is also FAA approved

Given its features, its price is quite affordable and I would recommend that you go for the Britax if you have or are thinking of purchasing a mini.

7 Things To Look Out For When Buying A Car For Use With Car Seats

car seats for small cars

Children in Back Seat

Its that time when you are expecting your first baby or you are going to have another. It can be quite a conundrum as to what type of car, you need to go for. The safety of the car is definitely one of the most important things to look out for when deciding on a family car, including things such as crash test scores.

However, there are other things that you also need to take into consideration. For instance, the type of car that would be suitable for your family is determined by the size of your car seats. You do not want to buy a mini if you use big seats such as the Britax as these would take up too much space.

However, while it is almost impossible to determine the perfect fit for every parent , there are some fundamental aspects that you need to be looking out for when buying that family car.

Buying A Family Car For Use With Car Seats​

I am sure that most parents know that SUVs, crossovers and wagons are some of the best cars that you should buy if you have a family with small children. However, while these vehicles are child friendly, they do not offer the same advantages when it comes to transporting your children.

Similarly, economy sedans, minis and coupes will give you some problems if you have some of the larger car seats, though this does not mean that you cannot bring them into consideration if you do not like driving large cars or have a small budget.

Check out the best cars for use with three seats in the back here

While legroom and space in the back are important, there are a lot of things that make a car kid friendly rather than just how much space it has. Whether you are for a mini, coupe, wagon, crossover sedan, you need to be looking out for the following characteristics prior to purchase.​

  • Flat, Wide Seat Bottom Cushions - The flatter the seat of the vehicle, the easier and more secure the installation, as you can more easily fasten the child car seat on a more level vehicle seat. Wagons, coupes, and sport sedans usually make it harder to install a baby car seat due to their many contours. The best child car seat is one that is more or less parallel to the ground and possesses little if any rake. As much as possible try to find a car that has a flat center seating position as this is where you need to be installing the car seat for optimum safety for the child. Any car with a hump in the middle of the backseat is not the best for car seats. 

Flat Bottom seats

  • Placement of LATCH Point - A good car is one that has the top tether and lower anchors easily accessible. Check for whether the anchors are hidden under upholstery, flaps, slits, little doors or are in plain easy to ghetto places. Some SUVs are designed such that the top tether anchors are positioned on the ceiling which can sometimes block your view through the rear window.
  • Placement of Seatbelt - If you prefer to install your child safety seats with seat belts or just need to install the seat in the recommended center of the car seat position which does not usually have LATCH, you need to look out for receivers and hitches. These can be problematic if you do not try them out beforehand given that if they are too prominent, they make interfere with the proper and snug installation of the child car seat.
lower anchors and tethers

Easy to Reach Lower Anchors

  • Ease of Access - If you have bulky car seats or tend to shift the baby car seats from car to car, you need to get a car that allows you to get the seat in with a minimum of turning and twisting. A child friendly car will usually have a wide door opening which allows you to get the kid in and out of the vehicle in crowded lots without unnecessarily dinging nearby cars. This is where tall wagons, SUVs and minivans are great a they have wide doorways, and good ground clearance which can also reduce back strain when getting the kid in and out of the car.
  • Distance Between the Front and Rear Seats - For the very small children such as young toddlers and infants, a rear facing installation is what you need. This type of installation will typically take up a lot of space and hence you need a car with enough legroom. Some cars will come designed for ease of aft and fore adjustment for rear seats which makes it easy to slide the seat out of the way when you have to tend to the child's needs and to slide it forward so that you can place a double stroller in your cargo area. 
  • Automatic Retractor Seat Belts - Most modern vehicles will have automatic locking retractor seat belts for the back seat which automatically locks the belt as you pull it all out. A car with such seat belt provides for a snug and safer installation of the car seat, particularly if you like installing with seat belts rather than LATCH. 
  • Fitting Three Across - If you have a big family say a new arrival necessitates the use of three car seats, the question of which car can fit all those car seats will be pertinent. You will either need to find a vehicle that can fit three car seats in the back or check out reviews of the best compact car seats. Fortunately there are many narrow car seats such as the Diono RXT and the Maxi Cosi Pria which are designed for small cars such as minis and Honda civics. If you are on a tight budget, you would be better off buying car seats rather than buying a whole new car. 
Dion r100

Diono with three in the Back