The Importance of Child Car Seats
Whether you are getting ready to have a baby, you are caring for a baby, or your child has outgrown his or her infant car seat, you must always have an appropriate seat available for trips that require a vehicle. Failing to do so could have horrific consequences, including death, if you are involved in an accident with a child that is not restrained properly.
Every state has laws requiring safety seats for children, and for a good reason – car crashes are responsible for more children's deaths than any other cause. Having the appropriate car seat has a drastic impact on all children, no matter what their age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Infants under one year of age that are in the appropriate rear-facing car seats have a 71% decrease in their risk of death.
- Toddlers who are in the appropriate car seat for their height and weight have a 54% decrease in their risk of death.
- Children between the ages of 4 to 8 that are in the correct booster seat reduce their risk of injury by 45%.
- Children over eight years and through adulthood who use seatbelts have a 50% reduction in their risk for death and injury.
The amount of risk involved with not using a car seat, or properly restraining your child based on his or her age, weight, and height shows just how important it is to use a car seat. In 2012 alone, 31% of all children under eight years old who died as a result of a car crash were not in a car seat or were utterly unrestrained. In most cases, these deaths could have been prevented.
You also need to be aware that car seats are required by law in every state. Not only will you risk your child's safety, but you will also be required to pay fines if you are found not using one.
Car Seats and Infants
There is no denying that infants are considerably safer when transported in an appropriate car seat. However, there are other reasons for using an infant car seat. Your new baby has been snuggled up inside mommy for nine months, which means he or she is used to being snuggled. When you use an infant car seat, you are also making your new baby more comfortable and helping him or her to feel safer when not in your arms. Infant car seats are also specially designed for newborns weighing under 20 pounds. These seats ensure that the seat is designed around an infant's unique safety needs, including helping to protect the head and neck.
Car Seats and Toddlers
Toddlers are at that fun stage when they begin growing, being more vocal, and gaining considerably more motor control. However, this does not mean that your child is automatically ready for a front-facing car seat. While many parents consider rear-facing car seats as only being for infants, this just isn't true. While many states have laws saying that children over 20 pounds are fine in a front-facing car seat, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep babies and toddlers up to 2 years of age in a rear-facing car seat because it provides better safety and protection if you are ever in an accident.
Rear-facing car seats help to spread the impact of a car crash across your baby's body and chest, rather than allowing the head and neck to take the majority of the impact. Young children have very little control over their neck muscles, and that sudden back and forth that happens during a crash can cause serious damage and even death.
Booster Seats and Older Children
As your child grows, he or she will eventually outgrow the front-facing car seat as well. You need to make sure that you keep your child in a car seat until their height and weight show that it is time to move to a booster. Each time you switch to a new type of car seat, you are lessening the protection that each one provides. A booster seat protects children who aren't quite tall enough for an adult seat belt to fit across them properly. Some include a five-point harness like those used in car seats, and others use guides to ensure proper placement of the seatbelt. Of the two, the harness option is best.
Parents of older children need to make sure they are wearing the seatbelt properly when in the booster, rather than allowing them to put it behind them. When the seatbelt is not across the child where it should be, an accident can cause serious damage to their neck and spinal cord. The booster also ensures that the lap belt goes across your child's hips, rather than their abdomen. When a seatbelt is worn across the stomach, a severe crash can result in serious internal injuries.
As your child gets older, he or she will likely try to convince you that the booster is no longer needed. Again, if you want to make sure your children are protected, make sure they use the booster until they are at least four feet, nine inches tall – this is the minimum height at which most car seatbelts will fit properly. Protecting your child is much more important than hearing them complain that they are big enough not to need one.
Proper Use and Installation
Another important part of using a car seat is making sure that it is installed properly. You should always make sure you follow all instructions when installing your car seats. It is also a good idea to visit your local fire or police department, or even your local hospital in some areas – these places will look at your car seat to make sure it is installed properly, and make sure you are buckling baby incorrectly, and it is free of charge.
Car seats are vitally crucial for your baby and older children. Failing to use one not only means you are breaking the law, but you are also putting your children in danger, including a significantly increased chance of death.
What to Look for in a Car Seat
Whether you are looking for a car seat for your new infant or replacing an older model, you must know what to expect and look for to make sure you make the right purchase. There are hundreds of car seats available, and each is designed for specific ages and uses. Additionally, each car seat is built differently, which can have a serious impact on how it works for you. Keep reading to find out what you need to look for in a car seat.
It is always best to purchase a new car seat, rather than borrowing or using a second-hand option. Car seats are often recalled due to safety issues, and if a car seat has been in an accident already, it will not provide the same protection as it did before the impact. You should also make sure that the one you choose includes a manual so you can make sure you know exactly how to use it in your vehicle – not all car seats are the same!
Do Your Research
Buying a car seat requires research. You will have to find out precisely what the laws are in your state so that you can plan your purchase accordingly. Some states have strict laws about weights and ages that have to be in rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats. You should always make sure you follow the applicable laws to ensure your baby is as safe as possible in the event of an accident.
You will also want to take the time to read some of the reviews on individual car seats before you buy. This idea will allow you to decide whether the one you are interested in will be the best fit for you. Some car seats don't work well in small or compact cars, while others may be difficult to install, use, and adjust. By taking the time to read reviews, you will be able to avoid those that other parents have had problems using.
Understanding the Stages of Car Seats
There is a variety of car seats available, and they are often referred to in stages. These stages are generally broken down by the baby's age, weight, and height. However, you should keep in mind that you should try to stick with the stage that is appropriate to your baby's weight for the safest car rides.
- Newborns: When purchasing a car seat for a new baby, you can choose either an infant seat or a convertible one. The infant seat is designed to work only as a rear-facing car seat, while the convertible option works as a rear-facing option and front-facing option, which you will use when your baby is older. The most significant difference between these two options is that you can remove the top portion of the infant seat to use to carry a baby – this can be a major bonus when the baby is sleeping.
- Forward Facing: These car seats are designed for children who are over the weight limit for rear-facing seats. It is recommended that children who are under the age of two always use a rear-facing seat as they provide more safety.
- There are also booster seats with harnesses and those that have guides that position the seat belt properly for children who are under 57 inches. Booster seats are for older children and are designed to make it safer for them to use the same seat belts adults use. Allowing children under 57 inches to sit in the same seat as an adult usually forces the seat belt across their necks and abdomens, rather than their shoulders and hips. This situation can be a dangerous and life-threatening situation if you are ever in a crash with a small child.
- There are also car seats that are designed specifically for children with special needs to ensure they are as safe as possible when riding in a vehicle. There are bed style seats for babies weighing under five pounds, as well as other, larger options for children who have neurological or breathing disorders – your doctor will help you choose the right option for your child's needs.
No matter whether you are buying a front-facing or rear-facing car seat, there are a few features that you should look for to make sure you are getting the best choice for you and your child.
- Harness System – A five-point harness features straps over both shoulders and thighs and has an additional one that goes between your child's legs. These are the safest belting options for children up to 100 pounds.
- Ease of Use – Look for a seat that allows for easy adjustments of the harness. You will want one that does not require you to rethread the harness to adjust the size for your growing baby, as this process can be quite difficult.
- LATCH System – All car seats are equipped with the LATCH system, which allows you to secure the seat to specially mounted anchors in your vehicle. This drastically reduces the amount your car seat can move in an accident and makes sure it doesn't become a projectile in severe crashes.
- Washable – Babies will make messes in the car seat, so make sure you choose one that has a cover that is both easy to remove and machine washable to make your life easier.
- Safety Features – Look for seats that provide energy-absorbing padding and side-impact protection. These will provide additional protection to keep baby safe if there is an accident.
Once you find a seat that has the features and design that you want, you will want to make sure that it will fit in your vehicle before you buy it. Some are quite bulky and won't work well in smaller vehicles. Once you find one that fits and has the features and design that you want, you will have a safe seat for your baby to ensure he or she is protected as much as possible when you are out driving.
Our Top 3 Picks
Graco Affix Youth Booster Car Seat Review
As your child progresses from babyhood to toddler age, you will need to consider a booster seat to make sure that he or she is safe until they are big enough to wear an adult seat belt safely. The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat is a popular choice, which is why we've chosen to review it to see if it is a good option.
Specifications of the Graco Affix Youth Booster
- High Back Height: 38 Inches to 57 Inches
- High Back Weight: 30 Pounds to 100 Pounds
- Backless Height: 40 Inches to 57 Inches
- Backless Weight: 40 Pounds to 100 Pounds
- Overall Weight: 9.8 Pounds
- Width: 16.75 Inches
- Depth: 10.5 Inches
- Height: 25.5 Inches
Whether you are using a baby car seat, a high back booster, or a backless booster, safety is always the first concern. The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat ensures that your child is protected in any vehicle by positioning the seatbelt so that it fits him or her properly. This booster seat connects to your vehicle with the LATCH system, which ensures that it does not move or become a projectile if you are in an accident. When used in high back mode, it will provide protection for children weighing 30 to 100 pounds, and who are 38 to 57 inches tall. For bigger kids, the backless mode positions the seatbelt from 40 to 100 pounds and 40 to 57 inches tall.
The booster has been rigorously tested to ensure that it meets or exceeds the recommended US safety standards. It also features energy-absorbing foam that absorbs the shock of any impact to the vehicle. The Graco Affix has also undergone side-impact safety testing for added peace of mind.
There are two other important safety considerations with this booster. When in high back mode, it provides padded sides at head level, which will provide added shock absorbency in the event of an accident. There is also a shoulder belt guide in high back mode, which ensures that the adult size seatbelts cross across the child's shoulder, rather than the neck, which often occurs with boosters without seatbelt guides.
The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat provides plenty of padding in both high back and backless mode, helping to keep your older child more comfortable during long car rides. The seatbelt positioning on the "high back mode" ensures there is no discomfort from the belt cutting into the neck as well. The "high back mode" also features a recline adjustment, which allows children to sleep, without their heads slumping forward in an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous way.
This booster seat also comes with a cup holder and storage compartment that folds away. While it appears that there is a hard plastic cup holder, it is actually an elastic holder. This provides two different benefits – it accommodates a range of cup and bottle sizes, and it doesn't add additional bulk or width to the seat since it is not rigid plastic. The compartment and cup holder are both within easy reach of any child sitting in the booster, helping to ensure that he or she does not unbuckle to reach objects that are too far away.
Ease of Use
The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat is surprisingly easy to install with the LATCH system. However, the setup for the LATCH buckles in so that they are both integrated into the same buckle. This does result in the booster appearing a bit looser on one side than the other. The looseness allows for around five inches of movement with the booster. While some may find this disconcerting, it is important to remember that the majority of the protection is provided by the vehicle's seatbelt. The LATCH simply holds it in place so that it doesn't move over, or become a projectile in the event of an accident.
This booster has a removable cover that is machine washable. It is fairly easy to remove and reattach, making it easier than ever to clean up any messes or spills. The seat also includes armrests that are a bit longer than what is available on most booster seats. Unfortunately, they are not moveable or adjustable. As they are in a fixed position, it does make it difficult for some children to be a "big" kid and buckle themselves in on their own.
This booster seat is a bit heavier than other options available, but not so heavy that it makes moving it from one vehicle to another very difficult. In many cases, children that love to "help" will usually be able to transport it short distances on their own, which is always important when children reach the age when they want to start being just a bit more independent.
Pros and Cons
The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat has both pros and cons that should be considered prior to purchase to ensure it will work best for you and your child.
- Easy installation with one-handed LATCH attachment and adjustment
- Plenty of padding and shock-absorbing foam
- Easy to remove, machine washable cover
- Provides side impact protection in a high back mode
- Adjustable head support for added comfort
- Convertible from high back to backless mode
- LATCH system allows some movement after installation
- Arms are not adjustable.
- It may be difficult for some children to buckle themselves.
- Not FAA approved for use on airplanes
When your child outgrows a car seat, you will need both a high back and a backless booster to use before he or she reaches the recommended height to be safe using an adult seat belt. The Graco Affix Youth Booster Seat provides a high back mode that can be converted to backless, allowing it to last for the rest of the time your child needs a booster. While there are a few negatives, overall, this is a great booster seat option. With plenty of features, ease of use, and a great price, many parents will appreciate the safety of this convertible booster seat.
Evenflo Symphony LX Child Car Seat Review
When it comes to car seats, there are two things that most parents realize – safety is a no brainer, and you already know you will be buying another within a year or less. However, the different lines of convertible car seats have changed the latter, and the Evenflo Symphony LX changes it completely.
This car seat is designed to be the only car seat you will ever need, from birth all the way up to 110 lbs. If you're wondering whether a car seat can really pull that off and still be worth the cost, this review will answer all of your questions and help you decide whether this car seat is right for you and your baby.
Overview of the Evenflo Symphony LX
This car seat is an extended use model that starts out as rear-facing, then changes to front-facing, and ends up as a booster that your child can use until he or she weighs more than 110 pounds. On top of the versatility, Evenflo made sure that this seat was as safe as possible, even meeting or exceeding some of the federal safety standards. The seat also provides plenty of ease of use features as well, which makes a huge difference on both long and short trips.
- Seat Weight – 21 pounds
- Shoulder Harness Height Min – 6.5 inches
- Shoulder Harness Height Max – 17 inches
- Upright Dimensions – 25.5 inches by 21 inches by 23 inches
Individual Mode Specs
Each mode of the Evenflo Symphony LX All in one has its own specific requirements that must be followed to ensure the safety of any child riding in it:
- Weight – 5 to 40 pounds
- Height – 19 to 37 inches
- Weight – 22 to 65 pounds
- Height – 28 to 50 inches
- One year of age or older
- Weight – 40 to 110 pounds
- Height – 43.3 to 57 inches
- Four years of age or older
Safety is one of the first things any parent considers when looking for a car seat, and for a good reason – you are entrusting your baby's life to something that has to protect him or her in the worst possible situations. The Evenflo Symphony LX uses the Quick Connector LATCH system to provide faster installation while improving safety. This seat also includes e3 Side Impact Protection that uses three layers of protection to absorb as much as 50% of the energy from side-impact crashes. Evenflo has undergone significant safety testing for the Symphony LX, with the following results:
- Meets or exceeds both their own and all applicable safety standards for side-impact testing.
- Maintains structural integrity at levels of energy that are twice the federal crash test standard.
- Meets Flammability of Interior Materials standards for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety.
- Aircraft certified for FAA Inversion when the five-point harness is used.
- It exceeds Evenflo standards for integrity in high and low-temperature settings.
Ease of Use
Car seats are notoriously somewhat difficult to install and use at times, making ease of use an important factor. This Evenflo seat includes the Infinite Slide Harness, which allows for easy adjusting as your child grows, without requiring rethreading of the harness. Installation is quick and easy with the Quick Connector LATCH, which most users are able to attach and remove with one hand. The headrest is also easily adjusted with one hand, making growth adjustments simple. The machine washable cover is also easy to remove and replace and does not require harness rethreading.
Every parent knows that a comfortable child means a happier trip, and Evenflo includes a few different design options to help. The seat comes with both a head and body pillow to ensure infants are comfortable and safe during a ride. Older children appreciate the built-in, adjustable cup holder, which also ensures there is no unbuckling when they can't reach a drink. The easily adjustable harness also ensures that there is no pinching or squeezing when mom or dad has to adjust the size. There is also an easy recline feature located on the front of the car seat for easy adjusting when your child is tired and wakes up.
The Evenflo Symphony LX All in One car seat provides both enhanced safety and easy installation, both of which are vitally important when buying a seat for your little one. The broad weight and height range makes this a true all in one unit that will last from infancy all the way until they no longer need a booster seat, which is generally around nine or ten years old. With proper care, this car seat can easily last that long, so you will never need to buy a second or third seat as your child grows. Many parents who have struggled with the LATCH systems in the past will appreciate the easy to use Quick Connector, while also knowing they have the added protection.
No review is complete without the negative points as well, and there are a couple. There is very little padding in the actual seat where your child sits, which can get uncomfortable with long trips – especially as he or she gets bigger. Another issue is that some smaller children end up with their heads leaning forward when sleeping, even when the seat is reclined all the way. The final issue with this car seat is that it is not a great fit in very small or compact cars. In some cases, the LATCH connectors will not work properly due to the size of the car seat versus the amount of space available to run the straps to the connectors. If you are looking for an all in one car seat that is safety tested and proven easy to use and install in most situations, the Evenflo Symphony LX All in One convertible car seat may be a great option – as long as your vehicle is large enough to accommodate it properly.
Britax Marathon G4.1 Car Seat Review
Britax has been a big name in car seats for several years due to their attention to safety and ease of use. Our reviewers put this car seat to the test to determine if it lived up to the hype. Keep reading to find out if the Britax Marathon G4.1 is the best option for your child.
The Marathon G4.1 is a convertible car seat designed for children between 5 and 65 pounds, and up to 49 inches. The seat can be used rear-facing for children up to 40 pounds, which minimizes the need for buying multiple car seats to adjust for size. Britax includes a range of features on this model, with a clear focus on safety and ease of use.
Features of the Marathon G4.1
- SafeCell Impact Protection. This is a safety system that includes different components to provide the most safety for your child. They include:
- Versa Tether – This is a tethering system designed to absorb energy, resulting in little to no movement when the vehicle is involved in a crash.
- HUGS – Chest pad that is available only from Britax that reduces the child's forward momentum in the event of an accident.
- Integrated Steel Bars – Advanced safety system that provides a stronger connection to the vehicle, and minimizes the chances of the seat flexing forward.
- SafeCells – Special cells that are located in the base of the car seat; these cells compress during an accident to drop the child's center of gravity to absorb and prevent the forward motion of the seat.
- Side Impact Protection – Uses a combination of a deep, rigid shell on the sides of the seat that are filled with energy-absorbing foam to provide better protection against head and chest injuries during side impacts.
- Built-In Lock Offs – Locking mechanisms that are built into the seat belt paths to provide a snug, secure fit when using the car safety belts to secure the car seat.
- Quick-Adjust Harness. This Britax features a harness that allows for quick and easy adjustment with ten different positions to allow for the best fit for each child. The five-point harness system is designed to be tangle-free and does not require rethreading for adjustments or cleaning. The buckle system also has two adjustment options to allow for optimal fit, while the EZ-Buckle prevents it from slipping under the child when putting him or her in the vehicle.
Marathon G4.1 Installation
This car seat includes both the anti-slip base and lower LATCH connectors that make a clicking sound when installed properly and includes a pull strap to ensure the tightest fit. Once the base is installed using LATCH, parents can simply push a button to release the car seat from the base. The base features IsoFit, which provides a protective and non-slip grip on the seat of the car to prevent the seat from slipping or sliding when putting your child in, and during an accident.
The Marathon G4.1 has high-density soft foam padding covering the seat to provide a softer riding surface. The seat can also be reclined in both forward-facing and rear-facing installations to provide better positioning for naps during long car rides. The seat also comes with an infant pillow to help improve the fit for infants, as the seat is designed for children who have a sitting height of nine inches at the shoulder. This pillow also provides additional support around the head and neck.
Ease of Use
Several features increase the overall ease of use of the Britax Marathon G4. The ability to use the seat for both rear and front-facing makes it a convenient option for those who want to avoid having to buy another car seat when the baby reaches about one year of age. The five-point harness can be adjusted with one hand, and the buckle system eliminates the potential for your child to be scratched or pinched when trying to buckle the harness. Finally, the fact that the harness does not have to be rethreaded after cleaning or adjusting makes this a convertible seat that is easier to use than many other options.
Specifications of the Britax Marathon G4.1
- Child Weight – 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing, 20 to 65 pounds front-facing (one year and older)
- Child's Height – Maximum of 49 inches
- Shoulder Height – 9 to 16.75 inches rear-facing, 12 to 16.75 inches front-facing
- Weight – 19.5 pounds
- Dimensions – 18.5 inches wide by 26 inches tall by 21 inches diameter
- Airplane travel approved
As you can see, the Britax Marathon G4.1 provides a wide range of safety, comfort, and ease of use features. The extreme focus on safety ensures the safest ride for your infant or toddler and provides the added protection that provides peace of mind for any parent. Add in the comfort features, and you have a car seat that is well rounded and provides nearly everything you and your baby need.
While this car seat does provide many positive points, there are also a couple of bad ones of which you need to be aware. While the cover does remove easily for cleaning and does not require rethreading, it may be best to hand wash it. Our reviewers discovered that the padding does not handle machine washing or drying well, and replacement covers are rather expensive.
Price is another important consideration for this car seat, as it can run at around the $200 or higher mark. However, when you consider the safety of the unit, many may find this price perfectly acceptable.
Some users also had some difficulty getting the release button pushed down to unbuckle their child. While this is a great thing as far as comfort is concerned, it could be an issue if you need to remove the child quickly.
All in all, the Britax Marathon G4.1 is a safe, comfortable, easy to use car convertible car seat. While there are a few negatives with this unit, the benefits of safety alone far outweigh these issues.
Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat Review
The Graco’s Tranzitions 3 in 1 is an improved version of the older model, Nautilus, which dates back to 2007. This model has a narrower designed, created to be more car-friendly, especially if you plan on using more than one seat at the time. At the same time, the new design is very pleasant to the eye, and it comes in three different colors, suitable for most people’s tastes.
This seat is created for family people who may need more than one seat at a time. It is great for kids who have outgrown their infant car seats, and your child can use it until they no longer need a special seat for themselves.
Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat is an affordable product with great ratings, making it a top choice of many new parents.
Specifications of the Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat
- Seat Weight: 14.97 lbs
- Minimum Weight Recommendation: 22.00 lbs
- Maximum Weight Recommendation: 100.00 lbs
- Harness Slot Positions at: 12, 12.75, 13.75, 14.75, 15.5, 16.5, 17.25, and 18 inches
- Crotch Buckle Slots at: 6 and 7.5 inches
- Seat Depth with Back: 13 inches
- Item Dimensions: 18.9 inches by 10.47 inches by 33.5 inches
Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat has exceeded US safety standards, which is a basic feature a car needs to have in order to be considered safe. It is reported to have saved a child from a 60mph side-impact collision – however, such claims need to be taken lightly, as every impact is different and the outcome depends on many various things.
The seat has indeed been tested for the side impact, and its 5-point harness system passed the test. This is another practical proof of the Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat’s safety. Instead of using EPP or EPS foam lining, it uses blow-molded plastic that absorbs energy and lowers the chance of an injury. Car bumpers use the same kind of material for safety.
The biggest downside to this seat when it comes to safety is its somewhat low maximum weight recommendation. If your child is growing fast, or tends to get weight easily, they might overgrow this seat quite quickly. Also, some users have reported that the back of the seat can detach, so you should watch out for this.
The blow-molded plastic does influence the comfort of this seat. Also, it’s quite narrow, so it may seem like your child won’t fit comfortably. This isn’t the case, as the seat was designed to remain comfortable. The cup holders and arm stands aren’t taking away too much space, and the entire body support is well-built to support a child’s frame.
Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat has eight headrest and harness positions, so you can adjust it depending on your child’s needs. Also, this means the seat will be able to grow with your child, and you shouldn’t expect to replace it soon. The seat pat looks thin, but it is padded just enough to enable your child to sit and even sleep inside his seat.
Ease of Use
When it comes to installation, Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat may experience a few hiccups depending on your vehicle. In fact, it may be impossible to set up at some vehicles where the shoulder belt isn’t anchored behind the seat back, but rather in front or at the side. This is because the belt path is much narrower compared to other models, and the bottom is quite slippery.
For cars that have deep-set anchors, you may experience some troubles getting the seat tight enough. A good way to overcome this is if you can expose the seat belt path by attaching the anchors to the hooks, and then pulling the inner fabric panel. Also, it would be the best if you push the seat down, while simultaneously pulling the shoulder belt.
At the same time, the manual doesn’t contain all the necessary installation information, making everything even harder.
Luckily, the seat is very easy to clean. It may require vacuuming for removing food crumbs, but this isn’t something that rarely happens and most car seats have a problem with this.
Pros and Cons
Just like any other product, Graco Tranzitions 3 in 1 Harness Booster Seat has some ups and downs. You need to consider all of them, so you can be sure your kid is using the best product possible.
- Affordable price
- Headrest has eight different positions
- You can convert between rear-facing and front-facing mode
- It comes with an integrated harness storage compartment
- Very narrow, so you can install more than one seat on your vehicle
- Easy to wash
- It isn’t easy to install in some vehicles
- Doesn’t have push-on connectors
- Manual isn’t clear
- Tight installation can be bothersome
This seat has a great value for the price, but it comes with a few downsides. The biggest one lies with the not-so-easy installation, which can make many potential buyers fall through with the purchase. If you have a compatible vehicle, these issues won’t appear. The manual isn’t helpful, and there are no official instructions on how to set everything up.
However, this is a great seat if you have more than one child that needs to use a car seat. Also, it is lightweight, and if you have the right vehicle for it, it can be a great option if you love to travel a lot with your child, or if you are required to spend a lot of time commuting. The seat is very safe and comfortable and your kid will most likely love it.
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat Review
When you have a child, one of the most important things you need to think of is car gear safety. Britax is a brand that knows this all too well. It imported its first seat back in 1996, and it remains one of the most reliable brands on the market. Its Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is leaning toward the medium-upper price range, and most consider it to be very a high-quality product.
The seat comes in various color patterns, so you can choose the one that suits your taste the most. It doesn’t have as much design variety as some other seats, though, as all patterns include black and grey shades.
The Britax’s Marathon ClickTight Convertible car seat is one of the top ten best-selling car seats on Amazon, which is why people have high expectations from this product.
Specifications of the Britax Marathon ClickTight Car Seat
- Child Weight Rear-Facing: 5 - 40 lbs
- Child Weight Forward-Facing: 20 - 65 lbs
- Child Standing Height: 49" or less
- Child Seated Shoulder Height Rear-Facing: 7.6 - 18.65 inches
- Child Seated Shoulder Height Forward-Facing: 12 - 18.65 inches
- Product Weight: 28.5 lbs
- Product Dimensions: 18.5 inches by 23.5 inches by 23 inches
- Seat Area Depth / Width: 10.5 inches / 11.5 inches
- Shoulder Width: 16 inches
- Harness Slot Heights: 8.35 to 19.4 inches (.85" increments), 14 positions
- Buckle Strap Depths: 5.25 inches / 7 inches
This is likely one of the safest seats you can find on the market. It is designed specifically to withstand most collisions and to ensure your child is as safe as possible. This puts it on the very top of the safest car seats out there. It even has three layers that absorb as much shock as possible. This is noticeable on the side cushions, which are thicker than regular ones.
The seat has double-stitched v-shaped straps which absorb the forward momentum. This helps your child not be injured by the whiplash. The straps are wide, so they won’t cut into your child in case of an accident.
Another shock-absorbing part is the car seat base. The Marathon ClickTight Convertible car seat uses the SafeCell technology, unique to this model. The product has a steal frame that won’t break or bent during the impact, and the cushions are thick enough to prevent most damages.
The car seat should be comfortable enough for a child to be able to fall asleep in it. The Marathon ClickTight Convertible car seat scores very high on comfortable levels, so this is another advantage of this product.
The side cushioning, often overlooked by most manufacturers, are very comfortable. They are also adjustable, so you can position them the right way as your child grows. If you hve a newborn, you can adjust it to be rear facing, which will fully support your kid’s head. In fact, the seat has 14 settings that you can adjust depending on the child’s health. This ensures not just comfort, but safety, as well.
The seat is fully padded and comfortably cushioned. If your child falls asleep, it won’t have any hard surface that might hurt him as the car is riding. The padding is thick enough, while also not being so thick that long-term usage will be uncomfortable.
Ease of Use
This seat uses ClickTight system, which allows the seat to be adjusted in a position you’d want it to be. This system connect to your car’s LATCH system. Unfortunately, this isn’t very clear from the manual, and you might have some issues figuring it out. Once you learn how to do it, you can install the seat in less than five minutes, but the first steps are a bit difficult.
As this is a convertible car seat, you can install it in both rear-facing and front-facing position. Switching modes isn’t as difficult as it sounds. It does require you to take the seat away before turning it around, but this is to be expected. Also, there is no need to thread the safety belt in any step of the installation.
There are a few installment tricks that need to be figured out on your own. For example, if you don’t put the safety straps in the inside guide, they might get snug and ruin the comfort levels. These steps aren’t obvious, and there is nothing about them in the manual. This does make installation somewhat of a nuisance.
When it comes to maintenance, the Marathon ClickTight Convertible car seat is very easy to clean with a wet cloth. Getting rid of crumbs does require you vacuuming the seat, but food pieces will hardly get stuck where they’re hard to reach. If you plan on washing the entire seat, however, you need to take it apart first.
Pros and Cons
As every parent, before you make a purchase decision, you need to look at both the pros and the cons of the product you’re considering.
- The product is easy to install and it doesn’t require any threading
- This is one of the safest car seats you can get
- Very comfortable
- Side impact features are among the most advanced on the market
- Straps are wide and double-stitched
- Can be used as a front-facing and a rear-facing seat
- Adjustable headrest – has 14 different heights
- The crotch strap can cut into a child’s tights if you don’t install it properly
- If you want to was the entire product, it has to be disassembled
- Installation does require some time to get used to
All in all, the Marathon ClickTight Convertible car seat is one of the safest car seats that you can buy currently. It does have some flaws, specifically with certain parts of the installation process, but the good reputation that follows the brand seems to be deserved. If you are a parent that is commuting a lot, you might find yourself liking this seat. It has a bit higher price than most, however, as the headrest is adjustable you will likely use it for a long time.
Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat Review
Evenflo is a well-known child seat brand that rarely disappoints, and its Maestro Sport Harness Booster Car Seat is no different. This car seat has many great features that make it a tough competition when it comes to similar product.
Even though Evenflo Maestro isn’t the most fashionable-looking, it isn’t to be overlooked. It comes in four different color combinations, so you can choose the one that suits your style. If you’re a fan of the brand, you should definitely check this model out.
This car seat is specifically designed to protect your child from the moment they’ve outgrown their rear-facing seat, until they can ride without a safety seat altogether.
Specifications of the Evenflo Maestro Car Seat
- Seat Weight: 9.60 lbs
- Maximum Height Recommendation: 57 inches
- Minimum Weight Recommendation: 22.00 lbs
- Maximum Weight Recommendation: 110.00 lbs
- Harness Booster Weight Range: 22 to 65 lbs
- Harness Booster Height Range: 28 – 50 inches
- Harness Slots at: 12, 14, 16, and 18 inches
- Crotch Buckle Slots at: 5 and 7 inches
- Belt Guide Slot at: 19 inches
- Item Dimensions: 19 inches by 17 inches by 27.5 inches
Evenflo Maestro has been tested two times according to the federal crash test standard. This includes tests for impact, structural integrity, temperature changes, as well as flammability. As the model passed the test both times, it is perfectly safe to use.
One thing unique to this product is that you can use the LATCH feature until your child reaches 50 lbs. This allows the seat to be used while in the belt-positioning booster mode. At the same time, the seat is safe even when a kid isn’t sitting in it. If a crash happens, you don’t have to worry about the seat becoming a projectile.
One of the things that customers are worried about is that the height limit is a bit too low for our liking. In other words, if your kid is tall for his age, he’ll quickly overgrow it. Also, it is recommended to buckle the empty seat if the LATCH feature is turned off.
This car seat is fairly comfortable, and your child won’t have any discomfort sitting in it. The harness can be adjusted with one hand, so you can easily solve any comfort issues. Not to mention that it comes with four shoulder strap spots, as well as two bottom buckle spots! There is also an auto-adjust belt path, that allows the belt remain at the adequate shoulder height all the time.
If you worry that your kid isn’t comfortable enough, the seat comes with a JJ Cole Reversible Strap Covers. These covers provide an extra layer of padding on the harnesses, so they won’t cause any discomfort to your child.
At the same time, however, the seat could have a bit more padding. While there are pads on all parts of the seat, they are fairly thin. Most kids won’t have any issues with this, but it’s worth noting.
Ease of Use
This is the biggest issue with this seat. While the Evenflo Maestro isn’t too hard to install, there are some features that it falls short a little bit.
While the LATCH feature is quick to set up, it isn’t easy to uninstall, and this step might take some time. Also, the latch straps are quite difficult to get tight. There is a manual, but it doesn’t let you know how difficult tightening them is. If you’re a woman or a smaller-built man, you’ll likely have to put your entire weight onto the car seat. Also, the release button tends to not work the best.
All in all, if you plan on moving your seat around all the time, you should know that it isn’t the easiest to use.
Not just that, but if you plan on moving the harness slots to a new slots, you’ll need to rethread them first. This isn’t overly complicated, but it does take up much time.
Other than that, maintaining this seat isn’t a bother whatsoever. Since it’s not too padded, it’s effortless to clean. All you need is a wet cloth and chances are you’ll get it sparkly even after your kid has a minor incident. Also, the claims that you can adjust the harness with one hand are true, and the toddlers can climb onto this seat without too many issues.
Pros and Cons
Like with any seat, the Evenflo Maestro has some ups and downs. Before you decide to make a purchase, you should consider all of them, so you can be sure you’re making a good decision.
- One of the more affordable seats on the market
- Has a built-in LATCH feature, as well as harness storage
- Has a comfortable pillow head rest
- Comes with two cup holders that don’t increase in size, making them perfect for most cups
- Easy to clean; the fabric is machine washable
- Has three different car seat configurations
- You can place it anywhere on the back seat
- Made in USA
- Not enough height range
- LATCH feature is very difficult to uninstall
- You can’t adjust headrest
- Harness tightness is quite difficult to adjust evenly
- You can’t adjust headrest
- Harness has to be rethreaded if you want to adjust height
For many people, Evenflo Maestro is a great budget option. In fact, for the price, you probably couldn’t get a better seat. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, or if you sometimes have to change the back seat where you want your infant car seat to be, you should consider getting it. This seat is rather adjustable, and you can fit it in most cars. Also, it’s made in USA, so the quality is ensured. Of course, this product has certain flaws, such as non-adjustable headrest and very limited height maximum. In short, this seat is the real example that you get what you paid for.
Last Updated: 12th Dec, 2020