Are you looking for the best 3 in 1 car seats for children out on the market today? Child Passenger Safety Week this year will be observed from September 18-24, 2011 and it’s a timely reminder of the necessity of child restraint systems in automobiles. This page will provide you with helpful information on what to keep in mind when shopping for a 3 in 1 car seat. We’ll also be sharing with you the best 3 in 1 car seats based on user reviews and ratings.
Importance of Child Restraint Systems in Cars
Did you know that according to figures from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes are the primary cause of death for kids from 3 to 14 years old? Those are sobering statistics.
On the other hand, statistics also provided by the NHTSA show that child safety seats were instrumental in lowering the number of fatal injuries by 71 percent for infants younger than one year old, and by 54 percent for children ages one to four years old in passenger automobiles in 2008. These figures drive home the fact that not having a child safety seat installed in your car is no longer an option. In fact, there are laws in the U.S., UK, Australia and many other countries that require the use of child restraint systems in motor vehicles.
What Is a 3-in-1 Car Safety Seat?
It’s also known as an all-in-one car seat, and simply put, it’s the type of automobile safety seat for kids that your child can use starting from when he or she is very young (less than one year old) up to the age of 12. It’s a combination of a convertible and a combination seat; in the beginning it’s used as a rear-facing car seat for infants, then later as a forward-facing car seat for toddlers, and even later as a booster seat for older children.
Some 3-in-1 car seats aren’t designed to be used by babies not older than one year old. In such cases, they are normally used initially used by toddlers facing front and secured by the seat’s five-point harness, and later as high-backed booster seats or backless belt-positioning booster seats.
A 3 in 1 car safety seat for children can save parents a lot of money in the long run. Instead of having to buy two or three different child car seats as their kids grow older, they can just purchase one that will be used for many years by the same child.
Generally speaking, infants weighing 20 pounds or less should be placed in a rear-facing seat, which safety experts say is the safest orientation. The NHTSA recommends maintaining this position until the child is 3 years old. Children are recommended by experts to transition to a forward-facing orientation around the age of 4 or when he or she outgrows the rear-facing orientation, though a child who is one year old and weighs at least 20 pounds can be seated facing forward. A 3-in-1 child car seat can be used as a booster seat by kids aged 8-12 years old. But instead of using the car seat’s five-point safety harness, he or she can start using the car’s regular seat belts instead. However, you should make sure that the seat belt fits snugly and in the right places on your child, i.e., the lap belt should go across the upper thighs and not the tummy while the shoulder belt should cross the shoulder and chest and not the neck or face.
And remember, you should always have put your child’s safety seat in the back seat of the car. They are safer there than in the passenger seat.
Tips for Buying a 3 in 1 Car Seat
First of all, remember that an all-in-one car seat is not as convenient as an infant seat carrier and that it’s not compatible with a stroller. However, this isn’t really a deal-breaker for many. A 3 in one car seat that’s secure, safe and comfortable for a child to use more than makes up for its size and weight. You have to make sure, though, that the unit you are considering is compatible with your car. Because of their size, some of them may not fit all that comfortably in a very small vehicle.
Consider getting a seat that has push-on style LATCH connectors since they are easier to use and detach from a car than hook-style connectors. If you want to adjust the seat’s harness height without taking the seat out of the car or manipulating the straps through openings in the seat, you should buy a car seat that has an external harness adjustment.
It’s also advisable to get a model that has several recline adjustments. This feature will assist you achieve the appropriate angle with the rear-facing orientation. A forward-facing child will also feel more comfortable if his or her seat can be reclined.
3 Best 3-in-1 Car Seats with the Highest Consumer Reviews & Ratings
Choosing an all-in-one car seat for your child can be an overwhelming experience because of all the makes and models available for sale out there. To help you narrow down your search, we looked at various 3-in-1 car seats featured on large online shopping sites like Amazon.com and three that have among the highest number of positive reviews and ratings. While there are many other car seat models with desirable features and excellent performance, the following stand out and are the best buy for so many consumers.
1. Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat
This Graco 3 in 1 car seat is by far the runaway bestseller in its category. As of the time of this writing, it has more than 960 reviews and an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The frame is reinforced with steel and the seat can be converted into a high-back belt positioning booster seat or a backless booster seat. It has an adjustable headrest, little cubby holes at the sides of the seat, and a built-in cup holder. It can accommodate a child weighing as much as 100 pounds. Here are the highlights of a number of Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat reviews.
– The memory foam is comfortable.
– The straps of the five-point harness are very easy to adjust since they are on rollers.
– It’s good for even tall children.
– It has a long expiration date.
– It’s easy to install.
– The fabric doesn’t fade or tear, and is easy to clean.
– It’s very easy to use with a vehicle’s regular seatbelt.
– It’s reasonably priced.
– Some buyers said their children were uncomfortable with the crotch strap.
– It’s big and may be difficult to install in smaller cars.
2. Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat
This convertible car seat from the Dorel Juvenile Group features an easily adjustable five-point harness system. It can be used as a rear-facing seat by babies weighing 5-35 pounds, as a forward-facing seat by toddlers weighing 22-40 pounds, and as a belt-positioning booster by children weighing 40-100 pounds. It has a multi-position reclining seat, adjustable armrests, and a detachable cup holder.
– It installs easily and quickly with the LATCH system.
– It’s easily cleaned in the washing machine and dryer.
– It’s roomy and cushiony.
– The seat is comfortable for long trips.
– It doesn’t take up as much space as some other models.
– The wide straps have comfortable padding.
– Many say it offers true value for money.
– Some say the headrest is difficult to remove.
– A prop such as a rolled-up towel may have to be used to adjust the front of the seat when in the rear-facing position in a car with bucket seats.
3. Evenflo Symphony 65 with SureLatch All in One Seat
This 3-in-1 car seat from Evenflo is another highly-rated product, with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. The SureLatch technology makes installing this car seat as easy as fastening a seatbelt. Adjusting the height of the harness is made easier with the infinite slide feature, requiring no rethreading. This child car safety seat is tested with the company’s side impact testing standard and accommodates kids weighing 5-35 pounds for rear-facing, 20-65 pounds for forward facing, and up to 100 pounds for booster seating.
– The unit’s shorter outer shell permits rear-facing in vehicles that could not accommodate a full-size convertible seat.
– The spring-loaded auto-retracting belt feeder in the latch clips makes it easy to tighten the latch straps.
– Five-point harness strap adjustment and recline adjustment are intuitive.
– A buyer whose vehicle was struck head-on by another car said that the child seat did not even move.
– The seat’s padding is soft, easily removable and machine washable.
– The straps are easily tightened from the front.
– It has a high safety rating.
– Many buyers say it gives the best bang for the buck.
– It may not be ideal for switching between cars.
– It doesn’t have a built-in leveling mechanism and may have to be propped up with a rolled blanket or towel when in the rear-facing installation.
Finding the best 3 in 1 car seat for your child isn’t something to be taken lightly. We encourage you to check out these products further, as well as the buyer-written reviews about them. Get the right one for your child and enjoy the peace of mind you’ll get from knowing that your child is safer and more comfortable in the car because of it.