When you have a child, a car seat is an important safety device that your child needs to ride in while they are in a car. It is designed to protect them and keep them safe in the event that an accident does occur. It also protects their little bodies when you need to make a sudden stop, but how do you know which car seat is the best for your child? This guide will review several of the best front facing car seats on the market, but before we jump into the reviews, let’s take a look at the appropriate time to switch to a front facing car seat and some of the features that you will want your child’s new car seat to have.
When to Switch to a Forward Facing Car Seat
A forward facing car seat is the next step that your child will enter when they outgrow their infant car seat. It used to be the law that a child could begin using this type of seat when they are one year of age and at least 20 pounds, but the laws have changed to help protect our children. Now, a child should wait to switch to a forward facing car seat until they are at least two years of age. Regardless of whether your child is 24 months old or 36 months old, the forward facing car seat that you pick must have certain features. Let’s take a look.
Features to Look For
- Five Point Harness
To increase how safe your child is in their car seat, you want to have a five-point harness to secure them. The straps come from the shoulders, around both hips, and between the child’s legs to ensure that your little one cannot slip out of the car seat.
- LATCH System
The LATCH system is designed to connect the car seat directly to a base that is anchored to the back seat of your vehicle. It can be used for both front and rear facing seats, and it is designed to add a lot more stability to the car seat than a traditional car seatbelt would. Since the year 2002, this feature must be installed in all cars, but if you have an earlier model of car, LATCH kits can be purchased.
- Side Wings
If your child is facing forward, the need protection around their neck and head. Most forward facing car seats have wings on the side of the seat to make sure your child is not injured in a side collision. This side wing also gives your little one a place to rest their head when they want to take a nap.
- Impact Protection
A car seat should be padded to help protect against any type of impact that occurs. This padding should be on the entire car seat, but especially on the areas that protect your child’s head. Make sure that the seat that you select gives your child a lot of protection.
Twist-free straps are going to be the best option for a car seat because tangles straps can be uncomfortable for any child. Twisted straps can malfunction and cause injury to your child, so make sure that the straps are wide and twist-free so that they can always keep your child secured. Also, consider multi-clips on the chest strap for additional security.
Not all forward facing seats are designed to only function one way. Some of the seats that you find can be converted into a booster chair, which extends the life of the car seat. If you are looking for more value out of a front facing car seat, then this could be a great option for you.
- Easy to Clean Material
Toddlers are messy, so try to get a front facing car seat that is made with fabric that is easy to clean. Textured fabric will make the process more difficult, and unless the car seat has a cover that can be removed and washed, a smooth surface is going to make cleaning the car seat a lot easier.
Make sure that the car seat that you purchase can be used by your child for years to come. You do not want a car seat that cannot be adjusted when your child’s shoulders go above the level of the harness.
Best Design Feature
RECARO Performance SPORT Car Seat
This car seat features temperature balancing fabrics that keep your child nice and cool.
Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat
It has four shoulder strap positions that accommodate growing children.
Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
Its seat can be converted to protect your child from a toddler to a young school aged child.
Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster
The five-point harness can be adjusted to fit your child’s needs.
Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
This car seat has an impact absorbing base and harness to protect your child.
1) RECARO Performance SPORT Car Seat
The first car seat on our list is the RECARO Performance SPORT Car Seat, which is a forward facing car seat that is designed for children between 20 to 65 pounds. We feel that this car seat is actually the most comfortable option on our list. It is made with cloud comfort memory foam so that your child has a soft place to sit during long car rides. The straps are fitted with pads to make sure that the belts do not cause any discomfort during the trip. The straps are also twist-resistant, so you can be sure that the straps that are securing your child will never become too tight.
The fabric that is covering the memory foam is designed to provide ventilation and comfort to your child. They will have enough airflow to stay cool in the summer heat, and the cushions will keep them warm when the air outside is bitter cold. It is designed to balance the temperature so that your little one will never be uncomfortable. We loved the amount of side impact protection that is seen on the RECARO Performance SPORT Car Seat. It actually uses race inspired side protection that features large side wings for the head and face as well as reinforced sides that protect the core area of your child’s body.
2) Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat
The next forward facing car seat is a great option when you are working on a budget. The Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat is designed to adjust to your child’s height. It has four points of adjustment on the shoulder straps as well as two on the strap that is located between your child’s legs on the five-point harness. Adjustments that need to be made to the straps can easily be done with the adjustment strap as well. The seat comes with the latch system installed, so you should not have any issues correctly positioning the car seat into the back seat of your car. This forward facing design is perfect for children who are between 22 and 50 pounds.
We loved the fact that there is an additional foam liner on the car seat that is designed to absorb energy and protect your little one in a crash. The wings that are on this seat perfectly protect your young one’s head in the event of a sudden impact. The seat cover is also removable, which means that you can wash it with ease. We liked the fact that we could fit two car seats in the back seat and still have room for an adult to sit comfortably.
3) Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
The next forward facing car seat on this list is designed to convert into three different seats to accommodate your growing child. The Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat starts as a traditional forward facing car seat that is designed to accommodate children who are able to comfortably fit into the five-point harness, and the best part is that the shoulder straps can be adjusted as well. Once your child outgrows the harness, the seatbelt can be used in the high back mode. In this mode, there is a seatbelt guide that keeps the seatbelt in the proper position to keep your toddler safe. There is also a backless mode if the seat is still needed once they outgrow the headrest of the seat.
The car seat utilizes the latch system to connect to the seat, so you can be sure that your baby will be secure and the car seat will not topple over in the event of a crash. The safe adjustment harness system is designed to adjust the shoulder straps and the head rest in a single motion. In fact, your child can easily relax in this car seat because it has a recline setting as well, which we thought was a great way to improve the comfort of your child.
4) Evenflo Chase LX Harnessed Booster
The next car seat on our list comes with a five-point harness that is designed to keep your child safe. This seat has a twist-free strap that is designed to adjust to several different levels, three adjustments can be made with the strap between your child’s legs, and the shoulder straps have five more adjustments that can be made. If you have more than one child, you will be happy to know that this car seat is designed so that three of them can fit side-by-side in a midsized vehicle.
The forward facing functionality of this seat is designed for children between 20 to 50 pounds, but it is also able to convert into a booster seat that utilizes the car’s seatbelt instead of the harness when your child is big enough to make the switch. We love the auto adjust feature that places the seatbelt in the proper location for your child as they grow. The Seat is installed with the LATCH system, which is ideal for safety. The seat has a padded head pillow that is designed to give you child a soft place to lay their head, which is great for adding comfort to the car seat. We love that this seat comes complete with a cup holder to hold your toddler’s juice cup.
5) Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
The final forward facing car seat on our list is the Britax Pinnacle G1.1 ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat, which is a seat that is designed to accommodate children between 25 to 90 pounds. We loved the ClickTight installation system, which is an easy to use system that utilizes the seatbelt that is already present in the car to secure the car seat in place. Adjusting the straps is rather simple; in fact, it can be done by pulling the strap with one hand. The cover on the seat is also very easy to clean. It is a smooth fabric that will not trap crumbs, and the cover can also be removed and washed.
We also loved the amount of impact protection that is present around the head area on the car seat. It has three layers of protection, so in the event that there is an impact with another car, you can be sure that your child will be safe. The headrest can be adjusted as your child grows, and the shoulder straps can be adjusted to nine different positions as well. Once you child outgrows the five-point harness, the seatbelt can be used to secure your child in the car seat. We also loved the armrests that are on this chair; which allows your child to feel like they are in a “big kid” seat. There is also a cup holder on each side of the seat that gives your toddler a place to keep their juice.
Having a car seat that protects your child in the car is necessary. Not only is it the law, it is imperative to keep your young ones as safe as possible. In the event that an accident does occur, you need to have the peace of mind knowing that your child is safe and secure in their car seat. Which is the best? Well, if we had to choose one of the products that we reviewed, the RECARO Performance SPORT Car Seat would come out on top. It is easy to adjust, it adds padded protection to protect your child from impact, and it is made with temperature balancing fabric that is designed to keep your child cool in the hot summer heat and warm in the cold winter air.
If you are looking for a forward facing car seat that is a bit more budget friendly, then the Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat is the perfect bang for your buck option. You get all of the safety features that you want a forward facing car seat to have at a fraction of the cost. In fact, this car seat will only cost you about $60.00.