CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT VS ALL-IN-ONE CAR SEAT l BABY JOURNEY

Is A Convertible Car Seat Vs All-in-One Car Seat The Same? We Look At The Differences Between These 2 Seats

Most people are aware that car seats are a must-have when you have a child on board. The shocker is often that there are entirely different car seats for different stages. They sure bury the lead on that bit.

Thankfully though, there are multifunctional car seats. The catch is in choosing between a convertible car seat vs all in one car seat alternatives. Which is better? I vouch for all-in-one car seats but let us explore both options in more detail.

An Overview of Convertible and All-in-one Car Seats

Multifunctional car seats are designed just like ordinary car seats. However, they are unique in that they can be used in more than one mode. With that in mind, let us get into what each type has to offer.

What is Convertible Car Seat?

A convertible car seat can be used in two modes. In the infant stage, it is installed in the rear-facing position. When your child outgrows the rear-facing mode, you can then convert it to front-facing mode.

So, how do you know when to make the switch? Each convertible car seat model indicates the maximum weight and height limits at which your baby should use the rear and front-facing model. When they hit the limit you will know that it is time.

The dimensions of a convertible car seat are designed to only accommodate your baby between infancy and part of their toddler years. When your child outgrows the front-facing car seat mode you would have to invest in a booster car seat to keep them safe. It is, therefore, not an all-inclusive solution but it will serve you longer than say an infant car seat.

Convertible car seats have mechanisms to shift from rear to front-facing positions. - Convertible car seat vs all in one car seat | Baby Journey
Convertible car seats have mechanisms to shift from rear to front-facing positions. Source: Pinterest

Pros:

  • Offers more functional value than a single-mode car seat
  • Adjustable through different stages of growth
  • Weight limits indicate when to switch modes
  • Some models offer longer rear-facing seating than infant car seats

Cons:

  • Most models are heavy
  • They are less portable

What is an All-in-one Car Seat?

An all-in-one car seat is also a convertible car seat except it provides an all-inclusive solution. It can be used in all the modes that you will need for your baby right from when you leave the hospital until they can sit without support. These modes include:

  • Rear-facing
  • Front-facing
  • High back booster
  • Backless booster

Each of these modes has a stipulated maximum weight and height limit to guide you on when to transition to the next mode. Naturally, due to the extra functions, the structure of this type of car seat tends to be larger. Nevertheless, dimensions, as well as the operation of an all in one car seat, vary between brands.

That said, not all all-in-one car seats are equal. A 3-in-1 car seat, for example, can only be used in rear and front-facing modes and booster mode. It has one mode less than a full 4-in-1 car seat but it is still considered an all-in-one car seat. It is essential to take note of this distinction as you shop.

Further, combination car seats are not all-in-one car seats. Let’s back up a little bit. What is a combination car seat, you ask? A combination car seat is one that is solely front-facing but has a harness that can be adjusted to accommodate toddlers through different stages.

This means you can go from front-facing toddler to high-back booster mode and or a backless booster. It is not an all-in-one because you cannot use it for rear-facing infants.

An all-in-one car seat can be adjusted for all growth stages. - Convertible car seat vs all in one car seat | Baby Journey
An all-in-one car seat can be adjusted for all growth stages. Source: Pinterest

Pros:

  • Offers a one-off solution
  • Cost-effective
  • They are adjustable for comfort through different stages
  • Possibility for longer rear-facing sitting

Cons:

  • Tend to be quite heavy
  • Not compatible with strollers

All in one Vs Convertible Car Seat Features Compared

We are now all caught up on what convertible vs all in one car seats are, right? Now comes the decision-making part. Which of these car seat options would be best for you? Let us compare the features to find out.

Ease of Installation

A convertible car seat can be installed using either a seat belt or the LATCH system, depending on the brand. Britax, for example, recommends that its ClickTight Marathon convertible car seat is installed using the seat belt system. Graco, on the other hand, has developed the InRight LATCH system which it recommends for easy installation of its convertible car seats like the Extend2Fit.

Installing all-in-one car seats can get a bit more complex. Like the examples stated above, they too can come with installation options like the ClickTight among others.

However, they are bulkier and come in one unit, unlike an infant car seat where the base is detachable. This can make them a bit more challenging to maneuver especially the first few times before you get the hang of it.

The Better pick: due to their less bulky design, convertible car seats are a bit easier to install and often have better stability.

Weight and Height Limits

An average convertible car seat has a minimum weight limit of about 4-5lbs and a maximum of about 55-65lbs. These limits are further broken down into rear-facing and front-facing limits of approximately 4-40lbs and 20-65lbs respectively. The upside here is your little one can ride while rear-facing for longer. The height limit for most convertibles is often capped at about 45-49 inches.

All-in-one car seats are designed to serve your tot much longer and thus have a broader range of weight limits. You can expect estimates such as:

  • 4 to 50 pounds in rear-facing mode
  • 20 to 65 pounds in front-facing mode
  • 40 to 100 pounds in high-back booster mode
  • 40 to 120 pounds in backless booster mode

Note: these limits are general estimates. They vary by about +/- 5 pounds for individual car seat brands.

The Better Pick: an all-in-one car seat is likely to offer more generous limits at all stages and would be a safer bet.

Car Seat Size

Multifunctional seats generally have a wider build and can sometimes be too big for an infant. Compare dimensions between brands as some like the Maxi Cosi Pria 3-in-1 offer a more snug fit than others. Nonetheless, if the seating area is broad but the car seat comes with an adequate infant insert, it could work out just fine.

Regarding exterior dimensions, most all-in-one car seats tend to be larger than convertible ones. If your car is small, you might have better luck with a convertible car seat. That said, this too comes down to brand choice. The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1, for example, has a space-efficient narrow build despite being an all-in-one car seat.

The Better Pick: convertible car seats generally have more compact dimensions and can fit in more car models.

Convertible car seats are more compact.- Convertible car seat vs all in one car seat | Baby Journey
Convertible car seats are more compact. Source: Pinterest

Price and Longevity

Car seat prices are usually based on the quality of the seat and its functionality. This is why if you compare infant car seat vs convertible car seat prices, you will notice that the latter costs more. Similarly, because all-in-one car seats offer more features, they often cost more than most convertible car seats.

On longevity, both all-in-one and convertible car seats usually have a service period of about 10 years before expiry. Yes, if you are new to parenting, car seats expire.

The Better Pick: all-in-one car seats are a one-off purchase and given the long-term value they offer, I would say they are worth it.

Convertible Car Seat Vs All in One Car Seat Summary

CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
ALL-IN-ONE CAR SEAT
Seat modes
  • Rear-facing
  • Front-facing
  • Rear-facing
  • Front-facing
  • High-back booster
  • Backless booster
Prevalent Installation Method
Seat belt
LATCH
Weight limits
4 - 65 lbs in different modes
4 - 120lbs in different modes
Longevity
  • Infant to toddler
  • 10 years until expiry
  • Infant to age 10 or so
  • 10 years until expiry
Pricing
Priced higher than infant seats
Priced higher than all other types of car seats
CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
Seat modes
  • Rear-facing
  • Front-facing
Prevalent Installation Method
Seat belt
Weight limits
4 - 65 lbs in different modes
Longevity
  • Infant to toddler
  • 10 years until expiry
Pricing
Priced higher than infant seats
ALL-IN-ONE CAR SEAT
Seat modes
  • Rear-facing
  • Front-facing
  • High-back booster
  • Backless booster
Prevalent Installation Method
LATCH
Weight limits
4 - 120lbs in different modes
Longevity
  • Infant to age 10 or so
  • 10 years until expiry
Pricing
Priced higher than all other types of car seats

Convertible Car Seat Vs All in one Car Seat FAQs

Is it better to get a convertible car seat than an all-in-one?

This would depend on your needs. If you are hoping for a car seat that is not too bulky but would still give you long-term service, a convertible may be the better choice. Nevertheless, if you are looking for long-term functionality consider an all-in-one model.

Is a convertible car seat more comfortable than an all-in-one car seat?

Car seat comfort is based on structural design and that varies between brands, it is not definitive.

Are all-in-one car seats worth it?

Yes, a good quality all-in-one car seat offers great value.

Can I fit three car seats in the back of my car with convertible or all-in-one car seats?

In an average size car, you may have a better chance of fitting multiple convertible car seats next to each other than you would with all-in-one car seats. They are more compact and are likely to fit better.

What are some of the recommended convertible and all-in-one car seats?

  • Cybex Sirona Rotating Convertible car seat – This convertible car seat is ideal for children within a 4-65lbs weight limit. It converts by rotating easily from rear-facing to front-facing mode. Moreover, it has a stability leg and SensorSafe technology for safety. Installation can be done using the unique EasyLock bar or a seat belt. It’s a high-end car seat but runs like a dream. You can learn more about it here.

  • Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat – An upgrade from the Graco 4ever seat, this all-in-one car seat will serve you and your precious tot from birth until they are all grown. Its weight limits range from 4 to 120 pounds and it can be installed using either the InRight LATCH system or a seatbelt. Its harness and headrest can be adjusted to 10 positions alongside 6 recline angles for comfort. You could get all these features plus a machine-washable cover for less than $300. Check it out from our Graco 4ever review.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, the choice between an all in one car seat vs convertible car seat is a matter of personal preference. Sure, an all-in-one car seat is for all seasons but does it match your current needs? Alternatively, is a convertible seat enough or do you need a car seat that converts to a booster?

I would suggest investing in a convertible seat if you:

  • Need to fit more than one car seat in your car
  • Prefer a more lightweight car seat
  • Do not mind buying a booster seat later on
  • Find it more comfortable for your baby

On the other hand, I would recommend an all-in-one car seat if you:

  • Prefer a one-off car seat purchase
  • Do not mind spending more
  • Have enough room in your car
  • Do not necessarily require a car seat to be portable

So, now that you have all your options laid out, what’s your pick?

Convertible car seat vs all in one car seat | Baby Journey

Last update on 2021-09-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API