There are so many car seat options that it can be overwhelming for parents to choose. While all seats are safe when used correctly, there are a few seats that we tend to NOT recommend for various reasons. They are not “bad” seats (sometimes we do recommend them), however the majority of the time we find ourselves recommending other seats over those listed here. Here are our top NOT recommended car seats along with WHY we don’t recommend them. Please note that these are general observations and opinions…sometimes these seats work great with a particular car or child! We always recommend checking the car seats out in person when possible, and it’s even better if the store will let you try them in your car!
Infant Rear Facing Only Seats
Baby Trend– In rear facing seats, straps need to come from below the shoulders. While new Baby Trend infant seats come with an insert to lift newborns up to the proper height, it must be removed at only 8lbs. Most newborns will not be big enough to reach the high slots on the lowest setting for Baby Trend infant seats, so they come from above the shoulders. The Flex-Loc recline adjustment can be hard to use, and in many cars the seat is still not reclined enough.
Maxi Cosi Mico AP– I know, Maxi Cosi fabrics are SO NICE. Our issue with this seat is that
the cost doesn’t seem to match the quality of the base. It’s a fairly
pricey seat, but the base is super simple with no extra features, most notably there is no lock off for seat belt installation like other seats in the same price range.
Any seat with a rear adjust harness– Several brands still sell rear adjust car seats, especially in travel systems. This means that you have to adjust the straps separately and from behind. There are plenty of inexpensive seats with a front adjust harness system, which is MUCH easier to use.
Baby Trend PROtect– This seat does have some nice features…the fabric feels nice and for tiny cars, you can save space by removing the headrest while baby is tiny and needs to be more recline. However, there are other seats with similar price points that have much higher harness slots, which means your kiddo will fit in it longer.
Safety 1st Everfit/Multifit– These two seats are pared down versions of the Grow & Go, and are sold at big warehouse stores (like Sams Club or Costco). Our big issue is that the harnesses are only usable up to 40lbs. Some parents have expressed frustration to us because they saw that it has a 100lb limit (in booster mode) and didn’t realize that the harness had such a low limit. Most of the seats we recommend in that price range have a harness limit of 50-65lbs.
Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite– We thought this seat was discontinued, but they can still be found in stores! Car Seats for the Littles has a fantastic blog post about all the reasons techs dislike this seat so much…check it out here.
Evenflo Triumph– This seat is BULKY. It has a rear facing 37″ height limit, which is low compared to other convertibles. I’m not a huge fan of the harness adjuster knobs, but I know some parents who like them. If you have a tiny kid and lots of room in the car, none of this will really be an issue.
Evenflo Symphony & Safemax– Both of these seats are HUGE. They are not great choices for tall kids or kids with longer torsos, due to the height limits, but if you have a tiny kid and big car then they might work for you.
Recaro– These seats have been disconinued, but you still may find them on sale sites. I know that we say that leg room isn’t a safety or comfort issue for rear facing, but the lack of leg room in Recaro car seats compared to others is still something to consider. Despite the lack of leg room, it is a bulky seat and we’ve had trouble fitting it in some cars! Our biggest issue with these seats is the rear facing 22.5″ seated height limit. At this price point there are plenty of other options that will rear face longer and more comfortably.
Diono– Don’t freak out if you have a Diono and love it! I have a love/hate relationship with Dionos. For 3 across situations, they can’t be beat, so this is usually when I recommend them. They have a low profile, which is nice when you are short and your car is tall. They have decent rear facing limits. BUT, they can be tricky to use and we see a lot of misuse. A LOT. Some cars love Dionos and install is fairly easy. Some cars take blood, sweat, tears and quite a bit of time to get these convertibles installed properly. The manuals are cumbersome and there are a lot of “rules” with Diono car seats (and those rules tend to change with no updates being sent out to consumers), some of which are not even in the manual so the average parent would never know.
Graco MyRide– We recommend Graco convertibles often, but usually with an added, “NOT the MyRide.” It has a smaller rear facing limit, lower harness straps so it does not last as long forward facing, and is much bulkier than the other Graco convertibles. This seat is often recommended for special needs, but there are better options for most children.
Graco Comfort Sport/Ready Ride/Classic Ride– We don’t see these seats often. They have very low limits compared to other convertibles, and there are longer lasting budget options that we recommend over these seats.
Safety 1st Guide 65– Sometimes the Guide is recommended for compact cars, but we often find it tips backwards, even when installed correctly. This doesn’t happen in all cars, but it happens often enough that we’d rather recommend other seats.
Combination Harness to Booster Seats
Cosco High Back Booster– This is actually a harness to booster, despite the confusing name. It has very low harness slots and only a 40lb weight limit, so it is outgrown VERY early. Cosco is working on replacing this seat with the Finale (a much better choice), but you still may see the original High Back Booster in some stores.
Kid’s Embrace– These seats have such fun covers that kids love, but many parents (and techs) have trouble securely installing them. Also, due to a fairly low harness height and booster belt guide, this seat is not a great choice for tall or long torso’d kids.
Baby Trend Hybrid– I give Baby Trend a lot of credit for making fun, colorful covers that kids love. However, most techs see this seat and want to run. There are several installation options, which can be very confusing and leads to quite a bit of misuse. Also, the design of the splitter plate makes changing the harness strap height very difficult.
Evenflo Chase– With only a 40lb harness, many kids outgrow this seat’s harness mode before they are an appropriate age to use the booster mode.