This post includes a product review from Evenflo!

Car seats. Oh, car seats! When you’re a new parent and are car seat shopping, it can be SO easy to quickly overwhelmed. What kind do I need? Why? When can I switch styles? Most parents are aware that rear-facing is safer than forward-facing for babies and toddlers (and I’ve read even for preschoolers, too!). When Henry was born, I knew that – but that was about it. I had no idea how to put a car seat in my car, how to put a baby in a car seat, or how to wrangle a toddler into position. I’m no car seat expert, but I have learned a few keys things over the last few years, and I’d love to hear what you’ve learned, too.


#1: Chest Clips are Chest Clips


Once, on an Instagram picture, someone left a comment about Henry’s car seat. They informed me that his chest clip was in completely the wrong position. At first, I felt flustered and embarrassed. Then, I did some Googling and learned that chest clip position is super important, and I was no longer embarrassed – I was just grateful that someone had spoken up!

The chest clip ensures the straps are on the right spot on the child’s shoulders. If it’s too low, the straps can slide off the shoulders in a crash. I use Henry and Claire’s armpits as a guide – if the clip is level with the armpits, it’s in the right spot.


#2: Don’t Wear Jackets


During the winter, never put your child in his or her car seat while dressed in a bulky jacket, snowsuit, or after-market car seat sleeping bags that go under the straps. Why? Well, in the event of a crash, the fluff of the fabric will compress, the straps may suddenly be too loose, and the child can be injured or ejected from the car seat.


During the winter, I’d tuck blankets around Claire after she was fitted into the car seat (there are also many car seat covers that go entirely over the straps and are thus safe). For Henry, I strap him into the car seat and then have him put on his winter coat backwards – his arms and chest are kept warm but there is nothing between him and the straps/back of the seat.


#3: Big Kids Need Cars Seats, Too

Even if your kid is in elementary school, they probably still need some sort of car seat, as the seat belt alone won’t properly fit most kids for many years (until around age 8 – 12 or when they are about 4 foot 9 and can pass the “5 step test for seat belt readiness,” which you can Google).


For this post, I tested out the Evenflo Advanced Transitions 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat, which you can use in three different ways as your child grows. The Evenflo Advanced Transitions 3-in-1 functions as a forward-facing car seat with a five-point harness, as a vehicle belt highback, and as a booster seat.

Henry is a few months shy of his third birthday, which means he’ll be using the seat as a forward-facing five-point harness for a long time. I’ve owned a variety of car seats in different brands, and there are lots of things that I like about this car seat in addition to the fact that it can eventually become a booster.


First, it’s comfortable. Especially for a car seat in this price range, the fabric is soft and cushioned. I love the adjustable headrest. I’ve had two other forward-facing car seats without this feature, and it’s really nice for napping in the car. Also, this car seat has two cup holders, which is great for holding drinks or toy cars!


Secondly, it installs easily. The seat has a feature called SureSafe, which increases proper installation by 2X compared to the typical Latch system. Installation is a vital part of car seat safety, so anything that makes the process easier and safer, I’m thrilled with! It’s important to remember that, once secured to your car, the seat shouldn’t move more than an inch in either direction. If you can move it more than an inch, it’s not secured tightly enough.

And lastly, Henry really seems to like the seat! Part of the reason that we’ve gone through SO MANY CAR SEATS is that some are just plain uncomfortable. But this one is really great, and it’s nice to know that it can grow with him until he’s old enough to just wear a seat belt.


#4: The Straps Should be Snug


And last, but not least, the one thing I definitely did not know about car seat safety before having children is this – the straps should be snug. Like – snug-snug. I do the pinch test, which means if you can pinch the fabric of the harness between your fingers, the straps are too loose.


I always do the pinch test PLUS check the chest clip when I strap the kids in – every single time. It only takes a few seconds and could make a huge difference in a crash.


What features do you look for when purchasing a car seat?


Evenflo® is taking extended use and comfort to the next level with the introduction of the Advanced Transitions 3-in-1 car seat. Visit for more information. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Evenflo®. The opinions and text are all mine.

  • M April 28, 2015, 9:18 am

    Henry is coming up on his third birthday, not first.

    • Caitlin April 28, 2015, 9:29 am

      Hahaha i am soooo sleep deprived these days.

      • Erin April 28, 2015, 9:57 am

        Funny 🙂 I was thinking he was pretty big for being only like 10 months!

  • Sara April 28, 2015, 9:19 am

    We have the Chicco NextFit. It’s OK. We used the Chicco KeyFit when my son was an infant, so we got the NextFit when he was older. I do like that it will rear-face until 40 pounds (I can’t remember the height requirement at the moment) and doesn’t take up as much space rear-facing as some other seats. My son will be 2 next month and we plan to leave him rear-facing as long as we can. He’s about 29 pounds now.

  • Bets April 28, 2015, 9:26 am

    This post was SO HELPFUL. Thank you!

  • Grace April 28, 2015, 9:34 am

    As someone who works in emergency medicine (and is married to a firefighter!) car seat safety is a huge passion for me! I’m glad you wrote this post. I was 19 years old and a volunteer EMT when I first treated an infant that was gravely injured due to incorrect car seat usage in a motor vehicle collision. Although it was almost 14 years later when I had my daughter, that image has never left my mind and I’m a huge stickler for car seat safety to this day.

    One really big thing that a lot of people don’t know that warrants mentioning: car seat safety OUTSIDE of the car. Many parents don’t realize how dangerous (and potentially fatal!) it is to, say, place a child in a bucket car seat on the top of a shopping cart. The Car Seat Lady has a great post on this issue:

    I think you may have a typo in your post, too – you say Henry hasn’t yet reached his first birthday? I’m guessing you meant to write that he hasn’t yet reached his third birthday? So with that in mind, the car seat that you are reviewing is probably best set aside until Henry is a little older, since at his age he should still be rear-facing (especially since I know you’ve mentioned that he’s on the small side). There is really strong science behind why extended rear facing until the age of 3-4 is so important:
    There are tons of great, relatively inexpensive car seats that allow for rear facing up to four years or older.

  • Mary Jo April 28, 2015, 9:50 am

    It’s hard to imagine that when I was a child we didn’t even have car seats and when my children were young there were in booster seats by 2 years of age!! My son and daughter in law are expecting there first child and I am happy to share your blog posts with her since you cover so much and in such great depth with such a common sense approach. As a mom of two adult sons I really like your easy going parenting and even though I am your mom’s age… I still enjoy reading your blog 🙂

    • Caitlin April 28, 2015, 11:08 am

      Thank you!

  • lisa valinsky April 28, 2015, 9:53 am

    This was really helpful! We don’t have kids yet, but I will keep a lot of this info in mind, especially about the chest clip. Scary stuff, but it’s amazing how one simple change can be so important.

  • Allison April 28, 2015, 10:00 am

    Caitlin, can this car seat be used rear-facing? And if not, do you have any reccomendations? Our baby is 10 months and still in the travel system car seat. She will need a new one in the next couple months, but will need to stay rear-facing until she is 2.

    • Caitlin April 28, 2015, 11:07 am

      No it cannot. I have not been SUPER thrilled with any of the convertibles that I’ve tried… I have a Chicco next fit that I like but I never used it as a rear facing seat. Anyone have any recommendations? Oh and also check out The Car Seat lady. She’s great!

      • Grace April 28, 2015, 11:19 am

        When my daughter was born we splurged on the Peg Perego convertible seat (actually, between a big sale and Amazon Mom we got it over $100 off so it wasn’t that much more expensive than a Britax convertible) and I highly recommend it. We brought our baby home from the hospital in it, and still use it and our daughter’s three and a half now. We switch it between different cars multiple times a week with ease (grandparents provide childcare while I work full time) and even my 66 year old mother can easily move and install it in her car.

      • Sara April 29, 2015, 8:26 am

        My son has used the Chicco NextFit since he was around 10 months old. He is still rear-facing and is almost 2. You can rear-face until 40 pounds and maybe 49 inches? I forget the inches part, but I know it is 40 pounds. It’s a good seat. They redesigned it and now have a version called the NextFit Zip that you can unzip the seat cover and wash! So great.

    • Lori April 28, 2015, 2:16 pm

      I have a couple Evenflo seats that look really similar to this, one purchased a couple years ago, one just recently, they can be rear facing, are 3 way convertible, 5-110 lbs. I’m really happy with them! Sorry, don’t know the model name off hand

  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul April 28, 2015, 10:05 am

    I just learned a whole bunch! Things to remember for when I have kids! Thanks for sharing!

  • Julie April 28, 2015, 11:49 am

    This was a lot of really great information, Caitlin. So many people don’t get that chest clip in the right position or don’t have the straps snug enough. I def didn’t know about not wearing a winter coat in a car seat, but my daughter is 15 now so that might not have been a “thing” when she was a baby. (I thought I was on top of all the requirements back then…) We definitely liked the car seats w/ the headrests, too – so much more comfortable for them for napping. I continued w/ a booster w/ a high back & headrest for her, too, b/c seeing her fall asleep w/ her head against the window made me very nervous!

  • Johanna B April 28, 2015, 12:34 pm

    My daughter and her husband were on their way to pick up their two older kids after leaving the hospital with a new baby. They were broadsided. The baby had no injuries because of a well fitted and properly placed car seat. Thank you for sharing this information. It literally could save a life.

    • Caitlin April 28, 2015, 12:35 pm

      OMG how scary!!! Glad everyone was okay.

  • Lori April 28, 2015, 2:01 pm

    With our first son, we took the car seat to a fire station to have it properly installed. After that, I felt confident doing them myself. But they still stress me out, big time! When he outgrew the infant seat, we go an Evenflo one just like this. Love it! He seems so comfortable in it and yes, it’s pretty easy to install. Just got another one for our second son. We turned our first around to be forward facing at 22 months, when baby brother was born. I think 2 yrs is the current recommendation. His first time riding in it that way was bringing baby home from hospital. Man, did he seem to instantly grow up right then!

  • Amanda April 28, 2015, 3:03 pm

    Such a good point about removing extra “fluff” (coats and whatnot)

  • Callie April 28, 2015, 3:40 pm

    Great review and very educational! We’re expecting our first this May and will definitely out these tips to use! I love all your product reviews because they’re very informative and compare all points I’m interested in. Thank you!

  • Catherine @ foodiecology April 28, 2015, 4:53 pm

    Did not know that about the chest clips!!! I just emailed your post to my mom & husband (as my mom was getting ready to drop off my son at our house) since we’ve always clipped them too low.
    Will have to consider this model when we move up to a bigger car seat.

  • stacy April 28, 2015, 5:08 pm

    I think it’s so funny that kids are in booster seats until age 7…when I was a kid, we started using seat belts around age 4. Maybe it was dangerous, but it sure seems odd to be in a booster until you are nearly 5′ tall. I am a grown adult and only 5’2″. I think I was still 4’11” in middle school. That would have been pretty humiliating to ride in a booster seat! HA. What about school buses?

    • Caitlin April 29, 2015, 5:53 am

      School buses drive me nuts – they don’t even have seat belts!!!

      You can legally be just in a seat belt sooner, I think it’s just not considered safest because of the placement of the seatbeat on the older child’s chest.

  • Rebecca April 28, 2015, 6:47 pm

    Sheesh. When I was a kid, we didn’t worry about car seats after we were like six… I think I would’ve hated being stuck in one until I was “tall enough” for a normal seat belt.
    My dad stood me next to a lady at our church once when I was like 13 and went, “If she can drive a car, you’re tall enough, too.” Because she’s shorter than me! And I’m only about 5 feet even.
    I still kind of hate seat belts, because they tend to fall at the right point of being uncomfortable on my shoulders/chest, but hey. I have to be so close to the steering wheel because of leg length that I’m probably pretty screwed in a crash anyway, seatbelt or not. Air bags can break noses and stuff, and my proximity to my steering wheel one is probably a bad thing, but since I don’t have adjustable pedals, I’ll take the risk. So far no accidents, but you never know…

    “Snug” = They do this with life jackets, too. If your life jacket goes above your ears when someone pulls it up, it’s too loose. Learned that on a rafting trip in high school, during which I nearly fell out of the raft after a particularly stupid rapid. Once was enough. Never again. And I didn’t get out of the raft when we came to a calm spot like everyone else. No way was I being heaved back onto a raft my my life jacket, thanks.

  • Brenda April 28, 2015, 9:27 pm

    Great info!

  • Megan April 28, 2015, 11:06 pm

    I value your opinion on many items. I actually purchased the plank fitness books right within minutes of reading your post (ha!) and love it. Do you actually use this seat for Henry? I have 2 little ones about the age of yours and currently use a Britax Pavilion for my 2.5 yo. My 7 month old is about ready to move out of the infant carrier and I am I need of a new bigger seat. I could give her the britax and get the evenflo. The price is nice but is this just a nice review of the product or a review from someone who actually uses It?

    • Caitlin April 29, 2015, 5:52 am

      Thanks for valuing my opinion 🙂

      I think it’s a super great seat for the price. The only thing I think someone would not like about it is it’s narrow. Now, this could be a good thing depending on your car needs/how many kinds you plan to have. I know three-across is an issue for a lot of people. We have it in the Husband’s car and it’s nice that it’s not wider because his car is smaller. I also like that it converts to a highback booster because I’ve read that it’s safer than a backless booster. You may want to look at The Car Seat Lady – she has a lot of great reviews on seats.

  • KatieK April 28, 2015, 11:19 pm

    I’ve done extensive car seat research and one of the primary things I look for in a convertible is extended rear facing. My daughter is a little older than Henry and she will remain rear facing for at least another year in her Diono Radian. Also love the Clek Fllo.

    • Caitlin April 29, 2015, 5:50 am

      That’s awesome you’ve kept her rear facing for so long! I got Henry to 2 years but am going to try to make it longer with Claire!

  • Jen April 28, 2015, 11:41 pm

    so good to see you address this topic. We lived in California when our child was born and hired an expert to install and teach us about carseat safety. We called another one when it was time to move my son into the next carseat; we were taught that every car is different and that the manufacturer’s instructions are just not enough information to be sure that the seat is installed the safest way possible. My piece of mind knowing that we are totally dialed in and safe with this was worth every penny of the couple hundred dollars we paid the expert to help us. I want my kid to be safe if I crash. Bravo for this post! You are (as ever) amazing Caitlyn – even if it is sponsored. Good!

  • AC April 29, 2015, 8:32 am

    I’m 7 months pregnant and baffled by something- maybe this forum can help! We’re not purchasing a car seat, because we don’t have a car. I live in a major city and walk or use public transportation. So many people insist that we need a car seat and I just don’t understand- why, when we don’t have a car. ??! !

    What is the utility beyond keeping your chaild safe in a moving vehicle? As a baby carrier? Just trying not to understand why moms consider a car seat so crucial. (Obviously crucial in a car; I’m talking why I would need one without a car.) My city has options for cabs with car seats for the rare occasions we use cabs, and I have a friend with a baby who’s already volunteered to give us a ride home from the hospital. What am I missing?

    • Caitlin April 29, 2015, 8:47 am

      Hmmm not sure… Even if you rented a car you could rent a car seat!

      • BeckyH April 29, 2015, 4:42 pm

        Re: poster in an urban city: You should contact your hospital to see if it’s mandatory that your child is in a car seat for check out.

    • logan April 29, 2015, 8:16 pm

      I live in a city where I only use public transportation/cabs or walk with the stroller. Depending on the stroller you have you may need to put the baby in the infant carseat and then click it in the stroller. Newborns can’t go into a lot of strollers because they don’t recline enough to make up for the lack of head support. If you are getting a stroller with a bassinet, you wouldn’t really need the carseat attachment. You might also want to check the requirements at the hospital where you will deliver, some check to see you put your baby in the carseat before you leave (but sounds like maybe you can just have your friend bring her infant seat into the hospital).

  • jill April 29, 2015, 9:57 am

    caitlin, i always enjoy your blog but today i really appreciated your modestly when being corrected. it was very refreshing. thanks so much for always sharing!

  • Katie April 30, 2015, 10:40 am

    All good points but I struggle with the no coat. We live in MN and when it is -10 outside, there is no way I am taking my kid out of her coat. I usually try to go for a coat that is not so puffy.

    • Caitlin May 1, 2015, 7:44 am

      Check out the car seat lady’s post on this – she has tins of ideas.

  • Melanie May 1, 2015, 11:33 am

    I struggle with car seats and knowing if they are installed properly – and also the no coat thing in the winter. Thanks for this info!! I need to be better about the clips – will do that when I pick him up tonite from daycare.

    My son is almost 2.5 and is still rear facing – he’s a little guy so we want to keep him rear facing as long as possible.

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