Inside: Tips for the best car seats for working moms that are budget-friendly, including best convertible car seats and best infant car seat suggestions.
Probably the most stressful time in a working mom’s life is the morning rush. Nothing feels worse than waking your babies up, then having to rush through breakfast before dressing them and strapping them into their car seats. Once you arrive at the daycare, it’s a mad rush to drop them off in order to make it to your job on time.
Adding to the frustration can be the car seat. There is nothing like struggling with a car seat before going to work. Fighting with straps, making sure the car seat is secured correctly, and moving the heavy car seat from car to car, or from the car to the daycare facility. Stressful.
Fortunately, car seat manufacturers have acknowledged some of these challenges. They developed some car seats that make life easier for the working mom thanks to slimmer frames, lighter weights, easy installation, and machine washable fabrics.
While you don’t want to scrimp on anything for your baby, you also don’t want to go bankrupt. We know your baby’s safety is priceless and you’d spend every dime you could to keep him/her safe. But let’s face it, most of us have limited cash flow and baby equipment costs add up quickly.
Will My Child be Safe in a Budget-Friendly Car Seat?
You can rest assured your little one will be safe. All car seats on the market in the United States have to pass the same federal standards. So even though you aren’t dropping a bundle on the most expensive car seat, it doesn’t mean your child is not safe.
What Should I look for When Shopping for a Budget-Friendly Car Seat?
We put together this handy shopping guide below but let’s start with what you need to consider first:
- Consider a convertible seat. It saves money because it grows with your child.
- Consider a travel system. Some seats come with strollers, and this can save you money if you still need a stroller.
- Avoid all the “bells and whistles.” The extras can add up.
- Look for straps that are easy to buckle, don’t have to be rethreaded, and can adjust and tighten easily.
- Look for easy installation.
- Never buy a used car seat.
Best Budget-Friendly Car Seats
Below we reviewed the best budget-friendly car seats for working moms.
Graco Contender 65
Our Top Choice!!!
You won’t need to go shopping for a new car seat for quite some time. The Contender is a convertible car seat that will fit your newborn all the way on up until he/she is 65 pounds. It has a higher height limit for extended rear-facing up to 40 pounds. It also has an adjustable headrest and a no-rethread harness shoulder positioning system.
- High ratings in safety tests
- 5 point harness system
- Easy adjust headrest and should harness
- Machine washable
- Easy to convert from rear-facing to forward facing
- Cup holder
- Difficult to install
- Doesn’t recline
- Latches may not tighten completely
- Harness fit can be challenging
- Straps and buckles can be difficult to tighten or unlatch
- Only has two latches
Evenflo Tribute LX
If you’re all about the comfort of your baby, this one is for you. This seat is made with 100% polyester that prevents the possibility of lumps forming in the seat, and an integrated body cushion to give baby added comfort. It has multiple shoulder harness positions for a better fit.
- Very inexpensive
- Easy to install
- Easy to clean
- Convertible seat
- Fits 3 across
- Ideal for travel
- Doesn’t stay secure
- Not suitable for international travel
- Straps rub if you don’t buy harness covers
- Flimsy padding
Safety 1st Grow & Go
This budget-friendly convertible car seat offers some of the same features as the Graco Contender. It supports rear-facing from 5 pounds to 40 pounds, but it can also convert into a booster seat that supports 40 to 100 pounds. Additionally, it has three recline adjustments, and the height of the headrest and harness can be adjusted in one easy step.
- Has a 5-point harness system
- Harness holders keep the harness open making it easier to get in and out
- Has a booster mode
- Meets or exceeds all federal standards
- Has 2 cup holders
- Too long
- Buckles on the harness can be too stiff
- Installing with the LATCH system can be difficult
- Difficult to fit in some cars
Graco SnugRide 30 Click Connect Front Adjust Car Seat
The Graco SnugRide 30 is easy to install, lightweight, compact, and narrow. Perfect for those with smaller model cars. It weighs in at approximately seven pounds, making it easy to carry into the house if your little one is sleeping.
- Extremely budget-friendly
- Excellent first car seat
- Easy to install
- 5-point, front-adjust harness
- Click connect system
- Removable newborn head support
- Only for infants up to 30 pounds
- Will need to purchase another car seat in the future
- Insert may not offer proper support
- Harness requires rethreading
- Fabric is not breathable
- Canopy difficult to use when the handle is up
When it comes to budgeting, Cosco is a great brand. This is a great car seat or back-up seat. It’s narrow and easy to install. The Cosco Scenera is especially great if you have to move it around a lot. It’s one of the lightest and great for travel. This is one of the most affordable car seats on the market, but your child will probably outgrow it quickly.
- Great price
- Easy installation
- 5-harness height slots
- Harness straps change easily
- The LATCH belt is connected to the car seat so it won’t be lost
- Must purchase a new seat soon after switching to forward facing
- Doesn’t have all the “bells and whistles”
- Minimal padding
- No headrest
Graco MyRide 65 Convertible Car Seat
The Graco MyRide 65 Convertible Car Seat will grow with your child. It was the first car seat available that offered a 40-pound rear-facing weight limit. And it can comfortably hold children forward-facing, up to 65 pounds so your child will get the most extended use out of it. This is an excellent basic car seat at a practical price.
- Easy to install
- 5-point harness
- Seat cover is machine washable
- Removable newborn insert and headrest
- Has two cup holders
- Too big for a small car
- Better color options cost more money
- You have to rethread shoulder straps when adjusting them
- No recline settings
Evenflo Triumph LX
The Evenflo Triumph LX will keep your little one comfortable, cozy, and safe. It has innovative features that make adjusting the harness quick and easy.
- Quick-connect LATCH system
- 3-side impact protection
- Two cup holders
- 5-point harness
- Adjustable headrest
- No-rethread adjustable harnesses
- Cover and padding is machine washable
- Does not convert into a booster seat
- Not compatible with strollers
- No carry handle
- No canopy
This is a lightweight car seat that makes it easier to carry your little bundle. It has buckle pockets to neatly tuck the tongues away, a removable head pillow, and machine washable pads. Additionally, it has a stay-in-car base that will keep your baby from falling off the seat.
- Easy to install
- Variety of adjustments
- Small width
- Doesn’t work with most strollers
- Difficult to level when your child is more than 20 pounds
Hot Tips for Car Seats on a Budget:
Other things you want to keep in mind when purchasing a car seat on a budget:
- Ease of use – installation, converting to other positions, moving your baby in and out of the seat.
- Traveling – if you travel a lot, you should consider buying a seat that is lightweight, comfortable, and portable.
- Car compatibility – not all seats will fit in all cars.
- Height and weight limits.
- Expiration – how long can you use it.
Choose a car seat that best suits your budget and your needs. Of course, the safety of your little one is your number one concern. But remember, regardless of your budget, and what you choose, all car seats have to meet federal standards. Manufacturers want to make working mom’s lives easier and have added features to simplify daily life.
Hope you enjoyed reading this important article, brought to you by Car Seats Mom.
Keren Simanova is a busy mommy by day and a passionate writer by night. She resides in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters.
While spending countless hours researching car seats for her children, she created an educational car seat blog, CarSeatsMom.com to educate other mothers about the importance of car seats. Further, along the way, the blog became an invaluable source for research of a variety of car seat brands, unique features, and mommies’ reviews.