Car seats have evolved a lot over the decades! From the beginning, they’ve had a dual purpose: safety and convenience. Of course, safety is the number one priority. From steel-reinforced frames and 5-point harnesses to energy-absorbing foam and anti-rebound bars, car seat manufacturers have leveled up their game year after year to make their car seats safer.
While car seats have become increasingly safe, new features have also been added to make using car seats more convenient. Of all those convenience features, the one that has brought the most excitement over the last few years is the rotating seat. One of the biggest struggles of car seat use is the hassle of daily buckling and unbuckling. With a rotating seat, getting your child safely fastened into their restraint system is much easier!
However, with such a radical change in design, parents are rightfully asking plenty of questions about the safety and value of swivel car seats. So, today, we’re dedicating this post to rotating car seats and whether or not they’re safe and worth the high price tag.
Here’s what you need to know:
Are Swivel Car Seats Safe?
Swivel car seats are absolutely safe. All car seats abide by the same safety standards and federal regulations, so you shouldn’t worry about the safety of any new car seat. Additionally, many swivel seats are on the more “premium” end of the car seat market and include extra advanced safety features.
What Is A Swivel Car Seat?
Swivel car seats allow you to rotate the car seat so that it’s facing you when you are loading or unloading the child. It makes harnessing and buckling much easier!
Swivel Car Seat Pros and Cons
- Much easier to get the child in and out
- Many include advanced safety features
- Can be helpful for parents or children with disabilities
- Fewer options for aircraft use
- Some only swivel in the rear-facing mode
- Not usable for 3 across situations
Are Swivel Car Seats Worth It?
To simply answer the question, yes, rotating car seats are worth it for a majority of parents and caregivers. However, we wanted to break the answer down a little further than that:
What Parents Like About Rotating Seats
Though the pros and cons list above seems split, the pros have a much bigger impact than the cons! For many, swivel car seats are definitely worth it. A car seat that makes everyday buckling and fastening so much easier is a huge plus for parents who struggle with harnessing, use their car seat multiple times a day, and/or have medical challenges.
Plus, the simpler buckling process helps parents stick to extended rear-facing goals. If it’s not so hard to get a 4-year-old into their rear-facing seat, you won’t be so tempted to move to forward-facing options. We love this as big advocates for staying rear-facing as long as possible. However, when that time does come to switch from the rear-facing position to forward-facing mode, some of the swivel seats make it easy, since there’s no reinstallation process.
What Parents Don’t Like About Rotating Seats
If you’re hoping to install 3 car seats in a row, a swivel seat may not be in the cards depending on your vehicle. Most of them are too wide, and even if they do fit together, it’s unlikely that the swivel function will be usable.
Fewer rotating seats are FAA-approved, meaning you can’t install it on a plane. (Yes, we, along with the FAA, recommend you always fly with your car seat instead of checking it.) We don’t see this as a huge con, because the swivel seats are heavy and not very travel-friendly. So, we’d tell you to get a second, inexpensive airplane travel seat anyway.
6 Best Swivel Car Seats
The Nuna Revv can be a great option if you have a child below the 50th percentile for both height and weight. You only have to install this car seat one time, and you’re ready to utilize either the front-facing or the rear-facing car seat positions. However, the limits for both rear and forward-facing modes are 40 pounds and 43 inches. Due to the lower harness height, this seat tends to last longer rear-facing than forward-facing, so we recommend using this as a rear-facing-only seat. This means that the Nuna Revv has some of the most restrictive height and weight limits of any convertible car seat. For a price tag over $600, the shorter lifespan is definitely a downside, but there are plenty of other reasons to love this seat.
You’ll appreciate the advanced safety features like the anti-rebound bar. Additionally, the car seat padding is naturally flame-resistant and doesn’t use any chemical fire retardants. (If you’re not familiar with the pros and cons, check out our guide to car seat flame retardants.)
Getting a comfortable and safe fit with the Nuna Revv is made much easier with the 10 recline positions and the 10 headrest positions. Plus, the seat has no-rethread straps and magnetic buckle holders, which makes adjustment and fastening even simpler. Other features you’ll appreciate are the dishwasher-safe cup holders and machine-washable padding.
Though there are lots of amazing features of the Nuna Revv, it’s not FAA-approved, meaning it can’t be taken onto a plane. (The seat is heavy, anyway. We would advise a lighter, dedicated travel seat.) It’s also 18.5 inches wide, which doesn’t make it a great fit for most 3-across situations. However, these negatives may not affect you if you’re not an avid flier or you don’t need 3 seats to fit in a row.
The Evenflo Revolve Extend is at a lower price (around $400), but it’s a 3-in-1 seat. With just one install, it goes from a rear-facing seat to a front-facing seat. You will have to change the installation for the high-back booster mode. This car seat will likely work for your child until about 9-10 years old, which is a huge pro for the Evenflo Revolve Extend. And, you can use the swivel function in all modes of the car seat, so you’ll always have a convenient buckling process.
We also love that the Evenflo Revolve Extend allows for extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs. It has other advanced safety features like an anti-rebound bar and a SensorSafe chest clip with the “Gold” version. SensorSafe is a cool safety feature that tells you if your child has unbuckled, the temperature in the back seat is unsafe, or if you have left your child in the car.
If you have the Gold version of this seat, don’t forget to register it (although you should never forget this important step anyway)! This gives you a lifetime warranty and free car seat replacement in the event of a crash!
This seat is FAA-approved, but it’s very heavy and there are definitely better options for taking onboard an airplane. It takes up a lot of space in the back, so it wouldn’t be the best car seat for small cars, tall front-seat passengers, or 3-across situations. You can find our full review here of the Evenflo Revolve Extend.
The Evenflo Revolve Slim is similar to the Extend, but it’s cheaper, narrower, and only capable of front and rear-facing. There’s no high-back booster with this one, however, you can still rear-face up to 50 lbs.
The standout feature of the Evenflo Revolve Slim is that it’s a truly 3-across-friendly swivel car seat at only 16.7 inches wide. You still may not be able to swivel the seat, but it’s one of the best options if you have a tight 3-across situation. Despite the narrow fit, it still has 2 dishwasher-safe cup holders, which your kiddos will appreciate.
The Baby Jogger City Turn is a rear-facing and front-facing convertible car seat suitable for up to 65 lbs. It only swivels in the rear-facing mode. The car seat has extended rear-facing capabilities up to 50 lbs, and it has plenty of adjustment options for a comfortable fit. There are 10 headrest positions, 5 recline positions, and no-rethread straps. You’ll appreciate the specialized rotation function that’s made to bring your child 10 inches closer to you for buckling and unbuckling, which is huge for someone who struggles with getting their kiddo safety strapped in! But this is the largest front-to-back of all of the swivel seats, so it’s not a good option for compact vehicles.
The seat also has dishwasher-safe cup holders. However, the seat is only FAA-approved in the forward-facing mode, and it’s not the best choice for 3-across situations since it’s 19 inches wide. Additionally, it is a more expensive option at around $550, but that price tag is worth it for many who want a great seat with easy daily bucking and harnessing!
The Graco Turn2Me is another 3-in-1 rotating car seat option that goes from rear-facing to a high-back booster. The seat also features no-rethread straps, multiple recline positions, and 10 headrest positions.
This seat only has FAA-approval for the forward-facing mode. This seat can rotate while rear-facing only. Once your child moves to the front-facing position, you lose the rotating feature. This seat is also 19 inches wide, so not a good choice for 3-across. But it is one of the most compact swivel seats available.
For this last swivel seat, we have the Cybex Sirona S. The standout feature of the Cybex Sirona S is the attention to safety. The Cybex Sirona S includes a load leg, the SensorSafe chest clip, and an anti-rebound bar. So, if advanced safety features are your priority, the Cybex Sirona S is a great choice.
While this seat has limits of 50 pounds and 49 inches for rear-facing, we find that taller children will outgrow the seat much earlier than that due to the 1-inch rule. The Cybex Sirona S, is not FAA-approved, and it’s 21 inches wide, so it’s not an option for 3-across scenarios. This, again, isn’t a deal-breaker for many!
A word of caution for this seat is that it can be difficult to install in some vehicles.
Before you buy a rotating car seat, check out our recommendations!
Buying a car seat shouldn’t be a hasty decision. There’s a lot to consider when purchasing the right car seat! If you’ve been considering a swivel seat, we hope you found this post helpful! These are our top recommended rotating car seats that we’ve tried and tested ourselves. And we’re sure you can find a swivel seat to suit your needs here!
However, if you decide against a rotating car seat, that’s okay too. There are plenty of fantastic convertible seats out there without the rotating function. You can find more of our favorite car seats here. And, if you still can’t find what you’re looking for or you’re overwhelmed by the decision, grab one of our Car Seat-Buying Kits. They’ll assess everything from your lifestyle and vehicle type to your child’s height and weight. It’s the best way to buy a regret-free car seat!
Whatever you choose, keep the Safe in the Seat blog close for updated information on vehicle and car seat safety. We’re here to help you keep everyone in your family safe in their seats!
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