Best Car Seats Not Made in China

Best Car Seats Not Made in China

A category you would THINK would not be gradually being taken over by China manufacturing are baby products. After all, while you can imagine a shopper thinking to themselves, “who cares if I buy a cheap alarm clock that breaks in six months”, it’s hard to imagine one says, “so what if the baby formula I buy has just a little melamine”.

And yet despite the horror stories of 2008 when over 300,000 babies in China were poisoned by infant formula laced with melamine so that the manufacturers could cheat on nutritional testing, American politicians and corporations knew one thing. American consumers have a short attention span, and it was only a matter of time before they could go all in on China manufacturing again. And so they did.

Mom to the Rescue

As I sadly found in my lasted update to my article about best baby toys not made in China, while most industries are pulling away from China manufacturing, the baby industry seems to be doubling down, with brands like Munchkin and Infantino that should know better.

The same is true for car seat companies. Companies like Graco, Chicco, and Evenflo have rushed to China manufacturing and, adding insult to injury, they kept their prices high as if they were still being made in the USA. And of course, consumers are still buying those brands like sheep as their corporate executives laugh at them all the way to the bank.

But there are a handful of US brands that continue to make things in the USA, and an increasing number of European brands.

1. Peg Perego

While there are more well-known American brands like Britax and Safety 1st that still manufacture in the USA (and I’ll cover those below) I chose to put Peg Perego as my #1 pick. Why? Because on their Web site they unabashedly put right in their logo “Made in Italy”. The other brands seem to hide the fact that they’re made in the USA, likely for one of two reasons:

The first, first, they probably don’t want to run afoul of the FTC’s rules about claims about being made in America (personally, I don’t care if they say “assembled in the USA with foreign and domestic parts—that’s still a step better than “Made in China”).

The second is that these brands are hedging by refusing to put country of origin on their Web sites and products so they can quietly move manufacturing out of the US to China. I hope this is not the case, but until they unabashedly make their country of origin more prominent they’ll be under a cloud of suspicion.

That’s why I love that Peg Perego proudly states that they’re made in Italy, and why when my daughter reached the age she needed a booster seat I purchased the Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle. I paid a little more (not that much) for it, but I was (and still am) thrilled with my purchase. It’s a really comfortable booster that has a premium feel about it with rounded edges and contours, comfortable padding that’s plush and comfortable and yet cooling in summer and warming in winter. It uses the LATCH system, so within 10 seconds I was able to click it on the seat of my Toyota RAV4, and it looks so natural it feel like it was built into the car. It’s easy to hold and carry, extremely secure, and even has a cup holder.

I borrowed a Made in China Graco booster from a friend, and the difference is night and day. We’ve been using them about the same amount of time. Our still looks and performs like a Ferrari. The other one looks cheap and beat up, like a beat-up Plymouth.

If you’re looking for a traditional car seat, the Primo Viaggio Convertible Car Seat is fantastic—it’s also made in Italy and can be used as a rear racing seat for when your child is 5 to 45 pounds, and as a front facing car seat for when you child is 22 to 65 points.

In the Fall of 2023, Peg Perego will release a car seat called the Primo Viaggio All In One that can be used all the way from infancy.

2. Clek Foonf

WireCutter names this Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat as one of their top quality convertible car seats, calling it a “tank”. It’s engineered to look and feel like real vehicle seats, and has proprietary technology based on the latest automobile safety technology, including the ability to absorb energy in the case of a collision to reduce the forces felt by the child.

When I look at Clek Foonf’s site, I love what I see. They are a proud Canadian company, and unabashedly proclaim that all their car seats are manufactured in Canada.

It’s sad that you need to go to Italy and Canada to find companies that still take pride in manufacturing things themselves, at the same time American companies like Graco and Chicco are taking advantage of American consumers by getting the cheapest low-bidder contract manufacturing in China, counting on American consumers remaining ignorant by continuing to buy their brand at premium prices, and pocketing the profits. Hopefully we can send a message to these companies to stop insulting American consumers and workers.

3. Cosco / Safety 1st / Maxi-Cosi

That said, there are still some options for USA-made car seats. TIL that the Cosco, Maxi-Cosi and Safety 1st brands of car seats all come from the same manufacturer, a company called Dorel Juvenile, a company based in Canada. I also noticed that there are many options for car seats that are made in the USA, likely a result of Dorel’s acqusition of Cosco and its Ohio-based manufacturing facilities in 1988.

You should be aware that not all products from these brands, including their high chairs, activity centers, and bassinets, are made in the US, so be careful and verify the country of origin before you buy anything. Ideally, we should all send a message to this company by buying their products whenever they’re not made in China, but keeping away from them when they are. The message must be that we are loyal to our country and to human rights first, not a brand, certainly not our wallets.

Cosco’s Scenera Next model is probably the most popular of its models for a few reasons. It was named by Wirecutter as one of the best travel car seats due to its relative light weight (total of 10.4 pounds or the weight of an adult cat). It’s machine washable, uses the LATCH system to fit security on a car, and works in both the rear-facing position for 5-40 points or the front-facing position for 22-40 points. For a lightweight car seat, it has nice safety features like a 5-point harness and 3 buckle locations. It’s certified for use on airlines, and will get you through TSA quickly. Best thing about it: On its Walmart product page it proclaims “The Scenera NEXT is proudly made by Cosco in Columbus, Indiana. Made by American families for American families”.

The Cosco Rise booster seat for older children was also named as a top pick by Wirecutter, is also made in Columbus, Indiana, and costs an amazingly low $17. If you’re looking for something a little more weighty and substantial from this brand, the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX Convertible Car Seat is also made in the USA and is also relatively affordable at $90. Their top-of-the-line model is called the Cosco Easy Elite All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, and it comes in at under $100, although I’m nervous that their product copy does not mention country of origin at all.

BTW, in case you’re wondering, “Cosco” is a completely different company than “Costco” and definitely a different company than the China Ocean Shipping Group, Co (COSCO).

As far as Cosco’s sister brands under the Dorel Juvenile umbrella, Safety 1st also appears to have a number of car seats made in the USA, although it always makes me nervous when brands that make stuff in the USA don’t mention country of origin—it’s as if the executives at these companies are deliberately planning to build up their brand by manufacturing in the USA, only to close down factories, fire American workers, and send all their work to the lowest bidder in China to boost their golden parachutes.

But as long as these seats get made in the USA, grab one. In the case of Safety 1st, their top-of-the-line Grow and Go Convertible Car Seat is still very much made in the USA and costs about $160, as are their lower-end models the Jive and the Grand Booster Seat. But in a bad sign, it looks like their “Onboard” infant car seat and their “Crosstown” All-in-One car seat are being made in China. It’s typical that a company like Dorel will hear the siren song of cheap China manufacturing, decide to “trial” it for a new product line, and then eventually go all-in during that period of time when they’re seeing higher margins by using slave labor but consumers still think they’re being made in the USA. Check that label to make sure you’re not feeding the beast.

If you’re looking for top-of-the-line car seats, you’ll probably want to consider Maxi-Cosi, a European brand they acquired with their acqusition of Netherlands-based Maxi-Miliaan B.V. in 2004. Maxi-Cosi was founded in the Netherlands in 1984, was one of the innovators of infant car seats, and was the market leader in Germany and Benelux.

The Maxi-Dosi Pria All-in-One Convertible Car Seat supports children from 4 pounds in rear-facing infant mode, up to 65 pounds in front-facing mode, and up to 100 pounds in booster mode. You’re not going to find many car seats more safe, secure, reliable, and comfortable than this. Happily, it too is made out of Dorel’s factory in Indiana. Let’s hope they can keep it that way.

4. Britax (caveat emptor)

Britax is a brand that I would love to recommend, as I’ve had good experiences with it in the past, and it has a storied history. It began in 1939 in Britain, acquired the German company RÖMER in 1971, and was the first to introduce car seats to the United States in 1996.

this particular model picture here (the Britax Boulevard Clicktight Convertible Car Seat) is recommended by Wirecutter as one that’s easiest to install and comfortable and the best choice for front-facing positions.

Here’s what I don’t love about it. There’s only one mention of country of origin in the product listing, and a note from a Britax representative that says “these are made in Fort Mill, South Carolina” (actually, he lazily typed “Our seats are made in ft mill sc”…you’d think a Britax rep would take the time to spell things out) dates back to 2020.

Worse, when I go directly to Britax’s Web site or their Amazon home page, there’s no mention at ALL of country of origin. You’d think a company producing baby seats out of the USA would be shouting it from the rooftops. And then you wonder why they’re not. Are they planning on screwing over their workers and consumers to pad their pockets? Let’s hope not. My guess is that because Britax is made in the USA of “globally sourced parts”, they are probably being overly conservative to not run afoul of the FTC. But just say “assembled in the USA”.

Still, I tentatively recommend them mainly because they’re a great brand and so far the only model I see that is confirmed to be made in China is the Britax Emblem model. The Britax Marathon are listed as Made in the USA. Their top-of-the-line Britax One4Life doesn’t have country of origin listed, but it does have that lazy Britax representatives “made in ft mill sc” comment.

In what appears to be a trend, as wishy-washy as the American division of Britax is, the European division appears to be much more transparent. Their Web site says plainly that 90% of their car seats (presumably sold in Europe) are made in Germany or Great Britain, with pride and investment in European manufacturing. Good for them.

Let’s hope that the American branch can take a hint, but I’m not crazy about seeing “Made in China” on some of their newer models. Let the buyer beware.


Car seats is one of those categories that you hope parents would take the time to research, but when I look at the current top 10 brands, I see that EIGHT of the top 10 are China-made models (four by Graco, two by EvenFlo, one by Safety 1st and one by Diono Radian) and only TWO US-made models (this and this model by Safety 1st).

What makes this situation even more disturbing is that the China-made models aren’t even the cheapest nor the highest reviewed. And yet consumers are snapping them up. Why? Take a look at the reviews. How is it that Graco car seats get 40,000-70,000 reviews, while the next runner up, Safety 1st, can barely muster up 30,000, and Cosco only hundreds? Perhaps Graco is taking some of the profits they’re earning by screwing over American manufacturing workers and using it to tip the scale of Amazon reviews. Let’s hope Americans can stop throwing money at them hand over fist, and discover some of the much better options available to them.

Do you know of other car seat brands worthy of mention here? Let us know in the comments!

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