Car Seats Without Flame Retardants (2019)
In 2019, the car seats that are entirely free of flame retardants are:
- UPPAbaby Mesa Jordan
- Stokke Nuna Pipa Lite
- Clek (Fllo, Foonf, and Liing models in Mammoth merino fabric)
Rather than chemicals, these carseats rely on the natural flame resistance of merino wool, making them the least toxic carseats available.
Of these brands, the one with the highest rating from Consumer Reports (which evaluates crash protection, ease of use, and installation) is the UPPAbaby Mesa. This is an infant car seat, meaning that it comes with two pieces – the carrier and the base. The base is installed in your car long-term with latch connectors (very easily in this case), and the carrier can be clicked into the base and removed as needed. This can be very helpful for moving a sleeping baby from your car, or transferring the carrier to stroller frame.
If you plan to buy the Mesa car seat and compatible stroller, the best value option is a bundle, with the car seat, stroller, and infant bassinet.
Non-Toxic Convertible Car Seats
The ability to remove an infant car seat from the base to double as a baby carrier is very convenient, but your child may outgrow this type of car seat within 18 months. If you don’t need to use your infant seat as a carrier and would rather have a car seat that remains permanently in your car but can grow with your child, a convertible car seat might be a better option.
These car seats are called “convertible” because they can be used as either a rear-facing infant seat, or a forward-facing seat for a toddler. (The recommendation is to switch from rear facing to forward facing at age 2). Convertible car seats therefore have a much longer lifespan than an infant seat and can be better value for money.
For a convertible car seat with no flame retardants, the options are the Clek Fllo and Clek Foonf in Mammoth merino fabric. The problem is, these car seats are not very well rated by Consumer Reports, on either ease of use or crash-test safety.
A better choice for a convertible seat is one of the Britax ClickTight models:
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight (~ $300-330)
- Britax Advocate ClickTight (~ $350)
- Britax Marathon ClickTight (~ $280)
These are the three highest-rated convertible car seats by Consumer Reports, with the top scores on crash protection and ease of use. (Each with an overall score of 85/100) (See the comparison of models below).
Do Britax Car Seats Have Flame Retardants?
Although Britax car seats are not completely free of flame retardants, they do not include any of the most toxic types of chemical flame retardants (PFAS or brominated flame retardants), as confirmed by independent testing. Each year The Ecology Center tests various car seat brands for the presence of several flame retardant chemicals and in recent years Britax has consistently been rated as one of the best brands.
Comparing the Britax Boulevard vs Marathon vs Advocate ClickTight
One main difference between the various Britax ClickTight models is that the Advocate is 2″ wider than the Marathon and Boulevard. This is not really an advantage because children usually outgrow their car suits due to height. A wider seat has no significant benefit and can make the middle seat unusable if you have two car seats installed.
Comparing the Boulevard and Marathon car seats, both are the same size, but the Boulevard has an additional layer of side impact protection, making it slightly more expensive and one pound heavier. Often the price difference is only around $20-$30, which makes the Boulevard a worthwhile investment for additional crash protection. For this reason, the Britax Boulevard is my top choice for a convertible car seat.
It is now available in two versions, with our without an anti-rebound bar (ABR). This bar is intended to provide additional stabilization in the event of an accident, when used as a rear-facing infant seat. Given how well Britax car seats rate on crash test protection even without this bar, it is really an optional extra, not an essential feature.