Car Seats Without Flame Retardants (2020)
In 2020, the car seats that are free of flame retardants are:
- Britax Advocate ClickTight Convertible Car Seat in Safewash Fabric, Otto
- Britax B-Safe Endeavours in Safewash Fabric, Otto
- 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.
Consumer Reports Ratings
Of the car seats without flame-retardant brands, those with the highest ratings from Consumer Reports (which evaluates safety, ease of use, and installation) are:
- UPPAbaby Mesa Jordan (Infant Seat)
- Clek Liing (Infant Seat)
- Britax Advocate ClickTight (Convertible Seat)
Best Infant Car Seat: 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.
One key advantage of the Mesa is that it can be clicked into Uppababy’s Vista and Cruz strollers, which are among the best strollers on the market (see my post on strollers here).
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.
Best Convertible Car Seat: Britax Advocate ClickTight
The Britax Advocate is one of the best car seats available, with impressive safety features, such as 3 layers of side impact protection and a steel frame. The ClickTight system makes installation particularly easy.
In 2020, Britax released a “Safewash” version without flame retardants in the cover. (It may still contain flame retardants in the internal components, but this is much less of a concern).
Convertible vs. Infant 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.
Britax is the market leader in convertible car seats, with various different ClickTight models sharing the highest ratings from Consumer Reports:
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
- Britax Advocate ClickTight (~ $350)
- Britax Boulevard ClickTight (~ $300-330)
- Britax Marathon ClickTight (~ $280)
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.
The Boulevard is slightly more expensive than the Marathon, but it has an additional layer of side impact protection, which is a worthwhile investment.
As of 2020, the advantage of the Advocate is that it is available with the “SafeWash” cover, free of flame retardants, making it the leader for convertible car seats. If budget or size is a concern, or the Safewash version is not available in your country, any other Britax car seat will be a good choice.