As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
My hubby and I travel a lot. We don’t feel safe when our toddler son is away from us, so we prefer to travel with him. When he was old enough, we decided to search for the best toddler car seats.
At a Glance: The Best Toddler Car Seats to Buy
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
||View on Amazon →|
Since I have colleagues who also travel a lot with their children, I had heard their horrifying stories of toddler car seats that were horribly made. One of my colleagues told us that her baby was almost killed in a crash when the car seat was thrown out of its position.
Through these stories, I discovered that the first steps toward ensuring the safety of your child involves choosing the best toddler car seats. After that, you need to ensure that the car seat is well installed. To make the right decision on which best toddler car seats to buy, I began my research.
I was searching for a best toddler car seats that guaranteed the safety of my baby and was easy to use. I had heard many of my colleagues complain about how the majority of car seats were a pain in the neck to install, and I didn’t want to deal with that.
Some models of car seats were cheap, while others cost hundreds of dollars. Others had just the basic features, while others had high-tech features. The most shocking thing I discovered was that the most expensive toddler car seats were not necessarily the best.
I guess many manufacturers are discovering that some customers relate a high price with quality. If you’re one of them, you might be getting ripped off. The good news is that there are some top models available at a good price.
If you don’t want to get scammed, go through this review before making a buying decision.
My Top Choice Of The Best Toddler Car Seats
After a lot of research, I settled on the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat because of the many positive reviews and the kind words that previous customers had for it.
There were even customers who had been in a collision while using this car seat, and they shared their experiences of how it helped to protect their babies. Like I have said, safety was my number one concern, and this seat seemed to fit the bill.
When I first brought it home and removed the seat from the packaging, my son fell in love. He wanted to use his new seat then and there. He kept shouting “My chair!” at the top of his lungs! Lol! Finally, I managed to get it to the car, and I was impressed at how easy it was to set up.
What I particularly like about the car seat is that it offers my son a lot of legroom, and he could remain rear-facing for a long period of time. I also love the sturdy straps and the fact that all the parts are clearly well made.
I was concerned at first over what seemed like too little padding. However, my son was very comfortable and would fall asleep in the seat without complaining, so it’s obviously cozy enough for him. This is, without a doubt, a great product that I would recommend.
Top 13 Best Toddler Car Seats
Here is my detailed review of the 13 best toddler car seats that I found. These are:
1. Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat – Best Overall
- Backrest recline
- Protection from side impact
- Removable backrest
- Machine washable armrest cover and seat pads
- One-pull tightener
- Contoured seats for extra comfort
Kids have a love for everything cars. This is why the remote control car for kids is one of the most popular toy items. Driving with your kids in the back seat offers a lot of fun for many toddlers. However, you must ensure the safety of your child by using the best reclining car seat for toddlers.
If you want a toddlers’ car seat that will provide protection, you should consider the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat. It is suitable for big kids aged over four and are ready to start using the auto seat belts.
With ten positions of height adjustment, from the waist rather than the neck, it is a great choice for protecting the head and shoulders.
Customers who have bought the model say it is quite fantastic. Even when they travel with their kids on long trips, their children do not complain of discomfort as the seat comes with double foam padding for extra comfort. They also point to the adjustability of the seats which they say is suitable for taller kids.
- Perfect cup holders and armrests
- Lightweight but durable
- Can be converted to a backless booster
- Dark color that hides your kid’s food spills and stains
- Latches at the bottom clip to the seat of the vehicle
- A bit wider as compared to other options
The Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt Positioning Booster Car Seat is definitely a fantastic car seat for older toddlers. The collapsible cup holders are a great help when navigating the seat into the back of your minivan. It also comes with removable and washable covers.
2. Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - The Slimmest
- Ability to adjust the headrest and harness
- Four-position recline
- Slim-fit design
- Steel-reinforced frame
- Washable seat covers
- Plush support that keeps kids comfortable
- Forward- and rear-facing modes
- Harness storage compartment
If you are a small car owner, you definitely need the best toddler car seats that will not take up a lot of space. One of the options worth considering is the Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. This is a three-in-one car seat that can be modified from a rear-facing to a front-facing car seat and later to a belt-positioning seat.
What’s even better is that it comes with removable padding, and it can be machine-washed. It can be used by children between five and 70 pounds and this means you can use for a very long time.
Users of the best toddler car seats say they love the slim-fit design, as it provides them with more room between the seats. They add that they find it easy to adjust the straps.
- Crash tested to ensure the highest level of safety
- Four-position recline keeps the seat comfortable for your growing child
- Good amount of cushion
- Easy to adjust the height
- Doesn’t recline very well when rear-facing
There is no doubt that the Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is one of the safest and most comfortable car seats in the market today. It is sturdy and can be turned into a car booster seat, meaning you will not need to buy another child car seat down the road.
With kids experimenting with car toys such as carts from an early age, you need to show them how it is done in the real world. The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat will make them comfortable throughout your driving experience.
3. Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat - Best Budget
- Dual cup holders
- Five-point harness
- Machine washable cover
- Can be used while front-facing or rear-facing
- Three buckle spots and six harness heights
If you are searching for a budget car seat that is also easy to install and remove, the Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat is definitely a good option. With a tension release button located on the latch strap, it is definitely very easy to use and remove the seat.
The toddler car seat is light and therefore a suitable choice for carrying around the airport. It comes in a semi-reclined angle, making it a good option for sleeping babies. It has a one-piece cover that is attached to the seat with the use of an elastic trim. This means you can remove the whole thing and put it in the washing machine.
Users of the car seat say their kids love the luxury that comes with two cup holders. Parents like the fact that they can remove the covers to clean them.
- Made of a soft fabric
- Good recline for sleeping in the car
- Meets American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) safety standards
- Two cup holders provide ample room for snacks and drinks
- Easy to adjust the straps
- A bit hard to install in aircraft
The Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat is one of the few models that have been certified for use in aircraft. This makes it the perfect choice for your travels. The machine-washable seat pad ensures that kids’ messes can be easily cleaned.
4. Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat - Best Adjustable
- Six-position recline
- Three-in-one seat
- Ten-position headrest adjustment
- Simply Safe Adjust feature enables you to adjust the headrest and the harness
The Graco Extend2Fit 3-in-1 Car Seat is another three-in-one seat that can be put in a rear-facing position suitable for children with a weight of between four and 50 pounds and a front-facing position suitable for children weighing between 22 and 65 pounds. It can also be converted into a booster seat that can accommodate kids of between 30 and 100 pounds.
It is easy to remove and replace the Graco covers. The toddlers’ car seat is solidly made, as all the key parts such as the tethers and latches are made of metal, while the adjusting parts are made of sturdy plastic.
You can adjust the height of the headrest and the harness in one motion using the harness adjustment feature to ensure that your kid is secured. The seat has been put through one of the most rigorous car crash tests to ensure that your child is totally protected from all kinds of accidents.
Customers of this seat,say it is one of the best reclining car seats for toddlers. They also say they like the fact that the seat is comfortable, beautiful, and safe. They add that the fabric is breathable for their kids on hot days.
- Ability to adjust the headrest without rethreading the harness
- Super comfortable
- Removable padding
- A hook behind the seat keeps the latch hooks when not in use
- Plenty of rooms for infants as well as bigger kids
- Incline is suitable for laying down and napping
- Lever shows the angle at which the seat is
- The cupholders do not come preinstalled
- A bit hard to adjust the straps
This is one of the most budget-friendly options out there among convertible car seats. It works perfectly well in terms of safety features. The fact that it will grow with your child makes it a wise buying decision.
5. KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat - Most Comfortable
- Headrest can be adjusted into three positions with EPS foam
- Five-point harnesses
- Two-position crotch belt
- Ability to convert into a booster car seat
- Contoured seat
- Two cup holders
There is no denying that kids love spiderman and marvel at his super powers. How about if you surprise them with a spiderman-themed toddler car seat? The KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat offers you an opportunity to get your kids their own spiderman-shaped car seat.
The seat comes with a well contoured shape and a high back to ensure the comfort of your kid. The toddlers seat has been approved for use by front-facing kids with a height of 29 to 49 inches and weight between 22 and 65 pounds.
Users of one of these top-rated front-facing car seat say their kids are excited to see Spiderman. Parents like the fact that their kids can put their snacks, drinks, and toys in the cup holders when they fall asleep. They also like the fact that their kids can lean their heads on the side when falling asleep, unlike some car seats where children have to lean forward.
- Contoured and padded seat for extra comfort
- Easy to assemble
- Solid construction
- Meets and exceeds the industry safety standards
- Cup holders fit different kinds of cups well
- Cases of the top straps sliding down after tightening have been reported
One thing you will love about the Kids Embrace seat is that it comes with a harness that can extend for up to 65 pounds. And the cupholders can only be described as humongous, as they can fit different kinds of cups easily. It is also relatively easy to install the seat. With all these pros, you can see why it is one of the highest rated car toddler seats.
6. Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat - Most Sturdy
- An installation system that clicks tightly
- Nine adjustable headrest positions
- Two-position buckle
- Made with a steel frame
- V-shaped tethers
- A base that absorbs impact
- Cup holder included
The safety of your toddler is of paramount importance in case of a crash. This is why you need a car seat that comes with extra cushion. The Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness comes with two layers of impact protection.
It is suitable for all toddlers as well as big kids, as it can be easily converted from a harness to a belt-position booster. It is able to fit a forward-facing harness mode for children between 25 and 90 pounds and a booster mode for those between 40 and 120 pounds. This means that it grows with your child.
Users of this seat, which is one of the best reclining car seats for toddlers, say they find the click-tight feature amazing, as it saves them the need to buy another car seat. It is easy to install and can be easily switched from one car to the other one. They also add that they love the maximum height of the harness which is about 20”.
- Ability to convert it from a harness to a belt-positioning booster
- Easy to install
- Impact-absorbing base helps to minimize the impact of a crash
- V-shaped tethers reduces the seat rotations
- Two side protection layers
- Ability to change the angle of recline to enhance the safety of your child
- A bit difficult to tighten the harness
- A bit heavy
With the Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness, you can easily transition the car seat from a harness to a booster. All you need to do is to tuck away the straps and buckles within the car seat. The car seat has a high height and weight limit, allowing your child room to grow.
7. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Best Convertible
- Ability to protect your kids from side impact
- Harness holders keep your child in one position
- Three-position recline
- Machine washable covers
- Quick-fit harness
- Two cup holders
One thing we can all agree on is that kids grow very fast. This is why the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat has been made for use in the three stages of children’s growth. During their infant stage, kids can use the rear-facing mode, as it is suitable for toddlers weighing between five and 40 pounds.
When they are between 22 and 65 pounds, they can use the forward-facing mode. Finally, when they are between 40 and 100 pounds, they can use the belt-positioning booster.
Parents who have bought this top rated front-facing car seat say it is really comfortable due to its superior padding. They add that the seats not only look good, but they can easily be taken from one vehicle to the other. The covers are easy to remove and wash.
- Well padded to protect your kid from side impact
- Easy to get your child in and out of the seat due to the harness holder
- Can recline in three positions making it easy to fit in your car
- Quickfit harness makes it possible to adjust the headrest and the harness in one easy step
- Chest clip remains at the right position enhancing the safety of your baby
- Some users have a hard time tightening the latch
There is no doubt that the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is solidly made. Even though it doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles that comes with many high-end models, it is a very comfortable car seat.
8. Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat - Lightest
- Snuglock system
- Adjustable base
- Readable level indicator
- Compartment for storing latch connector
One of the drawbacks of many car seats is the fact that installation can be a big challenge. This is the one challenge that the Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat seeks to solve. It is easy to install using either the latch or the car seat belt.
It will only take you three easy steps to have that secure installation. With its snuglock installation, you can be assured of a secure installation in just a simple push.
Customers who’ve purchased this seat say they love the style of the car seat and the ease of using the snuglock system. They add that they find it easy to get in and out of the car as well, as it is quite light.
- Adjustable straps offers four recline levels
- Easily snaps into base
- Buckles that are easy to use
- Level indicator that is easily readable
- Easy to install
- The canopy is a bit small
- Cases of latch malfunctioning have been reported
The Graco SnugRide Infant Car Seat has one of the highest crash ratings. It is so light that you can easily carry your baby in it. This is definitely a good buy.
9. Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat - Easiest To Install
- Arguably one of the easiest seats to install
- 14-position harness with indicator
- Side impact protection
- Steel frame
- Base that absorbs impact
I always find installing a baby seat in the car to be a real hassle, and even when I get it done, I am constantly worried that I might not have installed it properly. But with the Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, I found installation to be a breeze.
The car seat uses a patented technology known as ClickTight (CT) which makes the installation process as easy as buckling a seat belt. It is also easy to adjust the harness to suit your child’s desired height.
Users of this toddler seat say they find the CT technology to be amazing, as it makes their installation simpler and foolproof. They add that the car seat is well-made and remains in one position after installation.
- East to install due to the ClickTight technology
- Indicator produces a sound when the harness is tightened
- Protects your toddler from side impact
- Recline positions
- Buckles are not very well made
When it comes to crash testing and rating, there is no doubt that Britax is the gold standard. The Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat is great and of durable quality.
10. Disney Baby Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat - Most Stylish
- Side impact protection
- Double cup holder
- Five-point harness and three buckle points
- Machine washable seat pad
If you are searching for a car seat that is cute and works perfectly, the Disney Baby Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat is a great option. With a five-point harness, the stylish car seat enables your kid to sit in the rear-facing position if their weight is between five and 40 pounds.
When you child becomes a toddler, you can put him or her in a forward-facing position. This is suitable for kids who weigh between 22 and 40 pounds. The car seat has three buckle locations and six harness heights to easily accommodate your child.
Users of the car seat say they particularly like the built-in double cup holders that can be easily reached by the toddler when s/he gets thirsty. Use one for a drink and the other for snacks.
- Easy installation and adjustment
- All-side protection enhances the safety of your baby
- Easy to clean, as it is machine-washable
- Five-point harness and three buckle points
- Made with a good quality fabric
- Little legroom
- Cases of belts loosening have been reported
- Bottom buckle is usually hard to release
With the extended use, the Disney Baby Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat allows your kid to ride in it for longer. The rear-facing position is suitable for children weighing five to 40 pounds, while the forward-facing position is suitable for children between 22 and 30 pounds.
Types Of Toddler Car Seats
Before they reach the age of seven, children should be properly restrained in their car seats. In the United States, car accidents are the leading cause of death for children. With a good car seat that is properly installed, it may be possible to avoid some of these deaths.
The best toddler car seats are supposed to comply with stringent safety measures. However, if not well installed, it can compromise the safety of your child. A good car seat is the one that fits your child well. There are four types of car seats to consider:
- Infant-only seats. These usually have a weight limit of about 35 pounds and often face the rear of the car.
- Convertible kids seats. These can be used as rear-facing (for younger kids) or forward-facing (for older kids). Experts advise that children should remain in the rear-facing seats for the longest time possible.
- Belt-positioning booster seats. These are seats that are suitable for children aged above four and who weigh at least 40 pounds.
Benefits Of The Best Car Seats
According to one study, there are many benefits of car booster seats. When properly installed, they protect your kid from injury resulting from an accident. This is, without a doubt, one of the obvious reasons why car seats are made.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), when a baby is properly strapped into the car seat, their risk of dying from a road accident decreases by 71%.
Many parents also struggle with taking their babies out of the car, especially when the toddlers are sleeping and they don’t want to wake them up. The features of the best toddler car seats allow the baby to remain buckled up as parents get them out of the car. This minimizes the chances of injury.
When travelling, you do not want to have to carry all the baby gear, as it will fill the trunk of your car! Another advantage of a truly good car seat is that it can work as a carrier and stroller with just a few of the right accessories.
Choosing The Right Car Seat
There are several key factors to consider when choosing the best baby car seats. These are:
This is a major consideration when choosing the right toddlers seat, as you will first need a model that will fit well in your car. Toddlers car seats are available in different sizes and shapes. With a bit of research, you will be able to find one that will fit in your car.
Ease Of Use
You will be using the car seat every time you travel with your baby. You should install it in an area of the car that is not only safe but can be easily accessed. This will ensure that you can easily put your kid in and fasten the belt.
It is key to choose a baby car seat that has been tested on its safety in case of a crash. This is the whole point of having a car seat to begin with!
Ability To Grow With Your Child
You do not want to have to invest in another car seat a year or two down the line because your baby has outgrown the previous one. A convertible car seat can save you a lot of money, as it will last through the toddlerhood of the child and is quite safe. However, a convertible baby car seat isn’t quite as easily installed or removed.
Consider A Travel System
Many parents suggest that they prefer a car seat where they can easily move their sleeping baby. If you are on a budget and looking for a multi-functional car seat, you can choose a travel system.
Consider The Features
Consider the features that you need in the best car seat for your toddler. Do you need anti-rebound bars that can limit the movement in case of a crash? Is a huge canopy necessary for you? How about adjustable straps and a cushier fabric?
You will most likely want to choose straps that you will not have to rethread. The majority of brands nowadays have pull cords or adjustment handles at the back of the seat that removes the need for rethreading.
Ease Of Cleaning
When you choose a baby seat made of a smooth fabric, it is easier to wipe clean compared to the textured fabric like corduroy.
Why You Need To Understand The Scope Of Your Car
Before you buy a car seat, take time to go through your car’s manual from the vehicle manufacturer. This is important as car seats are usually attached using the LATCH (Lower Anchors And Tethers for Children) system or the seat belt of your car.
If you opt for the LATCH, find out the location of the attachment in the car. These may not be in the middle or the rear seating position, the safest place for a toddler.
Take measurements of the backseat and understand how much room you have for the car seat. If the one you want has a huge base, it may not fit in your small car, so you’d need to choose one with a narrower base in that case.
Consider the number of people who will be sitting at the back of the car regularly as well. This will be determined by factors such as the number of children you have. How much room do you really have for a car seat to fit comfortably?
Car Seat Installation Tips
Once you’ve acquired the best toddler car seat, the next step is to install the seat in your car. Unfortunately, this is one step that leaves many parents confused.
Even when the safety seat of a child looks secure, that many not be the case. In fact, statistics show that three in every four parents drive around with car seats that are improperly secured. Here are the steps that you need to follow when installing the car seat:
- Read the instructions of the car seat manufacturer as well as that of the car manufacturer. Ensure that you understand how to use the LATCH or seat belts before you begin the installation process.
- The toddler car seat should only be installed in the back seat. This is the safest place for your child until he gets to the age of thirteen.
- Make sure you are following the instructions of the best toddler car seats while threading the seat belt into the belt path of your car. You can then tighten it.
- Buckle before locking the seat belt.
- Press down the seat until it is well tightened. Ensure that the car seat doesn’t move more than an inch from one side to the other.
- Look again at the instructions of the car seat manufacturer to ensure that the seat is reclined at the right angle.
If you have been trying to install the toddler car seat for hours without success, you do not have to worry. You can visit a car seat inspection station and ask for assistance. You will have a certified technician to show you how to properly install and even use the car seat.
How To Determine If Your Child Is Well Secured In The Car Seat
Check the following to determine if your child is safe:
- Harness straps have been put through slots at or below the shoulders of your toddler
- The strap should be lying flat against the kid’s body
- Try pinching the harness material at the baby’s shoulder—if you can’t pinch any, it means the harness is snug enough
- Chest clip should be at the level of the kid’s armpits
How To Reduce The Risk Of Leaving Your Baby In The Car Seat
Cases of babies getting forgotten or trapped in the car seat have been reported. In order to minimize such cases, it is advisable to:
- Leave your briefcase, cell phone, or purse in the back seat as well. This way, you will remember to check the backseat before leaving the vehicle.
- Ask your child’s teacher or nanny to always contact you if your child doesn’t show up as anticipated.
- Always lock the car and its trunk, even at home, and store the keys out of reach of little kids.
Recalls Of Car Seats
There are instances when car seat manufacturers have been forced to recall their products. The aim is usually to provide better protection for babies in cases where they find something faulty in a certain model. The good news is that there are not many car seat recalls, and none of the above models have ever been recalled.
But to make an informed decision, it is important to go through the latest car seat recalls before making a buying decision. Even after making a buying decision, you should register the car seat with the manufacturer in order to be notified of any recalls that may apply. You can visit the manufacturer’s website to register, or simply call them.
So, what is the best toddler car seat? This will depend on a number of factors such as your needs, the age/size of your baby, and your travel plans. However, to get you started, you can choose one of the above models.
I chose the Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat, and I’m very pleased with it. The main goal of a car seat is to keep your baby comfortable and safe. This model delivers just that.
It is also a breeze to install. Your toddler can easily buckle him/herself up (but can’t unbuckle themselves). If your kid is within the recommended height and weight limit, this best toddler car seats may just be the one for you.