If you love road trips or commute around town, you’ll need a car seat for your kids. Toddler car seats will generally last your child a few years, from rear-facing young toddlers to older kids under the appropriate weight limit. Car safety is extremely important because accidents can happen at any time. That’s why toddler car seats come standard with cushioning, steel frames, and up-to-date safety harnesses to keep kids from harm. Check out our list below to see which toddler car seat is right for you.
Buying Guide for Toddler Car Seats
Why buy a toddler car seat?
After the infant seat and before the booster seat, parents and caregivers need toddler car seats to keep the little ones safe. Toddler car seats generally have a higher weight capacity, and they keep children safe with a five-point safety harness.
What should you consider in a toddler car seat?
- Weight Limit: Most car seats offer accommodating weight limits, especially if they convert into booster seats. However, if you prefer a standard toddler car seat, keep a note or reminder of your seat’s maximum capacity on hand so that you know when to switch your child to a booster.
- Safety Rating: Check your preferred car seat for its safety rating and any recalls. Popular brands will likely have this information on their website, but you can also check with consumer reports.
- Convertible Seats: Convertible car seats are great to have, especially if your child is on the precipice of transferring into a booster seat. If you’re planning on buying a convertible seat because it will last for many years, keep an eye out for any safety issues or recalls that may occur at a future date.
- Additional Features: Who doesn’t love a cupholder or two? If your little one loves to have a beverage on hand, it may be a good idea to buy a car seat with a detachable, washable cup holder. Other additional features for a toddler car seat may include a carrying bag, armrests, or infant pads.
When is the best time to face a toddler forward?
As parents, we love to see the adorable faces of our little ones. But before facing your child forward in the car, you need to be sure it’s the right choice for their safety. The CDC recommends rear-facing car seats until your child is 2 to 4 years old. Experts recommend your child weigh between 40 to 50 pounds before making the switch.
Our Picks for the Best Toddler Car Seats
Pros: This car seat isn’t just safe; it’s very comfortable for your child. The headrest is adjustable, and the infant pads are removable. Plus, the cover and pads are machine washable. It grows with your child from infant to big kid, so it’s a convenient investment.
Cons: It’s a little difficult to tighten the latch.
Bottom Line: This is a great convertible car seat that grows with your child from rear-facing to front-facing. Plus, the adjustable panel can add up to 5 inches of additional legroom. For the sake of safety and durability, it’s made with reinforced steel.
Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat
This convertible car seat is convenient and turns into a safe booster seat for bigger kids.
Pros: First, this car seat is surprisingly easy to install, so you can use it right away. The harness system is snug and sturdy, keeping your little one safe. It isn’t too bulky; you can fit three side by side on a row if needed. It’s easy to carry and move into different cars, and it even has cupholders!
Cons: There’s not a lot of padding on the seat.
Bottom Line: If you need to switch car seats between cars regularly, this is a great lightweight option that’s easy to latch. It’s a fantastic slim seat option if you need to have multiple car seats in a row. And the booster seat is highly rated for safety.
Evenflo Maestro Sport Harness Highback Booster Car Seat
With a five-point harness and standard seatbelt guides, this sturdy name-brand car seat is made for front-facing kids.
Pros: This car seat is a great option if you’re looking for something lightweight. It has above-average safety features and a nice, slim profile. Plus, this seat is a great value because it grows with your child and lasts for years.
Cons: The installation instructions could be more clear for new parents.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a front-facing toddler car seat that converts into a sturdy booster, this is a nice option. It accommodates children up to 110 pounds, and the double cupholders are a bonus.
Britax Highpoint 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat
Your kids can ride in style and comfort with this safe and plush seat from a widely trusted name brand.
Pros: This is a great seat for parents who need to transfer a car seat from car to car. It’s super easy to install in vehicles, and the latches are easy to tighten. It has a belt-positioning clip to help kids strap their seatbelts properly. It comes from a trusted brand and in four color options.
Cons: It’s not as soft and cushy as some other brands.
Bottom Line: This is a safe booster for bigger toddlers and young children. It’s made with independence and safety in mind, and there are several color choices to suit your taste.
WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat with Carrying Bag
Great for rideshares and travel, this front-facing car seat is lightweight and easy to carry.
Pros: Parents who travel often will be thankful that this car seat is easy to carry around, in or out of its bag. It’s easy to latch into just about any vehicle. Plus, it’s very durable.
Cons: The crotch buckle is short. Also, there is no headrest or pads for a child to nap on.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a travel car seat for flights or need an extra car seat for commuting, this may be a great option for you. It’s a great fit for kids up to 50 pounds, and it’s slim enough to fit three in a row.
Toddler car seats are essential pieces of travel equipment. There are many models out there, but we’ve gathered some of the best for you to consider.