Best Car Seats for Toddlers

Best Car Seats for Toddlers

Best Car Seats for Toddlers

Car safety is so important for children of all ages. Buying a car seat is a no-brainer, but no one size fits all. Similar to their clothes and shoes, your children will also grow out of their car seat. Toddlers have different car seat needs than newborns and in this article, we will introduce the best car seats for toddlers.

What are car seats for toddlers?

When you buy your child’s first car seat, it will be suited for a newborn. These car seats must be installed rear-facing in your car, because this is the safest method for newborns to travel. Children are legally required to ride rear-facing until they reach 20 pounds or the age of 2. At this stage, they become a toddler and can ride front-facing in the car. Most infant car seats can be installed both rear-facing and front-facing so if you have a convertible car seat you will be able to use the same car seat when your child reaches toddler age. If you do not already have a convertible car seat that can accommodate your toddler, you will need to purchase a new one.

What to buy for your toddler

When shopping for a car seat for your toddler, you will either want to buy a convertible infant car seat or a booster seat. A convertible infant car seat is suitable for infants from newborn up until 20 pounds and can be installed front-facing for toddlers. The other option is to buy a booster seat. These are different convertible car seats that are suitable for children from 20 pounds to 100 pounds. The car seat will adapt to your child as he or she grows. You can seat your child using the harness system to start, and once your child reaches 40 pounds, you can convert the car seat to a belt-positioning booster seat which will keep your child safe in the car before they are old enough to simply use the seat belt in the car. So if you are buying a new car seat for your toddler, a convertible booster seat is what we would recommend because you will be able to get the most use out of it.

Best car seats for toddlers

Here is a selection of the best car seats for toddlers.

Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat
Kidco Safeway Baby Gate for the Top of Stairs

This car seat by Evenflo is a 2-in-1 combination booster seat which can first be used with its 5 point harness system for your toddler from 22 to 55 pounds.This car seat comes with multiple harness and crotch buckle positions so it can be adjusted to your child as he or she grows. It is equipped with an upfront harness adjustment so that you can easily seat your child and adjust the straps to fit. It has a unique headrest designed to fit comfortably around your child’s neck and shoulders. The seat pad is removable and machine washable so you can keep the seat clean. It also has 2 cupholders built into the armrests so you can keep your child’s bottles and snacks close to them without adding additional width to the seat. Once your child reaches 40 pounds, you can remove the harness system and use the car seat as a booster seat. As a booster seat, this product comes with a handy belt path to guide your seat belt to properly secure your child. Owners of this car seat find it very effective, easy to install and very convenient to get their child in and out of the seat. It’s also easy to clean and fairly lightweight so parents find it a great car seat to travel with.

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Graco Nautilus 65 3-in-1 Harness Booster Car Seat
Best Car Seats for Toddlers

The Graco Nautilus booster seat is a versatile convertible car seat which functions as advertised, it has 3 seats in one. You can use this with your child starting at 22 lbs using the full harness system. This will keep your toddler secure once they reach the right weight to ride forward facing in the car. As your child grows, this car seat converts to a booster seat where your child can ride without the harness system and strap in using your car seat belt (30-100 lbs). Finally when your child outgrows that, this car seat converts into a backless booster seat when your child just needs a smoother transition to riding in the car seat alone. The backless booster seat helps position your child to safely use a lap belt. This car seat includes 3 reclining positions and a wraparound head rest to let your child ride comfortably. Moms love this car seat because the harness system is so easy to use and because it is basically 3 car seats in one, your toddler will need only one car seat up until they are old enough to ride in the car without a car seat. This will save you money and the headache for shopping for a new car seat or booster seat every time your child grows!

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Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite Convertible Car Seat
Best Car Seats for Toddlers

This is an excellent convertible car seat designed by Safety 1st to suit children from 5lbs to 100lbs, so it is the only car seat you’ll ever need to buy! You can use this car seat for your newborn all the way until he or she reaches toddler age because you can install it rear facing, then front facing, then convert it into a high-back booster seat, and finally a backless seat positioning booster seat. It is rare to find a car seat that will suit your child for the entire duration that they will need to ride in a car seat, so this is a favourite product of parents. Users find the car seat a bit challenging to install and to buckle and unbuckle their child, however are confident in its reliability in keeping their child safe. This is one of the best car seats to protect children in the event of a crash. It’s also easy to clean and comfortable to sit in, therefore a favourite of both parents and kids.

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Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
Best Car Seats for Toddlers

This is a great car seat for infants and toddlers if you are just looking for a simpler option for your child. At under $50, it’s one of the least expensive options on the market, but as a result, it does come with fewer bells and whistles. This is a better car seat to buy for when your child is in infant to toddler stage, rather than when your child is a bit older, because it only accommodates up to 40 lbs. Unlike some other options, this car seat can be installed rear facing and forward facing but cannot be used as a booster seat for when your toddler is a bit older. This is fine if you want an inexpensive but reliable starter car seat and plan to buy a booster seat later. Parents find this car seat very easy to install and also love that it is very light compared to other products. This makes it a breeze to move the car seat between cars and also to bring on trips. It comes with a removable machine-washable pad for easy cleanup, as well as an attachable cup holder. Ultimately, this car seat is best if you aren’t looking for top-of-the-line and are planning to use it for when your child is younger, and for the price, it can’t be beat.

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Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car Seat
Best Car Seats for Toddlers

This is another great toddler car seat by Graco, with slightly fewer options than our other pick. This convertible car seat works well for infants and toddlers from 20-65lbs. It comes with Gracos’ signature Simply Safe Adjust Harness System, allowing for one hand adjusting. This model has been crash tested and exceeds all US safety standards. Its features will make your life easier: simple installation, machine washable seat pads and an accessible 5 point front-adjust harness to get your child in and out quickly. The car seat is designed for comfort, with an adjustable head and body rest so your child can ride without complaint. Users of this car seat find it to be reliable, well-made, easy to use and overall great value for their investment.

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As your child grows, their needs will change. Make sure you are prepared with the right size and type of car seat for your toddler! You may want to check out our articles on the best convertible car seats here and the best booster seats here.

Need additional information on how to install a car seat and what to look for? We've rounded up some helpful resources here and here.​

More about Amy

Welcome! I’m Amy, a mom of 4 kids living on the East Coast. In raising each of my littles, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way and wanted to share them with other mothers like you! Whether you are an expectant first-time mother, or already have quite a brood of your own, A Safe Happy Baby is a place for you to get helpful resources and recommendations. We all want safe, happy kids and I hope this blog gives you the advice and products for your family.

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