It is important to know the models available for your baby so that you can make an informed choice. As the child grows, you will need to transition him from car seat to another in order to make him comfortable.
It is important also to know which car seat works for your type of car.
The Top 5 Best Toddler Car Seat
Now you know so much about toddler seats, let’s try to review some of the best toddler car seats.
This is one of the best toddler car seats, which features an eight position external harness adjustable. When it comes to pricing, it is at an affordable price as compared to its competitors. According to the car crash test performance, it is highly rated. When it comes to fit to the vehicle and ease of use, it is one of the best. Recline for rear facing configuration is tough, but you can use a towel underneath to do the job.
It holds a rear facing child from 5 lbs to 40 lbs in a baby car seat mode and in forward facing toddler in its five point harness from 20 to 65 lbs. This is one of a seat which can grow with your child due to the presence of the SimpleSafe Adjust harness which makes automatic adjusting both the harness and headrest height. It has an easy to read level indicator and the LATCH which offers hassle free installation. It also comes a body support and removable headset, two buckle positions, and has a machine washable seat pad which will help your child to have a chid snug and secure.
Why Buy It
It has a 7 year life span before the seat expires. It has a headres that has 8 positions with no re-thread harness. FAA approved for use on aircraft. 2 crotch strap/buckle position. With the presence of the color coded recline flip, you will recline the car seat at an exact recline position without guesswork. It is designed to help protect the child who is rear facing, this is from 5 lbs to 40 lbs and it is one of the best toddler car seats for weights 20 lbs to 60 lbs. It comes with Simply Safe Adjust harness system which is one of the best mom’s favorite feature on toddler car seats. It is designed to make finding the proper fit for child simple and safe. It features a no re-thread harness which adjusts automatically. It is side impact tested to meet FMVSS standards. It is a one hand, with eight position adjustable headrests which easily adapts to the growing child’s needs, and ensures the child is safe and secure during his travels. It is equipped with an easy to read level indicator for a quick installation of rear facing position. It has EPS, the energy absorbing foam for effective impact energy management. It has a five point front adjust harness which makes getting baby in and out of the car a breeze.
It has a maximum weight capacity which is at 40 pounds. Though it doesn’t have fancy features, it is a straight forward best toddler car seat which is easy to use. When fitting to the vehicle, it is best in the forward facing configuration. In the crash test performance, it scores highly and it is one of the best rated car seats for toddlers at a bargain price. This is a seat which is designed for families who know what they need. It keeps the toddlers safe with the presence of the Side Impact Protection built into the headrest and a five point harness which adjusts easily from the front of the seat.
The harness has three buckle locations and five heights so you can be sure you are sure that your growing child is reciving the best. In case you want to use it on the airplane, it is one of the best toddler car seat that is readily accepted by the FAA. It gives the toddler maximum comfort while on the flight journey. Due to it being lightweight and compact, you will be cleared at the airport without much weight on you. Messes happen while you are carrying kids in the car, this particular seat has an easy to clean car seat pad that got you sorted out for maximum cleanliness. The pad is available in different colors and styles for you to choose from and they are all machine washable and dryer safe. The cup holder is dish washable.
Why Buy It
It is available in solid colors. Meets or exceeds Federal safety Standards. Fits 3 across in the back of most vehicles. LATCH equipped and capable for entire life of the car seat. Rear facing between weights 5 lbs and 40 lbs with heights of 19 inches to 40 inches. Compact TSA friendly designed for airport security. Forward facing 22 lbs to 40 lbs with heights of 29 inches to 43 inches and the child must be at least 2 years. Certified for use on aircraft. Side Impact Protection. Removable cup holder which is dish washable. 5 point harness with easy front adjustment. The seat pad is machine washable and dryer safe. 5 harness height and 3 buckle locations allow for the best fit for growing children.
Based on the simulated crash results on Amazon, it is one of the best toddler car seat which has the best potential for limiting injuries. It is easy to install and convenient for parents to carry around as it is a lightweight car seat stroller. To install it as forward facing is far much easier than the rear facing configuration as the recline indicators are hard to read. This is a seat which will allow your child rear facing to at least age 3 and forward facing to at least kindergarten at a budget friendly price. So if you don’t want to buy another car seat until your child is ready for a booster seat, this is one of the great choice to buy.
Keep your child harnessed longer with the broader range of harness adjustments. With 6 harness heigh positions, 65 lbs harness weight rating, and 2 crotch buckle positions, this seat provide room for your child to grow. It has a machine washable body pillow, head pillow, and seat pad which will provide comfort ride. It has an upfront harness adjustment which makes it simpler to get the child in and out of the seat very simple. It has a LATCH system, which includes tether to make it easy to convert between different vehicles.
Why Buy It
It is made in the USA. Has 6 harness slot positions; four for rear facing, 3 for forward facing. It has a 6 year life span before the seat expires. 2 crotch buckle/strap positions. FAA approved for use on aircraft. Easy installation. Lightweight.
The Britax ClickTight technology makes this one of the best toddler car seats in the market. The technology makes it easy to install the car seat and gives it a tight installation without impacting a lot of force. You only have to LATCH strap in the proper belt path and ClickTight tension does most of the tightening. It has a no re-thread harness which eases the burden on the parent when adjusting the harness height to accommodate the child as he grows. Though it is a little bit heavy, it is a great which has innovative features that makes both LATCH and seat belt installation easier. It is an excellent choice for getting your family where they need to go safely, with so much ease, and in comfort.
It comes with ClickTight technology, which makes installation a breeze as you just have buckled the seat belt. You buckle the seat belt across the belt path after opening the front of the car seat, and then clicking on the seat shut for the best installation. It also has a SafeCell Impact Protection that surrounds the toddler in safety components that work hand in hand to protect well beyond the established federal safety standards. There is a deep protective shell which is designed to absorb crash forces and protect from debris, provided by Complete Side Impact Protection.
The Quick adjust, 2 position buckle, and 12 position harness, provides the child with the right fit to keep up with the growing demands of the child by offering the best adjust. There is the presence of the Plush Foam Padding which provides premium comfort at every touch point and there are even 7 recline positions with an Automatic Level Indicator so you can adjust to ensure the best installation angle for the vehicle. This particular seat converts from a rear facing position for babies 5 lbs to 40 lbs and forward facing for babies 20 lbs to 65 lbs. It has been carefully designed to keep the child safe and you free from worry when on transit with baby.
Why Buy It
Safe Cell Impact Absorbing harness makes the child’s chest clip to be placed in the correct position to get rid of the energy in case a crash happens. The Click Tight Installation system ensures that everyone can install the car seat securely and confidently by just buckling the seat belt. Safe Cell Impact Absorbing Tether keeps the car seat intact without rotation. This is possible because of the existence of two strap design and slows forward movement with the stitching of patented rows that the give-way one at a time from Britax . Safe Cell Impact Protection is an integrated system of safety components that work together to protect your child well beyond the federal safety requirements, which includes, impact stabilizing steel frame, Tether and harness, and complete side impact protection Safe Cell provides the toddler with classic safety. Safe Cell Impact Stabilizing Steel Frame will ensure that you have peace of mind with the knowledge that the child is safe as he is surrounded my maximum protection.
Safe Cell Complete Side Impact Protection surrounds your child in a deep protective shell designed to absorb crash forces and shield your child from debris. Safe Cell Impact Absorbing Base compresses to absorb crash energy and counteract forward movement, keeping your child clear of the seat in front of them. Quick Adjust, 2 position buckle, and 12 position harness allows you to easily move the harness upwards and buckle outwards for a comfortable, secure fit as your child grows. Easy to remove cover for cleaning convenience. 7 position recline with automatic level indicator adjusts for your child’s comfort while ensuring the best installation angle for your vehicle. The EZ-Buckle system keeps the buckles and straps out of your way when placing your child in the car seat. Plush Foam Padding in the cover, removable pillow and shoulder pads your child in comfort at every touch point.
Chicco is a known best performer in crash protection. It is easy to use and install in the vehicle making it one of the best toddler car seats. It has a push on LATCH connectors which makes LATCH installation a breeze. It has a no re-thread harness which makes it easy for parents to adjust the height of the harness for a child who is growing. It is a heavy seat which might bring a challenge as a day to day seat.
In terms of functionality, this is one of the best toddler car seats on the market from Chicco and it might be one of the best rated car seats for toddlers. It is a convertible car seat, meaning, it can be used as a rear facing seat and a forward facing seat.
Rear facing weight limits are between 5 pounds and 40 pounds. The height limits are, your child’s head should not be past 1 inch below the top of the headrest when it is raised to its highest setting. No limit of height is given apart from the one inch rule. For the harness, the lowest harness setting is 5.5 inches if you utilize the use of the newborn insert.
Forward facing weight limits for this seat is between 22 pounds and 65 pounds and under 50 inches in height. Shoulder height can reach up to 17.5 inches and the tips of your child’s ears need to be below the top end of the shell. Your child is supposed to be at least 1, and it is recommended that s/he is at least 2.
Children are supposed to remain in the rear facing configuration as long as possible as it is the safest method to transport the baby.
Why Buy It
It has a smooth base which prevents damage of the vehicle upholstery. Cover and infant insert can be machine washed in cold water in a delicate cycle, mild detergent, and hang to dry. Fits a wide range of children including small newborns. Cover is relatively easy to remove. 2 position chest clip provides maximum harness strap positioning on small babies and big kids alike. Premium fabrics with extra padding or comfort. Great seat for extended rear facing.It is compact when rear facing, especially if you are reclining at zero for a newborn, thus making it a good option for smaller cars and for tall parents who may need to have the front seat all or most of the way back. Rear facing configuration angle recline at 37 degrees on the minimum and maximum of 50 degrees.
A super easy installation with LATCH connectors from forward facing belt path to rear facing belt path and vice versa. Buckle style is easy to buckle and unbuckle. Premium one handed push on Safe Guard lower LATCH connectors. The harness straps are thick and not prone to twisting. It is a breeze switching to from the rear facing belt path using the lower LATCH connector to forward facing belt path and vice versa. Relatively easy to tighten and loosen harness straps. RF & FF locks off for seat belt installation. 6 position no-re-thread harness makes it easy to adjust the harness height incase your child grows faster than his age. 9 recline positions provide a perfect recline angle in almost any vehicle without the need of noodles.
Different Type of Car Seats
Infant Car Seat
This is the first seat for new parents, which can only be installed rear facing. It has a removable, convenient carrier which connects to a base which is installed in the car. It is the best for newborns and smaller toddlers and it can be used for babies from 4 lbs to 40 lbs depending on the model available. Some kids get too tall before getting too heavy for car seats. A child is considered to be too tall when the crown of his head is less than one inch from the top of the carrier shell or he exceeds the recommended height length of a particular seat. The price range of infant car seats is between $ 50 and $300. Get the best toddler car seat in this range at your budget price.
Convertible Seat for Toddlers
Once the baby outgrows the infant car seat, it is time to buy a best toddler car seat for the baby, which is convertible. It is best after the child is one year old. It can be installed as either a rear facing or forward facing seat. It has a similar harness to that of an infant seat but they have a higher rear facing weight limit, meaning kids can ride in rear facing for long. If your child is one year and weighs less than 20 lbs, make sure you install a convertible seat rear facing and can be used as a rear facing for kids up to 50 lbs. It is recommended to use rear facing maximally as it is the safest way to travel with baby in the car.
For forward facing, the child has to be more than 2 years for you to install that configuration and it can hold up to a maximum of 70 lbs, depending on the seat type. Prices of convertible seats for toddlers range from $40 – $450.
Booster Seat for Toddlers
When the baby is all overgrown or has outgrown the weight limit for the convertible seat both in rear and forward facing configuration, it is time to buy for him a booster seat. A booster seat uses a car’s own seat belt. A booster is normally in a raised position to enable you to use the car seat belt correctly – lower across the upper thigh, over the sternum, and center of the collarbone and not the neck.
There is another type of booster seats – the back-less. These ones are easy to install and are quite portable, but they are not highly recommended. The prices range from $13 to $300. They can accommodate weights up to 65 lbs. They are installed in the forward facing mode for kids who are at least one year, but it is recommended for 2 years and above. It is one of the models which is recommended as the best toddler car seat.
It is one of the models which is meant for toddlers and the child should have the appropriate age, weight, and height limits to sit facing forward. It is designed for forward facing only and has a harness for a particular weight/height, then transition to a booster when the harness is removed. It accommodates children weighing between 20 lbs and 90 harnessed, and 30 lbs to 120 in booster mode. Price wise, they are less expensive and a good alternative to convertible seats as long as your child meets the weight limit and forward facing age. It is also the safest and the best toddler car seat for toddlers who are not yet ready for the transition or booster seat. The price range for toddler boosters is between $55 – $295.
All in One Car Seats For Toddlers
These types are also to be used in the car for toddlers. They can take a child from birth to booster and, thus, cost saving. They can accommodate kids from 5 to 45 lbs in rear facing sitting mode; and from 20 to 50 lbs in forward facing with a harness. In booster mode, they can accommodate kids from 30 lbs to 120 lbs. In most cases, they are large and heavy, thus making them to lack convenience of a detachable carrier. They might not be good for smaller kids and also not good for compact cars. They are the best toddler seats to be used by caregivers who transport kids less often. Price ranges for these cars are between $100 and $330.
Terminologies in Best Car Toddler Car Seats
- LATCH Connectors: when your child’s seat is harnessed, it is equipped with either rigid lower anchor LATCH connectors or push on hook style. LATCH connectors are the attachment to the lower anchor embedded in the crease of the vehicle seat.
- Top Tether Strap: When the car is in the forward facing, it includes a top tether strap which anchors to the vehicle seat and keeps the shell of the child seat secure, thus reducing potential injuries to the head. All forward facing installations have to be secured using the top tether strap.
- Harness System: Toddler booster, all infants, and all in one seats have a built in adjustable harness system. The more your child grows, the more you will need to adjust their harness so that the straps are located correctly. When the seat is in the rear facing mode, the harness straps are supposed to be below or at the baby’s shoulders. When the seat is in the forward facing mode, the straps are supposed to be at or above the shoulders. To adjust the harness, you re-thread the straps through the slots in the fabric and seat shell. Others offer an easier, external harness adjustment option.
- Recline Indicator: A recliner indicator tells you if the rear facing installation is at the correct angle. The bubble and ball indicators are easier to read than a simple level line. There are different recliner ranges for different seats and ages. To avoid obstructing baby’s breathing, their seats are normally reclined flat. As they get older, the recline can be adjusted accordingly to allow more room for the passenger seated at the front.
- Accessories: Most car seats come with other items which makes it more comfortable for the baby. This includes: covers, cushions, cup holders, pads and many more. This is what is referred to as accessories.
What You Need To Know Before Buying The Best Toddler Car Seat
- Know your stores: Get a retailer who can allow you to test-install the seat before you buy
- Know your baby: It is important that you know your baby’s weight and height, which, along with the child’s height, will determine the seat size and when it is time to change to a higher level.
- Know your car: In your vehicle’s owner manual, study the child safety section to know which car seat is best toddler car seat.
Things To Know About Car Seats
- Keep your child in rear facing configuration until he is at least 2 years
- The booster seat can only be used when your child is 57 inches tall, and that is around 8 to 12 years old, and he can fit the vehicle belts correctly.
- The child should ride in the back seat until age 13
- Forward facing should be the norm until your child
- Seats do expire, thus buying a second hand seat for the baby might be risky as you might buy an expired seat
- Replace a seat which is damaged in the course of an accident or any other way.
How To Know If Your Child is Ready for A Boost
When shopping for the best toddler car seat, you will know if your kid is ready for a booster seat if your answer to the following questions is yes.
- If your child seats against the vehicle seat during the travel period
- If the child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat of the vehicle
- If the belt crosses the child’s shoulder evenly between arm and neck
- If the lap belt is near the top of the thigh
- If the child can stay seated comfortably for a whole trip
How To Make Sure Your Toddler is Safe in The Car Seat
This is how to install a toddler car seat
- Right Seat: Make sure the car seat has the right weight and height. Age is a very important factor when it comes to making sure that the car seat is the right one for your baby as it reflects the child’s skeletal development.
- Seat Tight: After the seat is installed, it should not sway anyhow whether front to back or side by side.
- The Harness Height: When the seat is in the rear facing mode, the harness is supposed to be below the baby’s shoulder; when it is in forward facing mode, the harness should be at or above the baby’s shoulders. The chest clip should be at armpit level – always.
- Harness Tight: When the child is secured tightly and correctly, there is no space to pinch the fabric on the straps on the baby’s shoulders.
- You have to check that the tether is tight and the recline you set is the right one. Recline for a rear facing seat has an indicator and it shouldn’t be hard to note if it is set correctly or not. Don’t allow your child’s head to fall forward as it will obstruct breathing. For forward facing seat, if installed with a seat belt or LATCH, make sure you tighten and attach the top tether in order to prevent movement to the front, as it can cause injury.
Armed with the information and reviews provided above, make your choice of the best toddler car seat that will be within your budget, and has the features you like. Get it right by going through the best toddler car seat reviews before committing your money, to make sure you get the most bang for the buck.