Best Toddler Car Seat: Buyers Guide on Toddler Car Seats

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
February 23, 2024
little girl sleeping inside the car

The standard for keeping a baby in a rear-facing car seat was until the baby weighed 20 pounds, then it could be put in a forward-facing position. However, that standard was updated, and now it is until the child weighs 40 pounds or exceeds the weight and height limits of the car seat.

Due to research finding that toddlers are five times safer in rear-facing car seats in an accident, some states have a law that states babies must stay in rear-facing seats until they are two years old. The best toddler car seat will have weight limits that exceed 20lbs so that babies can stay rear-facing seats for much longer.

Comparison Table

Types Of Toddler Car Seats

Convertible Car Seat
Image source: flickr

Once an infant either turns two or exceeds the weight and height limit for a rear-facing car seat, they are ready to move up to a front-facing seat. However, depending on their size, the toddler may need a car seat with a harness system, or they may be ready for a booster seat.

Also, some car seats can convert from rear to forward-facing to booster seats to prevent needing to buy a new car seat at the different stages of a child’s life. These car seats are some that you may want to invest in if you’re having a child or your child is now a toddler.

Convertible Car Seats

Convertible or All-in-One, car seats usually go from a rear-facing to a front-facing car seat, and then to a booster seat when the child is the appropriate weight and height.

Many of the convertible car seats allow children to ride rear-facing until they are 40 pounds and then to a front-facing car seat until they weigh about 65 pounds Kids can ride in the booster seat until they reach the 100lb. limit or reach four feet nine inches tall.

Front-facing Car Seats

Car seats that face forward can hold children in the seat with a harness from the time they are 22 pounds to about 45 pounds Then, they convert to a high-back belt positioning booster seat for kids that weigh 30 to 100 pounds

Some seats convert further, so they are a backless belt-positioning booster seat for children that are 40 to 100 pounds Belt-positioning means that the car’s seatbelt keeps the child safely in the booster seat.

Booster Seats

A booster seat for a child can have a high-back, or it can consist of just a seat base. Both types of booster seats are usually belt positioning, which means that the vehicle’s seatbelt secures the child into the seat and car in case of an accident. Many booster seats hold children until they are 100 pounds or four foot nine inches tall.

How We Chose Our Ratings

safety seat back car
Image source: freepik

After researching toddler car seats, we read information about their manufacturers, plus reviews and testimonials from the parents who own them. Then, after reviewing the data, each car seat received a rating from one to five stars, with five being the best, to make it easy for readers to find the best toddler car seats on the market.

Top Toddler Car Seats

Here are some of the top toddler car seats that parents can buy for their growing children.

Chicco KidFit 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat

If you’re in the market for the best toddler car seat for your child, then you might want to consider this KidFit 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning booster seat by Chicco. The height of the seat adjusts from the waist to provide more protection for the head and shoulders. It has 10 height adjustments to ensure the headrest is in the correct position to protect your child.

The LATCH connectors are tightened with one pull on the SuperCinch to make installation easy. It has two modes, a high back booster car seat for children who are 30 to 100  pounds and a backless booster seat for kids from 40 to 110 pounds The seat is ergonomically contoured for the child’s comfort, whether they go on short or long rides.

The back of the seat reclines in two positions, so they can nap comfortably while the family is on the road for vacation or visiting family for the holidays. The material of the car seat can undergo hand-washing, or it is removable and can be put into a washing machine to get clean.

It has two integrated side wings with EPS, or expanded polystyrene, material to absorb impacts in case of car accidents. It also has two flexible cup holders, which are dishwasher safe and easy to remove or fold out of the way if more room is necessary for the backseat. The booster seat is available in four colors:

  • Atmosphere
  • Celeste
  • Monaco
  • Wimbledon

KidsEmbrace 2-in-1 Harness Car Seat

This KidsEmbrace booster seat has a high contoured back to ensure your child’s comfort whenever they are riding in the car. It has a five-point harness with straps that are adjustable with one hand.

There is also a two-position crotch belt and three-position headrest, whose height easily adjusts. The headrest has expanded polystyrene, EPS, material that is energy absorbing in case of a car accident.

Children who are 22 to 65 pounds, and who are 29 to 49-inches in height can face forward while sitting in the booster seat using the harness to secure them. It converts into a belt-positioning booster seat for kids that weigh between 30 to 100  pounds and who are 38 to 57-inches tall.

The booster seat design complies with or exceeds the safety requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. This booster seat was also given a “Best Bet” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, IIHS. The booster seat only weighs 15 pounds, so it shouldn’t be too heavy to move between cars if necessary.

The KidsEmbrace car seat is available in five Marvel superhero designs, including:

  • Spiderman
  • Black Panther
  • Captain America
  • Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man

The seat covers are removable and machine washable.

Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

The Britax Frontier is both a forward-facing car and booster seat for kids weighing at least 25 pounds. As a car seat, it has a nine-point harness system for securing the toddler into the seat. It quickly adjusts as the child grows, until they reach about 40 pounds Then, they can convert the car seat into a booster seat that uses the vehicle’s seatbelt to secure the toddler.

It has a steel frame and two layers of side impact protection to ensure the safety of the child in the seat. The two layers of protection include the shell of the seat that absorbs the energy from a wreck and the foam-lined headrest. The design also includes a base that helps to absorb the impact when in a car accident and a V-shaped tether that prevents the child from moving forward after impact.

The booster seat undergoes testing to ensure it is safe for children to ride in. The Britax car seat is made in the United States, in Fort Mills, South Carolina. With the ClickTight system, the car seat easily installs in the backseat of any vehicle. The seat belt goes across the bottom of the seat and clicks into place, so it installs within just a few moments.

The Britax car seat is available in nine colors, including:

  • Baxter
  • Bubbles
  • Cool Flow Grey
  • Cool Flow Teal
  • Cowmooflage
  • Spark
  • Trek
  • Vector
  • Vibe

Britax Pinnacle ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

The Britax Pinnacle goes from a forward-facing, harness using car seat to a high back booster seat in just a few simple steps. As a car seat, it uses a nine-point harness system that quickly adjusts to the right size for the child in the seat, ensuring a fit that secures them in place. This car seat design has the safety of the children who ride in it as their top priority.

The frame of the seat is steel with a base that helps to absorb the impact of another car in case of an accident. The car seat also has three layers of side impact protection, which includes the energy absorbing shell of the car seat, the foam headrest, and external cushions to protect the child.

It also has a V-shaped tether to keep the car seat from rotating too much and stage-release stitches that can slow the forward movement of the seat in a crash. When the harness is no longer necessary, it goes into a compartment in the chair for storage. The car seat also has two cup holders to keep drinks and snacks handy when on the road.

The harness mode of the front-facing car seat is suitable for children who are two years old and between 25 to 90  pounds and 30 to 58 inches in height. As a belt-positioning booster seat, the Britax Pinnacle is appropriate for children who are 40 to 120  pounds and who stand between 45 and 62 inches tall.

The padding makes the child comfortable, as well as safe, while in the seat. The seat comes in five colors, which include:

  • Cool Flow Grey
  • Cool Flow Teal
  • Kate
  • Mosaic
  • Venti

Evenflo Maestro Sports Harness Booster Car Seat

Evenflo is a manufacturer of products for babies, including bottles, furniture, and car seats. The Maestro Sports Harness Booster seat has two positions, it works as a front-facing booster seat that uses a five-point harness to secure the child, or it is a belt-positioning car seat for older toddlers.

The weight limit for the harness is 50 pounds, so once a child weighs more than that, the booster converts into a belt-positioning booster seat. It has a high back, so toddlers can ride comfortably whether they are going on a trip to the grocery store with mom or riding on a long car trip to see grandma and grandpa during the holidays.

The seat has a shoulder belt guide that helps make the vehicle’s seat belt the right height for the child. It comes with two cup holders to put drinks or snacks while on the road. It is lightweight compared to other types of car seats, weighing only 9.6 pounds. It is available in seven colors, including:

  • Crestone Peaks
  • Granite
  • Provo
  • Taylor
  • Thunder
  • Wesley
  • Whitney

Buyers Guide

Evenflo Car Seat
Image source: pixabay

When reviewing car seats to buy for a child, first consider the child’s age. The American Academy of Pediatrics, AAP, updated their recommendations for children in car seats and now recommend that children up to two years old face the rear.

As a result, some states now require children to stay in a rear-facing car seat until they are two years old or meet certain height and weight restrictions.

Being aware of the state laws can help you buy the right car seat. In many cases, if your child is under four foot nine inches tall, then they may need to ride in a booster seat until they are seven or eight years old depending on the state in which you live. Here are some of the laws regarding the car and booster seats for each state as of September 2019.

Determine which type of car seat you might need. If you bought an infant car seat when your child was born, then you will need a bigger seat for a toddler.

Many of the seats in this review are forward-facing car seats for smaller toddlers, which turn into belt-positioning booster seats for larger toddlers and young children. Most of the weight limits are 100 to 120 lbs for these seats.

Be aware of the safety certifications for car seats as well. The federal government tests car seats to ensure they will be safe in car accidents and their certification should be easy to find on the box of any car seat that has it.

You may also see recommendations from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, IIHS, or the AAP for car seats that these organizations consider safe as well.

When buying a safety seat, whether online or in a store, take the time to either read the information about it on a website or the box. It is important that a car seat has multiple layers of protection for the child riding in the seat in case you’re in a serious car accident. A harness or seat belt that is at the wrong height can cause injuries, as can not having good padding throughout the car or booster seat.

Read this review to understand what to look for in the best toddler car seat and to find one that can suit your child’s needs.

Feature image source: pixabay

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