Best Toddler Car Seat – Choose the Best for Your Child

The average child spends about an hour a day riding in the car. With all of this time spent in the back seat, it is important to make sure that children are as safe as possible. This article will help you choose the best toddler car seat for your family.

Best Toddler Car Seat FAQ

1. What Is a Toddler Car Seat

2. Why Does My Child Need to Ride in a Car Seat?

3. Does It Matter What Sort of Car Seat My Child Rides In?

4. Where Can You Buy the Best Toddler Car Seat?

How We Reviewed

We reviewed the following products based on the following parameters Features, Pros & Cons, Price, and Where to Buy, We also looked at safety features, weight limits, and ease of installation. 

Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)

More expensive car seats have more features, such as the ability to convert to different car seats as your child grows older, and added safety features. The least expensive type of car seat is the type that only works as a backless booster seat. This type is also the smallest and has the fewest added features.  

What We Reviewed

  • Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

  • Britax Boulevard ClickTight XE Series
  • Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
  • Britax Frontier ClickTight Combination Harness-2-Booster Car Seat
  • Graco Nautilus 65 LX 3-in-1 Harness Booster
  • Evenflo Chase Harnessed Booster
  • Disney Store and Go Backless Booster Car Seat
  • Safety First Guide 65 Sport
  • Diono Rainier Convertible Car Seat
  • Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat
Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Verve
  • Easy installation: Patented ClickTight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
  • No rethreading, ever: 14-position harness, 2-position buckle for a comfortable fit as your child grows
  • Relax & Recline: 7 recline positions ensure comfort and the best vehicle installation angle

Features

You can use this car seat as a rear-facing seat for children between 5 and 40 pounds, or a forward facing car seat for children between 20 to 65 pounds. The ClickTight installation system makes this seat easy to securely install. It has a strong, sturdy steel frame, and deep side impact protection. It also uses a Versa-Tether to keep the car seat in place, and a SafeCell impact absorbing base to keep the child's head from being jostled. It has a harness and crotch buckle that can be adjusted according to the child's size, for a more safe and comfortable ride. one of the few problems some reviewers mentioned about this car seat was that it is very large, and may be too large to be used in the rear facing position in some cars, especially if there is someone in the front passenger seat who needs leg room. However, its safety features still make this one of the best toddler car seats out there.

PROS

  • Can be used as a rear facing or forward facing seat
  • Easy to install
  • SafeCelll impact absorbing base
  • Harness and buckle with many positions for different sizes

CONS

  • May be too large for some cars

Where to Buy

Amazon

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat, Circa
  • Easy installation: Patented ClickTight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
  • No rethreading, ever: Quick-adjust 14-position harness with Click & Safe Snug Indicator gives a click sound when the...
  • Adjust accurately: Harness indicator gives an audible click when you've pulled to the proper tightness

Features

You can use this car seat as a rear-facing seat for children between five and forty pounds, and as a front facing seat for children between 20 and 65 pounds. It has a steel frame, an impact absorbing base, and two layers of side protection. The ClickTight installation system makes it easy to install securely. Its harness and crotch buckle have different positions to adjust to your child's size. This car seat is a little smaller than the Britax Marathon, meaning you can use it in smaller cars. Its plush padding makes it comfortable for little passengers. Some parents have complained about it not having a cup holder, and some have found it to be a little too small for their growing children. 

PROS

  • Rear facing or front facing positions Click Tight installation system
  • ClickTight installation system
  • Adjustable harness and buckle
  • Steel frame
  • Soft padding
  • More compact than some other car seats

CONS

  • No cup holder
  • May be quickly outgrown

Where to Buy

Amazon

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Blue Coral
  • Built to grow with your child, this Safety 1st car seat supports infants from five pounds to toddlers of 40 pounds as a...
  • An adjustable three-position recline makes it easy to get a good fit for the seat in your car , Assembled Product...
  • Harness holders keep the harness open, making it easier to get into and out of the seat. Front seat passengers can enjoy...

Features

This car seat will be with your child from birth through elementary school. It works as a rear-facing seat for children between five and forty pounds, as a front facing seat for children 22 to 65 pounds. It has a big kid booster seat for children 45 to 100 pounds. For infants, it has a removable insert with extra head and neck support. It has plenty of padding and side impact protection for extra safety. It has built-in harness holders that keep the harness in place while you are putting the child in or taking him out of the seat. It also has two cup holders. One complaint some parent reviewers had was that it can be difficult to install, especially when in the infant seat position.

PROS

  • Can be used as a rear facing or forward facing car seat, or as a booster seat for older kids
  • Harness holders make it easier to put the child in and out of the seat
  • Lots of padding and side impact protection
  • Removable insert with extra support for infants

CONS

  • Can be difficult to install

Where to Buy

Amazon

Britax Frontier ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat, Vector
  • Toddler to Big Kid: Easily transition from harness to belt-positioning booster as your child grows
  • Easy installation: Patented ClickTight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
  • No rethreading, ever: Quick-adjust 9-position harness with headrest for a comfortable, secure fit

Features

This car seat starts out as a front facing toddler seat for children 25 to 90 pounds, and can be used as a booster seat for children 40 to 120 pounds. It has a steel frame, two layers of side impact protection, and an impact absorbing base with a tether. It has a 9-position adjustable harness for your child's height by pushing a button. It also uses ClickTight technology to make it easy for to install securely.

PROS

  • Can be used as a toddler car seat or as a booster seat
  • Steel frame
  • Two layers of side impact protection
  • Impact absorbing base and tether
  • Easy to adjust harness
  • Easy to install

CONS

  • Cannot be used as an infant seat

Where to Buy

Amazon

Evenflo Chase Harnessed Booster, Jameson
  • This 2-in-1 Combination Booster Car Seat fitting children from 22-110 lbs. converts from a 5-point harnessed to...
  • The Chase LX Combination Booster Car seat helps protect harnessed children from 22-40 pounds(Height: 28 - 50 inches) and...
  • This lightweight Combination Booster Car Seat comes equipped for LATCH systems allowing for easy installation and...

Features

You can use this car seat as a toddler car seat for children 22 to 40 pounds. It has a booster seat for children 40 to 110 pounds. It uses the LATCH system and comes with two attached cup holders. You can adjust the harness with the push of a button when getting your child in and out of the seat. It has four harness positions for the growing child, a belt positioning path to help with installation, and a removable head pillow and body pad for extra comfort.

PROS

  • Can be used as a toddler seat or booster seat
  • Two cup holders
  • Easily adjustable harness
  • Install using the LATCH system and/or seat belt

CONS

  • Fewer harness positions than other car seats
  • Cannot be used as an infant seat

Where to Buy

Amazon

Disney Store and Go Backless Booster Car Seat, Cars Formula Racer
  • Belt-positioning booster: 40-100 pounds
  • Keeps kid's gear easy to reach during the ride-no need to unbuckle to get to them
  • Kid-friendly latch keeps drawer shut

Features

This backless booster seat can only be used by children between 40 and 100 pounds. It features a storage drawer under the seat, where children can easily reach their toys and treasures, and a built-in cup holder.

PROS

  • Fun design by Disne
  • Kid-friendly toy storage area
  • Cup holder

CONS

  • Can only be used by children 40 to 100 pounds
  • Disney does not specialize in child passenger safety

Where to Buy

Amazon

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat (Seaport)
  • Perfect for smaller cars or for extra space in your larger vehicle, this LATCH-equipped Safety 1st car seat accommodates...
  • Adjust the five-point harness from the front of the seat
  • Side-impact protection built into this infant car seat keeps your little one extra secure

Features

You can use this car as a rear-facing seat for children 5 to 40 pounds, or a front facing seat for children 22 to 65 pounds. It has a five-point adjustable harness with the push of a button, an adjustable headrest, anti-rebound bolsters, and side impact protection. It also has a removable cup holder. This seat is narrow enough that three of them can fit side by side in one back seat, which would be perfect for a family with three young children who all weigh between 5 and 65 pounds.

PROS

  • Can be used as a rear facing or forward facing seat
  • Adjustable five-point harness
  • Adjustable head rest
  • Side impact protection
  • Anti-rebound bolsters
  • Removable cup holder
  • Three of them fit in a back seat together

CONS

  • Can only be used for children up to 65 pounds

Where to Buy

Amazon

Rear Facing

Rear Facing Up to 40 pounds

Perfect fit for smaller cars and helps protect your child longer in both rear and forward facing positions.

Side Impact Protection

Side Impact Protection

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat (Seaport)
  • Perfect for smaller cars or for extra space in your larger vehicle, this LATCH-equipped Safety 1st car seat accommodates...
  • Adjust the five-point harness from the front of the seat
  • Side-impact protection built into this infant car seat keeps your little one extra secure

Features

You can use this car as a rear-facing seat for children 5 to 40 pounds, or a front facing seat for children 22 to 65 pounds. It has a five-point adjustable harness with the push of a button, an adjustable headrest, anti-rebound bolsters, and side impact protection. It also has a removable cup holder. This seat is narrow enough that three of them can fit side by side in one back seat, which would be perfect for a family with three young children who all weigh between 5 and 65 pounds.

PROS

  • Can be used as a rear facing or forward facing seat
  • Adjustable five-point harness
  • Adjustable head rest
  • Side impact protection
  • Anti-rebound bolsters
  • Removable cup holder
  • Three of them fit in a back seat together

CONS

  • Can only be used for children up to 65 pounds

Where to Buy

Amazon

Diono Rainier All-in-One Convertible Car Seat, For Children from Birth...
  • TOP-TIER SAFETY WITH A STREAMLINED DESIGN: Diono's convertible car seats feature a fully integrated steel frame wrapped...
  • STYLISH AND SNUG FOR YOUR LITTLE ONE'S COMFORT: The Rainier features a 12-position, aluminum reinforced adjustable...
  • EXTENDED REAR-FACING CAPACITY FOR THE SAFEST RIDE: The Rainier offers an extended rear-facing capacity of 5-50 lbs,...

Features

You can use this seat as a rear-facing seat for children between 5 and 50 pounds. This means that children can remain rear-facing for longer, if their parents choose. You can also use it as a forward facing seat for children 20 to 65 pounds, and as a booster seat for children 50 to 120 pounds. Safety features include SafeStop, rebound-reducing rear facing tether, aluminum reinforced sidewalls, and energy absorbing foam. It can be installed using the LATCH system or a seatbelt. This seat is more narrow than most, and can fit easily into the backseat, but has expandable sides for your child's comfort. It folds flat for storage. It also has a Superlatch system that lets you know the car seat is installed properly. However, some parents have reported that it's hard to install... there are many steps involved, the instruction manual is unclear in some parts, and the narrow belt path makes it difficult to weave the seatbelt or LATCH belt through.

PROS

  • Many safety feature
  • Children up to 50 pounds can remain rear facing
  • Works as a rear facing, forward facing, or booster seat
  • Booster seat supports up to 120 pounds
  • Narrow enough to fit easily with other car seats
  • Folds for storage

CONS

  • Can be difficult to install

Where to Buy

Amazon

Graco 4ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, Basin
  • All-in-1 convertible car seat grows with your child, enjoy 10 years of use from 4 - 120 lb
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of harness and headrest (10 positions) in one motion
  • The 4Ever convertible car seat has been side impact tested for occupant retention solely with the built-in 5-point...

Features

You can use this car seat as a rear-facing seat for children 4 to 40 pounds, a forward facing seat for children 20 to 65 pounds, a high back booster seat for children 30 to 100 pounds, or a backless booster seat for children 40 to 120 pounds. One of the top rated car seats on the market, its safety features include a steel frame and impact-absorbing padding. It can be installed with seatbelts or with the LATCH system. The belt paths are clearly labeled and color coded, to make it easier to install. One complaint reviewers have had is that the headrest rattles while the car is in motion, especially when the seat is empty. This does not pose a safety risk, but may annoy some drivers.

PROS

  • Can be used in four different positions
  • Steel frame
  • Impact absorbing padding
  • Color coded and easily labeled for installation

CONS

  • Headrest rattles

Where to Buy

Amazon

Comparison Table​

The Verdict

It is very important to make sure you choose the best toddler car seat for your family. No one car seat is perfect for every child.

Our overall top pick for the best toddler car seat is the Diono Rainier Convertible Car Seat. It allows children to remain in the rear-facing position until they are 50 pounds. This is 10 pounds more than the weight limit of most rear-facing car seats. You can use it as a booster seat for children up to 120 pounds. It has some very impressive safety features. It is also narrow enough to fit three, side by side, into a back seat. This can be a great advantage for families with several young children. The only real problem this car seat has is that it's difficult to install. If you are concerned about whether any car seat is installed correctly, or you need help to install it, you can visit a car seat inspection station.

Our top pick for the best toddler car seat for parents on a budget is the Safety 1st Grow And Go 3 In 1 Convertible Car Seat. It has some same features as the Diono Rainier although the weight limits are lower for each position.

For added safety, consider registering your car seat with the manufacturer. You'll get important safety updates and recall information related to your car seat. Most car seats come with a card you can fill out and send in, but if you can't find your card, you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to register your car seat online.