Best Car Seats for Toddlers

Once your baby has outgrown their infant car seat they are ready for the next step up. Before 24 months it is recommended to keep your baby in a rear-facing car seat (See also, convertible car seats) Once your tot reaches the recommended requirements for forward-facing (typically by age 2 or 32″ long) they’ll still need a little boost before they’re ready to sit in the car’s seat with the shoulder belt. Ultimately the 5-point harness system is the safest way for your child to ride. I’ve listed below some of the best car seats for toddlers that meet or exceed safety standards to provide ultimate protection for your precious passengers.

*Always check the latest car seat recalls to ensure your child’s safety. We will never review or recommend products that are currently on recall; however a product we’ve mention may become recalled after the time the article was written. Always register your car seats as well as other infant gear after purchasing to get updates from the manufacturer should your product become recalled.

Best All-in-One Car Seats

These are the best car seats for toddlers that offer the most versatility and value. It combines a rear-facing infant seat that converts to a forward-facing toddler seat and a booster seat all in one. These car seats truly grow with your child at different stages so you’ll only need one seat for them.

Evenflo Symphony 65
Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThis car seat by Evenflo is an all-in-one car seat that converts from a rear-facing seat for infants 5-40lbs to a forward-facing  seat for toddlers 20-65lbs and a booster seat for toddlers 40-100lbs. This car seat features a really simple installation making it easy for anyone to install in their vehicle with the convenience of an Infinite Slide Harness system so the straps can be adjusted for a secure fit without having to rethread them. It also uses a sure LATCH system to provide optimal security. See reviews

Graco SmartSeat
Rated 4.1 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThe Graco Smartseat has many key features that make it not only safe but very convenient for parents. It features a base that stays in the car which securely straps into the vehicle using the LATCH system or the seat belt with a built-in lock-off. Once you have the base properly installed the seat can be safely positioned rear-facing or forward facing without having to reinstall it. The seat also offers 5 different reclining positions for the appropriate angle with infants to upright for toddlers who want to see what’s going on. See reviews

Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite
Rated 3.6 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThis car seat by Safety 1st features 3 different modes for a convertible car seat that also converts to a booster belt-positioning seat. It has a 5-point harness system which can be easily adjusted from the front so there’s no disassembling or rethreading and the arm rests pivot to make it easier to get your child in and out. The head rest is adjustable and the seat features 3 reclining positions for proper angle placement and comfort. It also has a removable cup holder to conveniently hold your toddlers drink. See reviews


Best Combination Car Seats

These combination car seats provide a high back forward-facing toddler seat and a booster seat for children 40lbs and up into one system. These offer a great value for parents who used a separate infant car seat until their child was ready for the forward-facing position. They’re also ideal for parents (such as myself) with smaller than average children who are big enough for forward-facing but are not big enough for a standard booster seat (case in point- my now 4-year old who would typically be in a booster seat by now is still under 30 pounds, hence she will be in a car seat for awhile).

RECARO Prosport
Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageIf you’re looking for a top of the line combination car seat then this is the one for you. This seat uses a 5-point harness restraint system for toddlers from 20-90 pounds. When they’re ready for the booster, just remove the harness system for use as a high-back booster with a lock-off system to lock the seat belt for optimal safety. Made by the same company that makes auto racing seats, the RECARO has many advanced safety features to ensure your child is protected in the event of a crash. It has a push-button LATCH system and also provides a storage option for the LATCH system when no longer using. See reviews

Britax Frontier 85
Rated 4.6 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThe Britax Frontier is an award winning seat that provides the highest harness system to accommodate toddlers and young children up to 85lbs. In just the booster mode it can sit children up to 120lbs (my 12 year old niece could still sit in this thing!) It is designed with side-impact protection to keep your child’s head, neck and spine aligned to reduce injury in a crash. It also features a tether to secure the seat at the top from 2 positions that keep it from moving forward in a collision to provide a complete 360-degree protection. See reviews

Graco Nautilus
Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageGraco’s Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat is one of the best selling car seats because of its safety features and versatility to grow with your child from 2- 100 pounds! The seat offers 3 different options for security- the 5 point harness system for toddlers up to 65lbs and 2 seat belt-positioning booster options. Use it with the high back system or use it with the booster seat alone once your toddler reaches 40lbs. The head rest can be adjusted and the seat also features 3 reclining positions for a comfortable ride on short or long trips. Read reviews

Best Booster Seats

Booster seats help to give your child a little boost for the proper height used with the vehicle’s seat belt. Children must be 40 pounds in order to use the booster seat. This would be a great option for those who previously used a convertible seat or as an extra seat for grandma’s car when your child is ready. Traditional booster seats are also the most affordable option in comparison to the combination boosters.

Evenflo AMP Performance
Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThis booster seat is constructed to exceed federal crash test standards to ensure safety. It has a contoured pad that provides a comfortable ride even on long trips and can easily be removed for washing. It also has conveniently placed dual cup holders for easy getting in and out of the seat. This seat also comes available in fun sporty colors.  See reviews

Graco Backless TurboBooster
Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThe Graco TurboBooster seat is highly rated and voted one of the most popular choices in booster seats. It has been crash tested to meet or exceed safety standards and helps keeps your big kid safe while riding in the back seat. Designed for children ages 4- 10 or minimum weight of 40 pounds up to 57″ tall. This booster also includes 2 cup holders that can be stored away by simply pushing them in when not in use. See reviews

BubbleBum Car Booster
Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars
Amazon ImageThis is actually an inflatable booster car seat that comes in a bag for ultimate convenience. It is great for frequent travelers who switch out vehicles often or for babysitters and can easily sit 3 seats across the back seat without compromising space for other passengers. The inflatable seat also provides a super comfortable ride for children 40-100 pounds. The seat also meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and has been awarded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. See reviews

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