Let’s face it, whether you are expecting a new baby or you have a toddler, then you most definitely need a car seat. I mean, how else are you going to drive the baby home? There is an undeniable excitement that comes with a new baby! Along with it though, comes a heavy sense of responsibility on all fronts. On an individual level, pause and think of how fortunate you are every day you leave and drive back home safely! A lot of things can happen on the road, and your baby is the last thing you want to be hurt! Along with protecting your baby, an ideal car seat is going to make all trips with your gem, much convenient and easier! The problem is, there is a ton of competition, with just as compelling variety out there. This makes it a tedious process to come up with a final pick. However, it might not be assistive to jump into the top 10 list of our favorite toddler baby seats. In this article, we will first educate you on the basics you need to have in mind as you shop for the perfect seat for your baby. Let’s begin!
Types of Toddler Car Seats
- Convertible seats: These are initially rear-facing car seats for infants and are designed to carry them until they outgrow its size specifications. Afterward, they can be adjusted to forward-facing mode to accommodate the grown baby.
- Forward-facing seats: These are designed for older babies who can seat in the forward-facing position based on their height and weight. They are often adjustable to booster-mode as the baby grows.
- Booster seats: This is meant for even bigger babies. They are designed to raise your child’s seating height to a level they can properly fasten their seat belts. More often this is suitable for babies who have outgrown the other two types of seats listed above.
- All-in-one seats: These are sets capable of being in any of the three seating positions your baby will progress through as they grow; rear-facing, front-facing, and booster positions. These are generally cost-effective in the long run, considering you will not have to purchase two or three other baby seats as your child grows. On the other side, they tend to sacrifice comfort and longevity by trying to fit all features in one package.
What the heck are all these positions for anyway? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are much safer in the rear-facing position in the eventuality of an accident. Depending on personal preference, age and weight limits, this can be changed but the rear-facing position is still safer than the front-facing. This matter is taken so seriously in fact, that there are federal laws fashioned to regulate this space.
What Does The Law Say?
All states in the United States require infants to be restricted in rear-facing sits until they are at least a year old. However, several states including California and Oklahoma push the limit to two years, with heavy enforcement behind the regulations. Toddlers must get as much or even more protection in the car just like adults do use seat belts and airbags! It’s important to note that, all car seats sold in the US must pass safety evaluations run by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. These tests are:
- Head injury tests used to find out the likelihood of the baby getting a head injury in the event of a crash.
- The chest g-force test meant to measure the amount of impact on the chest area of a toddler during a crash.
- A maximum seat belt deviation angle test used to evaluate the amount of restriction the seat belt offers in a crash.
While the government allows the manufactures to test and self-certify their car seats based on the above regulations, regular random compliance checks are still carried out to ensure they meet and maintain their standards. A typical test would be a randomly picked car seat tested by a private testing facility on behalf of the government to gauge the seat’s integrity in a 30mph head-on collision.
For safety purposes, it’s recommended that you keep your child in the rear-facing position as long as possible. An exception being when the child is no longer comfortable enough in that position because of their height and weight. This is typically capped at 24 months or above 40 pounds.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Toddler Car Seat
- Size: I’m referring to the size of both your vehicle and the car seat. Chose a seat that effortlessly fits and sits in your car.
- Ease of installation: So much is already bothering us out here, so be sure to get a piece that is ready to roll; using only your seat belts and in-built seat anchors available in most relatively modern cars.
- Material: Pick a seat that is made of durable, easy-to-clean fabric.
- Safety indicators: Whenever possible, go for a seta that can tell you when you have and have not installed the seat correctly. Note that the safety of the seat largely depends on the correctness of installation. A good example is the inclusion of a recline indicator.
- Stroller compatibility: You want a seat that is cross-compatible with most stroller frames. This is a convenient utility to make sure the logistics of your baby are covered in and out of the car.
- Expiration date: All car seats come with an expiration date beyond which they might not be safe for use. The average duration of a car seat is six years in the US.
- Safety features: A seat must offer both fastening and impact protection features. These include;
- An EPS foam on the head area to provide cushioning during an impact.
- A 5-point harness to provide support on the child’s crotch, hips and shoulder to reduce the degree of slip while on the seat.
Car Seat Accessories
If you want to further enhance your car seat, the following is a list of additional things you can purchase along with it:
- Car seat base: This saves you the cost of having to purchase an extra car seat for your other car(s). The base allows you to make quick changeovers.
- A canopy: This can help provide shade for your child.
- A seat cover: This allows your baby to snuggly fit in and stay warm in their car seat.
- Car seat cushions: This allows you to adjust the space to accommodate a small baby.
- Back seat mirror: This allows you to monitor your baby while still driving.
I know this is a lot of information to take in, but don’t worry, I have made it easy for you. Here’s is a list of toddler car seats we feel have met and exceeded our criterion.
#1. Cozy N Safe Galaxy: Best Value Toddler Car Seat 2019
This seat is well designed with a bright finish. The fabric is strictly hand washed. It’s especially easy to install and remove. You can rest assured your baby is comfortable, thanks to its deep padding that keeps everything smooth down there. It is especially best for toddlers up to age three or four. The set is side-impact protection certified with an ISOFIX system. The entire package is about 45 pounds and comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Simple installation process on any car.
- Fitted with a safety installation indicator.
- Boosts multiple recline positions to accommodate toddlers of any size.
- Gives room for all time ventilation for your toddler.
- Very comfortable.
- Movable headrest.
- Complex removal process.
- It cannot be machine washed.
#2. Britax Römer Evolva 1/2/3 SL SICT: Best Versatile Toddler Car Seat 2019
This unit made it to the least because of its movability from one car to another, thanks to its ISOFIX and seatbelt installation provision. This ensures your baby is sorted regardless of the car you use. The seat is ideal for kids up to 12 years of age or 80 pounds in weight. With an advanced side impact cushion technology, the seat exceeds all safety standards. The package weighs about 12-18 pounds and comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Multiple recline positions.
- Integrated side impacts protection system.
- Easy installation.
- Back padding cushioning for extra comfort.
- Safe harness system.
- Adjustable headrest.
- Modest form factor in terms of volume.
- Fabric is machine washable.
- Complex installation instructions.
- The five-point harness is difficult to adjust.
#3. Kiddy Phoenix fix 3
This is a front-facing toddler seat. It is made of light materials and is easy to install and use. The cover is quickly removable. The only downside being the side impact shield is bulky and might be bothersome to some toddlers. The seat is best for toddlers up to the age of 4. The package is around 23 pounds and comes with a 2-year warranty.
- Easy to install.
- Spacious sitting space.
- The side-impact shield is disturbing to some children.
- Not easily adjustable.
#4. Graco 4Ever: Best Overall
This seat is here because of its safety features tested during impact by several customers who reported zero injuries on their toddlers. Along with the provision to use your car’s seat belt system, the seat boasts color-coded stickers to ease with the installation process. With a 10-year life span and sturdy materials, you can be sure the seat will be around for a long time.
- Supports a huge weight range of toddlers.
- Hardy steel reinforcement structure ensures solid protection.
- The cover is machine washable.
- Stroller non-compatibility.
#5. Peg-Pérego Primo Viaggio: Luxury Pick
This the best high end, well-made product in this list. Designed by Italians, close attention is paid to its safety features with the most outstanding of them including; side-impact protection technology, polystyrene crash energy absorption system and contoured steel back making the overall construction solid. The seat allows an extra 5 pounds from the recommended 40-pound limit for rear-facing toddlers. The fabric is machine washable and the overall quality of the unit is impressive.
- Supports both front and rear-facing positions.
- Very safe.
- Machine washable cover.
- No cup holder.
#6. Chicco KeyFit: Best Infant Car Seat
This unit boasts an easy installation process demonstrated by how easy it clicks to the base. On that note, it is compatible with most strollers as well. Combine this with its lightweight design and you have a product easily movable from car to car.
- Simple transition from a stroller to a car.
- Cross-compatibility with multiple stroller brands.
- Only ideal for infants.
- Relatively weak build quality.
#7. Graco Extend2Fit
This unit is designed for parents who wish to extend the time toddlers sit in the rear-facing position. With a 50-pound rear-facing weight limit plus an extra 5” leg room extension provision, you can be sure your baby will be in the softest position for the longest time.
- Highly versatile.
- Compact in size, thus fits in most vehicles.
- Easy installation process.
- Multiple color options.
- Bulky, leaving little room for the addition of extra baby seats.
- Relatively difficult to remove seat covers.
#8. Britax Frontier G1.1 ClickTight
First off, this is an American product and it’s very well made. It especially excels in comfortably accommodating both the forward-facing as well as booster positions.
- Easy booster seat installation process.
- Multiple headrest adjustability positions.
- Easy to remove the cover.
- Generous weight limit at 90-120 pounds depending on the orientation.
- Excellent safety ratings by the NHTSA.
- Huge form factor in terms of volume and wright.
#9. Chicco KidFit 2-in-1
This is the most versatile booster seat option on the list. The unit allows for up to 110-pound babies to be comfortably accommodated. The unit boasts four colors and the cover is machine washable.
- Supports both backed and backless modes.
- Easy to install.
- Easy to remove and clean cover.
- Lagging aesthetic appeal compared to similarly priced counterparts in the list.
- Heavy and bulky.
#10. UPPABaby MESA: Spill-proof Pick
This is the most straight forward option to install. Thanks to its employment of a smart auto-retracting latch connector. It also includes indicators coded in red and green to guide you to the ideal, safe position. Coupling its side-impact protection technology with a strong steel structure, the unit promises a solid service life and top-notch safety during accidents.
- Easiest to install in the list.
- Great aesthetics.
- Solid build quality.
- Stroller cross-compatibility.
- Some customers reported poor ventilation issues leading to overheating of the toddler.
- Some people are not entirely satisfied with their level of comfort.
The safety of your child is paramount when making a car seat choice. Once you have arrived at a final choice, ensure you install the unit correctly and as instructed. Monitor your baby’s growth regularly to know when to switch their position or get another seat. Lastly, pick the seat that best suits you and your baby’s needs. Till next time, bye!