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The Best Toddler Car Seat Options for 2024

By Elizabeth Kadar and Juliana Amador
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01

How we chose the best toddler car seat picks

I spoke with a certified car seat consultant to get the lowdown on what to look for in the best toddler car seats, as well as read through tons of reviews from real moms and dads on the seats they loved for their own kiddos and why.

The car seats that made it on our list all performed well in crash tests and received high marks for ease of install, safety and overall value. Plus, they all came from super reputable brands, trusted by CPSTs and parents.

Sources: Juliana Amador, a certified car seat consultant at CarSeatsandMore.net

What to look for in the best toddler car seat

Car seats have come a long way since you were cruising around carefree in the backseat of your mom’s minivan—likely in an improperly installed and highly unsafe (according to today’s standards) seat. Now that you’re a parent and we all know better, selecting the best toddler car seat for your little is top priority. But the plethora of options can make your head spin.

Do you want an all-in-one convertible car seat? A convenient rotating car seat? Something sleek with all the bells and whistles? Or just the best basic seat that scores high marks in crash testing?

Whatever you’re in the market for, we’ve done the legwork to narrow down the best toddler car seats in every category.

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03

Best overall

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat Amazon

What we like: Easy to clean, transitions between rear and forward facing. Suitable for children up to 65 pounds, and comes with a space-saving cupholder for added convenience.

Take note: Can only rear face up to 40 pounds, which is the average size of a 4-year-old, but still offers lots of longevity.

The NextFit has more than three thousand positive reviews on Amazon from parents who praised this popular seat for its fuss-free install, overall comfort, safety features and the fact that it’s incredibly easy to clean, which is key when you’ve got a little snack monster—or worse, a kid who voms every time you’re in the car for longer than 30 minutes.

The seat pad zips right off (no buttons to fuss with!) and can be thrown directly in the washing machine on the delicate cycle. If you’ve ever broken a sweat trying to get a super tight install, you’ll appreciate the innovative SuperCinch force-multiplying tightener and LockSure belt-locking system that does all the heavy lifting (and tightening) for you.

For maximum safety and peace of mind, the NextFit features two layers of protection, EPS energy-absorbing foam and a steel-reinforced frame so your little’s head and torso are properly protected. Other features to love are the nine-position recline in both rear-facing and forward-facing, adjustable headrest, a foldable cup for drinks on the go and a breathable back rest for hot summer days.

best toddler car seats, chicco nextfit car seat Merchant

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04

Best budget

Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

safety 1st grow and go toddler car seat, best toddler car seats Merchant

What we like: Suitable for children 5-100 lb; shifts from rear to forward-facing and booster. Easy-adjust headrest and harness, machine-washable seat pads, and dishwasher-safe cup holders.

Take note: The seat requires space management for optimal legroom in rear-facing mode to ensure comfort for front-seat passengers.

A budget-friendly option that will take you from the cheerio-dumping toddler days all the way until they’re graduating fifth grade and you’re basically a chauffeur. This seat can be used in rear-facing mode until your kiddo reaches 40 pounds or 40 inches, forward-facing until they max out at 65 pounds or 52 inches and as a high-back booster until they hit 100 pounds.

Unlike many car seats, the cover on this one can be cleaned in the washing machine AND dried in the dryer so you don’t have to wait an entire day for it to be dry enough to put back on, which is a game-changer honestly. The car seat itself gives parents up to seven inches more legroom when placed in rear-facing mode.

And if you’ve got a squirmy toddler (aren’t they all?) on your hands, you’ll appreciate the harness holders to help you quickly and easily get your kiddo in and out. Whether you're looking for forward-facing or rear-facing seats, this Safety 1st model is a brilliant value.

Marchant

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05

Best design

Clek Foonf

Clek Foonf Amazon

What we like: Advanced side-impact protection, multiple recline options, easy-clean design, no-twist harness, narrow 3-across seating, and aircraft approved.

Take note: On the expensive side, but you get what you pay for.

One of the best toddler car seats for fashion-forward, design-minded fams. Not only is the Clek Foonf super compact at less than 17 inches wide, which is fab if you need to fit a few kiddos across in the back.

It’s packed with state-of-the-art safety features—from patented energy-absorbing crumple technology to  an innovative steel anti-rebound bar  and advanced side-impact protection. Each feature promises to keep your kiddo extra protected while you’re on the road.

While not cheap, this luxe seat is built like a tank, looks great in the backseat and is basically foolproof to install with the rigid-latch system in forward-facing mode. If you’re a stickler for safety like we are, you’ll love the option for extended rear-facing, with a max weight of up to 50 pounds. It's definitely one of our favorite car seats for toddlers thanks to the extended weight range.

Another unique feature of the Clek is the cushy, Greenguard-Gold-certified fabric, which helps protect against water-based stains and odor-causing bacteria. It’s also free of halogenated flame retardants. Three recline modes ensure your toddler is always comfortable.

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06

Best rated

Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 Car Seat

graco slimfit, best toddler car seats Merchant

What we like: Suitable for children 5-100 lb; converts from rear to forward-facing and booster. Includes rotating cup holders, adjustable harness, and steel-reinforced frame.

Take note: Can only rear face up to 40 pounds, which is the average size of a 4-year-old.

With over 42,000 positive reviews and an almost-perfect 4.9-average star rating on Amazon, the Graco Slimfit 3-in-1 is a no-brainer, especially at such an affordable price point for a seat that will last your toddler forever (5-100 pounds to be precise). Its slimmer profile makes it perfect for twins or multiples—or if you just want a little extra room in the back so passengers aren’t squished.

It features a four-position recline to get the best install, a fuss-free no-rethread harness and an easily adjustable 10-position headrest height to ensure your little one is always properly secured. The seat is Graco ProtectPlus Engineered to better protect your toddler in any type of crash.

A steel-reinforced frame offers additional strength and durability, giving you a good ten years of use before you have to retire this bad boy. Toddlers love the cool rotating cup holders for sipping and chilling on the go. When they’re not in use, just rotate them back in to save space.

Share to PinterestGraco Slimfit 3-in-1 Car Seat
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07

Best infant to toddler

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

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What we like: Extends rear-facing for kids 4-65 lb with a 4-position legroom panel. Features easy headrest/harness adjustments, harness storage, and Graco ProtectPlus safety.

Take note: Some reviewers complain that the square cup holders are too small to fit cups with a wide bottom.

This toddler car seat is easily the most popular on Amazon, and for good reason. Over 90% of more than 69,000 reviewers on Amazon gave this infant-to-toddler car seat a perfect 5/5 rating, which is almost unheard of! Parents praise the affordable price point in particular and the fact that bigger kids can comfortably sit rear-facing for longer, up to 50 pounds.

A thoughtfully-designed four-position extension panel provides up to five inches of extra legroom so your kiddo is never cramped. The headrest and harness can be adjusted in one swift go to easily accommodate your growing toddler and convenient pockets keep the straps out of the way so getting them in and out the car isn’t as time-consuming.

Like the other Graco seat on our list, the Extend2Fit is engineered to protect your little one in frontal, side, rear and rollover crashes so that’s one less thing you have to worry about. It's approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics to fit your child comfortably and safely through their toddler years.

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08

Easiest to install

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

britax boulevard car seat in green, best toddler car seats Merchant

What we like: Features dual side impact protection, and a steel frame. Effortless installation with level indicators, 14-position harness, and 7-position recline. Supports 5-65 lbs from rear to forward-facing.

Take note: Rear-facing only up to 40 pounds.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after three kids and having to uninstall and reinstall car seats way too many times from messes, it’s that you absolutely want a seat that’s effortless to install (and clean!) like the Britax Boulevard ClickTight. Unobstructed seat belt paths and an automatic tensioner make getting the perfect install stress-free every single time.

The car seat cover can go in both the washing machine and the dryer so if you need to get back on the road STAT there’s no waiting around for it to air dry.  Two layers of side impact protection surround your toddler’s head, neck and torso, while a high-strength steel frame, SafeCell crumple zone and V-shaped tether offer even more peace of mind.

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09

Best for travel

Wayb Pico Travel Car Seat

Wayb Pico Travel Car Seat, best toddler car seats Merchant

What we like: Meets car and plane safety standards with a 5-point harness and durable aluminum frame. At 8 lbs, it's easy to install, and fits three-across in most vehicles. Features a breathable mesh seat and ergonomic design.

Take note: Expensive but ideal for frequent travelers; suitable for toddlers ages 2 and up.

The best toddler car seats are notoriously heavy so if you’re a frequent flier, you’ll want to add a lightweight travel seat, like the much-buzzed-about Wayb Pico, to your lineup for hassle-free jet-setting. Weighing in at only 8 pounds, this innovative (and foldable!) seat can be used for kiddos ages two and up. It's good up to 50 pounds and 45 inches.

This handsome toddler car seat also comes with a premium carrying bag made from recycled polyester that can be worn as a backpack, with the handle or slipped right on to your carry-on luggage so it’s one less thing you have to hold. Did we mention it fits in the overhead bin too, eliminating the risk of damage from checking?

The premium mesh seat fabric is completely breathable and temperature-regulating so your toddler stays cool and comfortable on the go. And for those wondering, yes, the Pico meets all U.S. safety standards for cars and planes, with an FAA-approved sticker right on the bottom. It's a major upgrade from typical backless boosters.

Wayb Pico Travel Car Seat Amazon

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Best for Small Cars

Diono Radian 3RXT SafePlus

Diono Radian 3RXT SafePlus Amazon

What we like: Accommodates children from birth to 120 pounds and converts from rear-facing to booster seat. Slim enough to fit three across in most vehicles. Easy to install and folds flat for travel convenience.

Take note: Heavier than some models, which could be cumbersome for frequent switching between vehicles. The sturdy build may limit front seat adjustability in compact cars.

The Diono Radian 3RXT SafePlus is a heavy hitter when it comes to keeping your little ones safe on the road. Designed to last from birth to big kid booster seat days, this car seat supports kids up to 120 pounds and easily fits three across in most family cars—ideal for those with a full nest.

This model is built like a fortress, boasting six layers of side impact protection and a sturdy steel frame that significantly reduces rebound in a crash. If you're tired of wrestling with car seats during installation, you'll appreciate the latch system that makes securing it in place a snap—no sweat required.

For parents on the go, the Radian 3RXT folds flat, making it perfect for travel, and yes, it's FAA-approved.

Diono Radian 3RXT SafePlus - Lifestyle Amazon

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Best Extended Use

Safety 1st Grow and Go Extend 'n Ride LX

Safety 1st Grow and Go Extend 'n Ride LX Amazon

What we like: Supports children from 5 to 100 pounds and adjusts for growing legs with a versatile ComfortPlus Footrest.

Take note: Its bulky size may not fit well in compact cars; its weight complicates frequent car swaps.

The Safety 1st Grow and Go Extend 'n Ride LX is designed to be the only car seat you’ll ever need, accommodating your child from the newborn stage all the way to the big kid booster seat era. It’s perfect for parents looking for a long-term solution that adapts to their child’s growing needs.

This seat makes each transition smooth and hassle-free with features like the ComfortPlus Footrest, which provides extra legroom in rear-facing mode and becomes a comfy footrest as your child grows. Adjusting the seat is easy, too—the harness allows for fast height adjustments of both the harness and headrest at once, making sure the fit is always just right.

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Most Adjustable

Maxi-Cosi Pria All-in-1

Maxi-Cosi Pria Amazon

What we like: Adapts from rear-facing to booster seat, supporting children from 4 to 100 pounds with an easy-use magnetic chest clip and washable fabrics.

Take note: The premium price reflects its high-quality and versatile features; may be bulky for smaller vehicles

The Maxi-Cosi Pria All-in-One is a solid choice for safety-conscious parents aiming to equip their vehicle with a seat that grows with their child, from those first days as a newborn through to their big kid days. It supports children up to 100 pounds and transitions from rear-facing to forward-facing, and finally to a booster seat, making it the only car seat you'll need for years.

Built to be both sturdy and sophisticated, the Pria features a convenient auto-magnetic chest clip that snaps together effortlessly, saving time and hassle during busy mornings. The seat’s fabrics not only meet rigorous safety standards without the use of fire retardant chemicals but are also easy to remove and clean—ideal for keeping up with the inevitable spills and messes.

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Best Innovative Feature

Evenflo Revolve360 Extend All-in-One

Evenflo Revolve360 Extend All-in-One Amazon

What we like: Rotates 360 degrees for easy access, supports from 4 to 120 pounds, and includes real-time safety alerts with SensorSafe.

Take note: Premium pricing for advanced safety and convenience features; requires ample space in vehicle for proper fit.

The Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Extend is a game-changer in car seat safety and convenience, designed to protect your little ones from their first ride home to their school days. This all-in-one seat supports children from 4 to 120 pounds and offers revolutionary 360° rotation, making every trip easier whether you’re dropping off at daycare or heading out on a family vacation.

This car seat is engineered like a fortress. With the SensorSafe technology, you get real-time updates on your child’s well-being straight to your smartphone, ensuring peace of mind with alerts for unbuckled chest clips, uncomfortable temperatures, and more. The car seat’s 360° rotational feature allows for effortless entry and exit without the hassle and back strain associated with traditional car seats.

evenflo REVOLVE360 evenflo

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Easiest to Clean

Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-in-One

Chicco OneFit Amazon

What we like: Transitions from rear-facing to booster, accommodating children from 5 to 100 pounds with easy installation features.

Take note: Higher upfront cost; large size may not fit well in compact vehicles.

The Chicco OneFit ClearTex is built to support your child from infancy to the booster-seat years, serving as a versatile, all-in-one solution for growing families. Designed to support children from 5 to 100 pounds, this seat easily transitions from rear-facing to forward-facing and later to a booster seat, making it a versatile choice for growing families.

Engineered with safety and convenience in mind, the OneFit ClearTex boasts a streamlined design that fits comfortably in most vehicles without sacrificing child comfort. It features patented protection, which includes a deep rigid shell with energy-absorbing foam and a reinforced steel frame for superior impact protection. The car seat is also equipped with GREENGUARD Gold Certified fabric for low chemical emissions, providing a healthier environment for your child.

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Toddler Car Seat FAQs

What features should I look for in a car seat?

There are the nice-to-have features—like convenient cup holders, adjustable headrests, machine-washable covers, extra padding and soft fabrics—that will make for a more comfortable ride and easy cleaning when the inevitable toddler car sickness strikes, and then there are the must-have features you can’t afford to go without.

For example, a five-point harness with adjustable straps is essential to safely and securely restrain your child. “It should be easy to buckle and unbuckle, too,” notes Juliana Amador, a certified car seat consultant. She recommends looking for a car seat that has side-impact protection, which can help protect your child's head and neck in the event of a side-impact collision. Car seats that have energy-absorbing foam in the headrest, backrest and sides of the seat can also help reduce the impact of a crash and protect your child's head and body.”

Another often overlooked feature by parents is the adjustable recline, especially for toddlers who are prone to car naps. “This feature can ensure that the child is comfortably positioned and prevent their head from falling forward while sleeping,” says Amador. “Additionally, an adjustable recline provides flexibility for different installation options.”

If you or your partner are taller, you can instantly create extra legroom by adjusting the car seat to a more upright position.

Unsure of your installation skills? According to Amador, a LATCH system can make it easier to install the car seat securely and reduce the risk of installation errors. “Add-ons like an anti-rebound bar, load leg, side impact pods, lock-off installation, rigid LATCH, extended rear facing/forward-facing limits and harnessing height limits all add great value, and these are some things that parents should consider too.”

You’ll also want to think about your child’s age and weight and if you want an all-in-one car seat that will grow with him. Select a seat that you can confidently install correctly, and that isn’t a huge hassle to clean or put the cover back on to make your life infinitely easier.

And if you travel often or plan on moving the car seats between cars, something that’s lightweight and FAA-approved might be your best move.

Are the best toddler car seat options expensive?

The best toddler car seats come at a variety of price points to suit every budget. Parents often think the higher the price, the safer the car seat, and that's not the truth,” says Amador. “All car seats, from budget-friendly to high-end, pass the same safety standards!”

Can you wash toddler car seats?

Always look at the manufacturer's care instructions for your particular car seat, as no two seats are alike when it comes to cleaning. This is super important because using harsh (or the wrong) products on your car seat could compromise its safety. Some car seat covers can be thrown in the wash on the delicate cycle and air-dried, while others must be spot cleaned with water and mild soap.

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