Best Travel Car Seat For Toddler Rated and Reviewed: The Ultimate Guide

best toddler car seat

You will agree with me when I say that there is no better thing in the world than moving your baby to the next stage.

However, when it comes to the best toddler car seats for travel or just any other type of child safety seat, it is not only about moving them to the next stage. 

"Your toddler should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height/weight limit allowed by your safety seat's manufacturer." or at least when they are two years old or have exceeded height/weight limits of their rear facing seats.

You need to take the following into account when moving the baby from rear facing to forward facing:

  • Always check your child safety seat labels and carseat manual for model number, manufacturer date, installation instructions, weight and height limits and if it is FAA approved if you are going to be using it as a travel booster seat
  • Use the car seat to the maximum weight and height limit before moving them to the forward facing toddler seat. 
  • Rear facing car seat that you can read reviews about here will always be safer in high impact frontal offset and frontal crashes which are the highest probability accidents.
  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics you need to keep the child in the rear facing mode at least until they are age two or when they outgrow their carseats weight and height limits.

Best Toddler Car Seat for Travel: Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 toddler Car Seat

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Out of the Travel Toddler car seats reviewed, the Graco 4 Ever 4-in-1 is the best child safety seat that comes with up to four modes of use, superior protection comfort, safety, and long use

Top Rated Travel Car Seats for Toddlers 2018

Rating

Image

Product

Our Rating

Weight

Price

1

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Graco 4 Ever 4-in-1 Basin

27.5 Pounds

2

Graco Affix Youth Booster

Graco Affix Youth Booster

9.8 Pounds

3

Evenflo Maestro Thunder

Evenflo Maestro Booster

11.02 Pounds

4

Disney APT Convertible Car Seat

Disney APT Mouseketeer

12 Pounds

5

Safety 1st Grow and Go

Safety 1st Grow and Go

19.9 Pounds

Safety Considerations When Buying Toddler Seats

​Forward Facing or Convertible Car Seat

The best Convertible car seats or all in one car seats are great for toddlers and your baby in general given that you can use them at different stages of your baby's growth without needing to buy a new seat.

However you need to remember that you can only transition the child to a forward facing toddler seat once they have maxed out the weight or height capacity of their infant seat.

A child will usually be ready for the forward facing car seat when they are about two years old and about 40 pounds or more in weight.

5-Point Harness

While a toddler is not as delicate as an infant you still need to offer them adequate protection.

A good toddler car seatto travel with is one that comes with a 5-point harness which are a series of safety belts that clip between the legs, over the thighs and across the baby's chest.

They ensure the baby is snugly secured in reducing the severity or probability of injury in the instance of a crash.

5 point harness
baby in 5 point harness car seat
​Top Tether

Most cars including light trucks, minivans and cars manufactured after 2002 come with tether anchors.

A tether is a a strap on top of the car seat that attaches the child safety seat to the anchor on the car to prevent the seat from moving around too much in the instance of a crash.

Ensure that you buy a toddler seat that comes with a top tether to enhance the safety of your kid. 

​Padding

A toddler is very active and hence to ensure they have a comfortable ride, you should purchase a toddler car seat that has plush and soft padding around the back and head.

If your toddler safety seat lacks the necessary padding use a rolled up blanket around the baby (never behind or under though) o provide much needed support. 

Machine Washable Cover​

The toddler stage of your child is one in which they are at their most messy and if your not careful with your choice of safety seat, you may end up with unsightly seats.

A good forward facing car seat for your baby needs to be one that has a removable and machine washable cover so that you can wash away the food and dirt stains whenever you feel like it. 

How to Install the Toddler Child Seat

Best Toddler Car Seats for Travel Reviews 2018

1. Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat Review

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Rear-facing toddler Car Seat

Rear-facing

The Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is the best all in one seat that can function as a toddler safety seat.

Moreover it is made by Graco a top brand in the child car seat making industry known for making some of the most safe and comfortable car seats in the market for a smooth ride

  • The Graco 4Ever is a great child safety seat that comes with the longest periods of use of up to 10 years meaning you never have to buy another seat
  • The seat provides your baby with the utmost in comfort and safety with LATCH installation and plush padding so that you can rest easy for those long rides with the child
  • Easy to adjust harnesses and up to 10 height and headrest adjustable positions makes this the best car seat for the needs of the growing child.
  • Seat comes with plush and soft padding and infant inserts making this not only a toddler seat but also a seat good for the infant
  • The Graco has four modes of use so that you can use it right from infancy to toddler and belt positioning seat and when the child no longer needs the seat.
  • The cutouts in the seat which will become your seat belt paths in belt positioning mode tend to be huge and hence you may lose baby things such as pacifiers and the like
  • It is quite a bulky seat given its safety features such as steel frame and the like. As such this is not the greatest fit for someone with a small car. 
Graco 4ever toddler car seat

2. Disney APT Convertible Car Seat Review

Disney APT Convertible Car Seat

Disney APT Convertible

5 Point Harness

5 Point Harness

The Disney APT Convertible Car Seat works as an infant safety seat from 5 pounds before it turns into a rear facing toddler seat for the child between 22 and 40 pounds making it a great child seat for your preemie as well as the the toddler.

With its small footprint, great style, side impact protection, adjustable height, and harness positions, this is the safest and most comfortable of seats you should buy for your child. 

  • The toddler seat makes it easier for the child to remain in rear facing for as long as possible thus keeping them safer for longer.
  • Let your child ride in style and comfort as it comes with prime fabric and the extra cozy headrest for the child
  • The three buckle locations and five harness heights of the Disney APT make it suitable for the growing child as you can always adjust for optimum comfort and safety
  • The seat comes equipped with LATCH for easy installation and has excellent side impact protection to protect the child from debris in the instance of a crash
  • While it is an adorable car seat you get what you get as its cheap price means it comes with flimsy padding and a cheap buckle

3. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat Review

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1

Rear Facing Car seat

Rear Facing

The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat will offer protection and comfort to your child right from infancy to when they are toddler until they are ready to start using seat belts.

Engineered to meet or exceed federal crash safety standards you can use this safety seat in the recommended rear facing from when the child is 5 pounds turn it forward facing at 22 pounds and then use it as a belt positioning child seat until 100 pounds.

It does not only come with classy looks abut also provides great comfort and safety for your child at all stages of growth.

  • Comes with an extended 5 point Quickfit harness meaning you can keep the child in the safer harnessed mode for longer
  • Has integrated cup holders, storage compartments, seat pad and 3-position incline making it the most comfortable toddler car seats
  • It makes your life easier as a mum as it comes with an easy to remove machine washable cover and and does not require rethreading of harness straps making it very easy to install
  • You never have to worry about cramped legs as the seat is made for extra leg room and will fit in most small and midsize cars with plenty of room left between the seats
  • The simply safe harness adjust system and the 5 position headrest make it easy to adjust the height of the headrest and harness in one easy motion
  • Even as it is a great child seat for tiny vehicles, it is quite bulky for plane travel at 18 pounds and so you may have to find an alternative when traveling with your child
  • Installation can be quite the hassle especially for new parents but it should work out fine once you get to use the car seat a few times

4. Evenflo Maestro Thunder Car Seat Review

Evenflo Maestro Car Seat

Evenflo Maestro

Comes with 5-Point Harness

Comes with 5-Point Harness

The Evenflo Maestro Car Seat is the easiest seats to install with upfront harness adjustment which will save you a lot of trouble when handling an overactive toddler

It also comes wit superior safety technologies including excellent side impact protection and advanced energy absorption that will protect your kid in the instance of a crash

You do not have to worry about child safety as the seat has met and exceeded most federal safety standards of structural integrity

  • The Evenflo is the safest car seats you can buy with the highest ratings in federal testing among toddler seats
  • The Evenflo Maestro comes with auto adjust belt path and simple to adjust harnesses that makes installation for the parent and getting in and out of the seat for the child a breeze
  • The seat is lightweight and comes equipped with LATCH making it easy to install and uninstall hence making it a convenient seat for the urban parent who frequently moves child safety seats from vehicles to vehicle
  • Integrated cup holders take up very little space and do not go past the seat thus reducing the child safety seat's footprint and leaving space for more seats or passengers
  • the 2 in 1 combination seat allows for extended use in the harnessed mode and belt positioning mode making it a great seat for your toddler 
  • While it is an easy car seat to install and uninstall out the car, the manufacturer did not do a good job with the plastic and hence you have to be careful not to scratch your hands when doing it
  • Even though the Evenflo comes with plush material that will not overheat in hot weather, the cup holders are poor quality and you may have to buy new ones/ 
  • You can only keep the child in harnessed mode for up to 50 pounds and so if you have a heavy baby you may have to upgrade sooner than you thought

5. Graco Affix Youth Booster with Latch System Review 

Graco affix turbo booster car seat

Graco Affix Youth Booster

Forward facing toddler seat

This Graco Affix car seat keeps your toddler riding in the high back mode from between 30-100 pound and can convert to the backless mode from between 40-100 pounds which is well within the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

It is also a stylish seat with a lot of extra features for your kids comfort in addition to a wide range of safety features such as adjustable headrests, open loop guides, and energy absorbent foam and shell.

  • The headrest is easily adjustable ensuring that your kid remains comfortable throughout even as they are growing
  • Comes with integrated cup holders and compartments for storage where the child can store all their toys and games
  • With the most snug installations, your toddler will conveniently buckle themselves in this car seat without any problems.
  • The unique front LATCH system makes the installation of this seat so easy yet so secure.
  • Open loop belt guides ensure that you install the child safety seat correctly keeping the child safe.
  • You cannot carry the seat while holding the back as it will fall of
  • The base of the Graco affix is too large and hence this is not a good child seat if you have a small car or need to have more people sit in the backseat

Best Toddler Car Seat for Travel: Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

Graco 4Ever 4-in-1

Out of the Toddler car seats for travel reviewed, the Graco 4 Ever 4-in-1 is the best child safety seat that comes with up to four modes of use, superior protection comfort, safety, and long use

When to Move from Infant Car Seat to Convertible

infant car seat to convertible

Child in Infant Car Seat

With Consumer Report issuing new guidelines that indicate that it is safer to switch to a rear facing car seat, the following are some of the things that you need to know.

While it can be quite exhilarating to switch from infant car seat to convertible, you need to exercise caution to keep your child safe. 

The biggest question is  infant car seat vs convertible car seat which one is best for your kid and at when to switch from infant car seat to convertible?

With rear facing is a commonly accepted standard for any child below the age of two, consumer reports testing has reinforced the importance of keeping your child in rear facing but also determined that 

testimonial_placeholder
quote-left

it is safest to switch from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat when your child is a year old.

In their experiments, researchers tested a rear facing convertible car seat and rear facing infant car seat using a 22 pound dummy.

In 50% if the tests, they established that the dummy's head would hit the back of the front seat as opposed to only one in the 25 convertible car seats which had the same result. 

The issue is that once the head of the child is less than an inch from the top of the outer shell of the infant seat, there is an increased risk that they will hit their head on the back of the front seat in the instance of a crash.

This usually happens when the child is approximately a year old or more old.

This means that you need to switch the baby from the infant car seat to a convertible by the time they are a year old even if they have not exceeded the infant carrier's weight and height limits.

First things first what are the differences between the two types of car seats?

​Infant Car Seat

infant to convertible car seat

Baby in Infant car seat

While there are many convertible car seats out there that are suitable for your child from birth to toddler and even until they start using vehicle seat belts, most mums will go for the cheaper infant car seat.

The infant car seat sometimes referred to as a bucket seat has several things going for it.

  • It has been made for the smallest of babies and can only be used in the recommended rear facing mode which will give you peace of mind while traveling with your kid
  • Another thing it has going for it is that it is very light which makes it very handy when you need to get that sleeping child out of their seat without waking them up
  • Unlike your convertible car seat, the best infant car seat can be unhooked easily from its base and installed on a stroller or carried into the house which is quite convenient

However, being the small car seat that it is, the kid tends to outgrow it very fast and you may have to buy a new car seat by the time your baby is a year old.

​Convertible Car Seat

switching from infant to convertible

Toddler in Convertible Car seat

​Just like the infant car seat, the toddler car seat also has its own advantages. For one,

  • you can use the best convertible car seats from birth right through to when they are toddler until age 12 when they shift to using car seat adult safety belts
  • As such if you bought a convertible that can be used in rear facing forward facing for children from from the age of 2 and as harnessed booster seats from 8 years, you may use one car seat to last a child through their car seat years

When to Switch from Infant Car Seat to Convertible

When the Child Maxes Out the weight Limits of their Seat

infant car seat

Infant Car Seat Weight Limit Label

The good thing about car seats is that all of them will typically come with weight and height limits. It is important that you read your car seat owners manual and have a thorough understanding of it before you put it to use.

You need to be ready with a convertible car seat when the child maxes out the weight of their car seats which is typically between 22 and 35 pounds depending on the brand.

When the Child Maxes Out the Height Limit

baby car seat height limits

​Similar to weight limits, a car seat also has height limits that you need to adhere to. You need to read your car seat owners manual and follow it religiously to ensure your child is safe.

In most instances the kid will exceed the height limit before their weight limit. The best  infant car seats of 2018 will usually have a height limit of about 29 inches. 

​You need to switch the child into a convertible car seat when they attain either the weight or height limit of their infant car seat. Always switch the kid onto a convertible car seat when they attain the maximum height of the car seat (about an inch from the top) regardless of whether they have maxed out the weight limit. 

Sheryl Brown 

When it is no Longer Convenient

Baby too big for Infant car seat

Baby too big for Infant car seat

At a certain point in time your child will grow heavy enough that lugging the car seat around will begin to take a toll on you.

Even the kid may not have attained the maximum height or weight limits.

A solution at this stage may be leaving the car seat installed in the car as you would with a convertible car seat.

However, if the child also seems to show signs of being uncomfortable in the infant car seat such as crying a lot when they are in their seat it may be that they are cramped in the little seat. 

​If you have read up on the size and weight limits of your seat and found out that the child still has some way to go before they are too big for their seat, you may still switch them over to a convertible car seat if you feel that it would make them more comfortable.

As long as you switch them to a car seat that is installed in rear facing mode, they should be fine.

Nonetheless, it is always safer to keep the infant in the bucket seat for at least a few months and shift them to a convertible car seat when they are at least six months or older.

A convertible car seat will last longer saving you money and reduce child tantrums as they can look outside the window which can serve as a good distraction while you are driving.

Infant Car Seat Versus Convertible Car Seat: What Should You Go For In 2018?

convertible car seat

convertible car seat

VS

convertible car seat

convertible car seat

Are you totally befuddled on whether to go for the infant car seat or the convertible car seat?

Well you are not alone, I still remember that time when I was heavy with my first child and could not decide on what seemed like hundreds of choices.

While some parents swear by the infant car seat and others by the convertible car seat, your choice will typically come down to what you are looking for in a car seat given that each type of car seat has its own pros and cons.

However, even as the convertible or the infant car seat has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The most important thing to take into account is the needs of the newborn infant, which are typically very different from that of the toddler or older child.

The following are some of the most important things to take into consideration when making the choice:

  • Fit to child - Most infant car seats will fit infants weighing in from as little as 5 pounds up to about 30 pounds. For most convertible car seats you have to use an infant insert to make them fit the newborn.
  • Incline Angle - It is generally recommended that you incline your infant at a 45 degree angle. Most infant car seats will allow for this angle making the ride comfortable for the child. Some convertible car seats such as the Britax USA Advocate, the Cybex Sirona M or Chicco Nextfit 2018 have angle recliners to achieve the recommended angle. Most convertibles will however need you to use blankets to achieve the angle and is not be as safe or as comfortable.
  • Harness Tightness - For your infant it is very important to have harnesses with the right tightness, typically you want 5 point harnesses that are tight enough to pass the pinch test. Most convertible car seat harnesses are too long to fit the tiny infant making them unsafe.
  • Strap Positioning - Just as important as the harness tightness. You need a car seat that has straps that are positioned at or just below the child's shoulders. Given the newborn infant usually has a torso about 7 inches, you need a car seat whose lower strap slots can fit that torso length.

Pros of Infant Car Seats

  • Infant car seats come with a base and hence they can be easily snapped in and out of the car, making it possible to lug the car seat with the infant in it.
  • Offers the perfect fit for even the smallest of babies up to a minimum of five pounds.
  • You can attach it to a stroller and jog or walk around with the child
  • You can lug it around without awakening the child and go into restaurants or even into a plane with utmost convenience

Cons of Infant Car Seats

  • Given that it typically has lower height and weight limits, you will typically require a convertible or all in one car seat before the child turns two years which adds to costs

Pros of Convertible Car Seats

  • Reduces costs particularly if you are on a budget as you only need to buy one car seat that your child will use for several years
  • Most convertible car seats are suitable for children from 5 pounds and above and turn from rear facing to forward facing to accommodate the needs of the growing child

Cons of Convertible Car Seats

  • Do not come with a base and hence installing or uninstalling them from the car can be quite an inconvenience particularly if you do it often.
  • Some of the large convertible car seats do not provide a good fit or angle for the newborn child making them relatively unsafe and uncomfortable
  • They are very heavy, making it almost impossible to lug them around as you would an infant car seat
  • They cannot be attached to a stroller for use when jogging walking or doing other tasks
  • With no base, installing will normally awaken the sleeping child

My Take on What Car Seat You Should Buy

Even as consumer reports recommends that you switch to an convertible car seat sooner rather than later, you can still enjoy the benefits of the infant car seat while still keeping your child safe.

Even as you have to spend more money when shifting to a convertible car seat later, the convenience of an infant car seat is worth the money.

So when to switch to convertible car seat?

I would recommend that you buy the infant car seat and later buy the convertible when the child is exceeds the weight and height limits of their infant car seat.

Moreover, you can get a travel system cheaper this way as the stroller and infant seat will typically come at a lower price when combined.

Video on How to Do the Pinch Test

Now you know when to switch from from infant carrier to car seat. If you have any questions leave a comment below.

Best Extended Rear Facing Convertible Car Seats Rated and Reviewed

best rear facing car seat

If you have been doing any research for a baby seat for your kid, you must have run into research asserting that rear facing is the best position for your child when traveling.

"According to the AAP child seat safety guidelines, you need to keep your child in the rear facing convertible safety seat until they are aged at least two years."

BMJ (British Medical Journal) even went as far as advocating the use of extended rear facing car seats until the child was four years old.

In fact most states in the US, the UK, and Canada have rear facing car seat laws 2018 on the same​.

While nobody plans to get into a car accident, accidents fo happen even if you are the most careful of drivers.

The most common yet most dangerous car crash you could get involved in are frontal crashes. What makes these collisions so dangerous is the fact that they usually take place at higher speeds.​

best Rear Facing Car Seat

Baby in Car Seat

Best Rear Facing Car Seat: Graco Extend2Fit

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible

Out of the Rear facing car seats on this review the Graco Extend2Fit is the best child seat with its superior engineering, longer rear facing for infants and older children, machine washable pad, and easy installation with LATCH.

If you are involved in a frontal collision, physics dictates that all passengers and objects in the vehicle will continue moving forward at the same speed until they are held back by either the harness or seat belt.​

If they are not wearing a seat belt or harness, they will be stopped by hitting the front of the car or the object in front of them.

If your baby is older, you can check out some of the best 5 point harness booster reviews on our combination car seats page. 

While seat belts and harnesses are always recommended for safety, they cause a lot of strain on the parts of the body such as limbs and heads that are held back when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop.

Given that babies bod​ies are still developing such stress may result in severe or even fatal injuries to internal organs, spine and neck particularly if they are strapped in the front facing position.

That is why you need to use a rear facing seat as it ensures that there is minimal strain on the baby's body given that the child will not be thrown forward in the instance of a crash.

Our 2018 Rating of Rear Facing Convertible Car Seats

Rating

Image

Product

Our Rating

Weight

Price

1

Graco Extend2Fit

Graco Extend2Fit

Davis

23.7 Pounds

2

Safety 1st Grow and Go

Safety 1st Grow and Go

18.7 Pounds

3

Evenflo Tribute Sport

Evenflo Tribute Sport

12.1 Pounds

4

Disney APT Convertible Car Seat

Disney APT Mouseketeer

12 Pounds

5

Eddie Bauer XRS 65 Convertible Car Seat

Eddie Bauer XRS 65

14.37 Pounds

Why Backward Facing Car Seats are Safer

  • Ensure the safety of the child by reducing the movement of the head, which significantly reduces the risk of spine and neck injuries
  • Prevent the child from banging into objects and surfaces in the car such as the windows and car doors
  • Prevent the child from being hit by collision debris such as glass and other parts of the vehicle, as they are encased in a protective shell
  • Distribute the pressure exerted by the safety seat and its restraints during collision to the back which is the strongest part of the baby's body.
Rear facing 101

Rear Facing Car Seat Laws and Recommendations

In the recent past, child seat seat safety and issues to do with regulations have been hitting the headlines.

"The most important things to check for when buying a safety seat for your kid is to make sure that the child seat is appropriate to their age group. The best ways if ensuring this is buying an all-in-one car seat."

According to recommendations by government bodies such as the NHTSA, children need to use a convertible car seat or booster until they are age 12 or until they are 4ft 5 inches.

You then have to make certain that the child safety seat is a good fit for your vehicle model or type since some models may be a bad fit, either not installing snugly, leaving very little legroom or only allowing one seat in the vehicle. 

Best practice for rear facing

You also have to decide what safety systems to go for whether it be Familfix or Isofix.​ These standards are what are known by different names such as LATCH in the US or CanFix in Canada.

The advantage of such systems is that they make for quick and secure installation of the car seat. All you have to do is plug the child seat base into the car and then click and you are done.

I always recommend that you go for car seats that have LATCH as these are usually safer.

Do your homework particularly with regard to crash test results and safety features of the seat before you buy. 

If you are going to be making long journeys, it would be important to look at the comfort levels and aspects such as safety in side, frontal and back impact.

 Using the above criteria, we narrowed our original list of 10 down to five top rear facing convertible car seats:

Rear Facing Convertible Car Seat Installation

Here are the Best Rear Facing Convertible Car Seat of 2018:

best rear facing car seat 2018

Graco Extend2Fit

Extended Rear Facing Mode

Extended Rear Facing Mode

Graco is the most popular, trusted brand when it comes to baby products for travel as it commits itself to rigorous safety standards that result in safe and durable products, even as they are dependable and practical

When it comes to car seats Graco has a wide range of car seats but none is as popular as the The Graco Extend2Fit. The Graco Convertible Car Seat is the top child seat if you just want to buy just one car seat and forget all about child safety seats for several years. 

It has all the features of an infant car seat, a convertible, and toddler seat meaning you can use it from infancy until the child is up to about when they are 5 years old without any issues making it the best extended rear facing options available.

But hold up for a minute, just what is extended rear facing

"Extended Rear Facing is the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to keep your child in the rear facing mode for at least two years. However best practice  is to keep the child in rear facing until they outgrow the height and wight limits of their car seats that usually happens when they are about 4 years old"

  • The Graco rear facing car seat has the widest limits of any of the range of Graco child safety seats making it an excellent choice to take the child from infancy and for toddlers in the forward facing mode up to 65 pounds
  • The kid gets to enjoy the rear facing mode as they grow given that the safety seat comes with a 4 inch extension panel that makes it easy to adjust the heights of the harnesses for proper fit and comfort
  • Even as it comes with storage compartments for the toddler's toys, ti is one of the most compact of car seats as the storage panels can be retracted and will not take up much space even if you are riding in a small car
  • You get to enjoy easy one second installation of the Graco through the easy to use LATCH, easy to read level indicators to ensure proper installation and the convenient simply safe harness
  • The Graco car seat provides safety and comfort for the infant with its 10 position headrest and 6 position recline to make for the longest rear facing car seat which make it easy to set the most comfortable and safe position for the newborn that may not have the ability to hold up their heads while in their seat
  • Safe durable and practical
  • best for extended rear facing
  • Compact and lightweight
  • check
    Easy installation with LATCH
  • Square cup holders are terrible
Graco 4ever toddler car seat
Safety 1st Grow and Go

Safety 1st Grow and Go

Belt-positioning Booster

Belt-positioning Booster

The Safety first is made by Safety 1st the company that first came to the limelight with its yellow "Baby on Board" signs that became a must have for parents in 1984. Over the years Safety 1st has made a name for itself for making innovative, safe and practical baby products

The Safety first Grow and go is the best rear facing car seat for small cars given its small profile that makes a very small footprint even in the smallest of vehicles. Despite its small size, the car seat is consistently among the top rated convertible car seats.

These new brand of safety 1st child seats are also three in one car seat made for all three stages of child growth, meaning this is one seat you can use in both the front and rear facing from infancy, toddler, and finally in forward facing

The car seat offers comfort and safety at each stage and there is nothing better on the market for experiencing those firsts with your child

  • A built to grow rear facing child safety seat, the Safety first is made for the child starting from infancy in the rear facing mode, and then forward facing mode before turning into a belt positioning booster when they for older toddlers
  • If you have always had an issue getting the child in an out of the car or commute often, then you are in luck as the Safety 1st make it easy to get the child in and out of the car seat as the seat comes with harness holders that keep the harnesses open while you unbuckle the child
  • You do not have to worry about the safety of the child as the seat has undergone rigorous safety tests and exceeds federal safety standards. Additionally it has a three position recline and a quickfit harness to ensure you always have a safe installation
  • The best rear facing car seat for small cars, The Safety 1st will give you up to 7 inches of extra space in the rear facing mode as compared to other car seats allowing you to ride in comfort even as the child is safe.
  • small and excellent for small cars
  • 3 in 1 car seat
  • Easy to install and use
  • check
    Excellent safety record
  • A bit clunky at 18 pounds
Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible

4 Harness Positions

4 Harness Positions

The Evenflo brand of car seat is manufactured by Evenflo a company that is has made a name for itself for more than a century for its commitment to safety, well being and development of children in partnership with the parents

While Evenflo has many car seat iterations, the Evenflo Tribute Sport is the cheapest rear facing convertible car seats you can buy having undergone rigorous testing that have proven it one of the more robust child seats.

Moreover, It compact and lightweight making it awesome for the urban mother who may use taxi services like Uber or one that may be moving from car to car a lot. 

With several recline and harness positions, your children will stay in the rear facing position for longer keeping them safe

  • The Evenflo provides some easy to use adjust with upfront LATCH system  which makes installation a breeze even if you are a first time parent or it is your first time using the Evenflo Tribute Sport
  • Even coming at the cheapest price for any rear facing car seat you could ever find in the child seat safety market, the safety seat is remarkably safe and comfortable and your child will definitely love riding in this small beauty
  • Adjustment of this car seat is a breeze and coupled with the 2 crotch buckle position, this is an excellent car seat for your growing child as you can adjust and give the kid a proper fit without any fuss.
  • Given that we are looking for a rear facing car seats that typically cause all the space issues in cars, the Evenflo Tribute is a perfect fit for your small car as it comes with a small footprint that will fit a whole range of cars
  • Cheap car seat
  • Lightweight and great for urban parent
  • Easy installation and adjustment
  • check
    Great fit in a small car
  • Very basic car seat
Disney APT Convertible Car Seat

Disney APT Convertible

5 point Harness

5 point Harness

The Disney APT toddler car seat is made by Disney Baby a company that only provides safe baby products but also takes pride in the making of an inspirational experience both for the parent or caregiver and the child. 

The Disney APT is the best rear facing toddler car seat that is a cute little car seat with pink and white polka dots works great as an infant rear facing car seat from 5 to 40 pounds and even better as a toddler car seat from 22 to 40 pounds in the forward facing mode. 

The child seat does provide great safety and comfort through its various conveniences and comfort features including cup holders, harnesses, and LATCH

As a extended car seat it is great for preemies and infants as it can stay rear facing for longer and can be adjusted as the child grows for ultimate comfort and fit

"All infants and toddlers need to ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years old or, preferably, until they attain the highest height and weight limits of their car seats. When infants outgrow their rear-facing–only child seat, a convertible safety seat installed rear facing should be used."

  • It is a cute little fashionable rear facing car seat that will give your toddler a great experience riding in a car seat even as it keeps them safe in the rear and front facing car seat mode
  • It is not only about comfort for the baby as the car seat comes with a mouse ear headrest, premium fabrics and passing which provides a heck of comfort on those rides to grandmas house
  • The small dimensions of the car seat and its light weight make it very portable if you are a parent that regularly commutes with their child. Moreover given that it is so small it can easily fit in most back seats and leave a lot of leg room for your other passengers
  • The Disney APT toddler seat is an affordable seat given the many features on offer and the fact that it is a 2 in 1 car seat makes this a great steal
  • Cute fun and fashionable car seat
  • Comfortable and safe
  • Affordable child seat
  • check
    Small and very portable
  • The padding is minimal
Eddie Bauer XRS 65 Convertible Car Seat

Eddie Bauer XRS 65

FAA Approved and LATCH Equipped

FAA Approved and LATCH Equipped

If you have a small car seat you probably know how much of a hassle it can be trying to install some child car seats particularly in the rear facing mode which tends to take up a lot of space, often leading to the passenger in the front seat being cramped up

Well you do not have to experience that anymore with the Eddie Bauer XRS 65, the smallest rear facing car seat on the market. Made by Eddie Bauer a company committed to making it possible for anyone to experience adventure with no fuss, the Eddie Bauer is one car seat that you will enjoy being out and about with

For the price, the Eddie Bauer has some very good features and capabilities, making it a very good option if you are short on cash. The 2 in 1 rear facing child seat comes with a compact design, ease of installation, great side impact protection and a dearth of features that you may find in any premium car seat.

  • Even as the child seat is small it provides most of the best features of other car seats in its class that include a comfortable fit and harnesses that you can adjust as the child grows. For the infant there is the removable infant insert just in case the child is too young to fit in their seat
  • The lightweight and compact design of the car means you do not have to worry about it fitting in your small car. You can easily fit three child seats in the back seat of practically any car and not have to deal with cramped legs
  • The Eddie Bauer XRS 65 is an FAA Approved car seat which makes it not only a great car seat for small cars but also for travel. Given that it is small, light and portable you can very easily transport it across the airport making your whole commute easier.
  • The 2 in 1 car seat is easy to install as it comes with LATCH and up front harness adjustment so that you do not have to fiddle with seat belts which can sometimes be quite a hassle
  • Comes with good side impact protection
  • Both rear and forward facing seat
  • Great car seat for travel
  • check
    Compact and lightweight design
  • check
    Easy to install and adjust
  • Rear facing belt path is not so evident

Best Rear Facing Car Seat: Graco Extend2Fit

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible

Out of the Rear facing car seats on this review the Graco Extend2Fit is the best child safety seat with its superior engineering, longer rear facing for infants and older babies, machine washable pad, and easy installation with LATCH.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rear Facing Car Seats​

​I thought I should turn my kid to rear facing at a year 20 months?

That recommendation was made in 2002, since 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you keep your child in a rear facing child seat until they are at least two years old or until they attain the maximum weight and height limits of their seat. 

When ​is my child too big for rear facing mode?

The best indicator of when a child is too big for a convertible car seat is to look at the child safety seat manual for the height and weight limits for the given car seat. With most convertible seats, you can have the child in rear facing mode for up to 40 or even 50 pounds. With regard to height, as long as the child's head is more than an inch below the top of the car seat, you can keep them in the seat. 

My kids legs are touching the back of the child seat?

It is perfectly safe for the child's kid to be pulled up or to touch the ​back of the car seat. Children at this age have very flexible joints and will not find it uncomfortable to have to bend their legs at the knees when riding in rear facing mode. I am certain you have found your child sleeping in an uncomfortable position on the couch or with their head on their chest with no problem at all, the same applies with their legs. 

What if I have a small car?​

​If you have a small car it should be no problem at all. Rear facing has been shown to work even with small luxury cars such as Porsches. Nonetheless if you have a small car such as a coupe or sedan check out best toddler car seats for small cars​ that will fit perfectly in your car. 

Arent rear facing child seats too expensive?

Rear facing car seats do not have to be expensive, there are many seats that will be perfect in rear facing such as the Evebflo Tribute LX, the Graco My Ride 65 LX, and the Cosco Scenera that you can find online at pocket friendly prices yet keep your child safe in rear facing mode.

My child is already two years old but has not attained the height and weight limits of their seat, should I keep them in rear facing?

It is always advisable to keep the child in the rear facing car seat as long as possible. If the child is to years old and has not attained the maximum height and weight limits of their car seat, you need to keep them in the rear facing mode until they attain the height and weight limits as set out in the manual. 

What do I do if my child has exceeded the height and weight limits of the car seat and they are not yet two?​

If the child has exceeded the height and weight limits of their current safety seats, you need to move them to a convertible car seat with a higher weight and height limit. However, if you can, you should buy an all in one or 3 in 1 car seat such as the safety 1st Grow and Go, the Evenflo Symphony DLX, or the Graco 4 Ever All in One which you can use in rear and forward facing up to until the child is a toddler.

What if my child hates to ride in rear facing?​

Children hate a lot of things and will throw a tantrum for even the most mundane things such as the color of their cereal bowl. Just because they make a scene does not mean that they hate rear facing, maybe they just hate being restrained and just have to get used to it. However, you can make it easier for the kid by talking to them from time to time to assure them of your presence. For toddlers that may find it boring ensure that you install their child seat such that they can look outside the car window and you should have no problems. 

Related Links

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Diono Radian RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat Review

diono radian rxt

The Diono – Best Car Seat for Small Car

The Diono Radian RXT Convertible car seat is the most robust of 3-in-1 travel car seats and hence the safest convertible car seat for the money in 2018. Made of a sturdy aluminium frame and shock absorbent EPS foam technology it offers crash and resistance capabilities that are superior to most car seats in the market.

It is one of the car seats reviewed that is both a convertible car seat and a booster seat when your kid weighs in at 50-120 pounds. It’s adjustable head support sets it apart from other car seats in it’s class as it offers enhanced side impact protection.

It is a car seat that has been NCAP crash tested and hence parents can rest assured of the Diono’s safety ratings.

 

Features of the Diono Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat

  • Aluminium reinforced sides and a full steel frame offer top safety ratings
  • Diono Radian RXT rear facing comfortably seats infants weighing in at 5-45 pounds, while in combination with a 5 point harness it can seat children weighing in at between 20-80 pounds, it then becomes a booster for children over 120 pounds.

  • Installation is enhanced through the proprietary SuperLATCH system.
  • FAA certified 3 seat can easily fit in the backseat in medium sized cars in addition to being able to fold flat for travel.
  • Crash tested by NCAP which is the industry standard for car seat safety and performance during crash situations.

The Pros

The Diono car seat is one of the best combination car seat that is designed in an all steel frame which means it is one of the most safe convertible car seats in the market. Offers memory foam and infant body support cushions for enhanced child comfort in travel. Infant body support and the adjustable headrest whose walls are reinforced makes for a sturdy and robust construction. Energy absorbing harness and EPS foam offer enhanced comfort and safety.

diono radian rxt reviewdiono steel frame

More Pros

  • The Diono Radian carseat is built to last for up to 10 years and thus it the most durable of the best infant car seats.
  • It makes use of the LATCH system and rubber bottom grips which makes installation super easy.
  • Comes with an additional set of harness intended for use when the child weighs more than 65 pounds.
  • The Diono Radian RXT booster has a low seating profile and expandable  sides which makes it easy for the child to climb into the vehicle and offers extra leg support.
  • The radian car seat Comes with a Safestop harness that is energy absorbent.
  • Its adjustable setting including rear tether, adjustable headrest, three buckle, and five shoulder positions offer utmost safety and comfort on the road.
  • Comes with an angled cup holder ensuring minimal spillage.
  • It is one car seat that can have its cover machine washed and dried.
  • The diono radian rxt manual comes with easy to read and understand instructions.

 

The Cons

Majority of the reviewers of the seat have complained about its bulkiness when needing to carry it and hence this seat might not be for parents of average size and strength. The Diono RXT is quite a bulky seat as compared to seats such as the Chicco NextFit. A reviewer also complained that the upper latch straps of the seat were in the midesection of the seat which results in relatively more side to side movement as compared to the Britax convertible car seat. It may also not be most ideal in the rear facing position due to its height thus making it difficult to adjust.

The Verdict

diono radian rxt

The Diono Radian Convertible car seat is definitely one of the top car seats out there despite its cons. While a minority of parents have complained about its bulk and weight, I do believe that its robust construction including a steel frame and one of the safest and comfortable side impact protection more than make up for this flaw.

Nevertheless I do believe this is a matter of personal preference for any parent. The diono cup holder can be made more secure through DIY methods if proper installation is made. It has a one year warranty though for a car that is built to last for 10 years I doubt that you would ever need to call in the warranty.

The majority of the parents have given positive reviews of their experiences with the car seat. It’s high scores on safety and durability coupled with its relatively low price  of [amazon_link asins=’B01CL9GBI2′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’beautypros1-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8920427e-c909-11e6-84c0-0124c4c18312′] as compared to similar priced models make the best affordable convertible car seat you can buy.

Diono Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat Video Review

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Types of Car Seats by Age: What Child Safety Seat Should You Buy

Car Seat Progession chart

For every parent what car seat to buy and at what age is an important question given the different features and functionalities they offer.

Car seats will usually come in three types: booster seats, convertible car seats (these include 3-in-1, combination booster car seat, all in 1 car seats and infant car seats on.

To ensure you children’s safety while traveling , it is important to select a car seat that is appropriate for their weight, height and age.

As a parent you should avoid buying second hand seats whose history you do not know or cannot verify.

It is also important to ensure that the car seat that you buy is one that allows the child to remain in the rear facing position for as long as is practical.

Types of  Car Seats by Age

Infant Car Seats

types of car seats by age

Depending on the size of the baby, they will fit snugly in a baby car seat during their first year. They are usually rear facing and will be appropriate for children weighing  4-35 pounds and a height of between 29-32 inches.

They usually come with a handle that makes them very convenient for carrying into and out of the car when traveling. An infant car seat is also advantageous in that it has a sunroof to protect your child from that summer sun.

Due to their portability, they can be easily snapped out of the car and into a stroller for that evening jog. While you could opt to directly purchase a convertible car seat rather than an infant seat, you will find that you cannot go for a stroll with the child.

How to install car seats for infants

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Convertible Car Seats

best convertible car seat

Convertible car seats such as the ones reviewed on our home page are the child seat you need to buy after the infant car seat. They are heavier and larger than infant car seats since they are made to accommodate older children.

You can buy the convertible car seat when your child attains the age of 1 or when the child is too tall or too heavy for the infant car seat.

They are known as convertible car seats since they start out in the rear facing position and are then turned into forward facing as the child becomes older.

They are appropriate for infants, toddlers  weighing between 40-80 pounds and up to 50 inches in height.

The best 3-in-1 car seats car seats sometimes referred to as the all-in-one car seat can be a extended rear facing car seats, then shift to forward facing, and lastly become a booster seat when the child is over 100 pounds.

It is important to note that not all convertible car seats will be safe for infants. Such seats are forward facing only, then convert to high-back boosters for older toddlers and then to backless booster for older children.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you need to keep the child in rear facing until they are at least two years old, as this is the safest mode for a child to ride.

How to install a convertible car seat

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’0′ hide_logo=’0′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’0′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMhsZKsXzNo[/responsive_video]

Booster Car Seats

best booster car seat

After your child has outgrown the convertible car seat, they cannot go directly into seat belts since they will not fit snugly.

Child booster seats come in handy for older children since they ensure that the seat belt of the car that are usually designed for adults, fit the child.

The best booster seats are appropriate for children weighing 40 pounds and over or children between 4 and 8 years.

Nevertheless, it is important to ensure that you check manufacturer recommendations for height and weight limits before switching your child into the booster seat as each seat will be different.

According to the NHTSA children should travel in booster seats until they are about 4 feet 9 or until they are 8 years old.

Have the child in a booster seat until the lap belt lies on the thighs rather than the stomach and the shoulder belt lies on the chest rather than the face or neck.

Click here to check out safest booster seats  of 2018.

How to install a child booster seat

[responsive_video type=’youtube’ hide_related=’0′ hide_logo=’0′ hide_controls=’0′ hide_title=’0′ hide_fullscreen=’0′ autoplay=’0′]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiRV686Ur1A[/responsive_video]

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