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 toddler car seats or just any other type of car seat, it is not only about moving them to the next stage. You need to take the following into account when moving the baby from rear facing to forward facing:
- Always check your car seat labels and car seat 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 for travel.
- Use the car seat to the maximum weight and height limit before moving them to the forward facing toddler seat.
- Rear facing car seat 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 car seats weight and height limits.
Our Favorite Car Seats for Toddlers
Safety Considerations When Buying Toddler Car Seats
Forward Facing or Convertible Car Seat
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 car 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.
While a toddler is not as delicate as an infant you still need to offer them adequate protection. A good toddler car seat 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.
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 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.
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 car 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 f your not careful with your choice of car 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 Forward Facing Toddler Car Seat
Best Toddler Car Seat Reviews
The Chicco Nextfit is one of the best all in one car seat that can function as a toddler car seat.
Moreover it is made by Chicco 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.
- Its Recline sure 9 position means that you have the widest range of recline positions to accommodate the needs of the growing child
- Comes with the Super Cinch Latch tightener and belt lockoffs provide a tight and secure fit to ensure your overactive toddler does not unbuckle themselves
- Has a 6 position adjustable headrest and an expandable harness strap ensuring a tight and secure fit with your growing child.
- Seat comes with plush and soft padding that will ensure the utmost comfort for your kid on long or bumpy rides
- Has easily removable machine washable covers to ensure that the seat remains in clean and healthy condition throughout its useful life.
- The buckle between the legs does not come with sufficient padding and hence this seat is not the best if you like dressing the child in shorts or dresses
- Despite its awesome safety record, installation of the seat can be quite a chore and hence this may not be the seat for you if you change cars often.
The harness to booster seat works as a toddler car for the child between 40 to 95 pounds two years old or a belt positioning booster for children that are 4 years old or between 120 pounds.
With its Clicktight system being one of the safest systems on child car seats. it is now wonder that the car seat on an NHTSA award in 2015.
Comes with a proprietary v shaped tether that ensures the seat does not move as much during a crash thus enhancing safety.
- The versatile car seat can be used from infancy at 25 pounds, then used in the forward facing mode as a toddler car seat then converted into a belt positioning booster seat
- The easy adjust 9 position harness offers maximum comfort and fit for your growing child as you can easily change the height of the seat with the push of a button
- The Clicktight installation system makes installation as easy as the buckling of your seat belt as the click of a button is enough to tell you the seat is correctly installed
- Has deep energy absorbing headrest and shell to protect your child from whiplash and side impact injuries.
This is a very heavy car seat and may not be the best car seat if you are a frequent traveller
- The arm rests are not padded and hence may not be the most comfortable for the kid
- It does not come with removable and machine washable covers
The car seat that will offer protection and comfort to your child right from 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 car seat as a harness booster up to 6 pounds, as a high back booster up to 100 pounds and as a backless booster between 40 and 60 pounds.
- Comes with an extended 5 point harness that has a limit of 65 pounds 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 one of 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
- It is one of the safest car seats on the market having exceeded US standard FMVSS 213 coming with steel frame, EPS energy absorbing foam for utmost safety
- 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
- In case you need to wash the car seat, there are too many clasps that you would have to unclasp and reattach before you are done
- The crotch buckle is a little bit problematic as it tends to be under the child's rear end making it hard to buckle it as compared to seats such as the Britax or the Evenflo
The symphony DLX all in one car seat is one of the easiest car seats to install which will save you a lot of trouble when dealing with an overactive toddler
It also comes wit superior safety technologies including expanded zone of protection and advanced energy absorption that will protect your kid from the danger of side impact crashes.
- Super snug and super fast installtion through the Sure LATCH installation system that will have the seat ready to go in 60 seconds
- Great multi position recline that will ensure the child is comfortable throughout the journey whether they are awake or asleep
- Upfront harness adjustment that is convenient installed at the front of the toddler seat makes it easy to get the child in or out of the seat.
- Comes with an easy to remove machine washable pad ensuring that your car seat remains in tip top condition throughout its useful life
- Infinite slide harness makes this car seat one of the best for the growing child as the harness will automatically expand as the child grows ensuring their safety without needing a reinstall.
- Despite its safety features it is quite a bulky seat and so if you have a mini or any other small car seat this is not the car seat for you. It will hardly fit three in the back
- This is not the best car seat for a child younger than two years as their head will tend to flop forward when asleep. The seat is thus best fro toddlers between 2 and 4 years old.
- The cup holders are not of a very strong construction and you may have to be careful when uninstalling or installing the seat
This car seat keeps your toddler riding in the high back booster 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 car 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 one of the most snug installations, your toddler could 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 car seat if you have a small car or need to have more people sit in the backseat
Most of the toddler car seats above are great and will do the job of protecting your child when you are travelling. Nonetheless, my favorite choice for best toddler car seat is the Chicco Nextfit Saffron. It is machine washable, it installation is snug and secure, and it is versatile and safe.