Editor’s Pick
Chicco MyFit

A quality-made car seat that’s easy to install and adjust.

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Most Durable
Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus

A durable car seat with comfortable padding.

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Most Adjustable
Graco Nautilus

An adjustable all-in-one car seat for young children.

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Budget Pick
Evenflo Chase

A low-cost yet very safe toddler car seat.

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Best Booster Seat
Graco Tranzitions

A mid-priced car seat for comfort and safety.

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While infants require a rear-facing car seat, the best toddler car seat is forward-facing. As toddlers grow, they’ll eventually need a booster seat configuration to ride in your car safely.

There are federal regulations about car seat safety, but these aren’t always the most robust, and companies are responsible for self-testing their own car seats. Some brands have proven themselves over the years and even perform testing beyond what is legally required. In addition to being built safely, a car seat must also be properly installed.

For these reasons, it’s important for parents to do their own research on the car seat they choose for their child. We’ve considered dozens of models and read through thousands of parent testimonials to select our seats for testing to help with this process.

The perfect car seat for your child depends on their weight and height. We’ve researched and tested several top brands and here suggest some of the best car seats for toddlers. We’ll also explain what to look for in a car seat.

Buyers Guide: Car Seats For Toddlers

When shopping for a toddler car seat, you’ll want to consider safety, sizing, and comfort.


Safety is the most important consideration for any car seat. Luckily for U.S. customers, all car seats sold within the country must meet federal safety standards. Despite this rule, it’s still possible to buy untested car seats online. Be sure that any car seat you purchase is clearly labeled to indicate it meets federal safety standards.

You must also properly install and secure a car seat to ensure it’s safe for your child. Many hospitals offer car seat inspections to determine if you’ve properly installed your seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website features a useful tool for locating the nearest child passenger safety technician.


Simply purchasing a qualifying car seat doesn’t ensure safety. You must use the right type of car seat based on your child’s height and weight. This sizing chart, developed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), clearly outlines the type of seat to use. Kids around toddler age typically need a forward-facing car seat like those suggested in this review.


It can be hard to know in advance if your child will find their car seat comfortable. The best way to ensure comfort is to consider the material quality. Some toddler car seats have removable padding for a more customizable ride.

Adjustable car seats can accommodate your child as they grow, so you don’t need to buy a new car seat every year. Most of the recommendations on this list have booster mode for when your child has grown beyond the toddler stage.

Ease Of Use

No child stays the same size for long, which is why you’ll need to regularly adjust any car seat you purchase so that it fits properly. Some car seats are easier to install and adjust than others. For instance, some feature  a no-rethread harness that doesn’t need to be rethreaded. Car seats that without this feature are more difficult to adjust, as you’ll have to remove the seat entirely to re thread the harness straps.

Car Seat Terminology

Certain terms appear frequently in descriptions of car seats, but their meanings are not always obvious. Many manufacturers also use brand-specific terms that can be confusing. The following list describes common car seat terms:

  • No-rethread harness: As your child grows, you will need to reposition the shoulder straps in your car seat. With a rethread harness, straps must be removed and rerouted through different slots in the car seat. A no-rethread harness only has one slot for shoulder straps, and strap height is adjusted by raising and lowering the headrest.
  • EPS Foam: Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam is essentially Styrofoam™. EPS foam is excellent at dissipating the force of high-speed impacts and so is a standard material for crash safety devices like helmets and car seats.
  • Five-point harness: A five-point harness is a seatbelt design that is secured at five-points (over both shoulders, at each hip, and between the legs). This strap system provides increased safety over a three-point strap system typical in passenger automobiles.
  • SuperCinch® (Chicco): The SuperCinch system is a specialized pulley that Chicco attaches to the anchor straps that connect the car seat to your vehicle. This pulley makes it easier to tighten the anchor straps by requiring less force on the user’s part.
  • ClickTight® (Britax): ClickTight is Britax’s system for securing a car seat to your vehicle. Rather than connecting via lower seat anchors, the ClickTight system is a series of guides through which the car seatbelt is threaded. The result is a self-tensioning system that doesn’t require adjustment or guesswork from the parent.

Helpful Links

The links below provide several helpful doctor and government resources that help parents find the right infant car seat:

5 Best Car Seats For Toddlers

Toddler Car Seats

  1. Editor’s Pick: Chicco MyFit
  2. Most Durable: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus
  3. Most Adjustable: Graco Nautilus
  4. Budget Pick: Evenflo Chase
  5. Best Booster Seat: Graco Tranzitions

The car seats above are generally recommended for children between 20.0 and 100.0 pounds and under 60.0 inches tall. Each seat meets federal crash test safety standards and performed well in our in-person testing process. While the best seat will depend on your needs and budget, these are great options to begin your search for the right toddler car seat for your little one.

#1 Editor’s Pick: Chicco MyFit

The Chicco MyFit Toddler Car Seat.

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The Chicco MyFit is an easy-to-install, adjustable toddler vehicle seat made from high-quality materials. It features a deep, rigid shell, triple foam padding, and breathable mesh fabric.

Based on the ease of installation and superb craftsmanship, we believe the Chicco MyFit is the best toddler car seat. It comes at an average price for car seats of this type and features metal buckles and anchor connectors. We have everything you need to know about this car seat in our in-depth review guide.

Pros Easy to install Easy to adjust Easy-to-clean, removable padding High-quality straps and buckles
Cons Cup holders placed far from child

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $270
  • Child weight range: 25.0 to 100.0 pounds
  • Child height range: Up to 57.0 inches
  • Car seat weight: 25.0 lbs.
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

The Chicco MyFit Toddler Car Seat installed in a testing vehicle.

This was the easiest to install among the car seats we tested. The anchor and top strap clip in seamlessly, and it’s simple to adjust the position of the Chicco MyFit to be level with the ground (aided by a built-in bubble level). Every adjustable lever and button is easy to find and use.

Removing the seat from the car was just as straightforward as installation. The instructions aren’t hard to follow, and explanatory stickers attached to this car seat help ensure you have it situated properly for your child.

Our Rating4.7 out of 5
Ease of Installation5 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.9 out of 5 based on over 5,500 ratings

A few customers have experienced wrecks with this car seat and say the Chicco MyFit kept their child safe, so they plan to repurchase the same model car seat. Other customer praises highlight the sturdy quality of the seat materials, the light weight (which makes for easy installation), and the substantial headrest padding. Many users are also happy with how easy it is to adjust the MyFit’s straps and positioning.

“My oldest has had her [MyFit] for 3 years and at a very petite age 6.5, she has a few more years of fitting in the harness. They are slim, easy to fit 3 across in our Ford Expedition and my kids love them.” – Stewartt via Amazon

Some negative reviews claim this seat doesn’t work as well with larger children. If your children are growing out of the toddler stage, a bigger car seat may be necessary. One reviewer complains that the cupholders were too far from the back of the seat and their toddler couldn’t reach them.

“[T]he little glove box holder is a pain, and since removed. Which doesn’t matter anyway because the cup holders are the worst and get knocked off constantly.” – S@HD via Amazon

#2 Most Durable: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus

The Britax Grow With You Clicktight Plus Toddler Car Seat.

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Accommodating children between 25.0 and 120.0 lbs., the Britax Grow With You ClickTight Plus is a solidly-built toddler car seat. It features a strong steel frame, nine-position headrest, and machine-washable fabrics. It can transform into a backless booster car seat to accommodate your child for several years, even as they grow past the toddler stage.

We believe the Grow With You is a solid pick if you’re looking for a durable car seat that won’t need replacing after a couple of years. Packed with safety features such as flame-retardant materials and three layers of side-impact protection, it’s a reliable and safe toddler car seat.

Pros Durable Comfortable Easy-to-clean, removable padding High-quality straps and buckles
Cons Harder to install Difficult to adjust straps

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $300
  • Child weight range: 25.0 to 120.0 lbs.
  • Child height range: 34.0 to 64.0 in.
  • Car seat weight: 26.5 lbs.
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

The Britax Grow With You Clicktight Plus Toddler Car Seat installed in a testing vehicle.

We were most impressed with the high quality of the straps and buckles on the Grow With You. While the steel construction makes the car seat a little heavy, it also gives this seat a solid and safe feel.

We had some difficulty installing this car seat compared to the others we tested. The instructions aren’t especially clear, and it took us a bit to figure out how to deploy the anchor straps. However, installation isn’t impossible or even frustrating. It’s just not as easy as some of the other best car seats for toddlers.

Our biggest complaint (and it’s a minor one) is that the straps are difficult to tighten. However, you can easily adjust the Grow With You seat to accommodate children of various sizes.

Our Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Installation3.5 out of 5
Adjustability4.5 out of 5
Quality of Materials5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 2,800 ratings

Most people who rate the Grow With You highly say that they like this car seat for its many safety features. The sturdy construction seems to provide peace of mind to parents. Children enjoy this car seat too, as many parents say their kids find it comfortable for long drives.

“When it comes to finding a car seat for long road trips, this is a gem. There are zero complaints riding and sleeping in this for hours” – Red Roadster via Amazon

One recurring complaint is that the straps are difficult to adjust and tighten. Also, some less-than-positive reviews say the instructions are unclear and that the seat takes time to install.

“I just wish this had a quick latch system. However, both the tether and the latches have to be hand tightened. It is tough to get it super tight.” – USAF Veteran via Amazon

Based on our experience, we can see why some people are frustrated with the installation process. It didn’t take us more than 15 minutes to install the Britax, but we found the straps harder to adjust than other toddler car seats.

#3 Most Adjustable: Graco Nautilus

The Graco Nautilus Toddler Car Seat.

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The Graco Nautilus is installable in three configurations: as a five-point harness booster car seat, a high-back belt-positioning booster, or a backless belt-positioning booster. These multiple configurations allow the Nautilus to accommodate children up to 120.0 lbs. and a height limit of 57.0 in.

This seat is further adjustable through the five-position headrest and four-position adjustable base. As with all the best car seats for toddlers, the Nautilus is safe, featuring extra side-impact protection.

Pros 3 seat configurations Durable construction Easy-to-clean, removable padding
Cons Harness strap can be hard to adjust

Key Features

  • Cost: Currently unavailable
  • Child weight range: 22.0 to 120.0 lbs.
  • Child height range: Up to 57.0 in.
  • Car seat weight: 21.8 lbs.
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

The Graco Nautilus Toddler Car Seat installed in a testing vehicle.

While the cushion materials aren’t quite as soft and well-stitched as the Britax Grow With You or the Chicco MyFit, the straps are of the strongest quality. Installing the Graco Nautilus is fairly easy, in part because of the no-rethread harness. On the downside, the lower anchors can be finicky to attach.

Most notable when handling the Nautilus during our test installation was the car seat’s adjustability. The product has a broad range of configurations, though adjusting between each could be a little easier. Some of the adjustment levels don’t click perfectly into place.

Our Rating4.3 out of 5
Ease of Installation4 out of 5
Adjustability5 out of 5
Quality of Materials4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 based on over 390 ratings

Many users praise the Nautilus toddler car seat for its comfortable seat pad and sturdy design. Adjustability is also a selling point, and many reviewers used this seat for several years as their child grew.

“It is sturdy, easy to install, and super easy to clean.” – KJ via Amazon

One semi-frequent complaint concerns the strap’s ability to adjust the seat belt restraints. Several users say it’s difficult to adjust, but we didn’t have any issues with this strap during our testing. Another common complaint pertains to the anchor straps. While we didn’t have difficulty attaching the anchor tether, we did notice the design of the clips isn’t as user-friendly as other car seats.

“The straps are horrible to adjust. Very difficult and frustrating.” – Miriam E Gasparotto via Amazon

#4 Budget Pick: Evenflo Chase

The Evenflo Chase Toddler Car Seat.

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Despite being a low-priced toddler car seat, the Evenflo Chase sports modern safety features such as side-impact cushions and a reinforced metal frame.

The light weight of this car seat makes it easy to install and handle. Like many of our recommended best car seats for toddlers, the Evenflo Chase can also serve as a front-facing booster seat, making it both a toddler and a youth car seat. Even at the seat’s low cost, customers can expect to use it for several years.

In 2020, a report from ProPublica revealed that EvenFlo had been misrepresenting its side-impact crash testing to consumers. At the time, federal regulators did not require side-impact crash testing, though this has since changed.

While we think this incident undermines the reliability of the EvenFlo brand, it doesn’t disqualify their more recent car seats from consideration. For a car seat under $100, the EvenFlo Chase is worth a look, though don’t expect it to last as long as more expensive brands.

Pros Inexpensive Durable construction Lightweight and easy to maneuver Easy-to-clean, removable padding
Cons Less comfortable than other models Fewer recline positions

Key Features

  • Cost: Around $80
  • Child weight range: 22.0 to 110.0 lbs.
  • Child height range: 28.0 to 57.0 in.
  • Car seat weight: 11.0 lbs.
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

The Evenflo Chase Toddler Car Seat installed in a testing vehicle.

At only 11.0 pounds, the Evenflo Chase is easy to handle. Despite its low cost, this car seat comes with quality materials: sturdy nylon straps and strong metal clasps secure your toddler.

Even so, the materials aren’t quite as soft and comfortable as more expensive car seats, so this may not be the best car seat for long journeys. The Chase also uses the harder-to-install metal clamp style of anchor clamp.

Our Rating3.8 out of 5
Ease of Installation4 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials3.5 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 based on over 11,000 ratings

Most users laud the Chase for its durability and ease of use. Some reviews come from people who were involved in a crash while using this seat, and in these cases, the seat protected their toddler. Other positive comments mention the seat being easy to install and adjust.

“I purchased four of these car seats for twins, for two vehicles three years ago. The twins are now 5 years old and are still using the harness system, haven’t even made it to the belted feature yet.” – Laura M. via Amazon

Some reviewers say the Evenflo is less comfortable than more expensive alternatives, and others claim the angle of the seat (upright with little to no recline) can be uncomfortable for children after a period of time in the car.

“The kids liked the seats just fine for short trips. We took one 4 hour drive where our 2-year-old just couldn’t get comfortable and fall asleep.” – Plutarch via Amazon

#5 Best Booster Seat: Graco Tranzitions

The Graco Tranzitions Toddler Car Seat.

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The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster seat is an all-in-one lightweight car seat with eight adjustable height positions. It has two cup holders and machine-washable padding. This forward-facing car seat is adjustable and comfortable, designed to work as a toddler car seat and a high-back booster seat.

We believe the Tranzitions is one of the best booster seats (once your child is old enough for that configuration). The open-loop belt helps guide your car’s seat belt to the perfect position for safety and comfort.

Pros Durable Easy-to-clean, removable padding Lightweight Comfortable
Cons Straps can be challenging to tighten Harder to install

Key Features

  • Cost: Out of stock
  • Child weight range: 22.0 to 100.0 lbs.
  • Child height range: Up to 57.0 in.
  • Car seat weight: 17.3 lbs.
  • Machine-washable padding

Our Experience

The Graco Tranzitions Toddler Car Seat installed in a testing vehicle.

While some of the other car seats we tested impressed us more when it came to quality of materials and ease of installation, the Graco Tranzitions is nonetheless an excellent toddler car seat.

We had few problems installing the Tranzitions, though tightening the straps is somewhat of a hassle. Compared to other strap systems, the Tranzitions is not the smoothest to install. Once you’ve installed it, though, the Tranzitions is quite adjustable, and the padding material is plush and soft. For more on our experience with this seat, check out our dedicated review page here.

Our Rating4 out of 5
Ease of Installation4 out of 5
Adjustability4 out of 5
Quality of Materials4 out of 5

What Customers Are Saying

Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 based on over 20,000 ratings

Several users who crashed while using this car seat say the seat protected their child, working as intended. Customers are generally happy with the quality of the car seat at its price range (which is around average for a car seat).

“Seat material holds up so good[…] This is my second one. The first one is well over a year old and it still looks new.” – LB MCA via Amazon

Like us, several users experience difficulty tightening the straps on the Graco Tranzitions seat. Some users don’t like the anchor latch system, which can be hard to secure.

“It is also very hard to install with the anchor straps tight enough. It’s impossible to tighten without the straps twisting, which then prevents them from getting as tight as they should be.” – Shea LaFountaine via Amazon

How Do I Know If A Car Seat Is Safe?

Any car seat eligible for sale in the United States must meet federal safety standards, which involves crash testing. However, second-hand car seats may not be safe if they are expired or have been in a crash.

In addition to choosing a safe car seat, it needs to be properly installed to ensure passenger safety. If you are unsure about your own installation, you can have it inspected by a professional. The NHTSA website features a handy locator tool to help caretakers find nearby inspection sites.

Before installing your car seat, also be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. We had a chance to speak with Petra Stanton, the Safe Kids Supervisor at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and she strongly encourages parents to read their owner’s manual.

“I feel like reading the manual has never been people’s favorite thing to do, but in this case it should be. Because the manufacturer created the product, they were there from the beginning stages. They ruled out everything that did not work in safety testing, that might have malfunctioned in a certain way, they fixed it, went back to testing, spent thousands of dollars to create a manual on how this product will work.”

When considering any car seat, safety should be a top priority. Various experts and researchers in the automotive industry are responsible for ensuring that car seats go through rigorous testing and multiple stages of approval prior to being put on the market for the public. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The NHTSA was established in 1970 as part of a national effort to reduce auto-related fatalities. As part of this effort, the NHTSA website offers a number of resources, including an ongoing list of car seat safety issues and recalls.

Another good resource is the NHTSA’s information on car and booster seats. This guide includes recommended car seat types based on age and height as well as instructions for proper car seat installation.

The NHTSA also conducts research on the effects of a car crash on the human body. NHTSA researchers employ various test dummies of different weights and sizes that ranging from an adult male to a newborn infant.

Federal Aviation Administration

It’s recommended that children use specialized seating in planes as well as automobiles. Those who plan to travel with small children might consult the FAA’s guide on flying with children. This resource provides tips on installing a child restraint system (CRS) and explains the rules for travelling with children under two.

Safe Kids Worldwide

Safe Kids Worldwide is an organization dedicated to reducing child injuries and works with the NHTSA to operate the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program (CPS certification program). This program certifies technicians to inspect car seat installations and educate parents on the proper way to secure their children.

The Safe Kids Worldwide website also offers information about regarding car seat selection and installation.

Are Used Car Seats Safe?

It is generally not recommended to purchase a secondhand car seat. This is because that seat could have been damaged or have parts missing and you might not know. Some secondhand sellers may also offer untested, counterfeit, or showroom-0nly car seats.

Used car seats are not inherently unsafe, however, and may be a good option if you can verify the following:

  • Expiration date. Most car seats expire after 10 years. Check the label to insure your car seat is not expired.
  • Recall information. Buckle Up NC’s recall list is a handy tool for determining which seats have been recalled and is regularly updated.
  • Crash history. Once a car seat has been in an accident, the impact forces can damage the seat rendering it no longer safe for children, as critical parts may be compromised.

If you can afford to buy a new car seat, this is the safest option. However, if you must use a secondhand car seat, it is much safer to get it from someone that you know and who can verify the seat’s history.

When Should I Switch To A Toddler Car Seat?

Your car seat choice should be dependent on your child’s size and weight, and you should switch to a toddler car seat after your infant outgrows a rear-facing car seat. Any car seat will list maximum height and weight recommendations. Once your child outgrows these limits, it’s time to switch.

For children between the ages of two and seven, forward-facing car seats are typically the most appropriate. Some all-in-one car seats can be installed in both forward- and rear-facing positions, making them suitable for infants as well as toddlers.

How We Tested

The car seats in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We scoured Amazon for top products, looking at customer ratings, Amazon superlatives, and prices.

For testing purposes, our product review team ordered the five toddler car seats that scored highest in these categories. A team member installed each seat, noting the quality of materials and adjustability. We carefully inspected each strap, latch, and lever.

Every car seat we recommend complies with United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. To determine our rankings, we focused on ease of installation, adjustability, and quality of materials. We also considered customer opinions as represented by reviews on websites such as Amazon.

Ease Of Installation

To be sold within the U.S., a car seat must pass federal safety standards. However, even the best-designed car seat is unsafe if installed improperly. For this reason, the simplicity or difficulty of installing a car seat is an important consideration when selecting the right product.

A car seat’s lower anchor clips can make a big difference with ease of installation. While testing car seats, we encountered two types of anchor clips: a simple metal anchor and a buckle anchor (both displayed below). The buckle LATCH is much easier to attach and release. Seats with this type of lower anchor scored higher in the ease-of-use category.


Plain Metal Anchor, car seats hooks

Buckle LATCH

Buckle Anchor, car seats hooks


Toddlers develop quickly, so it’s important that a quality car seat be adjustable in order to comfortably accommodate children as they grow. This is not only a comfort, but it’s a safety consideration. Some toddlers may require a booster seat configuration while others don’t.

Quality Of Materials

The best car seats for toddlers each include strong and secure straps for safety. However, some car seats have more adjustable straps and more robust buckles. Fine construction and durable materials are not only safer, but they last longer. Seats that scored highest in this category feature metal (rather than plastic) buckles and easy-to-use cinching mechanisms.

Car Seats For Toddlers Testing Process

To test each toddler car seat, our review team installed each product into the back seat of a sedan. In addition to inspecting the materials of each seat in person, we noted how easy each seat was to install.

We attached the car seats by using the car’s built-in infant seat anchors or the seatbelt. We then adjusted each seat to its multiple configurations. Our review team gave the highest marks to car seats that featured intuitive design elements and durable materials.

Why You Can Trust Us

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. A team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

Best Toddler Car Seat: FAQ

*Data accurate at time of publication.