Buyers Guide to Toddler Car Seats

If your infant has outgrown the height and weight restrictions of your rear-facing car seat it’s time to install a forward-facing model with an adjustable harness. Convertible or forward facing harness car seats are recommended for children aged 2-4 depending on individual manufacturer models and child size.

Must Haves:

Aside from countless available add-ons, essential features to look for include:

  • A model with a 5 point harness – 2 shoulder straps, 1 between legs and 2 waist straps.
  • LATCH system compatibility – a system that doesn’t rely on securing the base with a seatbelt.
  • Extra foam for impact protection on the sides.

Finding the Best Car Seat For Your Toddler

The Right Fit

Regularly track your child’s weight and height. These metrics combined with general age can help in narrowing down your available choices. Also, consider any unique behavioral traits, and underlying health issues.

Your Vehicle

Review the owner’s manual for your particular vehicle, if it’s an older model it won’t always come complete with built in anchor hookups. Be sure to carefully review any specific child safety sections in the vehicle manual explaining seat and belt features for safety.

Shop Around

Careful purchasing from a store that accepts returns is a major plus, allowing a grace period to test out the product. Most large retailers offer this but check their in-store policy before buying. Some stores will even give you the option to do a quick install test before buying.

Or Order Online

If you live in rural area or just aren’t satisfied with what your local retailers have to offer, many parents turn to the internet to find the widest range of available options. If you have your eye on a few particular models online, it’s a good idea to do a little research in real stores whenever possible. It’s always best to see the actual models in person before you order online. If that isn’t an option, most major online retailers offer free shipping and easy return policies as well as comprehensive access to consumer reviews.

Safety First

Scouring the internet for the safest car seat available can be an exercise in futility. Keep in mind that all car seats you’re considering for purchase have been thoroughly tested by the current strict safety standards and approved. These standards are regularly updated and improved upon with ever changing technology so your safest bet is often the newest model.


Your child should fit comfortably in a forward facing car seat for years to come with many convertible car seat options making a future purchase obsolete. A convertible toddler seat can serve a dual purpose growing with the child as a booster seat until the child reaches a height of 57 inches.

Keep In Mind…

Look out for things like easily adjustable straps, with pull cords and built in adjustment handles in the back of the seat. Many brands offer ones that never have to be rethreaded, which can save you invaluable time and hassle. Keep all the tips suggested above in mind and you’ll have the best car seat for your toddler in no time.