Best car seats for a 2-year-old (2023)

Car seat for a 2-year-old

Car seats are designed to keep your child safe and sound when riding in a car. Not only do they offer security but comfort as well, since they are padded and perfectly sized to a toddler’s small body. Car seats come in several styles, and choosing the right model depends on the height and weight of your child.

To help demystify car seats, we have put together this handy guide. We examine the various types of car seats, and, most importantly, we help you find the best model for your child.

Types of car seats

Infant car seats

As the name suggests, infant car seats are designed for infants. This is the time from birth until the age of two. It must be noted that the right time to transition is based on the weight and height of your child, and not their actual age.

Ideally, you should keep your baby in an infant car seat as long as possible, until they have reached the maximum recommended height and weight — only then should you transition your child out of the infant car seat. Infant car seats install into vehicles in a rear-facing position only. Many also double as carriers.

Convertible car seats

Unlike infant car seats, convertible models are designed to grow with your child. They often accommodate newborns and can be used in forward- and rear-facing positions. It is generally recommended that you transition a toddler from rear-facing to a forward-facing position sometime between the age of two and three, depending on if they’ve reached the maximum height and weight requirement for rear-facing.

Three-in-one car seats

Without a doubt, the most versatile car seat is a three-in-one. Just like convertible models, many three-in-one car seats can be used in rear- and forward-facing positions. These take things a step further by transitioning to booster seats. If you get the right model, a three-in-one car seat may be the only one you ever need to buy for your child.

Booster seats

If your child has reached the maximum height and weight of a car seat, which is usually about 65 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches in height, it is time to move them into a booster seat. Booster seats come in high-back and backless models. Unlike the others, these do not include their own harness, but instead, are designed to be used with the lap and shoulder safety belt of your vehicle.

Car seats for 2-year-old toddlers

Top convertible car seats

Graco Extend2Fit: available at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby and Kohl’s
This car seat provides all the features of its competitors, but at a much more affordable price. It offers a lot of adjustability too, ensuring your child is both safe and comfortable.

Britax Advocate ClickTight SafeWash: available at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond
Engineered to compress in the event of a crash to absorb impacts, this seat offers a very high level of protection. It is easy to install, and the cover can be tossed in the washing machine for convenient cleaning.

Chicco NextFit Sport: available at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby and Kohl’s
Parents will appreciate this seat because it’s easy to secure in place, and kids will like it for its nine reclining positions. It features a steel-reinforced frame and EPS foam cushioning.

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio: available at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond
This seat is designed with a steel back plate and a crumpling foam element, both of which work together to reduce impact force on a child’s body. The seat is well padded for comfort and has removable cushions for infants.

Graco Size4Me 65: available at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond
Thanks to a built-in cupholder, your child can keep their favorite drink or snacks close at hand when riding in this model. You can use it for kids from 4 to 65 pounds and choose from three stylish color schemes.

Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX: available at Amazon and Kohl’s
A slim and sleek option, this seat takes up little space in a vehicle. Parents of triplets will be happy to hear that you can fit three of these side by side in most cars.

Cosco Apt 50: available at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond
It may not be packed with features, but the Apt 50 is extremely budget friendly. It is also easy to clean with a machine-washable seat pad.

Top three-in-one car seats

Diono Radian 3QXT Ultimate: available at Diono, Buy Buy Baby, Amazon, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond
If you want something to grow with your child in every stage of their young life, this is a smart choice. With the two different booster modes, it can safely hold kids up to 120 pounds, while the infant mode is ready for those precious newborns.

Graco 4Ever DLX: available at Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, Kohl’s and Bed Bath & Beyond
With this seat, you actually get a four-in-one, because it offers two different booster seat modes (high-back belt positioning and backless belt positioning). With the car seat in rear- or forward-facing position, you can quickly adjust the height of the headrest and harness through 10 positions to fit it perfectly to your child. It also offers six recline positions for comfort.

Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One: available at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby and Kohl’s
You’ll be hard pressed to find another three-in-one of equal quality for such an affordable price. Plus, with more than 10 colors to choose from, you can match it to almost any vehicle’s interior.

Evenflo EveryFit: available at Buy Buy Baby, Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond
This is another four-in-one seat that features a lot of mesh fabric to help keep your child cool when riding. It also has a somewhat streamlined design that makes it well suited to small vehicles.

Graco Nautilus 65 LX: available at Amazon, Kohl’s, Buy Buy Baby and Bed Bath & Beyond
Unlike many other three-in-ones, this model is only intended for forward-facing installation. Its third mode is a backless booster suitable for children up to 120 pounds. It is reasonably priced and offers simple adjustments.

Top car seats for air travel

Evenflo SureRide: available at Amazon
Weighing less than 10 pounds, this is one of the easiest to carry as you traverse between various forms of transport on your vacation. It is even FAA approved for use on airplanes.

Evenflo Sonus 65: available at Amazon
Though a couple of pounds heavier than many other car seat models, the Sonus 65 is a bit more plush. If you want to ensure your child is just as comfortable on vacation as at home, this is a good choice.

Wayb Pico Bundle: available at Amazon
What it lacks in cushioning, the Pico makes up for in portability. It weighs just 8 pounds, folds in half and can easily be transported on top of most carry-ons. Despite its minimalist appearance, it meets all traditional safety standards.

Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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