It is an exciting time for a parent and baby when they can eventually take a trip together in a family vehicle. Unlike an infant, a toddler is aware of his parents and his surroundings. Toddlers love exploring, and a car journey will whet their appetite for adventure.

There are two types of car seats for young children; the forward-facing and rear-facing ones. Also known as the convertible seat, the rear-facing car seat is designed for infants under the age of two. You might wonder why a baby has to face backward. The reason is that the American Academy of Pediatricians considers this the safest way for a baby to travel.

The Best Toddler Car Seats 2018

1. Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible
2. Graco Contender 65 Convertible


Things to Consider in when Choosing the best Toddler Car Seat

Safety

The reason why young children have car seats designed with them in mind is that they are more vulnerable than adults when accidents occur. The safety belts and airbags are designed to protect the adult torso from harm. An infant or toddler is much smaller than an adult and trying to fix them to devices that are designed for grownups might well expose them to danger.

One of the key safety features in a car is immobility or restraint. In the same way, a seat belt is designed to hold an adult in one position should an accident occur, a toddler should be held securely in place. For this to happen, there are three features to consider.

a) How sturdy is the construction of the seat? This is usually suggested by its weight bearing capacity. It should be noted that forward-facing seats will bear more weight than rear-facing ones.

b) If a seat is padded especially around the area of the head, it will provide a better cushioning effect during impact. The cushioning material could be foam or other alternatives. At this juncture, you should note that cushioning is better suited for rear-facing seats for toddlers. Some seats also provide cushioning for side impact.

c) The third features to restrain your toddler are the harnesses. The more, the merrier. Seats that have 5 harnesses are regarded as safer than those with an overhead shield. The latch system anchors the child’s seat to the car and plays the same role as a seat belt.

Ease of Use

Your child’s car seat will only perform its function if it is correctly used. If your child’s car seat is difficult to attach, it means that it might be tough to detach in an emergency. It is important to note that the height of your child will determine the way they are harnessed to the car seat.

If a harness is supposed to go under the armpit, it should not be secured at the level of the shoulders. ISOFIX is a new method that makes it simpler to fix your child’s seat in place. The toddler should not maneuver out of their harness.

Choose a seat that has written and graphic guidelines on how it should be fixed. Both the diagrams and text should be clear and easy to follow. If you know a CPS instructor in your area, you could ask him to fix the seat for you. All this should be done before baby comes along.

If your toddler’s safety seat has to be secured using the vehicle’s seat belt, you need to ensure that the belt follows a path that will secure the seat so that the child cannot move more than an inch.

You are not the first to use a particular brand of toddler car seat. Sometimes, it is a good idea to follow the herd. Check the ratings and reviews of a product before putting down your money. If many people are satisfied with a product, you too are likely to be served well by it.

Maneuverability

Your child’s safety seat will be moving in and out of your car from time to time. So, it should move with ease into and out of the vehicle. Furthermore, it should not be too heavy.

Adjustability

Your baby is growing, and the space the child occupies should adjust to accommodate that growth. Both the leg room and headrest should be flexible enough to allow your toddler a comfortable and safe ride. The harnesses too should have room for adjustments and must be easy to reach should you need to unfasten them in a hurry.

Cost

This is a consideration for most parents. However, you should be aware that cost is not equal to quality. That being said, you should not compromise your child’s safety for the sake of saving some money. For this reason, you should never buy a second-hand toddler car seat as this could prove a fatal mistake in the event of a crash.

Cleaning

Children will be messy. That’s just their nature, so pick a seat that is relatively easy to clean. Smooth fabrics are easier to clean than textured ones. To clean the various components of your seat, it would help if the parts can be taken apart before the activity. If you can remove the pads, cushion, and inserts every time your baby messes them up, you will ensure that he does not suffer ill health from a dirty seat.

Go through Your Vehicle’s Manual Beforehand

Ensure you read the manual properly to know where the car seat should go. You can either attach a car seat to a seat belt or the LATCH system. Depending on the way you want to install the seat, you will be in a better position to choose the right baby car seat.

If you decide to go for the LATCH installation, ensure you know where to attach the LATCH to your automobile. You might be surprised to know that there are none in the middle rear seat, which is the safest place for your child.

Ensure You Choose the Right Seat for Your Child

Every car seat manual comes with information regarding the weight and height of the product. Below are some useful guidelines.

Rear-facing seats: these are usually for newborns and infants. Babies can use the rear-facing types for as long as it is possible. To determine whether your child has outgrown this seat, check that his head is within one inch of the seat’s top. It is the height that determines when it is time for your child to start using a forward-facing seat.

Forward-facing seats: for a child to resume this position, he must be at least 24 months old or attained his maximum weight and height capacity of the car seat. When you notice the child’s shoulders above the top harness, it is time to start using a forward-facing seat.

Booster seats: These are meant for children who are more than 40 pounds heavy. At the age of 8 years, children will have graduated to an adult’s seat belt that can be used in the absence of a booster in the rear car seat. However, this should never happen in the front seat. Both the lap and shoulder belts should fit comfortably.

Know the Maximum Room Your Back Seat Has

Getting a car seat with a large base when you have a small vehicle will be a big mistake as it will not fit. If your car is small, get a narrow seat. Also, put into consideration the number of people who will be sitting in your car’s back seat. The number of car seats needed is a contributing factor.

Before setting out to get a new car seat, get the back seat’s measurements and bring the measuring tape with you to the store. This is to ensure you get the right dimensions by measuring the base of the seats.


Below are the best toddlers’ car seats on the market.

Graco Contender 65 Convertible Car Seat

 

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If you are looking for the best toddler car seat that will offer your child all the safety, this is your best choice. It also comes at a pocket-friendly price. Buying the Graco Contender is like purchasing two car seats for your child. It can work both as a front-facing and rear-facing seat.

You can use the rear-facing position for infants from 5-40lbs and adjust the seat to a front-facing position when the baby reaches between 22 and 65lbs. It has an 8-position headrest system that can be adjusted automatically using one hand.

On top of that, it comes with a 5-point front changeable safety harness. This is meant to ensure your child stays safe throughout. The seat has a head and body support that is removable to always keep your baby as comfortable as possible while you travel.

The model has surpassed every US safety standards FMVSS213 after undergoing side-impact tests. It comes with a built-in cup holder where you can keep a baby bottle to ensure your child always stays hydrated, especially during long trips.

Pros:

  • It is a 2-in-1 seat that can either face forward or backward
  • Comes with a built-in cup holder
  • Has passed the side-impact tests, surpassing all US safety standards FMVSS213
  • It is pocket-friendly
  • It has EPS energy absorbing foam

Cons:

  • Some parents find it frustrating to adjust the straps
  • It doesn’t offer any shading for sun

Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat

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This convertible seat is compact and lightweight, making it easy to move it around. It is also very pocket-friendly.

You can either use this seat in forward-facing or rear-facing positions with the latter one being suitable for infants between 5 and 40lbs and height of up to 37 inches. The former position is ideal for toddlers weighing between 22 and 40lbs and up to 40 inches tall, making it one of the best toddler car seats.

This seat is made in the US and has exceeded all the expected Federal Safety Standards and also the side impact test.

While in a front facing position, it has a 5-point safety harness that simplifies the adjustments. This ensures your bundle of joy is safely tucked in and fits perfectly in the seat. The 4-shoulder strap ensures that this seat adapts to your child’s growth. Another great feature is the energy absorbing foam liner. It offers more comfort, as well as safety for your child.

If you are worried about your child’s head safety, relax as this seat comes with harness and buckle covers together with a plush head pillow. All these are meant to keep the baby’s head in the correct position.

Since the seating pad can easily be removed, it makes it easy to machine-wash it. Every other part can simply be cleaned using mild soap and water. This means that even if your child soils the seat, all you have to do is wipe it clean or simply toss the seating pad in the washing machine.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and easy to carry around
  • Very comfortable for the child
  • It is made in the US and has passed all the safety standard tests
  • It is convertible
  • The cheapest convertible baby car seat

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have much padding
  • Not ideal for those long road trips

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