Car seats often look the same, but the technology and safety enhancements that each seat has to offer may be different from another.
Whether you are new to buying car seats or are a car seat aficionado, listed below are the best car seats for 1 year old.
What We’ll Cover:
1. Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat
2. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat
3. Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
4. Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
5. Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
What to Know Before You Buy!
Choosing the right car seat for your little one is an important decision.
Before heading out to the stores and choosing what you think is the best seat, keep these pointers in mind:
More expensive doesn’t always mean better.
A lot of mid-range car seats are just as safe and comfortable than premium models.
Read your vehicle owner’s manual before you go shopping.
Your owner’s manual will tell you where the seat should go and how you should install it. Modern vehicles come with a LATCH system which you may need to familiarize yourself with, though most car seats can also accommodate the older belting method.
Know your child’s weight and height.
The most important factor to consider when deciding which seat to buy is to know exactly how tall your child is and how much your child weighs. The recommended age to turn your child from rear facing to front facing is now 2 years old (NHTSA Press Release for New Child Seat Guidelines)– not 12 months as previously recommended – so the seat you choose should be able to accommodate rear-facing whenever possible (a child is usually considered to have outgrown his or her rear-facing seat when they are within 1 inch of the top of the seat).
Measure your back seat.
If you have a smaller car, take measurements of the backseat as some seats may be too large to fit.
Choose seats with a two-piece retainer clip.
These two-piece clips are far more difficult for a toddler to unfasten, increasing your child’s safety. The harness should be easy to adjust. The best car seats for 1-year-old feature harness adjusters which are easy to locate and use.
Choose a seat that is easy to clean.
As we all know, 1 year old’s can be pretty messy. Do yourself a favor and choose a seat with smooth fabric which will wipe clean.
Check the JPMA stamp on the box.
This stamp allows you to check whether or not the seat is up to date with current safety standards.
Run a test install before you purchase.
A lot of retailers will allow parents and caregivers to “test install” a car seat before purchasing. If you can’t test it, make sure you will be able to return it if it is incompatible with your vehicle.
After your car seat is installed in your vehicle, check www.seatcheck.org to find a professional car seat inspector nearby who can make sure that your car seat is properly installed.
This is particularly important for as many as 80% of car seats today are installed incorrectly.
Exploring Your Different Seat Options
Today’s parents have a lot of different options when it comes to the best car seats for their 1-year-olds.
Some of the leading car seat types include:
The Infant Car Seat.
These seats are designed to be rear-facing only and feature a removable carrier that connects to a base that is installed into your car.
The majority of infant car seats can accommodate children between 4 to 40 pounds.
Keep in mind, however, that your child will likely outgrow the seat in a short period of time.
You will also need to pay particular attention to the size of the car seat base as some may be too large to squeeze into the backseat of your vehicle.
The Convertible Seat
The real benefit to a convertible seat is that you can continue to keep your child rear-facing (or forward-facing if you choose) yet it can accommodate a larger child.
These seats can typically be used rear-facing until your child is 40 to 65 pounds, and the seat can be turned forward-facing when your child is ready.
The All-In-One Car Seat
What makes this type of seat often amongst the best car seats for 1-year-old is because they deliver the greatest amount of value.
These seats are specifically designed to take your child from birth right up until they are ready for a booster.
Depending on the model, these seats can be used rear-facing from 5 to 45 pounds, forward-facing from 20 to 65 pounds in a five-point harness, and 30 to 120 pounds when converted into “booster mode”.
These seats are usually bulkier and heavier than other models, however, and they may not fit into the back seat of all cars.
5 Quick Product Reviews
We have picked out five of the best car seats for your 1-year-old on the market today:
Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat:
This car seat is all about value. Having a lower price tag than almost all other seats in its class, this seat is side impacted and meets or exceeds federal safety standards.
The seat features a convenient rear-facing decline, four harness positions, and two crotch buckle positions.
It also comes in several different colors and patterns including Neptune, Pink Mums, Abigail, Ella, and Saturn.
- This seat boasts a lower price tag than other seats on this list coming in at an average price of $70.
- The car seat has one of the highest scores in its class for crash testing.
- It is lightweight, easy to use and easy to install.
- The seat is narrow, making it easy to fit into the backseat of smaller vehicles.
- The padding on the seat is thin, so it may not be as comfy and cozy for your little one as other seats on this list.
- The seat features a rethread harness, which makes it more difficult to adjust as your child grows.
- The appearance and the feel of the seat reveals that it is a lower quality seat than other options
Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat
This car seat is designed to accommodate children from 5 to 100 pounds.
The seat can convert from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster, and it features side impact protection, convenient harness holders, and a quick fit harness.
The seat currently comes in a number of different colors including Blue Coral, Everest II, Everest Pink and Night Horizon Gray.
- The seat is specifically designed to take up less room when it is in rear-facing mode, giving parents up to 7 inches of more legroom than many other models.
- It is easy to clean and comfortable.
- The QuickFit harness makes adjusting the height of the headrest and the harness quick and easy.
- The seat comes with two integrated cup holders, helping parents keep drinks and snacks organized.
- The seat can be reclined in rear-facing mode, increasing your little one’s comfort and safety.
- The seat is a bit more expensive than some other similar seats in this class with an average price of $150.
- It is heavier and bulkier than many seats, making it difficult to carry around and switch from car to car.
- Head support cushion may not be able to be lowered to accommodate smaller babies.
Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat
The Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat features a removable five-point harness and can be transformed into a rear-facing, forward-facing, and high back booster car seat for children from 5 to 100 pounds.
- The seat is loaded with safety features including EPS (energy absorbing foam) which can absorb and disperse energy on impact should you be involved in a crash. It is steal reinforced for added strength and durability, and it was highly rated in safety for all three modes by the NHTSA.
- The seat not only features the LATCH system, but it also has Graco’s “Lock It Up” feature which indicates whether or not the seat is properly locked into its base.
- There are six different headrest heights.
- The harness does not need to be rethreaded, allowing for easy adjusting.
- There are a number of extras, including a machine washable cushion, armrests and a built-in cup holder.
- The seat is expensive!
- The seat weighs 33 pounds, making it one of the heaviest in its class. For this reason, it is not easy to haul from one car to another.
- Unlike other Graco seats, this one cannot be connected to a stroller or to a base.
- The crotch strap is shorter than others on the market.
Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
As the name implies, the Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat can be used as a rear-facing, forward-facing five-point harness and a belt-positioning booster seat and for children between 5 to 110 pounds.
The seat features Evenflo’s exclusive Sure-Latch connectors that can reduce installation time in some vehicles to a mere 60 seconds.
- Unlike other options on this list, this seat has a longer life span as it can be converted to a belt-positioning booster seat.
- The infinite slide harness adjuster makes changing the height of the seat a breeze.
- It does not take up a lot of front-to-back room when rear-facing.
- The seat features deep headwings which help your child’s head stay up while sleeping and they provide enhanced side-impact protection.
- The cover is machine washable.
- The seat has a 37” rear-facing height limit which is lower than almost all other convertibles.
- It has a wider base so it may not fit into the back of your vehicle if you are placing it next to another car seat.
- The harness cannot be removed or replaced, and it does not come with harness strap covers (none can be added).
- It does not have a built-in lockoff device.
Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat
The Britax Roundabout G4.1 Convertible Car Seat can be used in the rear-facing position for children between 5 to 40 pounds and as a forward facing seat for youngsters who are over 1 year of age and between 20 to 55 pounds.
It features Britax’s SafeCell Impact Protection which includes an energy absorbing base, an impact absorbing tether, and a steel frame.
- The SafeCell Technology prevents little ones from being forced forward in the event of a crash.
- The energy-absorbing tether which anchors to the top of the car seat slows the release of forwarding movement.
- There is a harness holder, making it easy for you to put your little one into the seat.
- It comes with the LATCH system which makes installation quick and easy.
- It is an affordable seat with an average price of $170.
- The seat does not have the same lifespan as the others on this list, being only able to accommodate children up to 55 pounds and with a height limit of 46”.
- The cover is not removable, making it difficult to clean.
- Only the basic level of crash protection padding is provided.
Which Seat We Think Is Best.
When it comes to safety, value, and ease of installation, the Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat is the winner.
For parents who want to keep their 1-year-old in rear-facing mode for another year, this car seat can easily accommodate your growing youngster as it also features an adjustable headrest and a QuickFit harness.
Because the seat is bulkier and heavier than some on this list, it is best used as an “install it and leave it” type of seat rather than one which will be hauled around and swapped in and out of vehicles.
It also may not fit in vehicles where two car seats will be placed side-by-side.
The fabric is easy to wipe clean and it is machine washable as well as dryer safe.
As an added bonus, this seat can give parents and caregivers up to 7 inches of extra legroom, increasing their comfort in the car as well as the comfort of their child.