Car seats can be confusing. There are infant car seats, convertible car seats, booster seats…
With so many different age ranges and models you may be wondering, is there a specific car seat for 1 year old? A one-year-old isn’t quite a toddler, but they’re likely getting too big for their infant seat.
Thankfully, there are a variety of car seats made to suit one year olds just perfectly! Our list will cover the best car seat for 1 year old as well as a handful of other great seats. Here is the line-up:
- Best Overall: Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat
- Best Compact for Small Cars: Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat
- Best for Travel: Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX
- Best Affordable: Cosco Scenera NEXT
- Best Comfort: Combi Coccoro Convertible Car Seat
- Best Lightweight: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible
- Easiest to Use: Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat,
- Best for Seat Belt Installation: Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat
A one-year-old car seat should fit your growing child. They may be growing out of their infant car seat and will likely need to move into another model. That begs the question, what kind of car seat for a 1-year-old is best?
Infant car seats usually only have upper weight limits of 22 to 35 pounds. Their height limit is generally when the child’s head is one inch from the top of the car seat. Once they outgrow their infant seat, there are two types of car seats to choose from.
Convertible Car Seat
A convertible car seat for 1 year old is a very popular choice. Convertible car seats grow with your child. They can often transition from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat.
Some even go beyond this, transitioning to a booster seat. These seats can easily last your child their entire car seat riding stage. Some have a minimum weight limit of 5 or 6 pounds, meaning you can actually use them from birth.
Most convertible seats have a plethora of features to keep children both safe and comfortable, no matter what stage they are in.
Forward Facing Car Seat
If your baby meets the weight and height limit, a front facing car seat for 1 year old may be an acceptable option. Many convertible car seats can become forward-facing car seats.
However, there are also forward-facing combination seats. These seats often have a harness but can also transition to a booster seat.
Forward-facing seats have specific minimum and maximum limits for both weight and height. It is important to review these carefully as most have a minimum weight of at least 40 pounds. Therefore, while a baby car seat for 1 year old may be too small, a forward-facing seat can still be too big for most one-year-olds.
In addition to meeting the height and weight limits for forward facing seats, there is the question of should my one year old be in a rear facing seat? Most times the answer is yes.
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that children should ride rear facing as long as possible. The AAP revised their previous statement which said that children should ride rear-facing until the age of 2, by dropping the age limit. It now simply says kids should stay rear facing as long as possible.
With many new car seat models having higher rear facing weight and height limits, some children can stay rear facing up to the age of four. It is important not to go by how much legroom your child has, but instead by the seat’s weight and height guidelines. Experts agree that rear facing in the car is the safest possible position for young children.
Car Seat Type: The most important thing to think about is car seat type. You must look at your child’s age, height, and weight and compare them to the specific car seat guidelines.
Most convertible seats work from 5 pounds to upwards of 50 pounds. Therefore, a convertible car seat for 12 month old will often fit any child.
Forward facing seats can have higher minimum weight and height limits and may not fit all one-year-olds. Additionally, guidance from experts recommends keeping your child rear facing as long as possible.
Car Size: You also want to consider your car size in addition to your child’s size. Some car seats are bulkier than others, equipped with extra comfort features like cup holders.
There are a few car seats that are designed for small cars. These seats have narrow profiles, slim bases, and unique features like rotating cup holders.
Some car seat attachment methods, like LATCH systems, may not fit small cars. It is best to check reviews that mention your specific car model when checking out car seats.
Height & Weight Limits: This goes hand in hand with the car seat type. Each seat type has different weight and height limits, with convertible seats having a broader range.
Besides, each individual model has its own height and weight limits. You will want to think first about your child’s current height and weight and then about their future growth and the seat’s ability to grow with them.
Car Seat Weight & Size: The weight and size of the car seat can be important for a variety of reasons. You want a seat that will fit in your car. However, you may also want a seat that is light, portable, and can be moved between vehicles easily.
Installation Type: The installation type is another vital factor when choosing a car seat as not all cars are equipped with anchors that work with the car seats LATCH system. You should think about if you will be using the seat belt to attach your seat or if you plan on using LATCH. Then check that the car seat has a corresponding installation method for your vehicle.
Safety: Safety is always important. Thankfully, most car seats on the market today are exceedingly safe. However, some have extra safety measures such as steel-reinforced frames or honeycomb cell padding. These can be awesome features to check for if you want an ultra-safe seat.
Comfort Features: It isn’t all about your preferences, but your child’s preferences too! This is especially true if they have to sit through long car rides. Seats can include moisture-wicking performance fabrics, cup holders, legroom adjustments, and more to keep kids comfy in the car.
Ease of Cleaning: Car seats get dirty, it is a fact of life. Those that have removable and washable seat covers can be exponentially easier to clean than “spot-clean only” models. Some even have rapid remove covers that make taking them off and putting them on a breeze.
Expiration Date: Finally, consider the car seat expiration date. Convertible car seats usually have long lifespans, extending six years or more. Forward facing seats may have shorter lifespans.
If you don’t want to be buying a new seat every year or so, choose one that isn’t expiring anytime soon.
First up is the Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat, an excellent car seat for one year old and beyond! It can be used as a rear-facing seat from five pounds to forty and as a forward facing seat from twenty-two pounds to sixty-five.
It will last you your child’s entire car seat stage. Awesome features like plush zip-off padding that can go in your washer keep both parents and little riders happy.
Even its space-saving cup holder can be removed and placed in the dishwasher, making this car seat extremely easy to take care of.
- Super Cinch LATCH and Lock Sure Seat Belt systems are simple to use
- Steel-reinforced frame
- Nine position headrest
- Nine position recline
- Breathable ventilated backrest
- Straps are difficult to tighten
- Zip-off padding is soft and machine washable for comfort and convenience
- Remarkably easy installation with a 9-position ReclineSure leveling system, SuperCinch LATCH tightened and lock sure seat belt tightening system
- Superior Duo Guard protection with a deep rigid shell and EPS energy-absorbing foam, plus a steel-reinforced frame
The Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX is designed to be one supremely portable toddler car seat. Its compact profile and pared-down design are ideal for airport travel.
It has two modes, suiting children from five pounds to sixty-five pounds by converting from rear facing to forward. Soft fabrics that are machine washable cover a strong frame and built-in side impact protection.
Even though this sturdy seat provides plenty of safety and comfort it is small enough to fit three car seats across in a vehicle’s backseat.
- Slim design
- 5 harness heights and 3 buckle positions
- Machine washable and dryer safe fabrics
- Difficult to achieve a secure install
- Limited recline in rear-facing position
- With 2 modes of use, this extra comfortable LATCH equipped Cosco car seat accommodates infants from 5 pounds up to toddlers weighing 40 pounds in rear facing mode and kids up to 65 pounds in forward facing mode. Its compact design also makes it easier to manage through airport security checks
- The 5 point harness adjusts easily from the front of the seat and features 5 heights and 3 buckle locations
- Built in side impact protection keeps your little 1 extra secure; Designed to be just the right size, the seat takes up less space while rear facing so parents can have more leg room
If you are searching for a rear facing car seat for 1 year old that can convert to forward facing, check out the Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat.
This seat is simple to install and to use thanks to guided and labeled belt paths. It is quite affordable while still providing parent must-haves like side-impact protection and an integrated body cushion.
Its narrow profile and removable cup holder make it ideal for those with small vehicles.
- Narrow design fits small vehicles
- Removable cup holder
- Upfront, easy-access buckle, and harness adjustment
- Integrated body cushion for comfort and support
- Washable seat cover
- Harness straps must be manually moved to adjust the height
- Low maximum weight
- Side Impact Tested, Meets or Exceeds All Applicable Federal Safety Standards and Evenflo's Side Impact Test Standard
- Designed and Tested for Structural Integrity at Energy Levels Approximately 2x the Federal Crash Test Standard. Rear Facing Fit Tip is Top of Child Head is at Least 1 Inch Below the Top of the Child Restraint Seat Back
- Multiple Shoulder Harness Positions for Better Fit and Longer Use. Age at Least Two Years of Age
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible is the best toddler car seat for those searching for a lightweight seat that doesn’t skimp on comfort or safety. It is constructed with energy-absorbing foam, side impact protection, a contoured steel backplate, and a top tether attachment in order to keep your child exceedingly safe while riding in the car.
It can convert from rear facing to forward and its use ranges from five pounds to 65 pounds. A ten-position headrest and no-rethread harness keep it comfortable for your little one no matter their age or size.
- Adjustable head, neck, and spine side impact protection
- Multiple recline options when rear facing
- Removable and washable covers
- Top tether for extra installation stability
- High rear facing weight limit (45 pounds)
- Harness straps twist easily
- One of the most costly options
- Made In Italy. Reversible-can be used rear facing for children 5 to 45 pound and forward facing for children 22 to 65 pound. Only the lower seven positions can be used in rear-facing mode
- Side impact protection protects child's head, neck and spine, easily adjusts to 10 different positions, even with child in the seat, ensuring the best and safest fit
- Energy-absorbing foam, EPS throughout the seat protects child's head and torso from impact forces, a shock absorbing foam element device located below the shell crumples upon impact, reducing stress on child's neck and shoulders in the event of a crash
The Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat is the best rear facing car seat for 1 year old whose parents want to keep rear facing as long as possible. This car seat can be used rear facing up to an astonishing 50 pounds.
The extendable leg panel provides 5 extra inches of legroom for growing toddlers. This extra-safe seat also features a ten-position headrest, six levels of recline, and a no rethread harness for painless adjustments.
- Includes 2 cupholders
- Removable infant insert pillows for head and body
- One-touch LATCH system
- Integrated harness storage
- Extendable leg panel for 5” of extra legroom
- The cover is difficult to reattach once removed
- Convertible car seat grows with your child from rear-facing harness (4-50lbs) to forward-facing harness (22-65 pounds)
- Made of Steel reinforced | Product dimensions – 20.75” D x 19” W x 24.5” H | Product weight – 19.25 lbs.
- Up to 50 pounds rear facing, allowing your child to safely ride rear-facing longer
Up next is the Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat, easily the most compact 1 year old car seat. Its paired down design makes it very light and its slim profile allows it to easily fit within any space. However, its robust construction keeps it safe.
This seat offers inner and outer energy-absorbing foam, a rigid LATCH installation system, and aluminum honeycomb crumple technology for some of the best impact protection. With this seat you can keep your child rear facing until they’re 50 pounds, meeting most expert recommendations.
- Slim profile
- Cons:tructed with clean, green fabrics free of chemicals
- Steel anti-rebound frame
- Adjustable headrest
- Performance fabrics are odor and stain resistant
- Lacks comfort features
- Difficult to install
- Built Like a Tank: Each seat is built on a solid metal substructure with inner and outer energy-absorbing foam layers and an adjustable headrest for maximum side impact protection.
- Revolutionary Forward-Facing Safety: Inspired by automotive technology, Foonf incorporates aluminum honeycomb crumple technology to absorb energy in a collision and reduce forces on the child.
- Effortless Forward-Facing Installation: The Rigid-LATCH system makes proper forward-facing installation effortless, allowing you to remove and install your seat in seconds and with peace of mind.
The Combi Coccoro Convertible Car Seat is a no-frills car seat that keeps your baby happy and safe from three pounds to forty pounds. Its small size and light weight make it easy to transfer from car to car or even to travel with.
It is one of the few convertible car seats that are FAA certified. Its deep side walls and removable infant insert keep even the smallest children protected.
As they grow you can adjust the harness straps to the proper fit. The buckle color indicator lets parents know when you have securely buckled in your most precious passenger.
- Approved for air travel
- Compact size can fit three car seats across in most vehicles
- Removable and washable cover
- Removable infant insert pillows
- Top tether strap for secure installation
- Styrofoam padding may wear easily
- Difficult to install with lap/shoulder belt
- TRU-SAFE: Combi utilizes Tru-Safe Side Impact Protection in its Convertible Car Seat. This offers deep side walls and a layer of energy absorbing foam to distribute crash energy away from your baby and toddler’s neck, head and spine. The removable infant insert also provides proper positioning and comfort for smaller children.
- COMPACT, LIGHTWEIGHT AND THREE ACROSS: The Coccoro Convertible Car Seat was designed with small spaces in mind. At 15.5 inches in width, the Cocorro easily installs in tighter spaces and smaller cars. This creates an easier installation, allows for “Three Across Installation” and also easier portability. It is FAA certified, so convenient travel became easier with this convertible car seat! The Coccoro is one of the few travel car seats.
- COMFORTABLE AND EASE OF USE: The Coccoro Convertible Car Seat has a buckle with an indicator that provides a visual cue when the harness is securely buckled. The Coccoro also features a tether connector strap for Rear-Facing tethering.
Seeing as how your child can use it from five pounds to forty pounds, you will appreciate this as they transition from rear facing to forward facing. It has built-in side impact protection covered by a removable and washable seat pad that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Even its cupholder can be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher. This compact seat is lightweight and FAA-approved so it can go wherever your family goes.
- A narrow base can fit three car seats across in most vehicles
- FAA approved
- 5 harness heights and 3 crotch buckle positions
- The seat pad is washer and dryer safe
- LATCH equipped
- Low max weight limit (40 pounds)
- Lacks padding for comfort
Can my 1 year old use a booster seat?
It is not advised to place your one year old in a booster seat. The AAP recommends children stay rear facing as long as possible after which they can be moved to a forward facing position.
Children should stay in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until they exceed the seat’s max weight and height limits, which are usually 40-65 pounds. This means most children will not be ready for a booster until at least 4 years of age.
How long can a 1 year old stay in a car seat?
How long your 1 year old can stay in a car seat depends on the seats max height and weight limits. Convertible seats can accommodate a child until they are 40-60 pounds.
Infant car seats can only accommodate a child until they are around 30 pounds. You should use a car seat with your child until they outgrow it and are ready for a booster seat.
Does a 1 year old need a car seat on a plane?
The FAA does not require the use of car seats on a plane. However, both the FAA and the AAP strongly advise that car seats are used on airplanes. To travel with a car seat it must be FAA approved.
The perfect car seat for your family depends on your child’s weight and height, your car seat preferences, and your budget. These things aside, there is one seat we have chosen as the best car seat for a one year old: Our pick is the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat!
This car packs plenty of comfort and safety features. It can keep your child rear facing longer, and its leg panel ensures they will remain comfortable.
Lots of plush padding and two cup holders keep little ones happy. A no-rethread harness that adjusts in conjunction with the headrest and one-touch recline options makes parents’ lives easier. Overall, this car seat is definitely a crowd-pleaser.
Which one is your preferred option? Let us know your pick and why in the comments!
Last update on 2021-03-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API