Buying the right car seat for your child is one of the crucial decisions you can make as a parent. It’s obvious to have confusion regarding features like Front-facing or rear-facing, installation, harness control, price, safety, etc. To help you choose the best car seat for 3 year old we have done a whole of actual testing on the necessary parameters of safety and ease. After this, we have selected only the top-performing models. To know more about our list scroll down.
Our list of Best Car Seat For 3 Year Old
1. Graco 4Ever – Best Reclining Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of your harness and headrest, in one motion, to help ensure that your child is always properly secured
- One-hand, 10-position adjustable headrest is easy to use and adjusts to properly fit your growing child
- Washable seat cover is easy to remove without removing the harness
- The Graco exclusive InRight LATCH attachment provides an easy, one-second attachment with an audible click to help ensure secure installation
- Steel-reinforced frame provides strength and durability for years of smart utility
Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 utilizes the latest TruShield technology to give your child the added security and safety in the car while you are busy driving. The product is designed to last you for good 10 years. Buy it for one child and use it for his/her siblings later. The quality of it is so premium that one seat would last for all the kids in the family. The seat can be adjusted as per the weight and age of the child over the growing years.
In addition to all this for added safety, it has an Inright Latch system for easy attachment and secure installation. In the front, there are two cup holders too to hold the child’s feeder or sipper. Lastly, it has a washable seat cover which is again a benefit as toddlers tend to be messy. You get it in 6 different colors, choose as per your taste.
It is the best reclining car seat for 3 year old. We love it for its safety, headrest position, reclining ability, and the safety harness system.
2. Maxi-Cosi CC208EMQ – Best Rear Facing Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- 3 in 1 seating system: Rear facing, from 4 40 pounds; forward facing to 65 pounds; and upto 100 pounds in booster mode
- Side impact protection with cell protects your child's head where it's needed most in a side impact crash
- Clique auto magnetic chest clip gets you on your way quickly
- E out spring assisted harness covers for easy boarding
- Flip away buckle won't get in the way while getting in and out of the seat
If you want a rear-facing car seat for 3 year old, this can be a perfect choice. The seat is designed to grow with your child from 0 to 10 years, Maxi-Cosi Pria is what you will ever need. It is designed to convert from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster-mode in minutes. We really like its easy installation and jiffy transition from forward to rear to booster mode. It is made using soft to touch cushions and premium fabrics with padding throughout the seat to give your child the comfort throughout the drive.
For easy maintenance, it has easy to remove machine washable covers. Last but not least, for storage it has two removable cup holders where you can keep feeders, sippers, bottles, or even small toys.
It is one of the best rear-facing car seat for 3 year old. The best part is you can use it 3 ways- rear facing, front facing, and the booster mode. This way this one seat can suffice you for years.
3. Chicco MyFit+Harness – Best Lightweight Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- Duo Guard 2-layers Rigid Shell with energy absorbing steel reinforcement PLUS 2 Zones Side Impact protection for Head & Torso
- Rest assured with 4-Position true recline and 9-Position headrest to support proper posture for every car ride
- Lock Sure belt-tightening system helps achieve a secure installation with vehicle seat belt
- Ergo Boost double foam padding and contoured seat design provide support in all the right places
Chicco is a reputed brand when it comes to kids products, and so is this one from them. Chicco MyFit is loved by its customers for its lightweight and long life. It is a harness to booster seat that can be only used as a forward-facing harness seat and as a highback booster. Its FAA approved for aircraft and car travel so be rest assured for safety. We tested its body for durability and safety. It uses a steel-reinforced frame for durability. In addition to this, it has an energy-absorbing EPS foam and Dui Guard layers to give protection to the child on both of their body. The entire seat gives support to head and torso and has a contour shape to make your child feel comfortable.
Other handy features of it include compartments to keep toys, harness, latch straps, etc. when not in use. Like other car seats for 3-year-old, this one also has two cup holders. Maintaining it is a little tough, as the car seat requires hand-wash only.
The Chicco MyFit is an amazing car seat for 3 year old to give them a comfortable joyful ride every time. It has all the necessary safety and transition features to handle a growing child.
4. Safety 1st Gro 3-in-1 – Multiple Color Variety Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- Built to grow with your child, this safety 1st car seat supports infants from 5 pounds to toddlers of 40 pounds as a rear facing car seat, 22 to 65 pounds forward facing toddler car seat, and 40 to 100 pounds as a belt positioning booster
- An adjustable 3 position recline makes it easy to get a good fit for the seat in your car, assembled product dimensions 24.00 inches x 19.00 inches x 23.75 inches
- Harness holders keep the harness open, making it easier to get into and out of the seat; front seat passengers can enjoy up to 7 inches more legroom with the rear facing infant seat's reduced footprint
- Adjust the height of the headrest and harness in 1 easy step with the quickfit harness; even in booster mode, the headrest adjusts easily, ensuring the best fit for your child
- Two integrated cup holders keep snacks and drinks close; easy to clean, the seat pad removes easily, ready to go into the washing machine and dryer
Safety 1st Grow is designed to grow with your children. It is meant for babies from as small as 5 lbs to as big as 120 lbs. It’s a 3-in-1 car seat that can be used as rear-facing, front-facing, and high booster seat. You can use it as rear-facing for up to 60lbs and forward-facing and booster for up to 120 lbs. The best part of it is that it comes in exciting color options. You have a choice for red, pink, coral, black, to blue color. Pick the color that excites you and your little one the most.
Like others, it also has two cup holders to keep snacks and drinks close to the child. Furthermore, the seat covers are washable and easy to remove. Be rest assured, its a decent quality product that meets the federal, ASTM, and JPMA safety standards.
Safety 1st believes in providing fewer worries while traveling. It is one of the leaders in child safety. This adjustable car seat from them has everything to help your child from infancy to early childhood.
5. Britax Frontier – Best Front-Facing Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- Toddler to Big Kid: Easily transition from harness to belt positioning booster as your child grows
- Easy installation: Patented ClickTight makes car seat installation as simple as buckling a seat belt
- No rethreading, ever: Quick adjust 9 position harness with headrest for a comfortable, secure fit
- Surrounded in safety: 2 layers of side impact protection, steel frame, impact absorbing base, and forward movement reducing v shaped tether
- Fits: Forward facing harness mode 25 to 90 pounds, Booster mode 40 to 120 pounds; Maximum Dimensions: 19 W x 36 H x 21 D inches. Shoulder width -15.5 inches
Britax Frontier is a seat for toddlers and kids from 3 years to 8 years of age. It is the best easy to install kids of this age, probably it might not go well for infants. The Britax frontier has a steel frame impact-absorbing body for its long life and sturdiness. We consider it best for 3 years old as often they are seen to be constantly moving their head and limbs to play. So, a seat with a double layer of side protection would protect their head and limbs from the force during a jerk or a crash. You can use this front-facing car seat for kids up to 90 lbs of weight.
It has two holders to store snacks, tiny toys, and drinks. The only glitch we found is that it is not very well-cushioned and padded like other car seats but definitely serves the purpose of a 3-year-old.
On the whole, Britax Frontier is an excellent best forward-facing harness car seat. It is durable, safe, and secure for the kids to sit on. The only sad part about this is its weight and light cushioning.
6. Evenflo Maestro Sport – Best Convertible Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- 2-in-1 Booster - Forward-facing harness (22-50poundss) converts to belt-positioning booster (40-110 pounds)
- Dual Cup Holders: Two built-in cup holders keep drinks and snacks within reach - allows the driver to stay focused on the road
- Upfront Harness Adjust: Central, front access to the harness adjuster provides an easy way to adjust child's harness for an accurate, snug fit
- Shoulder Belt Guide: Automatically positions the vehicle belt in the proper position for your child
- Easy to Clean - Wipeable and machine-washable car seat pad removes for easy cleaning
If you are looking for an affordable convertible car seat for 3 year old, this can be a decent option. The Evenflo mastero is designed with two modes the forward-facing mode for children with 22-50lbs and a higher belt-positioning booster mode for children from 50-120 lbs. We would recommend you to use the forward mode for 2-5 years of age and the high booster mode for 6-9 years of age. We analyzed it and found the built is sturdy and durable. We found that there are a few glitches when it comes to seating. The seating lack side-impact cushioning and is on the firmer side which might not be too cozy and comfortable for the toddlers to sit on.
Like others, it comes with two cup holders to keep snacks and drinks secure. For easy maintenance, the seat cover are removable and machine washable.
A decent affordable convertible car seat with all the essential features for the child’s safety. It might not be the best option if you want features like reclining and extra soft cushioning.
7. Graco Tranzitons 3-in-1 – Best Cheap Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- 3-in-1 harness booster helps protect your child, from toddler to youth
- Grows with your child from forward-facing harness (22-65 lb) to highback booster (40-100 lb) to backless booster (40-100 lb) to continue to meet industry standards, we have increased the weight minimum from 30 to 40 lb
- No-Rethread Simply Safe Adjust Harness System allows the headrest and harness to adjust together in one motion
- Lightweight, portable seat is ideal for busy, active parents
- One-hand, 8-position adjustable headrest grows with your child
If you are looking for a basic cheap car seat for 3 year old, this is an excellent option. Graco Trnazition comes in a minimum price range with all the basic quality features. Mind you this seat has all the safety standards like other high-end models. It is more off a booster seat meant for kids 3 years and above. You get both high back belt-positioning and backless belt-positioning, you can choose either of them as per your child’s need. We recommend high back belt for kids between 30-50lbs and a backless belt for kids between 50-110lbs.
The seat cover is removable and machines washable. The rest of the body can be cleaned using a damp cloth. This also comes with a non-removable cup holder. Lastly, you also get three color options, choose as per your liking. Overall, it’s the highest-selling model from Graco which is known for its worthy price.
The best low price car seat in the industry. In spite of such low-pricing it has all the basic features to keep your child safe and secure while traveling.
Buying Guide – What To Look For When Buying A Car Seat For 3 Year Old
Buying a car seat can be easier than it sounds if you know about your needs and budget. There a plethora of options in the market. All are not worthy enough to buy. You need to make sure the product you are buying matches your needs and is worth the price. The best way to do this is by jotting down the features that are a must. If you are unsure of how to do it, we have a guide for you. In this guide, you will find out the considerations to look for in a car seat which would make your understanding easier. So, let’s start.
1. Typer Of Car Seat
The first and foremost consideration to look for. There are a variety of seats available in the market and all are not meant to solve the same purpose. You need to make sure which type of seat would solve your purpose. A few types of seat widely available in the market are as follows:
a) Rear-facing Car Seat For 3 year Old
A rear-facing car seat is for infants and toddlers weighing 0-50lbs. Doctors say for infants and toddlers this is the best car seat and that is why many parents want it. If you want one the top option is Maxi-Cosi CC208EMQ. But some parents assume the rear ones are not actually the best car seat for 3 year old because a three year old wants attention, is fidgety and is always playful. So, there are chances for them to not sit in the rear position.
b) Forward-facing Car Seat For 3 Year Old
This is the most favorable option for 3-year-old kids. It is because they can see you as you are sitting right in front of them driving the seat. Also, you can turn back and keep an eye on their activities. The best one in this range is Graco 4Ever.
c) Booster Car Seat For 3 Year Old
These seats are meant for kids above 5 years of age or who outgrow the weight and height limit of a front-facing harness. A booster position raises the height of the seat so the belt fits correctly to the child over the collarbone and goes across the upper thighs. You get them in two sub-categories – backless and high back. High back models have a better side-impact than the backless ones. The backless ones are however more convenient and easy to install.
d) Convertible Seats For 3 Year Old
These are the most recommended and loved seat by parents. You can use them as front-facing, rear-facing, or as a booster seat too. They prove fruitful throughout the childhood days. You can use them for 0-9 years of age. Parent generally buy them and use it for years over years until the child turns 9. You have to use them as rear-facing until the child turns 12 kgs and the front-facing until the child is 20 kg or more. They are generally the 3-in-1 car seat that are loved by parents who keep traveling. Not only this they are the safest option for children as per the American Academy of Pediatrics. The best one in this category are Graco 4Ever, Graco 4Ever, and Chicco MyFit+Harness.
2. Harness Type
The harness is the belt that you put on the child for protection and good snug fit. It ensures protection and safety of the baby. They come from the shoulder to the stomach and then go down towards the thighs from the center. So, make sure the harness has protection from all sides. The market has 5 points and 3 points of harness.
a) 5 point harness – It has 2 shoulder straps, 2 waist straps, and 1 between the point harness that holds the baby in place giving them a snug fit.
b) 3 point harness- It comes with 2 shoulder straps and 1 between the legs strap.
A car seat raises your child up so that they can sit high enough where the vehicle’s seat belt will strap them properly across the shoulder and the lap. It should give good head and shoulder support. Make sure your child’s head should not extend above the back of your car’s seat for comfortable and safe seating. For this, you can compare the dimensions of your car seat and the seat that you would be buying for your baby.
You should also make sure that the product chosen should have plenty of cushion support which can support the child’s body in case of jerks and accidents. Overall, be sure the car seat that you opted for keeps your child strapped tightly and slide out as little as possible.
This is yet another very crucial consideration to look for. Your little one would be using the seat for quiet a long time. These seats are meant to last for years and are often passed over to younger siblings or cousins once they outgrow it. It is a huge investment so make sure you choose the right one fulfilling all your needs.
A convertible 3-in-1 seat is the perfect car seat for 3 year old. It is because it supports the entire childhood that is until they turn 9. Keep in mind the seat you are choosing should grow with your child and last as long as your child needs it. The best one in this category are Graco 4Ever, Graco 4Ever, and Chicco MyFit+Harness.
This is again important. A 3 year old loves the softness feel and touch. They tend to sit in one place if they are getting the right comfort. A well-cushioned seat would not only give comfort but also give support from all the sides. The cushioning also tends to give side-impact protection on bumpy and rough roads. On the whole, make sure the car seat for 3 year old should be well-cushioned and padded from all sides from the head to back to sides.
Installation is often a challenge especially if you are doing it for the first time. It would be better and much easier if you have a proper installation guide or a detailed video guide. Most of the products have a latch system that fits on to the car seat for firm installation.
7. Easy To Clean
Spills are inevitable when it comes to toddlers. They are still learning to have a grip over things. They would be times when your little one would spill milk, food, or any other food item on the seat. Therefore, a removable seat cover is a must. So, whenever there is a spill you can remove it and wash it. Even when there is no spill prefer washing the cover after every two weeks to avoid germ build up over it. In addition to this, machine washable covers are much more convenient.
Car seats portability generally does not matter much. It is because you have to fix it in your car once and use it whenever you want. Its weight won’t matter much if you don’t have to put it in or off that often. Contrary to it, if you are someone who keeps using different cars for travel and for the same have to shift the car seat portability might be a factor to consider. If a car seat is extremely heavy it would be difficult to remove it from one place and fix it to the other place. So, make sure to choose the weight as per your requirement.
Cost is another consideration that varies from individual to individual. If this is your first purchase, you can pick a product that would be durable. the market has a lot of options in the different price range from the cheap ones to the high-end ones. So, it would be better if you sort out your budget and then choose the one fitting in your price range. In our post, we have mentioned all the products from low range to high range.
Tips While Purchasing the Baby Car Seat
- We would always recommend you to install the car seat in the back seat of your car. Never think of putting in the front. But in case if you are installing it in then make sure you deactivate the airbag in the front seat. Once the installation is complete, re-check the locks.
- Doctors recommend installing the seat only in the rear-facing position until your baby attains 9 kg of weight. This is for their safety when in rear-position, the seat absorbs most of the crash forces and supports the neck, head, and spine. When infants are made to sit in a forward-facing seat, they are more prone to spine and head injuries as their head and back is still unstable.
- Always secure the harness belt after making your babysit on it. Prefer cross-checking the locks before driving your car. No matter even if it is a five minutes drive make sure your baby is wearing the harness belt.
- Even seating the car seat for 3 year old would make your child tired and bored. Never ride hours over hours with a baby. Prefer taking a few minutes to stop after every 1 and half an hour. When you stop make sure you take your baby out of the car seat and let him/her stretch his/her body. This would not only keep your baby playful but also keep your mind at peace.
- Never go for the used car seats no matter even if it is the best car seat. The used ones are prone to damage and may even compromise with your child’s safety.
Why Should Your 3 Year Old Be In The Car Seat?
Your 3 year old is still learning to balance himself/herself. They are still in the phase where they don’t have the best hand and eye coordination. So, they must be in their car set with their harness on while traveling. For three years the best type is the forward-facing car seats. They can’t go for rear-facing as they have attained the maximum weight and height. And even booster seats are a no for them as they still can’t sit with their back entirely against the seat. Booster seat is more like a vehicles seat belt and therefore are not the best car seat for 3 years old. Imagine if you have an over-excited and curious child, he/she might unbuckle the seat belt while you are driving and that would be the most difficult situation to handle.
The best car seat would prevent these unforeseen conditions while keeping your chid secure and safe in the car. These products rely on the harness system which let you strap your child in it. Prefer putting the harness until your child is 4 years old at least. No matter if your child has surpassed the maximum height and weight of a car seat. If there is a situation like this, read the manufacturer’s guide. Most of them can be converted to booster seats if your child pass the maximum criterias.
Buying the best convertible seats that can be used as rear-facing, front-facing, or as boosters are the most desirable. It is because you can covert the seat as your child grows. Never go for the booster seats until your child weighs 80 pounds, there is no rush and no harm in harnessing the child over an extended period.
Nothing can be safer while traveling for a child than a car seat. It protects the child from falling when on a bumpy road or sudden jerks. For kids, it’s difficult to balance all of a sudden and that is why they often fall from the car seat if not harnessed properly. These falls can be mild and dangerous too. To avoid this, always put your child on the car seat. Not only this, in case of car accidents your child would be safe and secure.
Do’s & Don’t Of A Car Seat
- Always read the instruction manual before installing the child’s car seat for the first time. There are a few minor or major differences in different brands and models so make sure to go through them and learn their installing mechanism.
- Always fasten the seat belt tightly before every ride. Make sure the car seat should not move even an inch while you are riding from side-to-side or back-to-front.
- Always register the child safety seats with the manufacturer after purchasing them. This will make sure you enjoy the warranty period in case you face difficulty or malfunctioning. Further, this would also keep you updated about the brand news and upgradations if any.
- Always match the harness belt to the designated slots as given in the instruction manual. The harness belt should be fastened tightly and accurately to prevent it from opening up while you are driving.
- Always put your car belt seat too. This would not only a good example to teach them the safety rules but also make them in to a habit even after they grow old.
- Never make your child sit in the front seat. Make sure they should never break the safety restraints.
- Never secure a rear-facing seat in the front seat. Prefer installing the car seat only on the back seat until and unless it’s very urgent.
- Never put the harness belt when they are wearing a bulky coat, jacket, etc. It is because of the harness belt won’t give the required snug fit over a thick outwear. Prefer using a blanket or a throw over the harness belt as they are more effective and safe.
- Never let your kid sit in front until and unless they are 13. Additionally, avoid riding in vehicles without a back sea or active passenger airbags when traveling with your kid.
- Never compromise on a damaged car seat.
Frequently Asked Questions
For a 3 year old, the best option is the forward-facing car seats.
No, its not at all ok. It might turn harmful for the kid and so it should be avoided completely. A loose seat can throw the child when there is a sudden crash or break. So, make sure you tighten the seat belt to the fullest for a safe and secure ride.
A toddler’s car seat should be always kept in the back seat. Prefer keeping the seat in the center position so that you may turn back and monitor the child activities.
A 5 point harness is a way safer thing for a 3 year old. It is because it straps the child in five different parts of contact on their body from shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, and crotch. When a child is properly secured in the harness it prevents them from moving out of their seat even if they are playing and curious.
There is no evidence that says expensive car seats are safer. Expensive as well as non-expensive seats would protect your child from a crash if installed properly. All the seats are made to secure your child. Although they might vary in durability, cushioning, and add-on features but when it comes to safety they are almost the same.
The right car seat would not only keep your child safes but also protect them in case of car accidents and other injuries. The smart car seats have multiple features like 5 point harness, well-cushioned comfortable seats, storage for snacks and drinks, and a firm lock system. We found that Graco 4Ever is the top one available in the market today. However, there are multiple other products available on our list. We hope that going through the buying guide will help you to choose the perfect product matching your needs and budget.