The three kids were in the back… she slammed the brakes to avoid the frontal collision… the SUV started rolling over…
It can happen to anybody.
In most cases, it’s not even your fault. There has been a rise in accidents. If you want proof, check your insurance premium.
Three-year-olds are slowly leaving daycare and start preschool. This means that they will be traveling a lot with the car. This is why it’s so important to find the perfect car seat for them.
I feel your pain. Finding the best car seat for your little one is a long and tiresome journey. Many parents spend weeks, if not months sifting through reviews and offers.
This is why I’ve created the best car seat for 3 year olds article. I want to cut down on the wasted time. While with smaller kids, you can pick any car seat that you like with 3-year-olds things change. They have to like it.
The car seats which I’ve picked are not only safe, but they look cool. Some of them have that big kid feel that your children crave.
By reading this article until the end, you will know exactly which car seat will fit you the best. Also, stick with me for a bit, and you will know the details of the accident above. Also, I will share with you which car seat was involved and how did it perform.
Now let’s get this best article started.
What Will I Learn?
- #1 Britax One4life – Best Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- #2 Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seats – Highest Quality Car Seat For 3 Year Old
- #3 Britax Advocate Convertible Car Seats– The Safest Car Seat For Three Year Olds
- #4 Clek Fllo Convertible Seat – Best Eco Car Seat for a 3Year Old
- #5 Diono Radian 3RXT Belt-positioning Booster Seat – Best Space Saver For Three-Year-Olds
- #6 Graco SlimFit Booster Car Seat – Best Budget Friendly Booster Car Seat for 3-Year-Olds
- Buyer’s Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
- What kind of car seat should a 3 year old be in?
- Is a booster seat safe for a 3 year old?
- Which car seat is best for toddlers?
- Which is the best car seat for 3 year old?
- What are the height and weight limits for convertible car seats?
- Which car seats didn’t make it on the list?
- What kind of car seat safety standards are for three year olds?
- Which one of these can fit three across?
- What kind of features should be on the lookout for when buying a car seat for a 3 year old?
- How do you install these best car seats for three year olds?
- What are the height and weight limits for these forward facing car seat for 3 year olds?
- What kind of car safety features do these 3 year old combination seats come with?
- How can you fit three across these 3 year old all in one car seat in small cars?
- What is the car seat installation for these 3 year old booster seat options?
- What other features do you have to consider when you’re checking out a rear facing or front facing 3 year old seat?
#1 Britax One4life – Best Car Seat For 3 Year Old
3 year old is old enough to express their needs. The main reason why One4Life is the winner is that it has everything a three-year-old will need. From the child’s perspective, it looks cool, and it’s comfortable.
I’ve reviewed tons of car seats, and by far, this one has the most cushion. Also, it has two cup holders, which is perfect for a toddler. In one they can keep their drinks and in the second one is perfect for toys.
From a parent’s perspective, it has all the safety requirements. From the steel frame that can handle any type of crash continuing with the SafeCell Tech. This tech absorbs impact energy and protects your toddler from harm.
It’s an expensive car seat, and this will be the last one you will buy. It will serve your child up to 120 pounds. Plus, for parents who value extended rear-facing, it’s possible up to 50 pounds.
For parents, the cover washability is important as well. Finally, Britax has answered this call. It was an ongoing joke with this brand that they can design a car seat that can handle anything, besides the washing machine.
The Britax One4Life’s cover can be easily removed and washed with a washing machine.
It has one because it answers both the kid’s and parent’s needs.
It’s easy to install, and it’s impossible to mess it up
Extremely durable it will last for ten years and serve several kids
Finally, a Britax car seat that allows machine washing the material
It’s pricey and if you plan to buy more than one you need a serious budget
It’s large and heavy anything for safety
#2 Maxi Cosi Pria 85 Convertible Car Seats – Highest Quality Car Seat For 3 Year Old
Then the unthinkable happened. They got rear-ended by a tractor-trailer going 70 mph.
The father tried his best to avoid the crash. The impact was so powerful that he lost control. To make things worse, the trunk was gone. It was such a vicious collision.
The car started skidding left and right and finally came to a stop in the dirt.
After everything calmed down, the first instinct for the parents was to check on their little one. He was fine. He had some wide eyes and scared, but there wasn’t a scratch on him.
If you value luxury at an affordable price, you have found the perfect car seat for your 3-year-old. As you have seen in the accident above, this car seat is safe. The head wings aren’t just for show. They protect your child in case of a side-impact and it helps them sleep comfortably.
This Maxi Cosi has only one cup holder. It’s one of the best ones I’ve seen. Crafty little ones won’t be able to undo them and turn them into projectiles. We had that experience many times with clip-on cup holders.
This was the first car seat that I’ve seen to use magnetic buckle holders. No more fishing under your toddler’s bum.
It’s a safe car seat with a few unique features and a winner.
It comes with magnetic clasps so no more fishing for the buckles
No straps rethreading ever
It’s easy to clean, and it’s dryer friendly
This is a big seat not meant for small kids or a small car
It’s extremely wide it will take a lot of space
#3 Britax Advocate Convertible Car Seats– The Safest Car Seat For Three Year Olds
There was an accident up ahead, and she noticed it too late. Because of the accident there was a long queue of cars.
Reflex kicked in. She slammed the brakes as hard as she could. The SUV was going with 70 mph, and there wasn’t sufficient space for a dead stop.
The last thing she tried was to avoid colliding with the stopped cars. She grabbed the wheel and tried to maneuver. She lost control, and the SUV flipped over. According to bystanders, the car flipped over 5-6 times.
The crash was horrific. Everything that wasn’t bolted down like phones and camping gear became a lethal projectile. Their family dog Coco got ejected from the car. After the rolling stopped, the SUV rested on the side.
They were lucky that day. All of them walked away with minor injuries such as cuts and bruises. Coco wasn’t hurt either.
The car seat sits on a steel frame, so no wonder the kids were safe. There are three layers of side impact protection to utilize, and it was tested in the crash above.
It’s an excellent and safe car seat for a three-year-old. It allows extended rear-facing up to 40 pounds, and since it’s a convertible, the upper limit of use is set to 65 pounds. Besides being safe, you’re getting many years of servitude from this car seat.
It has won for all the reasons above.
It’s a fortress which provides both front-facing and rear-facing mode
According to a policeman parent, it’s absolutely the best
It’s easy to understand thanks to the well-assembled manual
It’s heavy once you have installed you won’t move from the car
ARB looks like an afterthought a bit flimsy
#4 Clek Fllo Convertible Seat – Best Eco Car Seat for a 3Year Old
Clark is one of the few car seat makers that don’t use any toxic materials on their fabrics. Also, they were the first ones that passed government standards without harmful flame retardants.
The secret for their success is the merino wool. It’s a natural product that is not bleached with chemicals. This car seat is an excellent choice for parents who want to keep their kids safe from fumes. Plus, if your little one has skin sensitivity, this car seat will help.
Besides being skin-friendly, it has a lot to offer. First of all, it’s one of the safest ones to choose from. Also, it comes with space-saving tech. So if you want to 3 across, then, it’s perfectly doable.
The comfort is unbelievable. Many parents said that their child hated every car seat they have ever owned. All this changed with the Fllo. When they got it, the trips became quieter and less stressful. Since the kids were comfortable, they didn’t fuss.
It’s not the cheapest car seat to get. It gives a lot of mileage. It offers extended rear-facing up to 50 pounds. Since it’s a convertible, you can mount it forward-facing as well.
As you have seen, besides being an eco-product, it has a lot to offer for the price tag.
It looks good in the car, and it’s safe at the same time
It’s safe tests show that it has the least toxic chemicals and fire retardants
It’s the narrowest car seat you can buy. Two of these in the backseat, and there’s still room in the middle for an adult.
The stain resistive fabric is a good idea until a peeing accident. It fills all the hidden crevices so it will smell.
It’s hard to fly with this car seat. TSA agents warn against it.
#5 Diono Radian 3RXT Belt-positioning Booster Seat – Best Space Saver For Three-Year-Olds
The father was driving, and the little boy was enjoying the view from the back. They almost got home when it happened.
Another driver ran the red light and smashed into them. The impact came from the side from the driver’s side, where the little boy was sitting. The metal bent under the huge pressure. The windows cracked, and the airbags deployed.
The front of their van got destroyed. Both cars were totaled. The Radian did its job and protected the little boy from harm. There wasn’t even a scratch on him.
The Diono looks a bit big, and it has a secret. It actually one of the narrowest car seats you can get for a 3-year-old. It has space-saving technology, and you will be able to do 3 across without any problems.
As you have seen in the crash, it has protected the boy. They have gone above and beyond when it comes to safety. It has everything that you will ever need.
Why is this car seat ideal for a three-year-old? Because it has the big kid look. After a while, kids will want everything that bigger ones have. So this car seat will be much appreciated by them. Not to mention Diono came out with some cool color combinations.
The Diono won in this category because it’s narrow, safe, cool, and 3-year old love it.
Finally, a car seat where the baby isn’t slouching or sliding down
It’s lightweight and easy to move around
It’s soft and padded plus it comes with side impact protection
The gray fabric is not that stain friendly
You can’t remove the fabric; the only solution is spot cleaning.
#6 Graco SlimFit Booster Car Seat – Best Budget Friendly Booster Car Seat for 3-Year-Olds
It has multiple functions that will come handy as the years go by. If you prefer to do extended rear-facing, then you will be able to do it up to 40 pounds. Even three-year-olds can benefit from rear-facing. In some countries in Europe, the mandatory for rear-facing is four years.
Besides allowing front and rear install, it has a booster mode as well. So this car seat can be the last one that you will ever need.
Wait, it gets better. The price is super affordable, and it has space-saving as well. According to Graco, you can save 10% in space.
Since we’re talking about 3-year-olds, then potty training is common. Also, you will have to face accidents and spills. The cover gets the most beating during these incidents. It’s good to know that Graco did a great job with their cover. You can easily remove it and throw it in the washing machine.
The SlimFit is an excellent choice for parents who are on a budget and want multiple functions and space-saving.
It’s a perfect car seat who wants three across
It has everything you need: safety, comfort, and sturdiness
Easy to use no manual threading of straps everything is automatic
You will need to force of Hulk to strap it down right
Not much tilting options if you want to mount it in rear-facing mode
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you are trying to find the best car seat. There are so many features, and some seats are marginally different. This is why I thought that I would give you a bonus. I will give you a quick and dirty buyer’s guide.
You will find out which are the four main things to look at so you have to eliminate car seats as fast as possible. Also, you will be only focusing the one that passes these tests.
Now before we can get to that, let me share with you two important tips.
Before you start with the installation process, decide where you want to mount the car seat. The safest place for your child is in the middle of the car. I know I’ve heard it a thousand times that’s not possible. So here’s my second suggestion. Go for the second safest pace, which is behind the driver.
The most important part of any car seat is the installation part. You have to get that right. Many car seats have upgraded to a more user-friendly install. No matter the procedure, you have to get it as tight as possible.
The wiggle room should be less than an inch. If you want to be sure, then you can reach out to a licensed professional. Even Amazon has this service of getting the car seat installed correctly.
So here comes my buyer’s guide. It’s a fast one to bring you up to speed.
Parents value safety over anything else. This is the most important part of any car seat. Here’s the truth. All car seat is safe on the market. If there are any issues, the recall is immediate.
Should you get more protection? The answer is not that easy to give. Accidents will happen no matter what you do. Most car seats are tested for front and rear collisions. A few left standing offer side impact protection. As you have seen above, it came handy with one of the seats.
Only a very few offer rollover protection. What I’ve seen in a recent study is that only a fraction of crashes is rollovers; however, they have the most fatalities. Since you can’t avoid accidents, you have to be prepared the best as possible. In this case, more protection is better.
This is the second most important thing to look at. These car seats aren’t cheap. If you have to buy multiple seats, your pocket will feel the hurt.
By checking out the size limits, you will be able to save money without compromising on safety. The secret is to plan ahead. The more you can use the car seat, the more money you’re saving.
This is why all in one solution is so popular. They are the first and last car seat you will have to buy.
The installation process is the hardest one from all. Some car seats are easy to install while others are a dread. This is why it’s a good idea to get those that are easy to install.
What I’ve seen recently is that all brands are moving towards an easier solution. This reduces injuries on the road. If the car seats aren’t as tight as it should, then it won’t provide the necessary protection for your child. That’s a scary thought.
The last item on my list is the fabric. We’re talking about 3-year-olds so accidents will occur. This is why you should know ahead of time the cleaning procedure.
From all the car seats above, only the Clek Fllo offers spot cleaning. The rest are washing machine friendly. The thing with Clek is that you have to buy their cleaning materials. I have my doubts about its effectiveness.
Well, this would be my short buyer’s guide. If you like it, then put it to good use.
We have reached the end of the best car seats for 3-year-olds. I hope you have learned a lot. The third-year is a major milestone for your little one. As you will see, they will get more independent as the years go by.
By now you should have a clear idea which car seat fits you the best. Now it’s your turn to take action. Get them as soon as possible because the stocks are running low.
If you would like to share your experience, then drop a comment below.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What kind of car seat should a 3 year old be in?
A 3 year old should be in a convertible car seat or an all in one car seat.
Is a booster seat safe for a 3 year old?
If the 3 year old meets the weight and height requirements then they will be safe. However I highly recommend keeping your 3 year old in 5 point harness mode until they reach 65 pounds in weight.
Which is the best car seat for 3 year old?
The best car seats would be the Britax one4life belt-positioning booster and Maxi Cosi Pria 85 convertible car seat.
What are the height and weight limits for convertible car seats?
The weight limit for rear-facing car seat mode is 40 pounds. The height limit is 49 inches. In rear-facing position you can do extended mode with some convertible car seats. The upper weight limit for forward-facing car seat is 65 pounds. Forward facing mode is for older kids. The best convertible seats have rear-facing seat mode and forward-facing harness with the 5 point harness. If you want to keep your child in extended rear-facing seat mode then look for a seat that can do it for 50 pounds. If you want to keep your child forward-facing harness look for a seat that goes beyond 65 pounds. The child grows from high-back booster to backless booster mode. Keep in mind to check the height limit regularly.
Which car seats didn’t make it on the list?
Safety 1st infant car seats because they work with different seats on the market. The infant car seat is not for toddler car seats. Easily the child outgrows these infant seats. There’s also the simply safe adjust harness system (harness and headrest) and not to mention the easy installation.
What kind of car seat safety standards are for three year olds?
When it comes to safety standards car safety these backless booster car seats are the best. To make these booster seats as safe as possible there is the seat belt and the latch system.
Which one of these can fit three across?
The narrowest one like the Clek and the Diono Radian 3RXT.
What kind of features should be on the lookout for when buying a car seat for a 3 year old?
First thing is the ease of use seat for your child and then look at the best car seats. Multiple recline positions is good and good leg room for the front seat also. Dual cup holders are preferred. Washable seat cover. The simply safe adjust harness system and seat belts, vehicle seat, new car.
How do you install these best car seats for three year olds?
Make sure you install it on the back seat. Also make sure you read the manual first for easy install. The latch system is the easiest to use but there’s the seat belt as well. The booster seats can only be installed with the seat belt.
What are the height and weight limits for these forward facing car seat for 3 year olds?
The height and weight limits are as follows for belt positioning booster seats. For rear facing mode the weight limit is 40 pounds (40 lbs). Come to think of it for rear facing 40 lbs is quite generous. The limit for forward facing car seat (forward facing seat) is either 100 lbs or 120 lbs (120 pounds). For the 5 point harness mode the limit is 65 pounds. Now depending if you have a highback booster seat than the limit is 100 lbs and if you have a simple booster mode than the limit is 120 lbs. As the child grows they won’t need a booster mode (highback booster) seat after 9 year olds.
What kind of car safety features do these 3 year old combination seats come with?
With the big kid combination car seat (combination seat) you will get everything to keep your child safe and sound. First of all it’s a great idea to keep your little one in rear facing mode as long as possible preferably until 2 years old. Many parents forget about this. The good news is that it can be easily fixed. Make sure you obey this rule. With a combination car seat you will be getting a steel reinforced frame. As you know the steel reinforced frame will keep your child safe no matter what. Nowadays most seats are equipped with energy absorbing base. This takes the form of energy absorbing foam. The impact absorbing layer will protect your child from harm. The car seat manufacturers try to outdo each other in safety stuff and this can be a major selling point for car travel. The most important body part is the child’s head. Proper head support is mandatory. The headrest positions (headrest height) can be easily adjusted. Most car seats come with multiple harness and headrest positions. For a toddler car seat the eps foam will do wonders especially with air travel. Let me mention side impact protection for a second. As you know t-bone accidents are quite common and the only protection against them is side impact protection. With car seats you can have from one up to three layers of side impact protection. The american academy of pediatrics recommends the most protection possible.
How can you fit three across these 3 year old all in one car seat in small cars?
No matter if you try to fit a forward facing seat or a rear facing mode you need to go with a slim fit design. I don’t like the oversized seats either it’s also hard to move them around. Not to mention air travel.
What is the car seat installation for these 3 year old booster seat options?
Before you get started make sure that you check out the manual for easy install. Secondly make sure that the bubble level indicator is in the right spot. Also try not to be perfect with the bubble level indicator because the range is enough. Next up you have to move the position recline into neutral. The seat is also install-able with the latch system or the vehicle seat belt. For easy installation stick with the latch system. The vehicle seat belt install is harder and slower. No matter if you’re using a forward facing harness booster seat, or a rear facing infant carrier (infant seat) the latch is the best option. After the install you can adjust the load leg if the infant car seat has one. The super cinch might help you with a faster install. The vehicle seat belt on the other hand is slower and it’s admitted by the car seat manufacturer.
What other features do you have to consider when you’re checking out a rear facing or front facing 3 year old seat?
The biggest features for all in 1 convertible seats are the 5 point harness seat. Also the car seat cover (seat pad) should be machine washable. The front facing mode is also known as harness mode. With harness mode comes the harness holders. With 3 in 1 front facing mode the harness slots are adjustable. The car seat shell should be made out of durable plastic. The leg rest provides additional comfort. The cup holders are great for kids to have fun with. The 10 position recline provides more comfort. The forward facing harness booster seat such as the safety 1st seat is also a great option. A quick list of items to check before buying: harness straps, harness slots, shoulder straps, harness car seat. While the safety 1st seat is also a forward facing harness it’s not the easiest to adjust the harness.
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