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Best Car Seat for 3 Year Old

Updated on August 17, 2014

What is the Best Car Seat for a 3 Year Old

I am currently looking for the best car seat for a 3 year old (my son) and this articles shares my research. 

Ideally, the best car seat for a 3 year old would have the following features:

Comfortable with head support so that my 3 year old is able to sleep on long journeys.

A car seat that will adapt as my son grows bigger so that I don't have to replace it in the next few years. 

Suitable for daily use (ideally easy to clean, wipe down etc). 

Easy to transport between different cars so that I can use it in other people's vehicles when needed. 

Read on for my research on the best car seat for a 3 year old. 

The Safest Type of Car Seat for 3 Year Olds

Once a child has exceeded 35 pounds, they have exceeded the weight limit for most rear facing car seats so for most 3 year olds its sensible to purchase a forward facing car seat. There are several different types of forward facing car seat to choose from.

Harnessed booster seat - these are high back booster seats with a 5 point harness. As long as your child is within the correct weight limits it is safest to keep your 3 year old in a harnessed booster seat for as long as possible. They are the safest because the straps restrain your child at both the shoulders and hips, distributing the force of a collision to the strongest parts of his body in a crash.

Highback booster seat - once your child has outgrown the 5 point harness, they can move onto a highback booster which uses the car seat belt to keep the seat and child in position.

Backless booster seat - a backless booster seat can be used once it raises a child up to an adult position so the seat belt goes over the child's pelvic region (high on his thighs or low on his hips), not his tummy.

A combination car seat - there are car seats that transform from a harnessed booster, to a highback booster to a backless booster. So, they can adjust with your child as your child grown taller and heavier. They may be more expensive initially but they offer safety to your child in their younger years and probably work out more economically in the long run then buying different seats.

Graco 3 in 1 Car Seat

This is a great car seat that will last from toddlers until they are about 8 years old.

It covers the weight range between 20 and 100 pounds and converts from a harnessed booster seat to highback and backless booster.

The extended 5-point harness is for children from 20 to 65 pounds.

It then converts to a high back belt positioning booster for child 30 pounds to 100 pounds.

It also converts to backless booster for child 40 pounds to 100 pounds.

It has lots of other great features too. For comfort it features a three- osition recline and a height adjustable headrest you can easily move with one hand to accommodate your child's needs.

There's also a padded armrests, a cup holder and and storage pockets for snacks and small toys.

The cover and seat pad is machine washable which is a must with young children.

Evenflo Convertible Car Seat

This seat has a maximum weight recommendation of 100 pounds.

It has a 5 point harness which you can use with the child until they are 40 pounds.

The booster part of the seat is 40-110 lbs and 43-57 inches tall.

It lacks some of the features of the Graco above and the 5 point harness can't be used for as long but it is lot less expensive.

Britax Harnessed Booster Seat

You can use the 5 point harness on this seat until the child is 70 pounds. It also converts to a vehicle belt-positioning booster seat that can be used up to 110 pounds.

It features lots of extra features for conveninence and comfort including fixed armrests, an easy transition from harness to booster mode, comfort foam, and an easy to remove cover. There's also a front adjust recline, integrated cup holders and storage, multiple buckle positions.

Top tips when buying a car seat for a 3 year old

When choosing your car seat you will need to go by the weight and age of your child. In the USA, laws vary between the states. Some states require a child to be 3 year and 30 pounds before using a booster seat. Other states require a child to be 4 years and 40 pounds before using a booster seat, so if you're in the US you need to check.

Children who weigh 40 lb or less are best protected in a seat with a full harness.

Extra safety factors when fitting your car seat

The rear vehicle seat is the safest place for children of any age to ride. If you place your seat in the front passenger seat make sure that they are positioned as far back as possible from the front airbag on the passenger side.

The saftest position is the middle of the backseat if possible (may not be possible - if you have more than one child for example). This is because in the middle they will be best protected from side collisions.

When using a harness, the shoulder straps should be adjusted so that they are at or above the child's shoulders and the harness should fit snugly. You should be able to get only two fingers between the straps and your child's chest.

Comments on Best Car Seat for 3 Year Olds

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    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 7 years ago from London

      A very useful hub. It came at just the right time, as my daughter (who's 4) will soon be growing out of the seat she's got at the moment.

      You've given me some idea of what's around and what I should be looking out for, thanks! :)