The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Portable Car Seat for Your 1 Year Old

portable car seats for 1 year olds

Things change when you have children to take care of. Having a child with you can add a level of difficulty to the most mundane of tasks. Be it travelling in a car or going to the mall, your child’s safety and comfort should take precedence over everything else. Children have different needs depending on their age, weight and size. This guide aims to inform you of everything you need to know when buying a portable car seat for your 1 year old, as well as the 10 best options to meet the different requirements you may have.

In addition to adding to your child’s safety and comfort, car seats are a legal requirement in different states and countries when travelling with a child. Research conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) finds that vehicular accidents are a leading cause of death in children and that buying and installing the right seat can lead to a significant reduction in injuries and death. Using a car seat, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), can reduce these risks by 71%.

Car seats can be put into three main categories – front facing, rear facing and convertible seats. The AAP recommends using rear facing seats as long as the child does not cross the size and weight limits suggested by the manufacturers. Rear facing seats are, therefore, recommended for toddlers. Alternatively, convertible seats can also be used as they can be used as, both, rear and front facing seats depending on the age, weight and size of your child.Merely buying the right seat, however, is not enough.

Research suggests that a large number of car seats in use have not been installed properly. Therefore, optimal safety can only be achieved once the seat has been correctly installed. This requires a thorough understanding of the car’s security and seat belt systems. You should spend some time going through the manuals for your vehicle as well as the seat. This requires knowing if your car is LATCH (lower anchors and tether for children) compatible or if you can only use seat belt friendly seats. Seat placement is of great importance. The car seats should also be tested for movement once you’re done with installation. An underrated aspect of the installation process is seeking help. Don’t hesitate in asking expert advice and help – your ego is not bigger than your child’s safety needs.

Top 10 Portable Car Seats for 1 year old

1. COMBI COCCORE Streamlined Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

There are many things you should think about when deciding what car seat to buy for your 1 year old. The Combi Coccore is a lightweight and compact convertible car seat that can be easily used in smaller vehicles as well. You can easily place up to 3 car seats on the back seats of most vehicles.

The Combi Coccore comes with the Tru-Safe Side Impact Protection system.

COMBI COCCORE Streamlined Lightweight Convertible Car Seat

This car seat has deep side walls and a layer of energy absorbing foam that diverts potentially harmful force away from the head, neck and spine.

It comes with a removable infant insert pillow to improve the positioning and comfort of smaller children. It has a seat buckle that provides a visual confirmation when the harness is secured properly. It also features a tether connector strap for rear faced tethering.

Pros
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to carry and store
  • Easy to install and remove
  • FAA approved
  • Ideal for smaller vehicles
  • Deep side walls and energy absorbing foam for complete protection
  • Removable infant insert pillow for smaller children
  • Provides a 5 point harness with a visual cue for a securely buckled harness
  • Can be used as rear or front facing
  • Machine washable
  • Easily Adjustable
  • Push button connectors
Cons
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat for a toddler that weighs over 33lbs
  • Not for use as a front facing seat for a child weighing more than 40lbs
  • Should not be used for children smaller than 19in and taller than 40in
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

2. COSCO APT 50 Convertible Car Seat

The Cosco Apt 50 is ideal for children younger and older than 12 months as it can be used as, both, a rear or front facing car seat. You can use it as a rear-facing seat for a child that weighs between 5 and 40 lbs and as a front facing seat between 40lbs and 50lbs.

The car seat is LATCH equipped and has a 5 point, easily adjustable harness. It features 6 heights and 3 buckle locations.

COSCO APT 50 Convertible Car Seat

The easily removable seat pad makes it machine washable and safe for drier use. It can also be used for air travel and even for just carrying your child around the mall. It meets all FAA and ASTM standards and comes with a 1 year warranty.

Pros
  • Easy to carry
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to install and remove the seat pad
  • FAA and ASTM approved and certified
  • Deep side walls and energy absorbing foam for complete protection
  • Provides a 5 point harness with 6 heights and 3 buckle locations
  • Can be used as rear or front facing
  • Machine washable and dryer safe
  • Easily Adjustable
  • Push button connectors
  • Can accommodate children that weigh up to 40lbs as a rear facing seat
  • Can accommodate children up to 50lbs as a front facing seat
  • 2 cup holders
  • Certified for aircraft travel
Cons
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat for a toddler that weighs over 40lbs
  • Not for use as a front facing seat for a child weighing more than 50lbs
  • Does not have a detachable base
  • Does not come with space fillers for smaller children
  • Should not be used for children taller than 43in
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

3. COSCO MIGHTY FIT DX Convertible Car Seat

The Cosco Might FIT DX is a convertible seat – it has two modes of use and can accommodate a child within the weight range of 5 to 40 lbs as a rear facing seat and up to 65lbs as a forward facing seat. It is LATCH equipped and compact, making it ideal for travel.

It has a 5 point harness that has 5 heights and 3 different buckle locations. Additionally, it has side impact protection to keep the child safer on all sides.

COSCO MIGHTY FIT DX Convertible Car Seat

The size allows you to place 3 of these seats in almost any car’s back seat.

The seat is easy to clean, and the premium fabric cover can be easily removed and washed in a machine. The fabric is drier safe as well.

Cosco products have a 70 year long history and can be relied on for quality. Additionally, this seat meet all federal, ASTM and JPMA safety standards. The company also provides a 1 year warranty.

Pros
  • Easy to carry
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Easy to install and remove the seat pad
  • FAA, JPMA and ASTM approved and certified
  • Side impact protection
  • Provides a 5 point harness with 5 heights and 3 buckle locations
  • Can be used as rear or front facing
  • Fabric is removable, machine washable and dryer safe
  • Easily Adjustable
  • Push button connectors
  • Can accommodate children that weigh up to 40lbs as a rear facing seat
  • Can accommodate children up to 65lbs as a front facing seat
  • 2 cup holders
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • 1 year warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat for a toddler that weighs over 40lbs
  • Not for use as a front facing seat for a child weighing more than 65lbs
  • Does not have a detachable base
  • Does not come with space fillers for smaller children
  • Should not be used for children taller than 40in when rear facing and 49in when forward facing
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

4. EVENFLO SONUS 65 Convertible Car Seat

The Evenflo Sonus 65 is meant for extended use – you can use it as a rear facing seat when a child weighs between 5lbs and 40lbs and as a front facing seat for a child weighing between 22lbs and 65lbs. The seat has a highly adjustable harness that can be used to provide a snug and secure fit. Furthermore, the 5 point harness can be used for 6 different positions.

EVENFLO SONUS 65 Convertible Car Seat

This car safety seat comes with 2 cup holders to keep drinks and snacks within your child’s easy reach. The seat also has a built in ventilation system to ensure that it stays comfortable and pleasant through all seasons. The seat uses durable and comfortable fabrics. They can be easily removed and washed in a machine. They are dryer safe as well.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • US made and tested
  • Federally certified and approved
  • Provides a 5 point harness
  • Can be used as rear or front facing
  • Fabric is durable, removable, machine washable and dryer safe
  • Easily Adjustable
  • Air ventilation system
  • Can accommodate children that weigh up to 40lbs as a rear facing seat
  • Can accommodate children up to 65lbs as a front facing seat
  • 2 cup holders
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • 1 year warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat for a toddler that weighs over 40lbs
  • Not for use as a front facing seat for a child weighing more than 65lbs
  • Does not come with space fillers for smaller children
  • Should not be used for children taller than 40in when rear facing and 49in when forward facing
  • Not compatible with strollers
  • Large in size – meant to be left in the car.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

5. CHICCO KEY FIT 30 Car Seat

The Chico Key Fit 30 is one of the highest rated and most recommended car seats in the United States. It is a rear facing seat that can be used for infants weighing between 4 and 30 pounds. It is one of the easiest seats to install. It has a spring loaded leveling foot and two easy to read bubble levels that can help achieve the most secure angle during installation.

CHICCO KEY FIT 30 Car Seat

It uses a SuperCinch Latch Tightener. This amplifies the tightness and snugness with the minimum amount of effort. This seat is highly adjustable and has several removable head and body support mechanisms for new-borns. It has a 5 point harness that can be used efficiently even with just one hand. Additionally, there are two handles that prove a solid and comfortable grip for easy carriage.

Some variants feature canopies, visors and boots to add shade, protection from rain and to keep the child more comfortable. Some of these variants also provide better airflow and ventilation to areas that need it most.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Federally certified and approved
  • Provides a 1-pull, 5-point harness
  • Removable head and body support mechanisms for new-borns
  • Easily Adjustable
  • Air ventilation system
  • Side Impact Protection
  • 2 Handles for safer and easier carriage
  • SuperCinch Latch tightener
  • Can be used with or without a base
  • Some variants have canopies, visors and boots that use zips to provide shade, protection and comfort
  • Fabrics, inserts and shoulder pads are removable are machine washable
  • Compatible with Chicco strollers
  • Comes with a warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Can only be used for a child within the weight range of 4 to 30 lbs
  • Cannot be used as a front facing seat
  • Max seated height allowed 19.5in
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

6. GRACO EXTEND 2 FIT Convertible Car Seat

The Graco Extend 2 Fit car seat is recommended for those parents that wish to see their child in a rear facing seat for longer. When used as a rear facing seat, it can be used until the child exceeds 50lbs. It can, then, be used as a forward facing seat until the child reaches the weight of 65lbs or grows taller than 49in.

The seat has a 4 point extension panel that can be adjusted to provide up to 5 inches of extra leg room.

GRACO EXTEND 2 FIT Convertible Car Seat

Graco seats are extensively crash tested, and are known to provide protect from all sides. They are also able to protect the child to a limited degree in extreme temperatures.

The seat can be reclined in 6 positions or angles to maximize your child’s safety and comfort. The 10-position headrest can be adjusted easily to suit the needs of your growing child. The height or the harness and headrest can be adjusted in a single motion using the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. The seat also comes with built-in harness storage to make it easier to place and remove the child.

This seat provides a level indicator which makes installation even easier. It useful features include a steel reinforced frame and 2 cup holders.

Pros
  • Easy to install – has a level indicator
  • Can be used as a rear facing seat for longer
  • Approved by all federal authorities
  • Protection on all sides
  • Can be used as rear or front facing
  • Machine washable and dryer safe
  • Easily adjustable harness and 10-position headrest for changes in weight and size
  • 6 point recline
  • Leg room can be increased by 5 inches
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Built-in harness storage
  • 2 cup holders
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • Can provide protect in extreme temperatures
Cons
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat for a toddler that weighs over 50lbs
  • Not for use as a front facing seat for a child weighing more than 65lbs
  • Should not be used for children taller than 49in
  • Larger in size and heavier – does not allow convenient carriage
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7. GRACO SNUGRIDE SNUGLOCK 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco’s Snugride Snuglock 35 provides an easy 3-step installation process. It is a rear facing car seats for infants weighing between 4 and 35 lbs and up to a height of 32in.

The seat has an adjustable base and allows 4 recline positions to fit your vehicle and add to your child’s comfort. A level indicator makes installation even safer and easier.

GRACO SNUGRIDE SNUGLOCK 35 Infant Car Seat

Connecting the Snugride Snuglock 35 seat to all Graco strollers is just 1 easy step away. This light weight seat can then be used easily beyond the car.

It comes with a range of features and functions that are worth looking into. The seat has a compartment for storage of LATCH connectors and instruction manual when they’re not needed. It has a rotating canopy that can provide protection from the elements. It comes with removable newborn head and body support cushions and an easily adjustable 5-point harness. The seat meets call safety standards and provides protection on all sides as well as against extreme temperatures. A simple push can securely lock your child in the seat.

Pros
  • Easy 3 step installation
  • Level indicator removes guesswork
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Seat is federally certified and approved
  • 5-point easily adjustable harness
  • Removable head and body support cushions
  • Easily Adjustable base and 4 position recline
  • Side Impact Protection
  • Can be used with or without a base
  • Compartment for latch and manual storage
  • Rotating canopy
  • Can provide some protection against extreme temperatures
  • Fabrics, inserts and removables aare machine washable
  • Compatible with all Graco strollers
  • Comes with a warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Can only be used for a child within the weight range of 4 to 35 lbs
  • Cannot be used as a front facing seat
  • Cannot be used for a child taller than 32 inches
  • The base is not FAA approved
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

8. BABY TREND SECURE SNAP TECH 35 Rear Facing Infant Seat

The Baby Trend Secure Snap Tech 35 car seat should be used for infants aged 0 to 24 months. Alternatively, it can be used by infants that weigh between 5 and 35 lbs and less than 32 inches tall.

The seat uses energy absorbing foam to provide extra side impact protection. It has a 5 point harness that allows easy one handed adjustment and a simple push button release.

BABY TREND SECURE SNAP TECH 35 Rear Facing Infant Seat

The seat also comes with a removable 4 piece insert to account for the changes in the infant’s size.

The seat has an extra-large 3-panel canopy to block out the sun and a multi grip carrying handle for convenience beyond the car. It also allows an easy one handed seat release. The boot is designed to provide extra warmth and comfort. The base is high adjustable and allows 4 recline positions. It has flexible latch connectors that can be put away in the built-in storage. It comes with a built-in belt lock for seat belt based installation.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Federally certified and approved
  • 5-point harness with push button release and one handed functionality
  • Removable plush cushion for head and body support
  • Base has a 4 position recline
  • Boot designed for warmth and comfort
  • Side Impact Protection
  • 3-panel canopy
  • Patented handle design for convenient carriage
  • Latch and belt compatible
  • Storage space for latch connectors
  • Can be used with or without a base
  • Fabrics and inserts are removable and machine washable
  • Compatible with many strollers
  • Comes with a warranty
Cons
  • Can only be used for a child within the weight range of 5 to 35 lbs
  • Should only be used or infants aged o-24 months
  • Should not be used for a child taller than 32 inches
  • Cannot be used as a front facing seat
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9. BABY TREND EZ FLEX LOC Infant Car Seat

The EZ Flex Loc is a rear facing seat that can be used by infants until they exceed 30lbs in weight or grow taller than 30 inches. The seat, itself, is compact and can be carried around easy thanks to the comfortable and well-designed handle.

The harness has an easy 5-point adjustability. It can be access with one hand can has a push button easy release.

BABY TREND EZ FLEX LOC Infant Car Seat

The seats comes with foam padding around the head to provide side impact protection. It also comes with a soft and plush insert for head and body support.

The base allows a 4-position recline push button recline and height adjustment. You can achieve easy one handed access for seat release. The name of the seat itself refers to the base’s flexible latch straps. The seat is LATCH and seatbelt compatible. It can also be easily removed from the vehicle and used with a stroller.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Federally certified and approved
  • 5-point harness with push button release and one handed functionality
  • Removable plush cushion insert for head and body support
  • Base has a 4 position recline
  • One handed access for seat release
  • Side Impact Protection
  • Patented handle design for convenient carriage
  • Latch and belt compatible
  • Base has flexible latch straps
  • Can be used with or without a base
  • Fabrics and inserts are removable and machine washable
  • Compatible with strollers
  • Comes with a warranty
Cons
  • Can only be used for a child weighing less than 30lbs
  • Should not be used for a child taller than 30 inches
  • Cannot be used as a front facing seat
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

10. MAXI-COSI MICO 30 Infant Car Seat

The MICO 30 is considered one of the lightest rear facing infant car seats. It should be used until a child exceed a weight of 30lbs or a height of 32in. It comes with a highly adjustable and detachable base.

It is compatible with Maxi-Cosi and other quality strollers. In addition, it has a contoured handle that curves around the hips to improve convenience in carrying the child outside the car.

MAXI-COSI MICO 30 Infant Car Seat

The car seat also has a greatly and easily expandable canopy that can protect your child from the sun.

The base has an anti-rebound bar that provides superior protection. It uses a one-click LATCH system or easy installation and removal. The seat uses a self-wicking fabric that smells good and makes your child more comfortable by keeping them dry. The fabric can be removed easily and washed and dried using machines without the need fpr rethreading the harness.

Pros
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Highly adjustable and detachable base
  • Federally certified and approved
  • High adjustable and effective harnessing system
  • Removable plush cushion insert for head and body support
  • Expandable canopy
  • One handed access for seat release
  • Side Impact Protection
  • Contoured and curved handle for easy carriage
  • Latch and belt compatible
  • Base is reinforced with an anti-rebound bar
  • Easy seat installation and removal
  • Self-wicking fabric
  • Fabrics and inserts are removable and machine washable
  • Compatible with strollers
  • Comes with a warranty
Cons
  • Can only be used for a child weighing less than 30lbs
  • Should not be used for a child taller than 30 inches
  • Cannot be used as a front facing seat
CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

Portable car seats for toddlers: Safety considerations and additional features

Here is a list of safety considerations that are applicable to most rear facing and convertible seats:

  1. Make sure to take the bulk and fluffiness of your child’s clothing into account. The belts and harnesses may actually be looser than they appear.
  2. If the seat is too big for your child, you can use towels or blankets to fill the extra space.
  3. Ensure that the manufacturer’s instructions have been followed to the letter.
  4. Ready manuals, look at online guides and seek expert help and advice. You can never be too safe.
  5. Have a thorough understanding of the car’s safety features.

While the car seats are, primarily, there to add to your child safety while travelling in a vehicle, they may also come with different features and accessories. These may depend on the model and manufacturer. However, here are some things you can look for:

  1. Colors, sizes, materials and designs
  2. Types of safety systems – For example LATCH or seat belt based systems
  3. Removability, portability and storability
  4. Cup holders, canopy, pockets and storage capacities etc.

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