10 Best Car Seats for 3 Year Olds

Portable Car Seats For 3 Year Olds

A car safety seat, often simply called a car seat, is one of the most important purchase decisions a parent can make in regards to ensuring a child’s safety during vehicular travel. The America Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) finds that car crashes are among the leading cause of death in children. Therefore, selecting the right type and model of seat and installing it properly can reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries significantly. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that using the right kind of seat and installing it properly can reduce the risk of death by more than 70% in comparison to a child travelling without a car seat. This list contains a list of 10 best car seat options to choose from for 3 year old kids.

The type of car seat ideal for a child depends on many factors such the child’s age, weight and height. Other factors to consider include the size and type of vehicle and the vehicle’s safety mechanisms. While your budget should also be taken into consideration, the decision should primarily focus on the safety and comfort of your child. Therefore, you should also consider the manufacturer’s repute and safety record as well as the seats certifications and features.

Car seats can be put into 3 main categories – rear facing, front or forward facing and convertible car seats. The AAP and most manufacturers recommend using forward facing seats for children aged 2 and above. Alternatively, convertible seats can also be used in forward facing mode for the same age group.

Title: Forward facing car seat - Description: Car seat for 3 year olds

The most commonly used types of car seats for children aged 3 and above include:

  1. Forward facing seats – they, as the name suggests, can be used in the forward facing direction and can accommodate larger and older children in comparison to rear facing seats.
  2. Convertible seats – they can be used as rear facing or forward facing depending on the needs of your child.
  3. Integrated seats – these are seats integrated into the vehicle’s design by the manufacturer.
  4. Booster seats – these, typically, don’t secure the child using harnesses but, instead, have a base that is securely attached to the car’s back seat and rely on the car’s seat belt system for your child’s safety.
  5. Travel vests – these are recommended for children that have significantly exceeded the recommended weight and size limits. These are frequently used for larger children with special needs.

1. EVENFLO EVERYSTAGE LX All-in-One Car Seat

The EveryStage LX is a 4-in-1 car seat that offers greater longevity and range – it is capable of providing protection to children weighing between 4 and 120 pounds, up to 57 inches in height and offers a 10-year seat life. It can be used as rear facing and forward facing for an extended period of time and is very easy to install. It meets all federal standards and regulations.

EVENFLO EVERYSTAGE LX All-in-One Car Seat

The EasyClick LATCH system offers tighter installation and, hence, greater security and comfort. It comes with an in-seat reclining feature that allows the child and seat to be angled comfortably while minimizing head slumping and keeping the airways open. It can be reclined in 10 positions without compromising the child safety and reducing space for other passengers.

It features a no-rethread harness which is highly adjustable to meet the needs of a growing child. The seat comes with a removable head pillow and side padding for extra support and comfort. The seat is extensively tested for front, side and rollover impact.

The seat pad is easily removable and machine washable. The rest of the seat can be wiped clean easily. It comes with 2 cup holders that are safe for dishwasher cleaning. The EveryStage LX is available in multiple colors as well. The seat comes with a 90 day replacement and repair warranty.

Pros
  • 4-in-1 seat – Rear facing, forward facing, convertible and booster seat
  • Extended rear facing use (up to 50lbs)
  • Meet or exceeds all safety standards and regulations
  • LATCH and seatbelt capable
  • 10 recline angles
  • Highly adjustable harness
  • Removable head support
  • Side padding
  • Seat pad is removable and machine washable
  • 2 cup holders that are dishwasher safe
  • Available in multiple colors
  • 30 day return and 90 day replacement warranty
  • 10 year life span
  • Free live video support
  • FAA approved
Cons
  • Cannot be used as rear facing for a child weighing more than 50lbs and taller than 43 inches
  • Forward facing range – 22 to 65 lbs and 28 to 57 inches
  • Booster seat range – 40 to 120 lbs and 44 to 57 inches
  • Very heavy and large in size – not for use beyond the vehicle
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2. SAFETY 1st GROW and GO 3-in-1 Car Seat

The Safety 1st Grow and Go is a 3 in one convertible car seat that is designed to meet the safety needs of a growing child. It is designed for extended use and can be used as a rear facing for a child weighing up to 40 lbs, forward facing up to 65 lbs and as a booster seat for a child weighing between 40 to 100 lbs.

It comes with side padding that offers certified side impact protection. It also has a removable head and neck support. It comes with a no-rethread 5 point adjustable harness with a separate newborn position.

SAFETY 1st GROW and GO 3-in-1 Car Seat

It has harness holders that make it easier to place and remove the child. The harness and head rest can be adjusted simultaneously in one simple step. The seat has 3 recline positions and comes with a numbered position guide as well as a level line for position guidance.

It is LATCH and seatbelt compatible. The seat comes with 2 cup holders. The cover is easy to remove and machine washable.

The seat has a 10-year life span and has received a ‘Good Bet’ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It comes with a 2 year repair and replacement warranty for manufacturing defects.

Pros
  • 3-in-1 seat – Rear facing, forward facing, and booster seat
  • Extended rear facing use (up to 40lbs)
  • Meets or exceeds all safety standards and regulations
  • LATCH and seatbelt capable
  • 3 recline angles with a level line and numbered position guide
  • Highly adjustable harness with a separate newborn position
  • Harness holders to make it easy to place and remove the child
  • Harness and headrest can be adjusted in one go
  • Removable head and neck support
  • Side impact protection
  • Seat pad is removable and machine washable
  • Up to 7 inches of extra leg room when used as rear facing
  • 2 cup holders that are dishwasher safe
  • 2 year warranty
  • 10 year life span
  • “Good Bet” rating from IIHS
  • FAA approved
Cons
  • Rear facing range – up to 40 lbs and between 19 to 40 inches
  • Forward facing range – 22 to 65 lbs and 29 to 52 inches
  • Booster seat range – 40 to 100 lbs and 43 to 52 inches
  • Bulkier than some other options
  • Fabric is not breathable
  • Harness needs to be rethreaded for newborn position
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3. EVENFLO SONUS 65 Convertible Seat

The Evenflo Sonus 65 is an upgraded model that can hold a child weighing up to 65 lbs as a forward facing seat in comparison to the 50lbs allowed by the base model. The weight range as a rear facing seat remains unchanged at 4 to 40 lbs.

The Sonus 65 comes with a highly adjustable 5 point harness to meet the needs of your child. It can be buckled in 6 positions to maximize comfort and safety for the child. It also comes with 2 dishwasher safe cup holders that are within your child’s reach.

EVENFLO SONUS 65 Convertible Seat

The seat has 2 recline position for the changing needs of a growing child. It also comes with an infant head and body support.

The seat also features a built in ventilation system for your child. This can ensure that the seat stays comfortable, pleasant and safe for the child in extreme temperatures – an especially useful safety feature during car crashes. The seat has removable covers made of a fabric that is highly durable and can be cleaned and dried easily in a machine.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • US made and tested – meets high quality and safety standards
  • Highly adjustable 5 point harness
  • Convertible seat – 2 modes of use
  • Fabric is durable and comfortable
  • The fabric is easily removable, machine washable and dryer safe
  • Multiple recline angles and positioning
  • Body support for infants and smaller sized children
  • Built in ventilation system to keep the child safe and comfortable in extreme temperatures
  • Can accommodate a child weighing up to 65lbs – higher than the base model and some of the other seats on this list
  • 2 cup holders
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • 1 year warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
  • Free video support
  • Rollover and impact tested
Cons
  • Rear facing weight limit – 40lbs
  • Rear facing height limit – 40in
  • Forward facing weight limit – 65lbs
  • Forward facing weight limit -50lbs (base model)
  • Forward facing height limit – 49in
  • Can take up a lot of space when used as rear facing
  • Larger in size than some other models – not meant to be carried or compatible with strollers
  • Does not come with a pillow insert
  • Only 1 angle of recline when used as rear facing
  • Affordable
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4. EVENFLO SURERIDE Convertible Car Seat

The SureRide is a lightweight car seat that is easy to transport and install. This makes it an ideal seat for air travel, vacations and shifting between vehicles. It has long life span and can be adjusted according to the child’s needs.

It is designed keeping comfort, appearance and safety in mind. The fabric can be removed with ease and machine washed and dried. The fabric is breathable and allows some degree of ventilation to keep the seat comfortable and pleasant in different temperatures.

EVENFLO SURERIDE Convertible Car Seat

It comes with side padding and has been extensively tested for side impact protection. The foam padding redistributes fatal forces and reduce their intensity by up to 50%.

The 5 point harness is easily accessible and highly adjustable. It can be used in 6 positions to suit the needs of a growing child. The seat also comes with a foldable cup holder that can be folded away when not in use to make more room for others.

Pros
  • Light weight
  • US made and tested – meets high quality and safety standards
  • Highly adjustable 5 point harness – 6 positions
  • Very affordable
  • Convertible seat
  • Side impact protection
  • Stylish appearance
  • Fabric is durable and comfortable
  • The fabric is easily removable, machine washable and dryer safe
  • Easily adjustable and multiple recline angles and positioning
  • Body support for infants and smaller sized children
  • Built in ventilation system
  • Can accommodate a child weighing up to 65lbs
  • Can accommodate a taller child – up to 54in
  • Foldable cup holder
  • Free video support from manufacturer
  • Certified for aircraft travel by the FAA
  • 1 year warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Rear facing weight limit – 40lbs
  • Rear facing height limit – 40in
  • Forward facing weight limit – 65lbs
  • Forward facing weight limit -50lbs (base model)
  • Forward facing height limit – 49in
  • Can take up a lot of space when used as rear facing
  • Larger in size than some other models – not meant to be carried or compatible with strollers
  • Does not come with an infant insert
  • Only 1 angle of recline when used as rear facing
  • The NHTSA gives it a low rating (2 out of 5) for ease of use
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5. EVENFLO MAESTRO SPORT Forward Facing and Booster Seat

The Maestro Sport is a lightweight car seat ideal for parents with lower budgets or those that travel frequently. It is easy to install, and the lightweight aspect means that it can be carried easily for air and other form of travel. It is FAA approved.

It is a 2 in 1 car seat that can be used as a forward facing harness seat for a child weighing between 22 and 50 lbs or as a seat belt booster seat for a child weighing between 40 and 110 lbs. The harness is easily reachable and highly adjustable to ensure a comfortable, snug and secure fit.

EVENFLO MAESTRO SPORT Forward Facing and Booster Seat

There is no need to rethread the harness. Also, this seat further enhances safety by ensuring that the child does not get unbuckled accidentally.

The seat can be LATCH installed in forward facing harness mode and comes with a built in belt path for use in booster seat mode. The belt path positions the seat belt into the recommended position automatically. The seat can be wiped easily and the seat belt can be removed and machine washed. There are 2 cup holders to hold snacks and drinks. The seat also has a 1 year warranty.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Affordable
  • US made and tested – meets high quality and safety standards
  • Rated as a ‘Best Bet’ by IIHS
  • Highly adjustable 5 point harness
  • 4 harness slot positions
  • 2 crotch buckle positions
  • Built in harness and LATCH strap storage
  • Triple layered seat cover for comfort
  • Comfortable pillow rest
  • The belt path automatically positions the seat belt into the recommended position
  • 2 modes of use – front facing and high back booster seat
  • Fabric is durable and comfortable
  • The seat pad is removable and can be machine washed and dried
  • Easily adjustable and multiple recline angles and positioning
  • 2 cup holders
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • 1 year warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
  • Long lasting
Cons
  • Headrest is not adjustable
  • Harness needs to be rethreaded to change the height
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat
  • Forward facing weight limit -50lbs
  • Forward facing height range – 28 to 50in Minimum age: 2 years
  • Booster seat weight range – 40 to 110lbs
  • Booster seat height range -44 to 57 in Minimum age: 4 years
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6. GRACO TRANZITIONS 3-in-1 Car Seat

The Tranzitions is a forward facing car seat suitable for a child weighing between 22lbs and 65lbs and can be used as a high back booster seat between 30 to 100lbs and as a belt booster seat between 40 and 100lbs. The transition between these 3 modes is easy and the seat is equipped with Graco’s signature Safe Adjust Harness System that allows the harness and headdress to be adjusted in a single motion. This allows for 8 different positions without the need for rethreading the harness.

GRACO TRANZITIONS 3-in-1 Car Seat

The seat also has several bonus features including harness covers, washable seat pad, 2 removable cup holders and a body support insert. The seat also comes equipped with LATCH as well as seat belt based security features.

The seat has been designed and tested extensively to meet US FMVSS 213 Standard. It provides padding for side impact protection as well. It offers a lifetime of 7 years and is approved for air travel in forward facing mode.

Pros
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Can be moved easily from vehicle to vehicle
  • 3 in 1 seat for your growing child
  • Offers 7 years of use
  • Graco’s Simply Safe Adjust Harness System allows headrest and harness adjustment in a single motion
  • No rethread harness
  • Stylish and sleek appearance
  • Approved by all federal authorities
  • Engineered and tested to exceed us standard US Standard FMVSS 213
  • Protection on all sides (as forward facing)
  • Removable, machine washable and dryer safe parts
  • 6 point recline
  • Available in multiple colors
  • 2 cup holders
  • Features open loops for an accurate belt path
  • Certified for aircraft travel
Cons
  • Cannot be used as rear facing
  • Weight range as a harness booster seat – 22 to 65lbs
  • Height range as a harness booster seat – 25.5 to 49 in
  • Weight range as a high back belt booster seat – 30 to 100lbs
  • Height range as a high back belt booster sear – 48 to 57 in
  • Weight range as backless booster seat – 40 to 100lbs
  • Height range as a backless booster seat – 40 to 57 in
  • No push-on connectors
  • No harness storage (unlike some other Graco models)
  • Not steel reinforced
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7. COSCO FINALE DX 2-in-1 Forward Facing and Booster Car Seat

The Finale DX is highly recommended for pre-school and school going children. It provides extended use in both modes – forward facing and booster seat mode. As a forward facing seat it can accommodate a child weighing between 30 and 65lbs and between 40 to 100lbs as a booster seat.

It features a 5 point safety harness that is highly adjustable to match your child’s growth. It is rated as a ‘Best Bet’ by the IIHS for use as a booster seat.

COSCO FINALE DX 2-in-1 Forward Facing and Booster Car Seat

It is a lightweight seat that can be moved easily between vehicles. You can easily fit 3 of these seats in the back seat of most vehicles.

It comes with a removable and dishwasher safe cup holder within easy reach of your child. The seat pad is machine washable as well.

The Finale DX is designed and tested to meet or exceed federal, ASTM and JPMA safety standards. It also comes with a 1 year limited warranty.

Pros
  • 2 modes of use – front facing and booster seat
  • Rated as a ‘Best Bet’ by IIHS as a booster seat
  • Highly adjustable 5 point harness
  • No rethread harness
  • Meets or exceeds federal, JPMA and ASTM standards
  • Protection on all sides (as forward facing)
  • Removable, machine washable and dryer safe parts
  • 6 point recline
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Cup holder is removable and can be placed on either side
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • 10 year life span
  • Premium fabric
  • US made
Cons
  • Cannot be used as rear facing
  • Weight range as a forward facing seat – 30 to 65lbs
  • Height range as a harness booster seat – 32 to 49 in
  • Weight range as a belt booster seat – 40 to 100lbs
  • Height range as a belt booster seat – 43 to 52 in
  • Not very tall in booster mode – the child may need a different seat once this is outgrown
  • LATCH is unusable in booster mode
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8. CLEK FLLO Convertible Seat

The Clek Fllo car seat is designed to be compact and accommodating. At 16.9 inches wide, it is narrow and you can use up to 3 of these at the same time.

It can be used as a rear facing seat for a longer period of time as it can accommodate a child weighing up to 50lbs.

CLEK FLLO Convertible Seat

It can be used as forward facing for a child weighing between 22 and 65lbs. It comes with a steel anti-rebound bar that comes into play in either mode when a car goes through a collision.

It uses Clek’s patented energy absorbing crumble technology that transfers the forces and energy generated by the impact to the aluminum deformable cores in the seat’s base. This protects the child from serious injuries as the child body will not be the one absorbing the energy from a crash. Additionally, the side padding, the steel-reinforced substructure and the adjustable and comfortable head rest ensures that the child is protected on all sides.

The fabric offers a certain level of protection against fire. It can also be easily removed and machine washed. It has a lifespan of 9 years and comes with 1 year standard warranty as well as a 2 year extended warranty afterwards.

Pros
  • Compact and accommodating
  • Can fit 3 in the back seat of most cars
  • Extended use as a rear facing seat
  • Canadian made and tested – meets high quality and safety standards
  • Steel anti-rebound bar
  • Steel reinforced sub structure
  • Energy absorption crumble technology
  • Protection from all sides
  • Comfortable headrest
  • Highly adjustable 5 point harness
  • Convertible seat – 2 modes of use
  • Fabric is durable and comfortable
  • Some degree of fire protection
  • The fabric is easily removable, machine washable and dryer safe
  • Can accommodate a child weighing up to 65lbs – higher than some of the other seats on this list
  • Certified for aircraft travel
  • 1 year standard warranty plus 2 year extended warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
  • High or tall base allowing the child to look outside
  • Very detailed instruction manual
Cons
  • Rear facing weight limit – 50lbs
  • Rear facing height limit – 43in
  • Forward facing weight limit – 65lbs
  • Forward facing height limit – 49in
  • No adjustable recline
  • The tall height may create blind spots for drivers
  • Harness needs to be rethreaded
  • Anti-rebound bar can take up extra space
  • Slightly heavier than other seats
  • Cup holder needs to be purchased separately
  • Only for use in USA
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9. CHICCO MyFIT Harness and Booster Seat

The MyFit harness and booster seat can be used as a forward facing harness seat for your child, and as a belt booster seat once your child is older and bigger. The conversion and installation are fairly easy.

The seat has a highly adjustable 5 point harness and the headrest can also be adjusted into 9 different positions in order to match the needs of a growing child.

CHICCO MyFIT Harness and Booster Seat

It also allows a 4 point recline to keep your child comfortable and secure. The seat has level indicators to provide guidance in achieving the perfect recline angles.

The seat has a very sturdy build. The two layers of rigid shell combined with energy absorbing padding and steel reinforcement provides impact protection on all sides. It is LATCH equipped, and uses the LockSure belt tightening system when in use as a booster seat.

The harness is padded for additional comfort and does not need to be rethreaded. It is easy to access and can be tightened in a single motion. The seat also comes with a storage compartment for the harness when not in use. The cup holders are foldable, removable and easily washable.

Pros
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Lightweight and compact
  • 2 layers of rigid shell and steel reinforced shell
  • 2 modes of use
  • Federally certified and approved
  • Provides a 1-pull, extra padded 5-point harness
  • No rethread harness
  • Breathable mesh fabric
  • 9 position headrest in both modes
  • 4 angle recline with level indicator
  • Side Impact Protection
  • Storage compartment for LATCH straps and harness when not in use
  • SuperCinch Latch tightener
  • LockSure belt tightening system
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Washable fabric
  • 2 Removable and foldable cup holders
  • Comes with a warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Heavy to move around
  • Narrow seat
  • Forward facing (harness) mode: Weight range – 25 to 65lbs Height limit – 54 in Minimum age – 2 years
  • Booster mode: Weight range – 40 to 100lbs Height range – 37 to 57 in Minimum age – 4 years
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat
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10. EVENFLO CHASE LX Harnessed and Booster Seat

The Evenflo Chase LX harnessed and booster seat can work with a greater range of weights than some of its competitors. It is relatively affordable and has passed all relevant CDC safety regulations. It is an award winning seat that can be used for a child weighing between 22 and 40 lbs as a forward facing seat and 40-110 lbs as a booster seat.

EVENFLO CHASE LX Harnessed and Booster Seat

It can transition easily from a 5 point harnessed seat to a belt booster seat, allowing extended use for a growing child. The seat has 4 harness positions.

The seat is, both, LATCH and seat belt capable and is generally considered to be easy to install and remove. The built in belt path ensures a very accurate and safe fit.

It offers protection on all sides and has been extensively tested. It has also been tested for side impact protection as a booster seat. It meets or exceeds all Federal Crash Test Standards.

It comes with 2 cup holders that do not take any extra space. This leaves more room for additional seats to be placed or for other passengers. The seat comes with a comfortable and removable pillow as well as a removable and machine washable seat pad.

Pros
  • Light weight
  • Easy to install and remove
  • US made and tested – meets high quality and safety standards
  • Tested with 2x force recommended in the Federal Crash Test Standards for structural integrity and side impact
  • Side impact tested as a booster seat
  • The seat has been tested for structural integrity in high and low temperatures
  • Highly adjustable harness – 4 shoulder heights
  • 2 point crotch clip
  • Affordable
  • Life span of 6 years
  • Can be used as a forward facing and then as a booster seat
  • Fabric is durable and comfortable
  • Removable pillow and seat pad
  • Built in ventilation system
  • Can accommodate a child weighing up to 110lbs (as a booster seat)
  • Can accommodate a taller child – up to 57in (as a booster seat)
  • Cup holders do not take extra space
  • Free video support from manufacturer
  • Certified for aircraft travel by the FAA
  • 1 year warranty
  • LATCH and seat belt compatible
Cons
  • Not for use as a rear facing seat
  • Lower weight range as a front facing seat – 22 to 40lbs
  • Forward facing height limit – 50in
  • Weight limit as a booster seat – 110lbs
  • Height limit as a booster seat – 57in
  • Minimum age as booster seat – 4 years
  • Minimum age as forward facing seat – 2 years
  • Does not recline
  • The lack of recline may cause discomfort
  • Headrest is not adjustable
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CONCLUSION

When buying a car seat, the first step should be to consider your child’s needs. It is important to base your decision on the child’s age, weight and height. While, it is very important to consider your budget, the primary concern should be your child’s safety. You should be aware of all relevant safety regulations and certifications and try to find out which seats best meet these criteria.

Here are some more safety considerations for you to consider when deciding what seat to buy and use:

  1. The vehicles safety and security systems
  2. The seat’s safety features
  3. Installation difficulty and procedure
  4. Availability of instruction manuals and other forms of guidance
  5. Availability of expert advice
  6. Warranties and support

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