12 Car Seats for 3-Year-Olds (Rear-Facing, Comfy & Safe)

Toddler tantrums are the worst, particularly while you are in the car. My independent 3-year-old hated being in her car seat until we found the right one.

When looking for car seats for 3-year-olds, I needed one that had extended rear-facing with extra legroom, customizable sizing, and was easy for my daughter to climb into on her own.

Our Favorites

diono car seats

Best for 3yr Olds
Diono Radian 3QXT+

clek foonf

Best Non-Toxic
Clek Foonf

wayb pico seat

Best For Travel
Wayb Pico

Car Seats for 3-Year-Olds

1. Diono Radian 3QXT+ All in One Convertible Car Seat

diono car seats

The Radian 3QXT+ is the best car seat for 3-year-old kids because it offers extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs. 

The growth of your 3-year-old has slowed compared to their first year, which means they can use this seat for longer, and it adapts as they grow. 

An improvement from the previous model is the SAFE+ 2-in-1 anti-rebound panel that provides added protection and stability when rear-facing.

The XL cup holders on this 3-year-old car seat are perfect for your curious toddler to store snacks and toys, and they offer them independence while being confined to a car seat. 

Adjusting the passenger seat can be awkward with this seat.

What We Liked

  • The mesh panels and premium fabrics keep your 3-year-old from getting hot
  • The seat has a large weight range making it ideal for growing toddlers
  • With a 12-position headrest, your 3-year-old is always safe and comfortable
  • The machine washable cover makes cleaning easy
  • The narrow design makes this perfect for 3-across installation

What Can Be Improved

  • This seat is heavy to move around
  • The angle adjustor has a learning curve
  • The seat cover can be tricky to put back on

Seat Weight: 34.2 lbs (15.5 kg)
Dimensions: 28.5 H x 17 W x 11.5 L in
Height Limit: Up to 57 in (145cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 4-50 lbs (1.8-22.7 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-120 lbs (10-54 kg))
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

2. Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat

clek foonf

The Foonf is the best convertible car seat for 3-year-old children because the deep side wings offer comfort and protection during after-school naps. 

The Foonf has new fabrics and colors that are free from halogenated flame retardants, which is an upgrade from the past version.

With safe fabrics and an adjustable headrest, your 3-year-old will be able to rest comfortably after an active day of playing.

This car seat for 36-month-old toddlers also has extended rear-facing, keeping your child safer for longer. The adjustable crotch strap is ideal for your growing 3-year-old. 

This seat requires manual rethreading when adjusting the harness, which can be frustrating.

What We Liked

  • Steel anti-rebound bar for added safety
  • Smooth recline feature
  • The 5-point harness is difficult for curious toddlers to open
  • Easy access to the belt path when rear-facing
  • The streamlined design is ideal for 3 across

What Can Be Improved

  • This seat is heavy
  • It sits high on the base when rear-facing
  • Adjusting the straps can be tricky

Seat Weight: 33 lbs (15 kg)
Dimensions: 28 H x 17 W x 16 L in
Height Limit: Up to 49 in (124.5cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 14-50 lbs (6.4-23 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-65 lbs (10-29.5 kg)
Expiration Date: 9 years from the manufacturing date

3. WAYB Pico Car Seat

wayb pico seat

The WAYB Pico is ideal for your 3-year-old if you need to fit three seats in your car. 

It is lightweight and easy to install, so you can move it from vehicle to vehicle. The design is non-bulky, and your 3-year-old will feel like they are sitting in a ‘big kid’ seat.

The AstroKnit mesh is made from polyester and responsibly sourced wool. These fabrics are naturally flame-resistant and offer good moisture wicking. That means your child will be comfortable and cool. 

This seat doesn’t have armrests, but it does have a generous cup holder for snacks, toys, and water.

What We Liked

  • Folds as an easy travel option
  • LATCH and seat belt installation options
  • Quick and simple install
  • Narrow for a 3-across install
  • Lightweight

What Can Be Improved

  • A tight crotch strap and buckle can be uncomfortable
  • The cover needs to be hand washed
  • Small weight limit

Seat Weight: 8 lbs (3.6 kg)
Dimensions: 18.9 H x 14.5 W x 11.6 L in
Height Limit: Up to 45 in (114.3 cm)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-50 lbs (10-23 kg)
Expiration Date: 6 years from the manufacturing date

4. Diono Radian 3RXT Safe+ Convertible Car Seat

diono car seat

This car seat for 3-year-old and up is narrow but spacious, which your 3-year-old will love. The seat has a low profile so your independent toddler can get in and out on their own. 

An upgrade since the earlier model is an anti-rebound bar and improved side impact protection.

With 18 improvements for extra safety and comfort, this is one of the safest car seats for 3-year-olds. 

You can also have your toddler rear-facing up to 50 lbs with extended legroom in this seat, which is safer. You do sacrifice passenger leg room in the front to use this seat.

What We Liked

  • 12-position adjustable headrest that grows with your child
  • Removable cupholders that are easy to clean
  • Super safe steel alloy frame
  • High-quality fabrics and a machine washable cover make this seat durable
  • This is a birth-to-booster seat you can use for years

What Can Be Improved

  • The steel frame makes the seat heavy to move to another vehicle
  • The back of the seat is unattractive
  • The seat is cumbersome to install

Seat Weight: 30.6 lbs (13.9 kg)
Dimensions: 28.5 H x 17 W x 16 L in
Height Limit: Up to 57 in (145cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 4-50 lbs (1.8-22.7 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-120 lbs (10-54 kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

Also, check out the best car seats for 5-year-olds, which are super comfy and provide maximum security for your LO.

5. Diono Radian 3RX Convertible Car Seat

diono

This baby car seat for 3-year-old toddlers has extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs. 

The low seat positioning is easy for your toddler to climb in and out of. This is perfect for independent three-year-olds and will prevent fights about riding rear-facing.

The 12-position headrest, a change since the last version, grows with your 3-year-old as they leave toddlerhood. 

Your child has lost some of their baby weight and is looking slimmer and more grown-up. The narrow design and shallow sides of this seat make it a good car seat for 3-year-old kids as they grow up. 

Your toddler is probably ready to drop their daytime nap which is a good thing because the seat padding could be better.

What We Liked

  • The adjustable 5-point harness is safer for your child
  • You only have to buy one seat because it is birth-to-booster
  • Durable, steel-reinforced cup holder
  • Machine washable cover for easy cleaning
  • Versatile 3-across placement

What Can Be Improved

  • Only 3 color options
  • Seat belt installation has a learning curve
  • No non-rethread harness

Seat Weight: 28.1lbs (12.76 kg)
Dimensions: 28.5 H x 17 W x 16 L in
Height Limit: Up to 57 in (145cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 5-50 lbs (2.3-23 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-120 lbs (10-54 kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

6. Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat

nuna car seat

Your 3-year-old is at a very active stage and might not enjoy sitting in the rear-facing position.

The Rava offers 2 inches of extra leg room, making it a recommended car seat for 3-year-old toddlers who need extra space and comfort. 

This seat has additional side impact protection compared to the previous version making this one of the best-rated car seats for 3-year-old kids.

As your toddler becomes more independent, they will love the dual flip-open cupholders and the buckle holders that let them get into the seat easily on their own. 

The seat fabric can get warm so keep that in mind.

What We Liked

  • The adjustable footrest offers leg support in the forward-facing position
  • Easy to recline the seat while your toddler is in it
  • Non-rethread harness for quick adjustment
  • Easy, secure installation every time
  • Flame-retardant free fabric

What Can Be Improved

  • Heavy when swapping between cars
  • The buckle can be difficult to use
  • Ventilation panels don’t provide adequate cooling

Seat Weight: 27.2 lbs (12.3 kg)
Dimensions: 25.2-31 H x 19 W x 16 L in
Height Limit: Up to 49 in (124.5cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 5-50 lbs (2.3-23 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-65 lbs (10-29.5 kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

7. RideSafer Travel Car Seat Vest

ridesafer vest

The RideSafer is the best portable car seat for 3-year-old kids because it’s not a seat at all. 

This vest is ideal for the 3-year-old that fights being strapped into a car seat. The design has failsafe mechanisms and is simple to use so moms can be confident they are keeping their kids safe.

The shoulder tether is required for 3-year-olds, but the 3-clip design positions the belt comfortably and securely. The XS vest is perfect for slim 3-year-olds in special situations like taxis or carpooling. 

The vest could be difficult for your 3-year-old to put on by themselves.

What We Liked

  • Lightweight and padded
  • Perfect for 3-across situations
  • Adjustable straps for growing kids
  • Intuitive installation reduces the chance of installing it wrong
  • It is a small car seat for 3-year-old kids and fits in a backpack

What Can Be Improved

  • Clips cause wear on seat belts
  • Some children don’t like how it feels
  • Instructions could be more thorough

Seat Weight: 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg)
Dimensions: 3.5 H x 9.5 W x 15 L in
Child Height: Up to 57 in (145 cm)
Forward-Facing Weight: 30-80 lbs (14-36.3 kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

8. Clek Fllo Convertible Car Seat

clek fllo

Your 3-year-old at home is very active and probably won’t enjoy being confined to a car seat. The Fllo is ideal for this situation as it is spacious and easy for your toddler to get into independently.

It offers extended rear-facing with extra legroom, which your 3-year-old will appreciate.

The dual-length crotch strap means your toddler is safe but comfortable. The deep side wings are a great addition for those afternoon naps that your busy toddler needs. 

The fabric is flame-retardant-free, so your child can have a stylish but safe seat. This seat doesn’t have a recline feature.

What We Liked

  • Variety of colors to choose from
  • Removable cushion for belt path access
  • Clean design that fits well with other seats
  • Ethically sourced, 100% merino wool cover 
  • Adjustable, structural headrest

What Can Be Improved

  • Forward-facing fastening can be challenging
  • Small height and weight range
  • You will need to buy a separate booster seat

Seat Weight: 25 lbs (11.3 kg)
Dimensions: 31 H x 16.9 W x 13 L in
Height Limit: Up to 49 in (124.5cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 14-50 lbs (6.4-23 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-65 lbs (10-29.5 kg)
Expiration Date: 9 years from the manufacturing date

9. Peg Perego Convertible Kinetic Car Seat for 3yr Old

peg peregeo convertible seat

This is one of the best car seats for three-year-olds because it looks and feels luxurious, which your growing child will love. 

It is rear-facing up to 45 lbs, but the top tether provides additional safety if your 3-year-old is over that weight limit and needs to be forward-facing. 

The anti-rebound bar spacer gives your toddler an extra 2 inches of legroom when rear-facing, making this a great car seat for three-year-old and up children. The side impact protection adjusts so your growing toddler is safe at every stage. 

Your 3-year-old wants to do things on their own, so the strange cupholder placement might be frustrating for them.

What We Liked

  • Tri-stage cushion for extra support and comfort
  • The no-rethread harness and soft straps are safe and comfortable
  • EasyTight LATCH for simple installation
  • 6 positions of recline to suit your growing child
  • The fabric cleans well

What Can Be Improved

  • The chest clip button can be difficult to open
  • Recline mechanism gets stuck easily
  • The lever to release the harness strap is hidden

Seat Weight: 24.4 lbs (11.1 kg)
Dimensions: 25.75 H x 18.75 W x 26.25 L in
Height Limit: Up to 49 in (124.5cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 5-45 lbs (2.3-20.4kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-65 lbs (10-29.5 kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

10. Britax Advocate Clicktight Convertible Car Seat for 3-Year-Old

britax car seat

This safety seat for 3-year-old toddlers is spacious and comfortable but is also easy for moms to use as it has clear installation indicators, so you are always sure your baby is safe. 

You have a selection of tonal color palettes to choose from, making this an ideal car seat for three-year-old boys or girls.

It has external bolsters for maximum side-impact protection, which is an improvement from the prior model. 

The 7-position, quick-push recline feature is easy for moms to use and keeps your growing toddler comfortable. 

The easy-click system might need replacing over time, but the other safety and comfort features make this a small issue.

What We Liked

  • 14-position, quick-adjust harness and headrest
  • ClickTight Installation means a confident install
  • SafeWash cover that is flame-retardant free
  • Great safety features, like the SafeCell Impact Protection crumple zone in the base
  • This seat has 3 layers of side impact protection

What Can Be Improved

  • Low weight and height limit
  • Some recalls were made on this model
  • Heavy and bulky

Seat Weight: 30.1 lbs (13.7 kg)
Dimensions: 23.5 H x 20.5 W x 23 L in
Height Limit: 49 in (124.5 cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 5-40 lbs (2.3-18 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 20-65 lbs (9.1-29.5 kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

11. Britax One4Life Clicktight All-in-One Convertible Car Seat for 3 Year Plus

britax car seat

Your 3-year-old will love the built-in armrests on this seat, and you will love the safety of extended rear-facing up to 50 lbs. 

If you are looking for a cheap car seat for 3-year-old toddlers that grows with them, then this birth-to-booster option is a good investment. 

The cover is removable and machine washable, and the twist-out, dishwasher-safe cupholders make this three-year-old car seat durable and easy to keep clean. 

This seat offers superior comfort and padding, which will keep your active toddler happier for longer during long car drives. Unfortunately, there is no backless booster option.

What We Liked

  • The V-shaped tether is a unique safety feature
  • The SafeWash fabric is naturally flame-resistant
  • Quick-adjust, 15-position harness, and headrest 
  • Convenient built-in storage for the harness in booster mode
  • Color-coded belt paths for a safe install every time

What Can Be Improved

  • Not compatible with ClickTight rebound bar
  • The headrest could be more secure
  • The seat is heavy to move

Seat Weight: 30 lbs (13.6 kg)
Dimensions: 20.5 H x 19.5 W x 25 L in
Height Limit: Up to 49 in (124.5 cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 5-50 lbs ( kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-120 lbs ( kg)
Expiration Date: 10 years from the manufacturing date

12. Chicco NextFit Max Zip Air Convertible 3yr Old Car Seat

chicco convertible car seat

This is one of the best car seats for three-year-old kids because it offers 25% more legroom when rear-facing. This allows you to keep your child rear-facing up to 50 lbs without a fight. 

The helpful indicators mean moms can confidently install the seat correctly. 

The 9-position harness raises with the headrest, so you don’t have to fight with your toddler to get them safe and secure.

This seat is spacious, and the Dual RideRight level indicator helps you find the right position for a quick trip to the supermarket or a nap. 

Although the straps could be longer, they are simple to adjust.

What We Liked

  • The dishwasher-safe cup holder is convenient to clean
  • The seat pad is simple to zip off and clean
  • Offers more calf support when forward-facing
  • 3D AirMesh backrest keeps your baby cool
  • Removable newborn positioner

What Can Be Improved

  • Only two color options
  • Doesn’t work well with leather seats
  • The seat is bulky to move

Seat Weight: 26.5 lbs (12 kg)
Dimensions: 22.75 H x 19 W x 20 L in
Height Limit: Up to 49 in (124.5cm)
Rear-Facing Weight: 4-50 lbs (1.8-22.7 kg)
Forward-Facing Weight: 22-65 lbs (10-29.5 kg)
Expiration Date: 8 years from the manufacturing date

What Car Seats Should a 3-Year-Old Be In? 

According to the NHTSA, AAP, and CDC, 3-year-olds should be rear-facing until they meet the rear-facing weight of the car seat.

The proper car seat for 3-year-old children will have a rear-facing weight of 50 lbs and an adjustable headrest, and extra legroom. Convertible or all-in-one car seats work well because they offer extended rear-facing and customizable sizing.

The appropriate car seat for 3-year-old toddlers will protect them in case of an accident with side impact protection and a strong frame filled with EPP or EPS foam.

Being rear-facing adds more protection from crash impact, and a 5-point harness keeps your child secure.

Choosing an Appropriate Car Seat for 3-Year-Old 

Car seats for three-year-olds should offer extended rear-facing, customizable sizing, and the option to convert to a booster as your child grows.

High Weight and Height Limit 

Car seats are expensive, but if your seat has a high weight and height limit, then your child can use it safely for many years. 

Children are safer when rear-facing, so a high weight limit of 50 lbs means your 3-year-old can ride rear-facing for longer. 

An adjustable headrest gives you height options so your toddler doesn’t meet the height limit before the weight limit.

Non-Toxic Fabrics 

The best car seat for 36-month-old children should also look after their skin. 

Some car seats use dangerous chemicals to make the fabric flame-retardant. When looking for the best car seat option for your 3-year-old, choose one that uses naturally flame-resistant fabric like merino wool or polyester. 

Water-proof fabric often contains harmful PFAs, so choose a seat with a washable cover.

Safety Features 

You might want a lightweight car seat for 3-year-old kids, but a steel frame and SIP provide better safety. 

A high rear-facing weight limit of 50 lbs is preferable. A car seat needs to fit well and be installed correctly to be safe, so an adjustable headrest, installation indicators, and a 5-point harness are vital.

Easy to Use 

Low-profile car seats are easier for your child to use independently, and buckle holders make it easier for moms to get toddlers settled and strapped.

 One-hand, adjustable headrests that automatically adjust the harness are more convenient. Removable cupholders and a washable cover make cleaning the seat easier for busy moms.

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