• Baby and kid

The Best Travel Car Seats

Three of our top picks for the best travel car seats, shown side by side.

Let’s face it: Traveling with little kids can be a slog. But a lightweight, compact, easy-to-install travel car seat is one tool that can make trips a bit easier.

We’ve tested 17 travel car seats for infants and up, and we examined how they performed in various circumstances, including during air travel and in rental cars. The Chicco KeyFit 35 , one of our picks for the best infant car seats , is an excellent choice for both travel and everyday use. For an affordable and easy-to-use convertible car seat for toddlers and preschoolers, we recommend traveling with the Cosco Scenera Next , which fits kids up to 40 inches tall for rear-facing or 43 inches for forward-facing. For kids bigger than that who still need a seat with a five-point harness, we recommend the Cosco Finale 2-in-1 , which also converts to a high-back booster. The backless, lightweight Cosco Rise is great for booster-age kids.

If you’ll be hopping in and out of taxis or ride shares with a baby, the Doona is a unique but expensive infant car seat that converts to a stroller. And instead of purchasing a dedicated convertible car seat for travel, another option is to bring yours along with the Britax Travel Cart .

Everything we recommend

travel car seat for 6 month old

Chicco KeyFit 35 ClearTex

The best infant car seat for travel.

If you’re a frequent traveler, the Chicco KeyFit 35 is easier than most infant car seats to install securely without its base.

Buying Options

travel car seat for 6 month old

An infant car seat and stroller in one

This unusual car seat has integrated wheels that pop out to turn it into a stroller. It’s best for parents who frequently need to move their car seat in and out of different vehicles.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Cosco Scenera Next

The best convertible car seat for travel.

This affordable and easy-to-use car seat weighs 6.8 pounds and can be used rear- and forward-facing. But kids can outgrow it quickly.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Cosco Finale 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat

The best harness booster car seat for travel.

This no-frills seat converts from a forward-facing five-point harness to a high-back booster. It weighs just 12 pounds.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Britax Travel Cart

A travel cart for lugging your own seat through the airport.

This sturdy, smooth-rolling travel cart helps you transport your own convertible car seat—and avoid buying a standalone travel seat. You can even strap your child into their seat and use it like a stroller.

travel car seat for 6 month old

The best backless booster seat for travel

This basic booster seat weighs only 2.2 pounds and can work for children as small as 40 pounds. But it has a rather large footprint and will be too big to fit in most carry-ons.

How we picked

A seat that’s lightweight is more manageable to carry between multiple locations. A more compact seat is also easier to pack.

We considered the seat’s comfort and ability to adjust straps and buckles.

Ease of installation is paramount, as the easier it is to do, the more likely it will be done properly.

We looked at crash-testing scores and ease-of-use ratings. Our infant, convertible, and harness booster picks are FAA-approved for use on a plane.

The Chicco KeyFit 35 is a great all-around infant car seat—and one of the ones we recommend for everyday use. But for travel it stands out: It has a European belt path that makes it easier to get a secure install without the base than for many car seats, and it’s cheaper than other seats that have this belt routing option.

Weight of seat: 10 pounds Orientation: rear-facing only Weight range: 4 to 35 pounds Height limit: 32 inches

Parents who can’t leave their infant seat base installed in a specific car but instead need to travel by taxi or rideshare frequently may find the innovative Doona to be a convenient option. This sleek infant car seat has integrated wheels and converts to a stroller that maneuvers easily, plus the seat is FAA-approved for use on an airplane. But the versatile Doona is much heavier and more expensive than a regular infant car seat.

Weight of seat: 14.3 pounds Orientation: rear-facing only Weight range: 4 to 35 pounds Height limit: 32 inches

The Cosco Scenera Next is a notably lightweight, affordable convertible car seat that is simple to install and carry on an airplane. It receives strong safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is FAA-approved for use on a plane. But many kids will outgrow it before they reach the height or weight limit because of the low position of the shoulder straps.

Weight of seat: 6.8 pounds Orientation: rear- or forward-facing Weight range: 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing; 22-40 pounds forward-facing Height range: 19-40 inches rear-facing; 29-43 inches forward-facing

For children using a forward-facing five-point harness, the Cosco Finale 2-in-1 is a lightweight and affordable travel option that is FAA-approved for use on a plane (in harness mode only). It also converts to a high-back booster. However, it has lower height limits than some boosters, so kids may not get as many years of use from it, in comparison with pricier options.

Weight of seat: 12 pounds Orientation: forward-facing only Weight range: 30 to 65 pounds for harness mode; 40 to 100 pounds for high-back mode Height range: 32 to 49 inches for harness mode; 43 to 52 inches for high-back mode

Bringing your own car seat to the airport has one big advantage—you don’t have to learn how to install yet another seat. But your own convertible car seat is likely to be heavy (our picks in our guide to convertible car seats range from 19 to 33 pounds). The Britax Travel Cart is compatible with most convertible seats, and when your car seat is secured to it with LATCH, you can use it like a stroller to push your toddler through the airport. The cart can then be stored in an overhead bin during your flight.

Weight of cart: 7.6 pounds

If you need a cheap, no-frills booster seat, we recommend the Cosco Rise . It’s a bit too large to fit into a carry-on suitcase or backpack, but it’s easy to attach with a bungee cord to a carry-on for plane travel. It’s also a great option if you just need a spare booster for carpools or to order ahead for use at the grandparents' house.

Weight of seat: 2.2 pounds Weight range: 40 to 100 pounds Height range: 43 to 57 inches

The research

Why you should trust us, who should get this, the best infant car seat for travel: chicco keyfit 35, an infant seat and stroller in one: doona, the best convertible car seat for travel: cosco scenera next, the best harness booster seat for travel: cosco finale 2-in-1, a great car seat caddy: britax travel cart, the best booster seat for travel: cosco rise, other good travel car seats, should a kid sit in a car seat on the airplane, what about checking a car seat, the competition, care, use, and maintenance.

The authors of this guide have collectively interviewed 40 industry experts, safety authorities, and physicians. Among them were certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs) such as Lani Harrison, who installs more than 300 car seats each year; Dr. Aditya Belwadi, a biomechanics research scientist who previously led the child passenger safety research team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and now works at Tesla in Crash, Safety, and Occupant Protection/Biomechanics; and Bill Horn, head sled testing engineer at Calspan , one of the country’s top crash-testing facilities. The authors also talked with dozens of parents and representatives from leading car seat manufacturers.

The original version of this guide was written by Rebecca Gale, whose reporting on policy and parenting has appeared in outlets including The New York Times, Slate, and The Washington Post. Rebecca has also been certified as a CPST, completing a 40-hour training program through the Safe Kids Worldwide organization.

In 2022 and 2023, this guide was updated by Christina Szalinski, a science writer whose reporting on health and parenting has appeared in The Atlantic and Kaiser Health News . In addition to writing the most recent versions of Wirecutter’s infant and convertible car seat guides, Christina is responsible for Wirecutter’s guides to the Best Baby Formula and kids face masks .

Few people strictly need a separate car seat for travel as you can gate- or baggage-check any car seat for free with most airlines. But lugging your regular (likely heavy and bulky) seat in and out of the car and through the airport can be a major hassle. Investing in a smaller, lighter-weight option may be worthwhile, especially if you fly or use ridesharing services or taxis frequently.

Infant car seats for travel

If you’re traveling with an infant or baby, bringing along your usual infant car seat without its base (to cut down on weight and heft) is typically the best option. Our top infant car seat pick, the Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX , is relatively lightweight and, like other infant car seats, can be safely strapped in with a seatbelt only and no base.

There are two possible ways to install an infant car seat without a base: either with the belt directly across the top, called “American routing,” or with the shoulder belt placed around the back of the seat in addition to the top, called “European routing.” It’s easier to get a secure fit with European routing, and two seats we recommend in our guide to infant car seats, the Chicco KeyFit 35 and the Clek Liing , are designed to allow for that type of install. If you know you’ll be traveling with your infant often, it may be worthwhile to choose one of these as your baby’s first car seat.

Many infant car seats are compatible with easy-to-fold stroller frames, such as the Chicco KeyFit Caddy , which turns an infant car seat into a stroller and can be convenient for travel. Most infant seats are FAA-approved for airplane use, should you decide to purchase an airplane seat for your infant.

Convertible car seats for travel

When your child has outgrown their infant car seat, deciding on a car seat for travel can be trickier. Alisa Baer, a pediatrician, CPST, and co-founder of the website The Car Seat Lady , recommends bringing your own convertible car seat and using a travel cart . That way you have a seat that you’re already comfortable installing. But some people will prefer a dedicated travel car seat, as they can be significantly lighter than regular seats—as little as 7 pounds versus 20 to 30 pounds.

If you do buy a dedicated travel seat, it’s a good idea to practice installing it before your trip—you don’t want to be figuring it out for the first time when you, and your kid, are potentially jet lagged and feeling extra cranky. Installation can be the most time-consuming and frustrating part of using a car seat—and particularly a convertible car seat—and is often the point of failure for using a car seat correctly.

Booster seats for travel

If your everyday booster seat has a removable back (as with our top pick and runner-up pick, the Chicco KidFit ClearTex Plus and the Graco TurboBooster LX ), you may prefer to simply bring that seat for travel, leaving the bulky back at home. But like with convertible seats, it’s also an option to get a dedicated travel booster that may be significantly lighter and smaller than the one you rely on every day.

Jessica Jermakian, vice president for vehicle research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, offered several tips for bringing along a backless booster, especially if it’s not one that’s compact: “I bungee cord them to my luggage while traversing the airport. On most flights, my kids could shove them under the seat in front of them and still have room to throw their backpack on top. On some flights, I’ve put them in a tote in the overhead compartment.”

Travel car seat alternatives

If you’re headed to a familiar destination, you could look into borrowing a seat from friends or relatives. Or, you may be able to rent one through a baby equipment rental service.

Many car rental companies also offer car seats for a daily fee, but it can cost up to $15 a day—adding up to much more than the cost of a travel car seat, which can be less than $50. And though you can reserve one in advance, rental car seats are subject to availability, so there’s no guarantee that one will be available when you arrive. The car seat provided may also be difficult to install properly, especially in an unfamiliar car. That said, you may be able to find discounts or other benefits through programs such as AAA, which offers one free car seat rental for members when they book a car through Hertz, Dollar, or Thrifty. Ridesharing and airport and town car services may also provide a car seat with advance reservations.

A person pushing a Doona stroller.

There are hundreds of travel car seat options for infants, toddlers, and older kids. We began the whittling down process by examining online customer reviews and existing media coverage, which included going to Car Seats for the Littles , Lucie’s List , and the Car Seat Lady . We found the travel car seat category to be sorely lacking in an abundance of great options, so we also considered some “regular” car seats and alternatives.

We knew from our expert interviews that proper installation is generally a far bigger problem than the level of protection that a seat inherently provides, so we searched the NHTSA ease-of-use installation database to help determine which seats offer easy installation and come with clear instructions. We also relied on the personal experience of Wirecutter staffers, volunteer testers, and car seat techs who had used the car seats in the past.

Our research led us to conclude that the ideal travel car seat should be:

Lightweight and compact: A travel car seat will likely need to be carried between multiple locations, sometimes with a baby inside (if we’re talking about an infant). The less the seat weighs, the easier it is to deal with when combined with children and carry-on items. A more compact seat can also fit more readily in a wide variety of vehicles.

FAA approved: For parents who want to use their infant seat, convertible car seat, or harness booster on a plane, FAA certification is crucial.

Easy to install: As with all of our car seat recommendations, ease of installation is paramount, as the easier it is to do, the more likely it is to be done properly.

Easy to use: Straps should be simple to adjust to get a snug but comfortable fit in a five-point harness. The buckles should be easy for parents to clip and unclip but difficult to impossible for children to mess with. We considered the experience of both parents and kids in using the seats, as well as how easy each seat was to clean.

Safe: When it comes to travel, convenience can trump a minor safety advantage; a seat that you can bring along with you is vastly superior to no seat at all. Still, we did take the relevant government safety data from NHTSA into consideration.

Over the past five years we’ve tested 17 car seats with travel specifically in mind.

Our pick for the best infant car seat for travel, the Chicco KeyFit 35.

If you’re shopping for an infant car seat with travel in mind, we recommend the FAA-approved Chicco KeyFit 35 , one of our picks in our guide to infant car seats . It is lightweight and easy to use, and it can be installed securely without its base using the European belt path, a method that generally provides a superior install. (Any infant seat can be installed without its base, so if you already have an infant seat, using what you already own is likely the easiest choice.)

You can save on weight and bulk by leaving a car seat base at home when traveling. There are two ways to install an infant seat without its base. The most common is American belt routing, in which the seat belt goes over the top of the infant seat and the baby’s knees. We’ve found that it can be very difficult to secure an infant seat in the car securely using this method.

A few seats also offer the option to rely on the European belt path, the method we prefer, in which the lap belt goes over the top of the infant seat and the shoulder belt goes around the back. It’s easier to get a secure install with the European belt path, but it’s only found on a few car seat models. Of the four infant car seats we recommend, only the Chicco KeyFit 35 and Clek Liing offer the option of using the European belt path.

Beyond the advantage of the European belt bath, the Chicco KeyFit 35 has everything we love about the more popular Chicco KeyFit 30 with a few bonus features, such as an anti-rebound base as an added safety option. The KeyFit 35 can also accommodate a slightly larger baby (up to 35 pounds) than the KeyFit 30.

The KeyFit 35 strapped into the backseat of a car with a seatbelt threaded across the lap of the car seat.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The KeyFit 35 is about $50 more than our top infant car seat choice, the Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX . It probably doesn’t make sense to buy this seat just for travel if you already own a similar infant car seat. But if you plan to be jet-setting with your baby, it may be worth the additional $50 or so to get a better on-the-go install from the start.

An infant sitting inside the Doona secured in car rear seating.

The Doona is an FAA-approved infant car seat (rear-facing only) with built-in wheels that allow it to convert to a stroller. For travel, this is about as convenient as it gets, allowing caregivers to rely on a single piece of equipment to accomplish two goals: avoid gate-checking a stroller—assuming an airline seat is purchased for the infant—and hop in and out of cabs without having to stow anything in the trunk.

The canopy of the Doona extended over the head of the smiling infant sitting inside the stroller.

Compared with a regular infant car seat, the Doona has some drawbacks. For one thing, it did not perform particularly well in Baby Gear Lab’s crash testing (there are no government crash tests available yet for this seat). For this reason, and because it’s tricky to install without its base (as most infant seats are), one of our car seat experts does not recommend this seat. At 14.3 pounds, it’s heavy and bulky to carry and maneuver when in car seat mode. The Doona also has the steepest price of any of the car seats (including infant, convertible, and boosters) that we’ve reviewed. It does come with a traditional infant car seat base that allows for an easy click in and out of a car, but the extra width means it could be impossible to fit three across in a backseat. And it would defeat the point to use that base for travel.

Switching the Doona from car seat mode to stroller mode and back requires “both hands and concentration,” said one tester, as well as “quite a bit of practice for me. It takes a rather specific, subtle motion to collapse it back and tuck the wheels.” It’s harder than taking a regular infant car seat off of a stroller with an infant seat attachment. Plus, once your child outgrows this seat, you’ll have to buy another stroller.

As a stroller, the Doona maneuvers easily, and the brake is intuitive and easy to use. But though it comes with an attached storage bag, the Doona lacks a storage basket.

Our pick for the best convertible car seat for travel, the Cosco Scenera Next.

The inexpensive Cosco Scenera Next weighs just 6.8 pounds, is relatively easy to carry and install, and can be used rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing from 22 to 40 pounds. It’s FAA-certified and easy to install on an airplane (using the plane’s seatbelt).

The Cosco sells for $60, which is a bargain compared with many convertible car seats (the Graco Extend2Fit , our favorite convertible seat for everyday use, is a little over $200). The seat gets strong safety ratings from NHTSA, and given its low weight and heft and easy-enough install, we think it’s the best option available for an on-the-go or backup car seat. We strongly prefer the (heftier) Graco Extend2Fit for everyday use. That’s because it’s easier to get a safe, secure install with that seat and to adjust it to fit the child. Plus, it can be used forward-facing until a kid is 65 pounds and 49 inches tall—a much longer usable life than the Scenera Next.

Several Wirecutter staffers use or have used the Cosco Scenera Next, appreciating its low cost, low weight, and small size. They’ve found that the seat’s slim profile makes it a great option for smaller cars (specifically, a Prius or Renault Scenic). Senior editor Courtney Schley found that the Cosco allowed her to get three seats (two Coscos and one infant car seat) across in her family’s car.

The Cosco car seat secured in rear car seating.

The Scenera Next’s low shoulder straps mean that a child may outgrow this seat well before they are ready for a booster. ( Shoulder straps should hit at or below the shoulders when a child is rear-facing; when forward-facing the straps should hit at or above the shoulders.) The low straps mean that many 3-year-olds with longer torsos may outgrow the seat in forward-facing mode, even though the seat’s height and weight limits indicate that it should fit an average-size kid up to age 4. With a long torso, the straps end up hitting below the shoulders, a situation that can compromise safety.

Though the Scenera Next is simple to install compared with other lightweight convertible car seats we tested, some of our testers still found it difficult to get a tight, secure install. It has hook LATCH straps that aren’t particularly easy to use—you really have to tug on the LATCH straps to get a tight fit, and getting them off can be an even bigger challenge. We preferred installing the seat with a seat belt in unfamiliar cars, which was an easier way to get a tight install (try the inside/outside trick with the shoulder belt), and made it much easier to uninstall.

Our testers also found that the chest clip on the harness wasn’t as responsive or easy to use as those on more expensive seats. The Scenera Next also has less padding than many seats, though Baer points out that the padding on most seats is highly compressible, meaning that just because a seat looks fluffier doesn’t mean it provides much more cushion.

This seat also has a few downsides if you bring it on a plane. Like most convertible car seats, it’s wider than the aisle, so you have to carry it awkwardly down the plane to get to your seat, which can be quite a challenge if you’re on your own and have other carry-on items (plus your child). Additionally, the plane’s seat belt buckle is going to be pushing into your child’s back if the seat is oriented forward-facing. Alisa Baer, co-founder of The Car Seat Lady, recommends installing any seat with this issue rear-facing, even if a kid is used to forward-facing. Or you can put a diaper or other soft item over the buckle to make it a bit more comfortable.

The Cosco Finale 2-in-1, our pick for best harness booster seat for travel.

The Cosco Finale 2-in-1 is a solid option for kids who are no longer rear-facing but still benefit from a five-point harness. It’s affordable, weighs just 12 pounds, and is relatively easy to install using the car’s seat belt while in harness mode (it also comes with LATCH straps, though we didn’t find these as easy to use). In booster mode Like other boosters, in booster mode this seat relies on the car’s seat belt to secure the child, so there’s no need to install it.

This bigger-kid seat can see a growing child through years of travel: It can be used as a forward-facing five-point harness booster seat from 30 to 65 pounds and then as a regular (harness-free) booster from 40 to 100 pounds (up until a child is 52 inches tall).

As a five-point harness, it’s FAA-certified and easy to install on an airplane using the plane’s seatbelt. However, when it’s in booster mode, like all boosters, it cannot be used on an airplane.

In harness mode, the Cosco Finale 2-in-1 performed well in an NHTSA crash test. And several Wirecutter staffers use or have used the Cosco Finale 2-in-1 while traveling after their child outgrew the Cosco Scenera Next—they liked the price and straightforward install. Converting the seat to a booster is fairly straightforward , and the seat has storage for the harness, crotch buckle, and chest clip. Once the seat is in booster mode, your child can’t use it on an airplane, but many airlines will allow you to check a booster seat for free (you may wish to check with your airline in advance).

A more expensive version of the Cosco Finale 2-in-1, the Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 , is also available. The only difference between the two is the fabric—the DX has a tiny bit more cushion and a slightly less slippery texture. We asked several children to try each seat and then report their favorite (they wore blindfolds, to remove color preference as a factor). There was no clear winner between the two seats, and our adult testers could hardly distinguish a difference in the cushioning. For this reason, we don’t think it’s worth the extra $20 for the DX.

A closeup showing the five-point harness of the Cosco Finale 2-in-1.

When using the Finale 2-in-1 in harness mode, you first have to install it in the car, which you can do either with the seat’s LATCH straps or with the car’s seat belt. We found the Finale 2-in-1’s hook LATCH straps difficult to use—it’s hard to get a tight fit in the car, and getting them off can be a big challenge. As we did with the Cosco Scenera Next, we preferred installing the harnessed seat with a seat belt; this was an easier way to get a tight install (try the inside/outside trick with the shoulder belt) and also made it much easier to uninstall. (When the harness is removed and the seat is in booster mode, you do not need to install it in the car, since the car’s seat belt holds it in place and secures the child.)

Our testers also found that the chest clip on the harness was a bit more difficult to open compared to those on more expensive seats like the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 . The straps have to be manually threaded through the car seat, which isn’t particularly difficult or time consuming, but you have to remember to do it before you install the seat. It also has less padding than many seats, though our child testers didn’t complain (however, we didn’t take it on any long road trips).

This seat won’t have as many years of use as other travel options, like the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1, because the Cosco has a maximum height of 52 inches (most boosters go to 57 inches) and does not convert to a backless booster.

The Britax Travel Cart.

If you need to travel with a convertible car seat, you can bring the one you already have to the airport and onto the airplane with the Britax Travel Cart . The main benefit of bringing your own is that you’ll have a seat that you (and your child) are comfortable with, and that you know how to install confidently.

There are a number of similar travel carts out there, but we think this one offers the most for the price. We like that when the car seat is strapped onto the cart using the car seat’s LATCH clips, you can use the whole thing like a stroller and push (or pull) your child through the airport. The frame is also studier than other models—it can hold a total of 100 pounds of car seat and child. Plus, when it’s time to get on the plane you can fold the cart to stow it in an overhead bin.

A person pulling the Britax Travel Cart with a bulky convertible car seat on it.

At about $100 for the cart, it is cheaper to purchase a budget convertible car seat like the Cosco Scenera Next. However, depending on your circumstances, the Britax Travel Cart may outlive the expiration of many car seats (which are between six and 10 years), and could be used for future car seats, or passed along without as much consideration as a used car seat.

Our pick for the best booster seat for travel, the Cosco Rise.

For a cheap, no-frills booster seat, the Cosco Rise is a reliable option that weighs only 2.2 pounds. It’s simple to use: Like other backless booster seats, it does not need to be physically attached to the vehicle; a child simply sits in it and fastens the car’s lap belt over their knees (under the seat’s sides).

The Chicco GoFit Plus is our overall top pick for the best backless booster seat because it’s cushy, made with easy-to-clean materials, and includes two cup holders and a LATCH system to anchor the seat to the car. But it’s bulky, heavy, and not great for travel. The Cosco Rise has fewer bells and whistles, but it offers a key safety feature: Unlike many other boosters, this seat has a strap that attaches to a car’s shoulder belt to adjust the belt’s position for smaller riders (the shoulder belt should always rest on a child’s collarbone, and not against their neck).

The Cosco Rise can accommodate children as small as 40 pounds, as long as they are also 43 inches tall, meaning it will work for most kids 5 and up but may not accommodate some 4-year-olds.

A view of the Cosco Rise booster seat showing the strap that attaches to the vehicle's shoulder belt.

This seat is a bit too large to fit easily into a carry-on suitcase or backpack (it takes up almost all the room top-to-bottom in a standard-sized carry-on, with only a little room left on the side). There is also almost no padding on this seat, merely a polyester cover, but for short rides, our testers didn’t complain.

If you want an upgraded infant seat that’s great for travel : We recommend the Clek Liing , one of our favorite infant seats . Like the Chicco KeyFit 35, the Clek Liing can be installed without its base using a European belt path, which is much easier to get secure than the standard American belt routing found on most infant car seats. And when you’re at home, we love how easy it is to install the Liing’s base, which includes an added safety feature: a load leg .

If you want a high-end infant seat and don’t own a car: The lightweight, easy-to-clean Clek Liingo is similar to the Clek Liing but without the base. In general, we think installing a seat with the base is an easier and more secure option with infant car seats. But if you don’t own a car, the Liingo can be installed without a base in several ways. It has the same European belt path that the Liing has, which routes the lap belt over the top and the shoulder belt around the back for more security than an install that just goes over the top of the seat. The Liingo also comes with a LATCH strap that routes in the same spot as the lap belt—though we found this was not nearly as secure as the European belt path routing.

If you want a longer-lasting five-point harness seat for older kids: The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 is a good choice. This forward-facing-only seat has a five-point harness that holds kids from 22 to 65 pounds and up to 49 inches tall, and it can be adjusted without rethreading it, so it is easier to modify as your child grows. When your child is ready for a regular booster, you can remove the harness and crotch buckle, converting the seat to a high-back booster that can hold a child from 40 to 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall. Finally, you can remove the back and convert the seat to a lightweight backless booster that can also be used from 40 to 100 pounds and up to 57 inches tall.

First off, a car seat must be FAA-approved—as all of our recommended infant and convertible seats are—for a kid to ride in one on an airplane. (Booster seats are reserved for older children and not intended for use on airplane seats.)

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and CPSTs believe it is safer for kids under 2 to ride in a car seat aboard a plane rather than in their parents’ arms. In the event of turbulence or rough air, a child is much safer if strapped in. Being injured in turbulence , though very unlikely, does affect a handful of American flyers each year, and recent research indicates that turbulence is on the rise due to climate change.

Many parents find that air travel is easier when their child has their own seat (though of course you have to pay for that additional seat). Children are allowed to sit on caregivers’ laps on planes until age 2, but few toddlers can sit still for a long period of time, and that extra harness and recline (as well as familiarity) provided by the car seat may keep a child seated comfortably longer, especially once they are mobile but still too young to fully understand how to sit still in a lap belt.

There are a number of challenges to bringing a car seat, especially a convertible seat designed for a toddler, onto a plane. Some smaller planes may have seats that aren’t wide enough for many convertible car seats. And even if the car seat is narrow enough for the plane, not many seats are narrow enough to easily fit down the aisle. The Clek Foonf , one of our convertible car seat picks, is one of them, but it is pricey and heavy. (The Clek Fllo , Graco SlimFit3 LX , and Graco True3Fit also fit on an airplane seat, but we did not test them.) You’ll generally have to lift a car seat above the seats to carry it to the rear of a plane.

Finally, unlike a car seat buckle, which sits on your hip, a plane’s seat buckle sits right in the middle of your lap. That means for many car seats, once you install them on the plane, there’s going to be a large metal buckle below your child’s legs or behind their back (the Clek seats are among the few without this issue). Alisa Baer, co-founder of The Car Seat Lady, recommends using convertible seats with buckle-in-the-back issues rear-facing, even with a larger child—they’ll likely be more comfortable if their feet have a place to rest, plus they won’t be trying to rest their feet on the passenger’s seat in front of them. You can also put a diaper or spare T-shirt over the buckle to make it a bit more comfortable.

Some parents may find it simpler to use a CARES harness (Child Aviation Restraint System) to help keep kids in their seats on a plane (and their kids may prefer sitting in an airplane seat over a car seat); you install this four-point harness around the child’s seatback and under the tray behind it.

Most airlines allow at least one car seat to be checked for free but doing so has several potential problems . The luggage can be handled roughly and tossed, damaging the car seat in the process. Seats, like any piece of luggage, can also be lost or misplaced in transit. Ultimately, the main reason you may want to have your child use a car seat on the plane is so that you are absolutely confident you’ll have the car seat when you arrive at your destination.

For people who do check in their car seats, Harrison recommends—ideally—using the original box and styrofoam that the seat came with if they are available or using Bubble Wrap and a garbage bag if not. Examine the seat for visible damage when it comes out at baggage claim, and be prepared to replace the seat if it’s broken or bent.

Infant travel seats

The Chicco Fit2 can accommodate infants as small as 4 pounds and toddlers as large as 35 pounds or 35 inches. Like the Chicco KeyFit 35 we recommend as the best infant car seat for travel, it can be installed with a European belt path. But because of this seat’s large size, some seat belts are too short to route over the car seat securely.

Convertible travel seats

We previously recommended the lightweight, foldable, forward-facing WAYB Pico (rhymes with “baby”) as a good travel car seat for kids who are too big for the Cosco Scenera Next but still need a five-point harness. Its adjustable seat back allows it to accommodate taller kids, and its slim design means it takes up less room in the backseat than other car seats. The 8-pound seat is exceptionally convenient to install, uninstall, and carry around, including through airports and onto a plane. In September 2019, however, WAYB announced it was recalling 4,558 Pico car seats manufactured between March 1 and May 12, 2019, due to reports of breakage in the aluminum tube connecting the headrest to the seat. You can read NHSTA’s report (PDF)  for details about the recall, how to identify your car seat’s date of manufacture, and how to inspect your car seat for damage. Since the recall, there have not been further reports of problems. Like all car seats sold in the US, the Pico was self-certified by WAYB to pass NHTSA standards (PDF) for safety testing.

The EvenFlo Tribute is a lightweight seat (9 pounds) similar to the Cosco Scenera Next and also has a weight limit of 40 pounds, but as our convertible car seat guide testing showed us, it’s not as easy to get a good install with this seat. CPSTs like Harrison recommend using a towel or pool noodle when using the Tribute to address this. It’s also more expensive than the Cosco Scenera Next.

Booster travel seats

We previously recommended the BubbleBum , an inflatable, portable backless booster seat for older kids. However, in February 2022, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raised concerns about the safety of inflatable boosters. A study using a computerized model determined that an inflatable booster may not have the stiffness required to keep a child from sliding out from under the lap belt upon impact in a car crash.

The backless Cosco Topside is too large to fit into a carry-on or a backpack. Unlike the Cosco Rise , our favorite backless booster for travel, this booster seat also doesn’t have a belt-positioning clip, which can help the shoulder belt fit better on a smaller rider.

We liked the Graco RightGuide booster seat because it was small enough to fit inside a carry-on or backpack. But it was recently discontinued.

The Immi Go is a booster car seat with a five-point harness that folds conveniently into its own carrying bag. Due to low sales, it is no longer for sale in the US, but you may see this seat if you travel abroad.

The MiFold backless booster seat (currently unavailable) is small enough to fit into the back pocket of some pants and weighs less than 2 pounds. It works by moving the seat belt down to fit the kid (as opposed to raising the kid to fit the belt, as other boosters do). However, our testers found its hard plastic shell uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time and said that the seat was complicated and unintuitive to set up. Also, a car seat safety expert we consulted noted that the design of the seat may encourage a child to use bad posture while they’re sitting in it—in an effort to find a more comfortable position, the child may tend to scoot forward, moving the slick-bottomed seat along with them, which could pose a safety concern.

Travel carts

The Torevsior Car Seat Travel Cart is about $25 less than the Britax Travel Cart we recommend, but it’s also less robust—the frame just doesn’t feel as sturdy. The weight limit is also lower than the Britax’s, at 70 pounds versus Britax’s 100 pounds. Like the Britax travel cart, the Torevsior cart has hooks for LATCH straps, to secure a car seat onto the cart so that your child can ride in it as you’re moving through the airport. It’s 6.4 pounds (Britax is 7.6 pounds), and extends up to 46 inches (Britax to 42 inches).

All of the guidelines for car seat care, use, and maintenance in our other car seat guides apply to travel car seats as well.

This guide was edited by Ellen Lee, Amy Miller Kravetz and Kalee Thompson.

Jessica Jermakian, vice president for vehicle research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety , email exchange , August 1, 2022

Alisa Baer, pediatrician, nationally certified child passenger safety instructor, and co-founder of The Car Seat Lady , phone interview, July 15, 2022 and January 9, 2023

Lani Harrison, CPST, Car Seats for the Littles , email interview , January 28, 2019

Meet your guides

A headshot of Christina Szalinski

Christina Szalinski

Christina Szalinski is a freelance science writer with a PhD in cell biology.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Rebecca Gale

Further reading

Our three picks for the best booster car seat, arranged in a row.

The Best Booster Car Seats

by Rebecca Gale

After researching over 50 booster car seats and testing 13, we’ve concluded that the convenient Chicco KidFit ClearTex Plus is the best overall choice.

The two travel strollers we recommend, the Uppababy Minu V2 and the Baby Jogger City Tour 2 Stroller, standing next to each other.

The Best Travel Strollers

by Elise Czajkowski

After testing seven travel strollers on various trips and excursions, we’re confident that the Uppababy Minu V2 is the one to get.

Two infant car seats side by side, with baby toys.

The Best Infant Car Seats

by Christina Szalinski

After extensive research and field testing, we found that the Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX is the best infant car seat for most families.

Highway sign indicating meltdown ahead in half mile.

Traveling With Little Kids Can Be Tough. The Right Gear Can Help.

by Kerry Davis McGuinness

From compact car seats and cribs to portable blackout shades and white noise machines, the right tools for travel can lead to less fuss—and more fun.

Have Baby Will Travel

The Best FAA-Approved Car Seats for Travel

A look at the best FAA-approved car seats for travel.

What Are the Best FAA-Approved Car Seats for Travel?

We can all agree that the safest place for a baby on a plane is in their own seat, in their own FAA-approved car seat.

We can also all agree that lugging a bulky, heavy car seat through an airport is about the last thing anyone wants to do.

Are you purchasing a car seat with the knowledge that you’ll be doing a fair amount of travel? Or maybe you’re deciding to make the investment in a second car seat specifically for travel?

Here are your best travel car seat choices based on weight, “lug-a-bility,” and affordability…

The Best FAA-Approved Car Seats for Travel:

travel car seat for 6 month old

Cosco Mighty Fit 65

The Cosco Scenera was our travel car seat of choice, due to its light weight (just over 10lbs), low price (around $50 in the US–more in Canada, natch), and ease of installation. Let us mourn the Scenera but updated equivalent is the Mighty Fit 65 . It is a bit more expensive and two pounds heavier. You can rear face to 40lbs and it’s good for forward-facing kids up to 65lbs. Although, depending on how big your kids are, they may grow out of it height-wise a little sooner.

The Costo Mighty Fit 65 ‘s  limit for height rear-facing is 40″, and 49″ for forward-facing children. My son outgrew the Scenera when he was three, but he lives at the top of the percentile charts. The Mighty Fit 65 ‘s limits are considerably higher.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Safety 1st Jive 2-in-1

This car seat is a little heavier at 14 pounds, and a little more expensive at around $100. But, its height and weight limits are much higher than the Scenera ’s (and most other car seats, for that matter). So, you just might get a bit more use out of it. The Safety 1st Jive 2-in1 ‘s rear-facing limits are 36″ for height and 40lbs for weight, and forward facing your child can remain harnessed until 52″ and 65lbs. Plus it comes in some super cute Disney styles 🙂

travel car seat for 6 month old

Graco Admiral 65/Contender 65

The Graco Admiral 65 and Graco Contender 65 are not exactly the same convertible car seats. But they are very similar. The Admiral is few pounds heavier and a little bit more expensive than the Contender , but both are lightweight and affordable choices for an FAA-approved car seat for travel. Both have a built-in cup holder that’s super handy, and both have harnesses and headrests that adjust with a handle without needing to re-thread the straps.

Both seats are good for rear-facing from 5-40lbs and forward-facing from 22-65lbs.

travel britax, faa-approved travel car seats, best faa approved car seats, faa approved car seats for travel, travel with car seat, travel car seats

Britax Emblem Convertible Car Seat

At just under 20lbs, this is the heaviest car seat recommended here. But, for a Britax, that’s pretty light. It retails for around $250 USD. The Britax Emblem fits most traditional airline seats, though rear-facing might be a bit of a struggle. You could very likely use this seat until it expires (seven years)… It’s good for rear-facing for 5-40 lbs, or until there is only 1″ of shell above child’s head, and forward-facing 20-65 lbs, and a height of 49″ or less. And Britax has their own line of travel accessories, including a padded car seat travel bag , and a car seat travel cart .

faa-approved car seat, travel car seats, travel harness, car seat for travel, travel harness for plane

CARES Harness

I’m not trying to trick you. This is not technically a car seat. But the CARES Harness is the only FAA-approved car seat alternative that’s available on the market and is a great option if you won’t need a car seat at your destination. This is really for older toddlers and preschoolers, since it’s designed for children one year and older weighing 22 – 44 pounds and up to 40″ tall.

Please note that other baby travel vests and seat belt extenders are NOT approved by the FAA. They must be removed from baby during take-off and landing (but ideally not used at all).

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51 Responses to The Best FAA-Approved Car Seats for Travel

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Pinning! My family is out of the car seat phase, but I’m sure not all my followers are, so I want to share these tips.

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Great information! I love the CARES!

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Had no idea. Really useful information. Thank you! Slightly surprised something from Costco made the list, but if it’s easy to install as you say, it sounds like a winner.

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Cosco not Costco. I have made that mistake before. It’s a different company.

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I have been researching cares it does not say it’s FAA approved. Where did you get that information ? I really want one but don’t want to invest in it to be told I can’t use it on an airplane.

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Hi Jill! You can see that the FAA approves the CARES harness here on the FAA’s page: http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/

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FAA does approve the CARES but the passenger in the seat behind you might not! The upper strap goes around the back of the seat and the passenger behind you will have issues with their tray table. They can tell the flight crew to have it removed and it will be removed. Personal experience and also know of others that have had same experience after I did. Wish I knew before I spent the money for something I didn’t even get to use.

That is the first I’ve heard of that happening, Kathy. I’m so sorry to hear it.

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Thoughts on the Diono Radian RXT for flying?

It’s really heavy!

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Is there a car seat that is FAA approved that has a stroller snap in function? Or are the FAA approved seats only a car seat?

The infant bucket seats are mostly all FAA-approved and they generally snap into a stroller frame. But I have yet to learn of a convertible car seat that does that.

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I just flew with a coccoro and a radian. They both hooked nicely into my Joovy Caboose. The coccoro on the front with the car seat adapter and the radian faced forward on the platform seat and I strapped it on to the handle. Baby rode in the coccoro and toddler on my back. Luggage sat on the radian. Both seats installed wonderfully on frontier. Only trouble was getting an attendant to help carry the radian onboard…. They quickly helped getting off because they wanted to leave….

Awesome–thank you, Kristin! So glad it worked out!

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Would you please be able to help me? My family and I are traveling with our 2 year old toddler on an international 13 hour flight and have purchased a ticket for her. Upon asking the airline if there were any restrictions in regards to a toddler convertible car seat, they stated that the measurements for the car seat must be 40cm by 40 cm in order to fit the airline seat. After extensive researching I have not been able to find an FAA approved convertible car seat with those dimensions. I am really afraid of traveling on such a long flight of over 6000 miles without my tiny 2 year old being strapped in a car seat. can you please help recommending one per the airlines guidelines? Airline is Turkish Airlines if that’s of any help. Thanks in advance

Hi Rosal! The Combi Coccoro is the narrowest FAA-approved convertible car seat available. It’s pretty expensive and the lower height/weight limits means kids will outgrow it pretty fast, but if your two-year-old is pretty teeny you may be ok. Failing that, have you considered a CARES harness ? If you’ll have a car seat where you’re going, or if you’re cool gate-checking your car seat, you won’t have to worry about installing the seat and your toddler will be safer than just with the seat belt. Good luck!

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DIONO RXT is narrower, only 15” 🙂 Yes it is heavy but due to its steel frame, which makes it probably the safest one… Also it folds flat (none of other seats do that) and you can carry it like a backpack.

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I can highly recommend the Britax Marathon Convertible G4.1 – perhaps not initially obvious to most due to its weight and carrying it through the airport for example isnt easy along with everything else but the seat is confortable and secure. If you dont mind checking your seat, this is the best in my opinion 🙂

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Hi I’m a mom of two girls. And this will be our first time flying with kids. I’ve heard that strollers are free. What about two car seats that I personally own? Would I need to gate check them? Or since my oldest is 2.5 years would she need to ride in the car seat? I’m so confused and nervous.

Thanks, Rebecca

Hi Rebecca! Your 2.5yr old can certainly ride in her car seat on the plane, and she may prefer it. Your baby might as well, but you would have to purchase him or her a seat. Depending on the airline, they will likely allow you to gate check the strollers and the car seats. I recommend using a padded carry-on bag to protect the car seats. Try not to stress! You will do great.

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Do you have to pay for a car seat as a carry on?

Usually not — when you’re flying with a baby they typically allow you to bring your seat on board to install so long as you’ve purchased a seat for baby. If not, if it fits in normal carry on that can work or else gate check it.

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Hello Corinne, thank you for this information, it is very useful. I usually fly from Canada to Argentina overnight…. yes, it is a very long flight and first class is way out of my league. The longest flight is about 10 hours. I am looking for a car seat that is also comfortable to sleep in for so many hours… Also, do you know if at some point I can take my 2 year old daughter off the carseat and lay her down on the airplane seat to give her some comfort? Will the airline take the car seat away for me??? Any tips for such long flight are very welcome! Thank you

Hi Maria! That is quite the flight! I’m not certain if one car seat is more comfortable than another for sleeping. But if you bring it on-board, you will have to use it for her because there is nowhere to store them on-board. With that said, a 2-year-old is not required to be in a car seat in an airplane seat, so another option may be the CARES Harness that will keep her safely buckled minus the car seat. Installing a seat rear-facing usually offers the best recline for sleep, so if she’s still within the rear-facing limit of the seat, that could be a way to keep her the most comfortable. Good luck!

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Hi Corinne, I was wondering if there’s a list of approved car seat companies somewhere on the internet? I have the Graco Forever car seat and would like to know if that is airline approved. Understanding the restraints are very much similar to the buckle on his car seat, the restrains will still be new to my son therefore I am almost certain my 2 year old son would be terrified by it.

Hi Shirley! If your car seat is FAA approved, it will have a round sticker on it that says so. The Graco 4Ever is approved for airline use in harness mode by the FAA. Keep in mind this is a larger, heavier seat that will be a bit awkward to travel with!

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I just wonder these are convertible car seats? Your tips and guides are cool. Thanks for your reviews about these great car seats for babies.

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If purchasing a seat in Canada is there any way to ensure it has the right FAA approvals without actually seeing the seat. Web sites that ship in Canada or are .ca sites only list the CMVSS 213 standard and nothing else from what I have been able to find. Is there any store or site that you know routinely sells seats that have the FAA stickers on them?

Hi Randy! The sticker should say “Approved for Airplane Use.” It’s usually round and is on all seats purchased in Canada and the US. If you discover that your seat does not have the sticker, you can contact the manufacturer and they should be able to mail it to you. Good luck!

Yes our seat does have the round sticker for CMVSS 213 which is the Canadian standard. But airlines outside of Canada do not recognize this standard and seem to default to FAA rules as they are the dominant agency in flying. Your idea of phoning the manufacturer was great. But I just got off the phone with Graco and they will not send out stickers.

It appears to me that the only way to get an FAA approved seat is to go to the US and buy one. It is a real catch 22.

With so many people flying internationally we cannot be the only ones concerned with this problem. I airlines are also not flexible as I have also talked with them.

Having your seat rejected is a big gamble when you are looking at 14 hours of flying time.

Wow–thanks for following up. Short of buying a car seat in the U.S. perhaps traveling with your seat’s user manual might help. But you’re right, it would be awful to board and have your seat refused.

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Hiya.. I’m planned my air trip with my 8 months old girl..booked seat for her ..what kind of car seat should I buy.. Plz any suggestion ..really in need

Hi Kalai! Will this be your 2nd car seat used mostly for travel?

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Nice and informative article. This article helps me. Keep doing this.

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You really provided great information to us. This is really helpful. Thanks for sharing.

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Are any of the Recaro seats approved? I’m pretty sure I have the Performance Sport version, but I’m not sure. I am dreading my 12-hr 1-layover flight back home, especially with a car seat. Seeing my mom after 2 years and trying to surprise her.

Can you check to see if it has a sticker and/or if you still have the manual?

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Very informative post. It helped me a lot for choosing a car seat for my baby. Thanks for sharing.

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Hi! We recently ordered and received a Combi Coccoro, which you mention is FAA approved for use on aircraft. However, I do not see the “FAA Approved” sticker anywhere on it. This is particularly important. On a recent trip with our daughter, we brought along our UppaBaby Mesa car seat and were not allowed to bring it aboard, until we could show the flight attendant this sticker on the bottom of it. Can you let me know where to find this important sticker? Thanks!!!

Hi Doug! The sticker should be located underneath, on the inside leg of the seat. It should be a square white label with black and red writing that reads “Approved for vehicle and aircraft use.” Please get in touch with Combi asap if it isn’t there.

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Hello, this is such a nice and informative blog. It will help me with choosing a car seat for my baby. Thanks for sharing.

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Hi, I was just wondering why no one has mentioned using a Peg Perego 4/35 Primo Viaggio infant car seat on board an airplane, as it has a visible approved aircraft sticker on the back of it and meets European standards. As well as being the safest car seat in Canada. Cheers

Hi Anna! We loved the Primo Viaggio but the reason I didn’t include it is because it is pretty heavy and expensive compared to other seats. I may do another post specifically on infant carrier seats, so thanks for the idea!

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Hello! I will be traveling wit my 2 children for the first time this March and have a few questions. My 2 year old is 30 lbs and about 30 or so inches and I was leaning towards the CARES infant harness restraint. My 5 years old is 42lbs and about 46″, do you think he still needs something or would I be okay with having him just sit in the airline seat? Thank you so much!

Hi Amber, Your 5yo will be just fine in the airline seat. Depending on your trip, you may want to consider a booster for getting around once you’re there.

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Hello. Traveling with my 3 yr old. He’s 43” y’all and 42lbs. I currently have him in a click tight britax but want to purchase a harness booster for air travel and then transition him in my car. Which harness booster do you recommend? Also, am I allowed to insist he’s in a booster on flight? I’m not comfortable flying without. I purchased a seat for him and even upgraded to larger seats with more leg room in hopes he can travel in the booster. Other than the evenflo chase which I read horrible reviews for, are there any other seats you’d recommend? Thanks!

Hi Michelle, You can’t use booster seats on flights. They must be harnessed car seats. You can try the CARES harness but you will still need a car seat/booster at your destination and then the RideSafer travel vest at your destination. Or you can purchase a lighter weight car seat. There are decent reviews for the Evenflo Maestro or Graco Tranzitions. Good luck!

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Just got off the phone with British Airways. They informed me regardless of the seat used, infants and toddlers must be in the parents lap during take-off and landing. In between they can be in whatever seat you like, FAA approved or not doesn’t matter as its parents’ responsibility. Is this what other people have experienced? We have a maxi cosi pebble plus for our 5month old, and were wondering about lightweight options for our 17th month old. We are renting a car so will need a seat rather than a plain harness

Hi Rudi! That must be an airline-specific policy for British Airways. I don’t think that has been the experience of anyone I’ve spoken with when using a car seat on a plane but I guess you have to take their word for it. We loved the Cosco Scenera NEXT for travel with older babies. Very lightweight and very affordable.

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So I will be traveling in March with a 6 month old a two year old and 9 year old. The flight is only 4 hours but I want to know what would be a good car seat for my 6 month old I am not too stressed about the other two kids because they are both tall for their age and will have a seat to their self. I will be flying Frontier and I know that most of their planes are small. What would be a good option for me.

Hi Amber! Your six-month-old will likely still be in their infant carrier car seat. Most of those can be installed without the base . The baby will be too small to face forward in a convertible seat and anything in that range installed rear-facing will be just as big, if not bigger, than an infant seat. If you purchase the seat for your baby on the flight, the airline must accommodate your car seat in the way in which it should be installed. Print out these FAA guidelines for back up. “ A CRS must be installed in a forward-facing aircraft seat, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. This includes placing the CRS in the appropriate forward- or aft-facing direction as indicated on the label for the size of the child. ” Good luck!

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The 7 Best Travel Car Seats of 2024

These top picks combine convenience and peace of mind

Jordi is a freelance contributor to TripSavvy. Her personal passions gravitate toward wellness and adventure, leading her to frequently plan trips that blend zen relaxation with urban and rugged exploration.

travel car seat for 6 month old

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Traveling with small children is a great way to make memories. You expose little ones to new experiences and see the world through their eyes. But there are still everyday tasks to worry about on the road, from meal times to naps. Safety is the top priority, of course, and this means ensuring your kids have a good car seat. If you're flying and/or frequently switching cars, the thought of lugging around the car seat you have perfectly installed in your vehicle can seem daunting. Luckily, many companies make travel car seats lighter and easier to install on the go. These models also emphasize portability and legroom for your child to grow into. To find the best choice for you, we looked closely at the installation process, weight ratings, and certification status of some of the most popular options on the market today.

Final Verdict

  • What to Look For

Why Trust TripSavvy

Best overall, cosco scenera next convertible car seat.

 Amazon

Easy to carry

Budget friendly

Sizing issues for older childen

The Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat receives excellent marks for lightness and simplicity. This affordable car seat is a great choice for those who already have a regular car seat but need a second option for traveling. Safety features include side-impact protection built into the headrest and a five-point harness that adjusts to accommodate your growing child. The car seat can be used rear-facing for kiddos 5 to 40 pounds and 19 to 40 inches tall or front-facing for those 22 to 40 pounds or 29 to 43 inches tall. The car seat will last from infancy through toddlerhood.

Use the LATCH connectors or a seat belt to secure the car seat in any rental car or taxi. It's also designed with air travel in mind: It's FAA-approved and lightweight at just 7 pounds. Additionally, its 17.5-inch width makes it a good fit for most airline seats. Other highlights include a removable, machine-washable, and dryer-safe car seat pad and a dishwasher-safe cup holder. Colors range from Moon Mist Grey to Ocean Breeze.

Dimensions: 17.6 x 15.8 x 30.3 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 40 pounds | Installation Type: LATCH

Runner-Up, Best Overall

Evenflo tribute lx convertible car seat.

Multiple shoulder harness positions

Easy buckle release

Easy to install

Higher price point

At just over 9 pounds and 18.5 inches in width, the FAA-approved Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat is compact enough to fit in most vehicles and airplane seats. In addition, the car seat offers side impact protection and a five-point harness to give you peace of mind. If you'd like additional features like a removable head pillow for maintaining proper infant head positioning, that's also an option; you'll just have to pay slightly more for the upgraded model.

Use the up-front harness adjustment system to get your child in and out of the seat quickly. Four shoulder strap positions and two crotch buckle positions let you adjust the harness as they grow. This seat is designed to be used rear-facing or front-facing according to your child's weight, height, and age. When rear-facing, the car seat reclines and is suitable for kids 5 to 40 pounds and 19 to 37 inches tall. When forward-facing, it's rated for kids between 22 to 40 pounds and 28 to 40 inches tall. Color options include Abigail (pink) and Neptune (blue).

Dimensions: ‎18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 40 pounds | Installation Type: LATCH

Best Lightweight

Wayb pico travel car seat.

Very compact

Comes with a travel bag

Only for toddlers and older

Car seats are a hassle to travel with because they're bulky, heavy, and unwieldy. Luckily, this travel car seat by Wayb won't add much extra weight to your suitcase. Weighing under 8 pounds, the FAA-approved Pico Travel Car Seat is easy to transport everywhere you go. It's front-facing and can hold kids between 22 to 55 pounds or measuring 30 to 45 inches tall. It has an AeroWing aluminum frame that is durable yet lightweight, and the AstroKnit performance mesh lining will keep your kids comfortable throughout their journey. Best of all, this car seat folds into a small enough package to store in overhead bins and comes with a carrying bag that can slip onto your suitcase.

Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 20 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 50 pounds | Installation Type: LATCH or car/airplane seatbelt

Most Compact

Safety 1st guide 65 convertible car seat.

Large weight range

Sleek design

Machine washable cover

Complaints about installation

Safety 1st's Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat weighs 14 pounds; it's sturdy enough for everyday use yet light enough for travel. This car seat's frame is so compact that you could place three in the back of your car, making it an excellent option for larger families or smaller European rental cars. Plus, it can accommodate a wide range of weights, making it a budget-friendly pick that can last for years. It's for children that weigh between 5 and 40 pounds to use in a rear-facing position and children 22 to 65 pounds to use in a front-facing position.

Side-impact protection and five harnesses that adjust in the center ensure your child stays secure throughout their ride and help deflect impact away from their head, neck, and spine in the event of an accident. Other safety features include three buckle locations and an adjustable headrest. This car seat also has a LATCH connector system, making it easy to take the seat in and out of the car quickly. Both the cushion and cup holder are removable for easy cleanup. It's available in multiple colors.

Dimensions: 27.3 x 18.5 x 20.3 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 65 pounds | Installation Type: LATCH

Best for Bigger Kids

Graco extend2fit convertible car seat.

Harness storage makes loading and unloading easy

Rigorously crash tested

Several adjustable features

Most of the car seats on this list are appropriate for children up to 40 pounds, but the Graco Extend2Fit is rated for up to 65 pounds. It also allows children up to 50 pounds to ride rear-facing and provides an extra 5 inches of legroom. This, plus a headrest that can also be adjusted to 10 different positions, ensures the child is comfortable and secure as they grow.

Two integrated cup holders keep juice bottles within easy reach and help to prevent spills. While there are multiple ways to install this model, it is easy to remember after the first time. Although this seat is designed with car travel in mind , it is FAA-approved. If you're flying economy class, consider calling ahead to check that the restraint is compatible with the airline seat.

Dimensions: 21.5 x 19.5 x 23.5 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 65 pounds | Installation Type: InRight LATCH

Best Booster Combo

Cosco finale dx 2-in-1 booster car seat.

Can fit three across

Easy to clean

Accommodates older children

Durability complaints

If you're shopping for a child aged 12 months or older, the Cosco Finale DX 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat will last from toddlerhood until after they start school. It has a 10-year lifespan and can be used as a forward-facing car seat or as a high-back booster seat. As a car seat, it's appropriate for kids between 30 to 65 pounds and 32 to 49 inches in height. The five-point harness has three different height settings, and the LATCH connectors can be used until your child reaches 50 pounds. In addition, the FAA approves the Cosco Finale for aircraft use in its car seat capacity.

It suits kids between 40 to 100 pounds and 43 to 52 inches in height as a booster seat. Its 17-inch width and 9-pound weight make it ideal for quick transfers between rental cars, taxis, and family cars back home. Other useful features include a removable cup holder and a machine washable cover in colors that range from Dusk (grey) to Sweet Berry (pale pink). Lastly, thrifty families will appreciate this seat's affordable price tag.

Dimensions: 18.3 x 19 x 29.8 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 100 pounds | Installation Type: LATCH or seatbelt

Most Innovative

Maxi-cosi pria max 3-in-1 convertible car seat.

Easy to buckle

If you don't want to invest in multiple car seats, the Pria Max 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is your best bet. It can handle children from birth to 10 years old, making it one of the most versatile options on the market. Plus, the high-end brand makes each stage supremely comfortable for your child and easy for adults to use. It has a spring-assist harness system, so the straps don't get tangled; a one-hand magnetic chest clip; a simple integrated headrest and harness system, so you don't have to rethread as your tot grows; and machine-washable fabric. Keep in mind it comes with a hefty price tag and heavier weight.

Dimensions: 25.3 x 24 x 19.9 inches | Weight Rating: Up to 100 pounds | Installation Type: LATCH or seatbelt

The Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat is light, FAA-approved, and supports young travelers up to 40 pounds. We love the accessible price point and easy-to-clean cover. If you're shopping for a toddler or older but still want to prioritize portability, go for the Wayb Pico Travel Car Seat .

What to Look For in Travel Car Seats

Installation.

All models on our list use LATCH systems and some can also be installed using the vehicle's seat belt, but you should never use both anchoring methods together. LATCH, also known as Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, is an alternative way of securing the car seat to the vehicle without using the seat belt. Both the vehicle and the car seat must have LATCH parts to install the seat properly, but most car seats (and vehicles manufactured after 2002) will do so. The car seat has straps that come from the bottom and a tether at the top. These attach to the lower anchors in the car, found in the space between the rear back seat and seat cushion, and to the top anchor, which could be near the rear window or on the car ceiling. When in doubt, check the vehicle manual and seat instructions.

Weight Rating

Like their everyday counterparts, travel car seats include maximum weight ratings that must be adhered to. Additionally, your decision to install the car seat front- or rear-facing is based on the weight and height of your child. Most models can transition from rear- to front-facing as your tot grows, or even from front-facing to a booster seat like the Cosco Finale DX . Consider the kid's age, weight, height, and the manufacturer's notes to choose a travel seat that will give you the longest practical use.

Certification Status

Most importantly, the car seat you buy should meet all safety standards. If you're flying, look for an FAA-approved or similarly aircraft-approved seat.

"All legal car seats must meet the same crash test criteria, or safety standards, and be properly labeled," said Amie Durocher, a CPS Tech at SafeRide4Kids.com. "If you are worried about counterfeit car seats, check the label. Certified seats in the U.S. are required to have very specific language on the labels. Beware if it doesn't mention federal motor vehicle safety standards or FMVSS213 or if it lacks a model name or number or manufacture date."

Yes, you can travel with a car seat on the plane —and it's actually recommended. "We recommend that parents purchase a seat even for children under two who could be 'lap babies' and use the FAA-approved child restraint on the airplane," said Durocher. "This makes it safer for the child—and the parent—in case of an incident during take-off or landing and in case of turbulence during the flight."

The hardest part of traveling with a car seat is figuring out the logistics through the airport. “Infant car seats that click onto a compatible stroller are easy, but travelers might need a car seat cart, luggage strap, or bungee cords to lug a convertible car seat through the airport,” said Michelle Pratt, founder and owner of Safe in the Seat. “Some people prefer to check their stroller with their luggage and use a car seat cart to get their child and seat through the airport easily. Others babywear or let their toddler walk and load up their stroller with all their gear, then gate check the stroller planeside.”

“Rear-facing is the safest way for kids to ride in the car, but it’s not always possible on planes due to the tighter space,” added Pratt. “If the car seat fits rear-facing on the plane, that’s best. But kids who rear-face in the car can forward-face on the plane if they are at least 1 year old and meet their car seat’s forward-facing requirements. Then they seamlessly go back to rear-facing in the car at the destination.”

Author Jordi Lippe-McGraw has researched and written about travel and lifestyle products for nearly a decade. She is also the mom of a 3-year-old. When making this list, she researched dozens of products, looking at key specs like dimensions and weight rating and the number of positive and negative reviews. While researching the best travel car seats, we spoke with Amie Durocher , a CPS Tech at SafeRide4Kids.com, and Michelle Pratt , founder and owner of Safe in the Seat.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. " Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) Restraint System ." Accessed Feb 6th, 2023.

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The 8 Best Travel Car Seats of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

We rounded up the best travel-friendly car seats to keep your kids safe wherever you go.

travel car seat for 6 month old

In This Article

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  • Our top picks
  • Others We Liked

Our Testing Process

  • Tips for Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more .

Travel + Leisure / Cassie Aulie

Traveling with children can be a gratifying and enriching experience, but family vacations are also challenging because of the extra items you need to pack (and carry), including a car seat, which adds quite a lot of bulk to your luggage. That's why we set out to find the most compact, travel-friendly, lightweight, and easy-to-install car seats on the market right now.

We combed through results and feedback from three different real-world car seat tests in which we tested a total of 57 car seats, looking specifically for portable, travel-friendly options. We rating each of our picks on several factors like design, features, ease of cleaning, value, and — most importantly — safety. Below, we rounded up eight of the best travel car seats to consider for your next family getaway.

Best Overall

Graco contender slim convertible car seat.

  • Design 4.7 /5
  • Ease of Installation 4.8 /5
  • Durability 5 /5
  • Safety 4.6 /5

It is an excellent fit for compact cars.

The chest buckle is large and bulky.

Lugging around a heavy car seat in addition to your luggage is not pleasant, but this car seat will make your life so much easier. Not only is it the lightest car seat on our list, but it is also the slimmest, making it an excellent choice for both compact and larger vehicles (or for larger families who need to fit more than one car seat in the backseat). Installation took us about 15 minutes, and then it was pretty intuitive to use. It has several inserts that help you customize it for your child, including an infant insert with extra padding, eight headrest heights, and two reclining positions.

It also has a removable cup for snacks and drinks that you can place on either side of the seat. And while we only had to spot-clean it, if you need to wash the entire cover, you can take it off and throw it in the washing machine. The fabric is breathable and has held up exceptionally well after over a month of use.

The Details: Weighs 16 pounds; holds 65 pounds | 24.75 x 18.9 x 21.5 inches | Rear and forward modes | Belt- and latch-compatible

Travel + Leisure

Best Rotating

Evenflo gold revolve360 convertible car seat.

  • Design 5 /5
  • Ease of Installation 5 /5
  • Safety 5 /5

It’s easy to install and rotates 360 degrees.

It would be nice if it had a built-in sunshade.

Four minutes: that's exactly how much time it took us to install this Evenflo car seat after watching the instructional video. It was an incredibly easy-to-follow process, and we found the audible click and level indicator super helpful. But the most impressive feature of this convertible car seat is its ability to rotate 360 degrees, which is a complete game-changer for parents (seriously, our team member who tested this car seat said it spoiled them into "never using a car seat that doesn't have this feature"). This means that the seat can transform into rear- or forward-facing in seconds without the need to uninstall the entire seat and base. Just pull one of the two levers on either side and start rotating it. This feature also makes it super convenient to place your child in the seat and buckle them because you no longer have to bend at an awkward angle. 

Comfort is also a standout feature, and the upholstery fabric of this car seat felt soft, breathable, and very high-quality (cleaning it is also a breeze). The overall padding of the car seat and the generous recline positions also contribute to a more comfortable trip. And finally, while this is not the lightest car seat at 40.6 pounds, its design is quite compact, and even if you install it in a smaller vehicle, you will be left with a good amount of legroom and recline space for the seat in front. 

Shoppers should also note that the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance (OVSC) is currently evaluating this car seat .

The Details: Weighs 40.6 pounds; holds up to 120 pounds | 25.9 x 19.8 x 21 inches | Rear, forward, and booster modes | Belt- and latch-compatible

Best for Compact Cars

Diono radian 3rxt convertible car seat.

 Amazon

  • Design 4.8 /5
  • Ease of Installation 4.5 /5
  • Durability 4.9 /5

The seat folds, making it easy to carry.

The initial installation takes more time than some of the other options on this list.

When renting a large car is not always possible, this Diono car seat is the way to go. First, it's much easier to carry (and store) because of its slim, foldable design. And while the installation took us a while compared to others on this list (about 45 minutes to an hour), we found it to be a perfect match for a smaller vehicle similar to a Fiat 500. 

Second, buckling and unbuckling is super intuitive, and the straps never get tangled up. And even after a year of constant use, the fabric is in excellent condition with few signs of wear and tear other than some light fading. You can also remove the cover and machine-wash it, another very convenient feature. 

Third, we love that even though the seat is about 17 inches wide, it features additional padding and side protection without compromising comfort. Lastly, this car seat is also FAA-approved, so feel free to fly with it.

The Details: Weights 30.6 pounds; holds up to 120 pounds | 17 x 28.5 x 16 inches | Rear, forward, and booster modes | Latch

Best With Stroller

Doona car seat and stroller.

  • Assembly 4 /5
  • Portability 5 /5
  • Maneuverability 4.8 /5

The wheels fold up and attach to the seat.

There is no storage space, and you need to purchase the base separately. 

There is a reason the Doona car seat is a best-seller and an all-time parent favorite. It's all in the smart design that combines a car seat and a stroller in one compact product. Unlike other models, the wheels of this car seat collapse under it so you can latch it into its base (sold separately). Basically, you can bid adieu to lugging a stroller and a car seat. This is the ultimate travel-friendly stroller/car seat combo for infants and toddlers up to 35 pounds. We recommend you take your time to read the folding and unfolding instructions before you use it. It took us some time to figure out what each button was for and how to attach it to the base correctly, but it was smooth sailing once we got the hang of it.

The Doona is upholstered in a cooling bamboo fabric for added comfort, and it has a canopy for shade. The car seat also scored an almost perfect rating in our maneuverability category during testing — it was a breeze pushing it even with one hand. The brake was easy to engage and disengage, so this is the perfect option for a city vacation or a road trip that requires you to quickly transport your baby in and out of the car.

The Details: Weights 16.5 pounds; holds up to 35 pounds | 26 x 17.4 x 22.4 inches (folded) | Rear-facing | Latch and belt

Most Durable

Graco extend2fit 3-in-1 car seat.

  • Safety 4.8 /5

An extendable panel provides extra legroom.

The shoulder straps are difficult to adjust.

We tested this car seat for over two years, and it has held up exceptionally well against wear and tear, spills, and everything a toddler can (literally) throw at it. Graco makes some of the sturdiest, most durable car seats by focusing on quality and safety, and this is exactly why we included the Extend2Fit model in this list.

The car seat is easy to install (it took us about 20 minutes), and even if you're setting it up in a smaller vehicle, it leaves plenty of legroom and recline space. We appreciated the two deep cup holders that are perfect for holding sippy cups and snacks (and bonus points for how easy they are to clean). This car seat has a unique feature that accommodates growing kids — a retractable panel provides five extra inches of legroom, making it safer for taller infants and toddlers to ride in a rear-facing position.

The Details: Weighs 19 pounds; holds up to 65 pounds | 24.5 x 20.75 x 19 inches | Rear and forward modes | Latch

Most Comfortable

Safety 1st grow and go lx convertible car seat.

  • Ease of Installation 4 /5

You can use the footrest in both rear- and forward-facing positions.

 It is a bit tricky to install.

Looking for a car seat to keep your little one comfortable during long road trips? This one scored perfect ratings in almost all categories thanks to its easy use, design, durability, and overall value. Its size is generous (so it may not be a great fit for compact vehicles) and provides ample space for kids to grow into without compromising on padding and safety.

Safety 1st updated this model with a footrest that really impressed us because you can use it in rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster positions so your child's feet will not dangle for hours. We also love that the removable cups are dishwasher-safe and come with convenient lids to prevent messes (but in any case, the cover is removable and machine-washable). The car seat we tested still looks new, and the fabric seems spill-resistant.

The Details: Weighs 20 pounds; holds up to 100 pounds | 23.5 x 19 x 25 inches | Rear, forward, and booster modes | Latch and belt

Best for Multiple Age Groups

Graco 3-in-1 rotating car seat.

It is super easy to install and accommodates various age groups.

This rotating car seat works better in larger cars and may be a tight squeeze in smaller vehicles.

Your child should be all set for years to come with Graco's convertible car seat, which accommodates children up to 100 pounds. It rotates in a rear-facing position so you can get your baby in and out of it more easily. As for securing your child, the buckles are extremely easy to use, and the straps stay in sync — meaning that if you loosen one, the other will loosen automatically, too. And with four reclining positions, your child will be comfortable whether they are taking a nap, eating a snack, or playing.

We tested this car seat in a mid-size SUV, and it left plenty of reclining space for the seat in front. However, if you install it in a smaller vehicle, it might be a much tighter situation. And speaking of the installation, it only took us 17 minutes to read the instructions, watch the YouTube video, and install it. Finally, this seat grows with your child as it can accommodate kids weighing from four to 100 pounds. 

The Details: Weighs 30 pounds; holds up to 100 pounds | 19.1 x 24.4 x 20.8 inches | Rear, forward, and booster modes | Latch

Easiest Installation

Britax emblem 3-stage convertible car seat.

  • Design 4.5 /5
  • Safety 4 /5
  • Value 4.5 /5

This no-fuss car seat is quick to install, and it only weighs 19 pounds.

There are no extra features such as cup holders or sensors.

If you're in the market for a no-fuss, easy-to-use car seat, this is it. Installation is standard (although you will still have to read the instructions to do it), and once you've practiced a couple of times, you will be able to install it pretty fast in any vehicle. We tested it in a sedan and an SUV, and it fits well in both (although the SUV was a slightly better fit). Thanks to the excellent design, using it is a breeze. Buckling your child, adjusting the harness, and reclining is intuitive and stress-free, which is exactly what you need when you're on the road. And while it may not have many bells and whistles, it provides excellent padding, and the fabric is soft and pillowy without feeling scratchy. 

The Details: Weighs 19.5 pounds; holds up to 65 pounds | 21 x 18.3 x 26 inches | Rear and forward modes | Latch

Other Car Seats We Liked

We tested so many car seats that we think there are a few more worth mentioning, although we didn't love them quite as much as the others on our main list.

Baby Jogger City Sights Travel System: This stroller and car seat combo is a good option for parents looking for a two-in-one. The stroller is easy to maneuver and collapses into a pretty compact and travel-friendly size. The car seat has a weight capacity of 35 pounds, so it can only be used in a rear-facing position.

Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat : This rear-facing car seat can accommodate children up to 50 pounds, which is impressive (however, keep in mind that the seat itself is almost 28 pounds). The straps and the buckles are very easy to use and don't get in the way when you place your child in and out of the seat.

We used results from three real-world tests in which we reviewed convertible car seats, rotating convertible car seats, and car seat stroller combos to find our favorite travel-friendly options. We sorted through feedback from 57 car seats we tested, looking at weight, size, and performance. Each car seat on our list was rated on a scale from one to five according to its performance in multiple categories, including ease of installation, ease of use, design, features, safety, value, and more.

We also consulted Ben Hoffman, MD, a pediatrician and nationally recognized expert in child injury prevention and education, to ensure the safety of the products we chose for real-life tests. In addition, every car seat meets the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) standards.

Tips for Buying a Travel Car Seat

Look for portability.

Portability is one of the major factors differentiating a standard car seat from one you'll mostly use while traveling. Consider its weight and size: opt for lighter and more compact car seats that you can carry without compromising safety features. Some car seats fold or feature collapsible stroller wheels — all features that come in handy when you're on the road or in transit. 

Consider ease of installation

When you're just getting off a long-haul flight and need to get in the car and drive for hours, the last thing you want is to waste time installing a car seat. That's why your travel car seat should be simple to install and use. Check if the vehicle you are setting it up in accommodates a latch or belt car seat, and make sure that yours can comfortably fit in the back seat of whatever size car you may be renting. Then, read through the installation instructions or watch the video, and make sure you don't need another adult to help you safely install it. 

Pay attention to your child's weight and height

Every car seat has strict weight and height limits to ensure your child's safety. Some might also have age restrictions, but they are not as important as children are different and grow at their own pace.Make sure you weigh and measure your child before purchasing a travel car seat. The good thing about convertible car seats is that you can use them in both rear- and forward-facing positions as your child grows so you don't have to invest in a new car seat every few years.

Some car seats come with travel bags with handles to make carrying easier. If yours doesn't have one, you can probably purchase it from the maker's website or find one that accommodates its size on Amazon. Certain bags even feature wheels to roll the car seat through the airport. If your car seat is oversized, you will be asked to check it in at the airport, so it's essential to place it in a protective bag and inspect it for damage as soon as you get it back.

Yes, but you must first ensure the car seat is FAA-approved (it will say so on the car seat). In fact, while using a car seat on a plane is not required, the FAA recommends it to ensure your little one's safety in case of turbulence, for example. If traveling on an international airline outside the U.S., check with that airline's policies, size limitations, and guidelines before your trip, as some international airlines do not allow car seats on board. Usually, using a booster seat during a flight is not an issue with airlines, and it doesn't count toward your carry-on luggage allowance.

The short answer is yes. Airlines will usually check in a car seat, stroller, or a child restraint system for free (one per child). However, the tricky part is that if you're not traveling with a child, you might have to pay to check in the car seat, so in this case, it's always best to contact the airline before your trip.

Most car rental companies offer car seats as an add-on for a fee, so if you don't want to invest in one or carry it with you, you can always rent one. U.S. car rental companies must offer car seats that comply with state and federal laws. However, if you're traveling internationally, the risk is that you don't know if the car seat has been stored and cleaned properly or if it’s ever been in an accident. It also means you have to install it yourself, which can be challenging and time-consuming if you're unfamiliar with that particular brand or car seat model. 

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

For this article, Dobrina Zhekova worked with T+L editors to round up the safest and most comfortable travel car seats for kids of all ages from real-world tests. As a mother, she has also tested several car seats in the past five years and has extensive knowledge of airline policies and regulations about traveling with car seats. She also referenced customer reviews and expert recommendations in this article.

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travel car seat for 6 month old

The Best Car Seats for Traveling With Babies, Toddlers, and Kids

By Stirling Kelso

Pico

All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Talk to parents about traveling with young kids and one topic dominates the conversation. Is it which hotel in Santorini has the best Mediterranean views? Not quite. Where you can get the freshest lobster rolls in Maine ? Unfortunately, no.

The answer is car seats. Heavy, unwieldy car seats. They’re impossible to pack and even worse to wrestle onto an airplane. They’re big, they’re bulky, and they have irritating names that are hard to Google when you’re searching for, say, “how to install a massive American car seat in a tiny Italian Fiat.”

Not every country or city requires car seats, but you’ll probably still want to pack one for your family trip to Mexico or Thailand—or from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan in a yellow cab. Why? As exasperating as car seats are, they save lives. A lot of lives. In fact, they’ve helped bring down motor vehicle-related deaths in the U.S. by 58 percent since 1975.

Most car rental agencies offer child seats, but this option is often fraught with problems. To start, they cost a chunk of change. “Major car rental companies charge between $10 to $14 per day to rent a child seat,” says Jonathan Weinberg, CEO of car rental savings site AutoSlash . “These fees add up quickly, especially if you have more than one kid.” The quality of the car seat can also be questionable. Personally, I’ve been dealt dirty seats, incorrect models, and, in one case, a seat with a safety strap that looked like it had been slashed by a machete. And while every major American car rental’s child seat policy notes that they take car seats out of circulation after an accident, this practice is not federally enforced . Finally, and perhaps most vexing after a long flight with kids, agency staff members aren’t authorized to install the seats, leaving you to the task. “After navigating an enormous car rental garage with toddlers and luggage for four—looking at you, Orlando International—it’s no fun to install unfamiliar car seats,” says Lexington-based attorney (and dad of twins) Lucas Braun.

Here’s the good news: Car seats have also annoyed a slew of smart, savvy travelers, so much so that they’ve decided to do something about it. Now a handful of light and portable child seats make it easier to keep your kiddos safe on the go. Read on for our road-tested recs of the best car seats for travel right now. Skipping the flight and just traveling by car these days? We’ve included our favorites for highway long-hauls as well.

This article was originally published in April 2019. It has been updated with new information.

Infant Car Seats

For babies and infants Talk to a mom who has lost circulation in her arm after swinging a bucket seat around the airport, or a dad who has woken a sleeping baby from a car seat at the check-in counter, and you’ll see why we seriously love the options below.

Image may contain: Car Seat

It took car seat creator Yoav Mazar close to a decade to design the Doona and bring it to market. It was worth the wait. This genius car seat, developed for babies from birth up to 35 pounds, is essentially a transformer, shape shifting from a car seat to a stroller and back again with a few button clicks. This means you always have your car seat with you, whether you need to jump into a cab in London or a Lyft in San Francisco. And when it’s in stroller mode, it beautifully navigates sidewalks and park paths. This just in: The Doona now comes in a sleek midnight black model as well as its first edition green.

Image may contain: Car Seat

Trusted car seat brand Chicco has a new car seat for babies that’s lighter than previous versions (about nine pounds without the base) and puts a premium on comfort. An extended headrest means the car seat lasts you longer, and a genius rebound bar, which pushes against the back seat, provides extra foot room for leggy littles. And while you can swing it through the airport as easily as a canvas tote through a farmers’ market, it’s also a choice option for road trips thanks to its cocoon-like coziness and large sunshade.

Image may contain: Tool, and Lawn Mower

If you’re not up for a $500 investment, opt for an infant seat that clicks easily into a lightweight stroller base. The latest snap-and-go option from Chicco is the Shuttle, which pairs with all Chicco Fit2 and KeyFit car seats. It’s an improvement on previous stroller base models thanks to its quick fold handle, sleek black frame, and a console for essentials (your phone, a large coffee, and likely some sort of wipe). It also has one advantage on its competitors: under-carriage storage, ideal for all that stuff you can't believe you’re schlepping through the airport.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

For toddlers under two and under 35 pounds The trickiest age when it comes to traveling with car seats is when your child has transitioned from an infant seat—like the Doona—to an upright car seat, but still needs to face backwards (typically kids under two and under 35 pounds). For this short time period, we recommend doing as the car rental agencies do: Go light and go cheap if you’re flying, but invest if you’re sticking to the road.

Image may contain: Car Seat, and Cushion

This is a popular brand among car rental companies (and if you think about it, they make up the cost of a purchase in one four-day rental). The seat is ten pounds, easy to install, and FAA compliant, should you want to strap your kid in during the flight. And while it's bulky, you can secure this seat to rolling luggage with a strap like this one .

Image may contain: Car Seat

While this car seat model is somewhat bulky, it’s also lightweight at just over nine pounds. At under $100, it’s an absolute steal. It’s slimmer than most car seat models, a plus when you’re traveling to places like Europe where rentals are petite in comparison to your suburban SUV.

Image may contain: Cushion, Car Seat, Backpack, and Bag

Did you know that some car seats are built with flame-retardant chemicals that are harmful to inhale? That’s not the case with Nuna, which has committed to engineering its seats without said compounds from foam to fabric. The Exec car seat might as well be a first-class ticket to comfort—even in the less popular back-facing position—thanks to adjustable leg rests, merino wool head cushions, and ventilation panels that maintain a comfortable climate.

Front-Facing Convertible Car Seats

For kids ages two to five Once children have graduated from a rear-facing car seat, they still have several years in a chair. At this stage, we see parents start to forgo car seats when they shouldn’t. These exciting innovations will inspire you to stay safe.

Image may contain: Car Seat

This road trip favorite is slimmer than most—you can fit three across a back seat if you’re hauling a litter—but it also puts a premium on well-being and safety thanks to a steel core topped with interlocking layers of foam and plastic, padded with seat, side, and belt cushions. We also love this Seattle-based company’s seats for their pop colors: cherry red, plum purple, and yellow mineral, among others. Be sure to add the waterproof seat protector —it’s a life saver when kids are snacking on the go.

Image may contain: Cushion, and Headrest

This, family travelers, is a game changing car seat. Co-developed by a former Patagonia exec and his engineering-savvy team at WayB—a new company that aims to introduce innovative products to the family travel space—the Pico is safe, sleek, and a cinch to install. Its solid frame is made of aluminum, which is not only strong, but also sustainable. And the Pico’s seat folds up on-the-go, making it compact and easy to carry or stow in an overhead bin.

Image may contain: Car Seat, and Cushion

If you’ve requested an Uber equipped with a car seat in a city like Los Angeles, chances are the driver has pulled out this soft-backed and collapsible harness. The chair folds up into an attached bag that’s about half the size of a carry-on suitcase, so you can stow it on the plane or throw it into a duffle with the rest of your things.

For kids five and up Once your half pints have graduated out of convertible car seats, you can move onto a booster, which feels like holding a hamster after years of wrestling an elephant. Still, some boosters are large and inflexible, so opt for one of our picks below. Tend to travel by car? Choose something more substantial, like the Alta.

Image may contain: Car Seat

If you’re skipping the airport and hitting the highway, consider UppaBaby’s model for its additional safety features and headrest that will—if you’re lucky—inspire a long snooze. Unlike the MiFold and Bubble Bum, the Alta clips into a car’s anchor system, better securing it to the vehicle. It also ensures older kiddos (approximately six to ten years old) are comfortable for long stretches thanks to arm rests, a cup holder, and plenty of padding. The rear seat cushion also zips off, making it easy to clean.

Image may contain: Cushion

Boosters, as you might guess, boost children up so seatbelts strap them in effectively. The MiFold takes the opposite approach, lowering the seatbelt via a series of lap belt clips. It then folds up on-the-go to the size of a large wallet, and can be stashed in a purse, backpack, or glove compartment.

Image may contain: Clothing, Cap, Baseball Cap, Hat, Apparel, and Bag

This inflatable booster seat can be easily blown up and deflated on the go. It’s lightweight and fits into a compact travel bag when not in use. Aside from its brilliant name, it also does its part to make boosters fun, with kid-friendly colors like shamrock green and bubble gum pink.

Packing List

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Tear Free Travel

Posted on Last updated: April 5, 2022 Categories Featured , Kids Travel Gear , Travel Car Seat

By: Author Kate

The Best Portable Car Seat for Travel For Every Age! (2022)

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Are you looking for the best portable car seat for travel with your baby, toddler or child? Are you wondering about the best car seats for airplanes? One of the biggest pains of traveling with young kids is figuring out what to do about the car seats! Seriously, I have planned so much of our travel around “well, how are we going to travel with the car seats??!”  

Not only do we want to keep our kids safe on vacation, but we also want a lightweight travel car seat that isn’t going to break the bank. My car seat for my 3-year-old (although AWESOME) is super heavy and bulky – I needed a better toddler travel car seat option! In this post, we are going to teach you all the tips and tricks I’ve learned to make traveling with car seats a breeze.

The Best Travel Car Seat: Quick Comparison

Should you buy a separate portable toddler car seat.

We love the car seats we have at home and we also spent a lot of money purchasing them. We didn’t want to take the chance of having them ruined at the airport or while traveling which is why we decided to buy a separate portable carseat for travel. The portable car seats we purchased were all super affordable, which is why we weren’t too fussed if they got scuffed or damaged in our travels. We also bought the most lightweight portable child car seat we could find! It never hurts to lighten your load when you are traveling. One extra bonus to having separate travel carseat is that you don’t have to uninstall and reinstall your car seats at home! One time was hard enough to get it all perfect, I’m happy not to have to reinstall my seats every time we take a trip.

travel car seat for 6 month old

If you are looking for some excellent basic information about car seat travel, please check out this awesome article by the American Academy of Pediatrics which is a primer on Car Seat Safety and FAQs. 

Top Choices for Portable Car Seats

We’re going to be reviewing all of these car seats in massive detail below but in case you just want to get to the good stuff, here is our list of the best portable car seats for travel:

Top Choice: Portable Car Seat for 1 Year Old

travel car seat for 6 month old

Our top choice for a 1 year old (or less) is an bucket car seat. These seats are easy to travel with as they can be easily installed using a regular seat belt. We chose the Maxi Cosi Mico 30 for its lightweight design. This is provided that your one year old has not yet outgrown a bucket car seat. Our top choice infant car seat has a weight limit of 30lbs and a height limit of 32 inches. The reason we love bucket seats is that they usually connect to strollers really easily and that means one less piece of equipment on your trip. Read more reviews of the Maxi Cosi Mico 30 and compare prices on Amazon.

Top Choice: Portable Car Seat for 2 Year Old

travel car seat for 6 month old

In the two-year-old category, we are LOVING the Cosco Scenera Next car seat. This convertible car seat is one of the most popular travel car seats for a reason, literally, every single friend of mine owns the same one. The Cosco Scenera Next is super lightweight and you really can’t beat the price . Read more reviews of this travel car seat for 2 year old toddlers here.

Top Choice: Portable Car Seat for 3 Year Old

travel car seat for 6 month old

We still love the Cosco Scenera Next for most 3 year olds . The upper weight limit for this car seat is 40lbs, so most average sized 3 year olds will still fit in this seat. This seat can be used rear facing and forward facing, making it super versatile. If you are short on space or planning to travel for a long period, you may want to consider the Ride Safer Delight for this age group. This nifty ride safer travel vest is the perfect travel car seat for 3 year old and 4 year olds that are too small for travel booster seat options. Read more reviews here!

Top Choice: Portable Car Seat for 4 Year Old

travel car seat for 6 month old

For the 4 year old and up kids, a travel booster may be appropriate. This is all depending on the size of your 4 year old – keep in mind that the majority of boosters have a minimum weight of 40lbs. We love the mifold for its compactness and portability. We have been using this car seat with our now 5 year old son and it has totally changed our lives when it comes to traveling (safely) with kids. Read more reviews and see the weight and height restrictions here.

Should I bring my travel car seat on the plane?

POrtable Car Seats

One of the questions that I am asked most by readers is whether it is worthwhile to bring a car seat on the plane. If your child is over age 2 and you are already going to be bringing the car seat along, my answer is always YES!! We were actually late to the game in bringing our car seats ON the plane. I hadn’t really considered it until my second son was almost 2. We’ve now brought our Cosco Scenera Next on the plane for multiple trips and it has been an absolute lifesaver! Not only is it safer to have kids safely strapped into a car seat in the case of turbulence , it also makes flying with kids SO much easier! With my son strapped in, we didn’t have to worry about him constantly trying to bother the people in front of us or trying to hide on the seats. Our kids also sleep super well in the car seats, so it really helped the travel go as smooth as possible. Check out the latest prices on the super affordable Costco Scenra Next here.

One important thing to note is that having a forward facing car seat on a plane puts your kids’ feet at premium seat kicking range! We solve this problem by seating our older child in front of the car seat. It’s something to consider before you book your seats!

Now if your child is less than 2 years old, the decision whether to bring the car seat is entirely personal. If you want to bring your seat, you’ll usually have to pay for the seat. It is definitely safer to have a child strapped in the case of turbulence. Commercial airplanes travel at a speed of 250mph during takeoff and landing and a sudden stop or jolt could send your child flying no matter how tightly you are holding them. That being said, the majority of individuals I know do not buy a seat for their child under age 2. Air travel is one of the safest forms of travel, and in the majority of cases, an infant in your lap will be just fine. One pro tip is to ask the flight attendants whether the flight is full before you board. I have scored a free seat for my less than 2 year old infants twice using this method and both times was able to bring on my car seat without difficulty.

travel car seat for 6 month old

If you aren’t planning to use a travel carseat at your destination, you may consider using the CARES airplane travel harness. The CARES travel harness keeps your kids safe on the flight by strapping them in with an extra chest strap. It is rated for kids 22-44lbs and is approved by the FAA for travel. Not only does the Cares harness keep kids safe, but it also keeps kids contained in their seats. I love that my kids are happier to stay put in their seats when they are all buckled in and relaxed. One thing to note about the CARES harness is that you do need to secure it around the back of the seat behind you. I’ve never had anyone complain about it.

How do I know if my Airplane Car Seat is Approved?

FAA Aproved Car Seat

Before you fly, you’ll want to know if your carseat is FAA approved for flight.  Please note that it is important to check your local car seat regulations as these may vary from country to country. In the US,  you will need FAA approved car seats . You can look for your car seat sticker to see if yours is approved, if approved, it should say “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”

Our quick list of FAA approved car seats:

  • Portable Baby Car Seat: Maxi Cosi Mico 30
  • Best travel car seat for toddler: Cosco Scenera Next

Please note that booster seats are not FAA approved and cannot be taken on flights.

To check or to gate check?

If we aren’t planning to bring our car seats ON the plane (we almost always do now), we usually gate check out seats. I personally trust the gate checkers to be more careful with the objects than the regular luggage line. I have friends who have checked theirs at the desk and have had damage to the seats which made them unusable.

Should you use a car seat bag?

travel car seat for 6 month old

Check out the latest Car Seat Bags on Amazon here.

There are lots of travel car seat bags available to help you lug your car seats around the airport. Some even have backpack straps and some have roller wheels to make it even easier to bring them along. I have lots of friends who use (and rave!) about these accessories. Personally, I don’t use a car seat bag. For me, it’s just one more thing to bring along!

I also find that when the luggage attendant sees something in a bag they tend to be less careful about it! When they see a car seat out in the open they know they can’t just toss it around (hopefully!). Perhaps if I traveled with my more expensive car seats, I would be more inclined to use a bag, but for now, I’m not sold on the need for one.

How do you bring your car seat through the airport?

travel car seat for 6 month old

If you gate check you can use the seat to transport your child around the airport. Check out this neat product which straps the car seat right to a piece of luggage turning it into a stroller for the airport. Or you can even buy a travel car seat cart to turn your car seat into a temporary stroller at the airport. Read more reviews and compare prices of these travel car seat accessories here.

Personally, one of the reasons that we LOVE the Cosco Scenera NEXT Car Seat is that it fits in the basket of our Uppa Baby Vista stroller. With the car seat tucked in the bottom of our stroller, we still feel like we are traveling light! Check out the Cosco Scenera next in detail here.

Portable Travel Car Seat Rundown

Ok, now it’s time for the detailed reviews! Here are the best car seats for travel that I have tried and tested. These opinions are my own, and I was not paid or sponsored by any of these companies.

Infant Portable Car Seat: Maxi Cosi Mico

travel car seat for 6 month old

Weight and Height Restrictions:

  • Up to 32 inches

FAA Approved?

Where to buy it:.

Check out prices at the following retailers:

Why we love it

Taking a car seat with an infant is the easiest and simplest. I have always used a bucket seat with my kids and I take the same bucket seat that I use at home with me when I travel. We have the Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 , and I think this is the most lightweight car seat around!  Any bucket seat , as long as it meets safety requirements, will do!

For the best car seat stroller combo,  our car seat attaches to our UppaBaby Vista which makes it great for use in the airport and also while we are on the trip. We never bring along our actual stroller seat until our little one has outgrown the bucket seat. It is too much to carry and our little ones have always been happy in the bucket seat with a few toys to play with. I LOVE traveling with my full-size stroller. Find out more about why I always bring my full size stroller here! 

Portable Car Seat for Travel

Toddler Travel Car Seat: Cosco Scenera Next

  • 5-40lbs (rear facing 5-44lbs, forward facing 22-40lbs)
  • 19 to 40 inches

Why we love it:

For me, toddlers are the trickiest age for bringing car seats for travel. My 2-year-old certainly doesn’t fit into a bucket seat, but also is way too small for a more portable booster seat. A lot of the toddler car seats are so bulky and that makes them difficult to transport in the airport. At the advice of a friend, I purchased what I consider the ultimate portable car seat for my 2-year-old,  the   Cosco Scenera Next.   I use this car seat exclusively as my toddler travel car seat and I can not stop RAVING about it. This seat is seriously the best car seat for travel!  The car seat is SUPER lightweight, which makes it great for airplanes as it’s easy to transport and not a huge pain in the airport. It also fits perfectly in the basket of my Uppa Baby Vista Stoller (score!).

The biggest plus of this super portable car seat is the price!! It is the best value around, and with such a low price I am not afraid of it getting ruined when we travel.  We don’t use this car seat for anything but travel, and it’s also AMAZING not to have to uninstall our regular car seats from our cars because we have this one. If you are like me, installing the car seat the first time was challenging enough, I prefer to keep my regular car seats installed when I can! In the US, this portable car seat is FAA approved,  meaning that it is an airline approved car seat for travel. I prefer to take this car seat and risk it getting damaged than to take the expensive car seat that I use every day.

Best Car seat for travel

Portable Booster Seat: The MiFold

  • 40 lbs – 100lbs
  • 40 -57 inches

No! Booster seats are not permitted on airplanes.

My kids are still little but I recently learned about an amazing new product from my friend. The mifold car seat is a super thin and portable booster seat that was designed by a couple who also felt the pain of constantly traveling with their seats. The mifold is so compact, it can fit in your purse! The design is simple, yet safe, as it currently meets all of the safety requirements for booster seats in the US. The minimum weight is 40lbs (and 4 years of age).

My friends review? She loves it! The only complaint would be that she says her kids say the seat is not the most comfortable for long car rides. This usually isn’t a huge problem when we travel. Certainly, I would still be using my 5-point restraint car seat at home (as its safer until you reach the maximum weight!). Once my son is big enough I plan to just use the mifold for trips, carpooling, taxi rides etc. My son is soon to be 4, but far away from 40lbs. I can’t wait to try this for myself!

For those kids who are a bit small for their age,  another cool option is the Ride Safer Delight . Although a bit bulkier than the mifold, this safety restraint is rated for smaller children who are at least 3 years old and at least 30 lbs.  You can compare prices and read reviews of the Ride Safer Delight here . Check out my fellow blogger friend from The Family Voyage for a detailed review of The Ride Safer Delight .

*** Update *** My son is now almost 5 and we are LOVING the mifold! It is so great to have something that literally fits in my purse to take with us on our travels. We don’t typically use a car a lot when we travel so having this option is SO GREAT! It sure beats lugging a bulky car seat along for only 40 minutes of total drive time! At home, we use it for taxi rides as well, which is SUPER convenient on the go. Definitely, love having this option! You can read more reviews of the MiFold here.

Should you just rent a car seat for travel?

Sometimes even the most portable car seat is just too much of a pain to bring on your trip. On several occasions, especially when we have been renting a car, we have rented a car seat . A few times we had a car seat that was quite old and worn, and on one occasion we had a seat that wasn’t properly rated for my child’s size. These are the problems with renting travel car seats from a rental company. Renting from a car rental company is at your own risk, as they don’t reserve the seats ahead of time. We will still occasionally do this, especially if we aren’t planning on using the seats a lot during the trip.

There are also companies that rent out car seats specifically for travelers. These baby gear companies will tell you the exact model of car seat that you are renting. The main disadvantage to a company like this is that unless they deliver to the airport you will be left without the car seat for your trip to go pick it up! This is why we have never rented a car seat from a company like this in the past.

Don’t forget your car seat accessories!

This post would not be complete without a shout out to some of my favorite car seat accessories!

The Best Car Seat Fan

I love my Diono Stroller Fan that attaches easily to the handle of the bucket seat to keep my baby cool on a hot vacation. Check out my other favorite beach hacks in this post on what to pack for the beach with kids.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Car Seat Lap Support

travel car seat for 6 month old

If you are headed on a road trip with kids, a car seat lap organizer is a perfect accessory. This Lap Desk for kids has a spot for a drink and can easily hold a few coloring books and markers. It can be worn like a backpack which makes it easy to carry through the airport when travelling.

The Best Car Seat Head Support

If you are doing a road trip with kids, you may have concerns about ‘head slump’ in the car seat. Mostly because it was freaking me out to see my kid’s heads contorted in such ways, I bought this portable car seat head support . Now when we go on long trips my son doesn’t look so darn uncomfortable when he sleeps! And seriously, the panda face is super cute!

Best Car Seat for Travel

Best Car Seat Cover

travel car seat for 6 month old

I love this car seat cover particularly for travel. It comes with a UPF 50+ sun shade that is perfect for hot vacations where you want to keep your little one protected. Under the sun shade is a mesh layer that is perfect to keep the Mosquitos out at night. With all of the worry about mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika, I wanted to prevent my little ones from getting bit as much as possible! Check out the pricing for this car seat cover here.

What is the best stroller for travel with car seats?

travel car seat for 6 month old

We are huge fans of trying to bring our full size stroller whenever we can on vacation. We have an Uppa Baby Vista and absolutely love it. The only exceptions would be when we are really limited on space (e.g. cruise, small rental car etc ). I love our full-size stroller and I’ve found every travel stroller I’ve owned to be completely lacking in so many important features. The basket on our stroller is larger enough to carry our travel car seat – you would never see that on a travel stroller!

I’ve never regretted bringing my bigger stroller and I’ve also never had any damage to my full size strollers. I have, however, had a wheel break on a flimsy travel stroller during a flight! Check out prices on the Uppa Baby vista here .

travel car seat for 6 month old

We do have a travel stroller that we use occasionally when we are really short on space. We used the Zoe XL2 travel stroller when we went on a Disney cruise and there was no room for a full size. I like that the Zoe XL has a decent recline and a really large canopy. The storage space isn’t great but it’s the best travel stroller I’ve owned yet. You can read more reviews and check out prices of the Zoe XL2 stroller here.

Have any more travel car seat questions?

Drop your questions in the comments below and I will be sure to answer them in this post.

While you’re in trip planning mode, be sure to check out my other guides to the top  baby travel gear and toddler travel gear posts for more ideas.

Pin for Later

Are you looking for the best travel car seat? Check out my ultimate car seat guide for baby travel and toddler travel. A travel car seat is a travel essential for travel with kids. I’ll review the best infant car seat fir travel, the best toddler car seat for travel, and the best booster seat for travel. Lots of car seat tips including the best car seat accessories for your next family vacation! #carseat #travelcarseat

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6 Months and Up : Car Seats

  • Dimensions (Overall): 42.5 Inches (H) x 24 Inches (W) x 47 Inches (D)
  • Weight: 41 Pounds
  • Dimensions (Collapsed): 18.75 Inches (H) x 24 Inches (W) x 34.25 Inches (D)
  • Suggested Age: 6 Months and Up
  • Front Wheel Diameter: 12 Inches
  • Rear Wheel Diameter: 16 Inches

Hampton

  • Dimensions (Overall): 42.8 Inches (H) x 24.8 Inches (W) x 34.5 Inches (D)
  • Weight: 24.8 Pounds
  • Dimensions (Collapsed): 32.0 Inches (H) x 24.8 Inches (W) x 15.5 Inches (D)
  • Front Wheel Diameter: 8.3 Inches
  • Rear Wheel Diameter: 10.3 Inches
  • Car Seat Stage: Rear-Facing Harness (4-35 pounds)
  • Car Seat Safety Features: Rollover tested, temperature tested, and structural integrity tested at energy levels approximately 2X the federal crash test standard
  • Stroller Adjustments: 6 stroller seat modes offer the ultimate in versatility — including a toddler seat mode that easily transitions to carriage mode
  • Includes: Stroller with toddler seat, infant car seat and infant car seat base
  • Unique built-in mesh privacy shade adapts to all modes
  • Accepts the Evenflo Rider Board (sold separately), making it easy for an extra passenger to step on board for the ride
  • Stage: Rear Facing Harness (4-30 pounds)
  • Car Seat Safety Features: SuperCinch LATCH installation, Side impact protection, 5 point harness, EPS Energy absorbing foam
  • Stroller Seat Adjustments: Parent/Forward-facing car seat carrier or toddler seat, 3-position recling seat with one-hand adjustment, Converts to a lightweight frame stroller, Adjustable footrest
  • Includes: Modular stroller and car seat combination, Infant car seat base, Infant car seat adapter, Lightweight frame stroller, Toddler stroller seat
  • Includes top-rated KeyFit 30 Zip infant car seat
  • Stroller Features: One-hand, quick-fold, Zip-extend UPF 50+ canopy with peek-a-boo window, Large wheels/treaded tires, Fixed ergonomic handle, Backrest pockets, Storage basket

Heather Grey

  • Dimensions (Overall): 40 Inches (H) x 6.5 Inches (W) x 1.5 Inches (D)
  • Weight: 2.6 Pounds
  • Suggested Age: Newborn and Up
  • Industry or Government Certifications: No Certifications
  • Compatible With: Most Strollers
  • Material: Polyester
  • Compatible with: Joovy Qool Stroller
  • Allow you to add a Second Seat, Car Seat Adapter or Bassinet
  • Customize and Create a travel system with two car seats
  • Required for placing accessories in the Qool front position

Explore more of what’s going on right now

Related categories, related searches, trending searches.

  • maxi cosi infant car seat
  • evenflo infant car seat
  • britax infant car seat
  • britax convertible car seat
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Let your little one tag along everywhere you go, with the perfect car seat to keep them safe and snug in the back seat. At Target, you can pick from great brands like Britax, Chicco & Maxi-Cosi to find just the infant car seat you need. From all-in-one variants to convertible car seats, the collection has it all. Keep your kiddo comfy with the one you think works best, be it a forward-facing or rear-facing booster seat. Picking an infant car seat that’s the right fit for your car seat is an easy task when you have adjustable variants that are super-easy to install. Seat belts & belt-positioning boosters help you rest assured that your baby’s taken care of. Browse through a large collection of car seats and find one the right pick for you and your baby.

Get top deals, latest trends, and more.

Car Seat On icon

10 Best Car Seats for Infants- Birth to 6 Months or Older

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Quick List: Best Car Seats for Infants

After comparing and reviewing 20+ best car seats for infants to toddlers, we can reveal that the best car seats (ordered by type) are:

1. Best for travel : Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller ($550) – foldable, car seat with wheels, travel system in one piece.

2. Best narrow infant car seat : Chicco KeyFit 30 ($219.99) – 16.75″ width. Friendly for preemies.

3. Best for extended rear-facing : Graco Extend2Fit ($234.99) – extended rear-facing (50-lb weight limit) and extension panel.

4. Easy to install  – Briatx Marathon ($299.99) – 18.5″, ClickTight for easy installation, SafeCell to enhance safety.

5. Narrow : Diono Radian 3R ($199.99) – 17″ wide, foldable, budget-friendly fro most families.

See Our Top Picks

Find the best car seats for infants

Best By Bonus

See the best car seats for infants by bonus (e.g. extended rear-facing, rotate, etc).

Compare key performance stats and specs to listed best car seats for infants.

What features do you expect in the top-rated car seats for infants?

The compatibility with a stroller, or one with a long-lasting rear-facing for toddlers?

No matter what you prefer an ideal infant car seat for preemies or infants at 6 months and up, move on reading this post to find one best suits your and your kid’s needs. 

From the database of over 50 car seats, we pick up the 8 top-rated car seats for infants so you can skip trawling the web for hours on end. All the information you need is right here.

Infants younger than 1-2 years old should stay rear-facing for safety considerations. To make it simple, we’ve split the car seats into two simple groups based on the kid’s age – car seats for preemies (newborns) and car seats for 6 months and up. All of the best recommendations can be used in rear-facing because the car seat laws in all US states require that children under 1 year old ride in this position (direction).

Choose the weight/height range you’re looking for to narrow down the car seat options and see which comes out as the best in the category. 

All the car seats listed have been carefully considered, thoroughly reviewed, and compared against our database of 50+ car seats.

Particular focus has been placed on weight and height limits, safety ratings, extendable use, the durability of the car seats, and how comfortable they are to stay for the little passengers.

Best Car Seats for Infants

Best car seats for infants small.

Best Car Seats for Infants under 30 Pounds

Best for Travel

Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller

Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller

Best for Preemies

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

Chicco KeyFit 30

Best car seats for infants to toddlers.

Best Car Seats for Infants 6 Months and up with Extended Rear-facing

50 lbs Rear-facing

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Graco Extend2Fit

Easiest to Install

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Britax Marathon

Easy to use

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

Chicco NextFit Zip

Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Car Seat

Diono Raidan 3R

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat

Graco 4Ever DLX

Or, if you’d rather view the best car seats for infants by weight and height limits, your budget, or by type (e.g. portable, fit 3 across, etc), click on either of the below.

Best Car Seats for Infants by Bonus Features

16-18 inch:.

  • Narrowest infant car seat – Chicco KeyFit 30 (16.75″)
  • Narrowest Convertible Car Seat – Diono Radian 3R   (17″)

Further Information

Best Car Seats to fit 3 across

  • Infant car seat – Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller (folding)

Best Foldable Car Seats for easy carry

Extended rear-facing:

  • Diono Radian 3R  (50-lb rear-facing weight limit)
  • Graco Extend2Fit (50-lb rear-facing weight limit)

Best rear-facing car seats up to 50 lbs

  • Graco 4Ever DLX (120 pounds booster weight limit)
  • Diono Radian 3R (120 pounds booster weight limit)

Best car seats with 5 -point harness up to 120 pounds

Part I: Best Car Seats for Infants under 35 LBS

Best infant car seat for preemies.

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

Key Features

  • Weight range (lb): 4-30
  • Height limits: 30"
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Suitable: Birth to 9-12 months old
  • Lightweight for carrying and switching
  • Most popular for preemie
  • Large and removable canopy
  • A bit pricey

For newborn infants, we’ve identified the Chicco KeyFit 30 as the best bet.

While it has an affordable price of under $200, this car seat has some excellent features that won’t disappoint you, especially if you have a small car without much space for a car seat.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 is also the best car seat for premature newborns.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 can be used for babies who are weighing from 4 to 30 pounds and up to 30 inches in height.

This size limit makes KeyFit last at least for infants 6 months, or maybe longer up to 1-year-old kids .

The 4-pound minimum weight limit of this infant car safety seat makes it perfect to fit preemies, without sacrificing the car seat’s safety and comfort.

It’s also the best recommendation by many neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses for premature babies.

The Chicco KeyFit 30 includes a removable infant head and body insert to make the little one stay comfortable in the car seat.

For premature or smaller babies, the infant insert for the car seat offers extra support and keeps them secure. As they grow large enough (generally around 11 pounds), the insert is removable.

There is also an adjustable and removable canopy that can provide shade from the sun when taking the little one outside in the infant car seat or attaching it to a stroller.

This infant car seat comes with many excellent features to be the easiest-to-install infant car seat so that first-time parents will place it in the vehicle simply, properly, and securely.

A ReclineSure leveling foot and two RideRight bubble level indicators help you to set up the car seat at a proper angle.

The base included in the seat is equipped with LATCH connectors and a SuperCinch tightener, ensuring a secure fit in the cars.

All the car seats are required to pass crash testing before going to the market, and so does the Chicco KeyFit 30.

It also meets the Federal Safety standards and offers extra side impact protection by the EPS energy-absorbing foam carrier shell. The five-point harness with one-pull tightening gives more support to keep the baby secure in the cars.

The KeyFit 30 is a lightweight infant car seat, making it very portable and easy to switch between cars. 

It’s recommended to get multiple bases compatible with the KeyFit 30 in different family cars so that you don’t need to purchase several baby car seats.

The 2-position carrying handle gives you a comfortable grip when you take the carrier out of the car. The page weighs only 9.5 pounds and is compatible with Chicco strollers for travel system use.

This car seat is FAA-approved for air travel . So if you’re a frequent-flyer family and like to take babies for traveling in different cities or countries, this KeyFit 30 can serve the dual purpose of keeping your baby safe in the car and in the air.

The KeyFit 30 is made of machine-washable fabrics that can be removed separately into the washer with cold water for cleaning, but not use bleach.

The plastics and hardware may be sponge-cleaned using warm water and mild soap and dried with a towel, while the harness is not machine washable and can only be cleaned using warm water and mild soap.

Chicco KeyFit 30 vs KeyFit 30 Zip vs KeyFit 30 Zip Air

Best infant car seat for travel.

Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller

  • Weight Range: 4-35 lbs.
  • Height Limit: 32 inches
  • Type: Infant
  • Suitable for: Birth to 1 year old
  • Combine a car seat and stroller
  • Easy in and out
  • Support installation without a car seat base
  • Smooth transition between car seat and stroller
  • Compact size design for storage and carrying
  • Friendly and portable to take for air travel
  • The handle can be used as an anti-rebound bar
  • 2 years manufacturer's warranty
  • Short handle not friendly for tall people
  • A little expensive
  • Not include undercarriage basket for storage
  • A bit heavy

Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller is the world’s first 2-in-1 infant car seat and stroller in one to work as a complete and fully integrated travel system without an additional stroller.

The car seat itself is an infant car seat and stroller combo that was designed to deliver a safe and practical solution for fitting newborns and babies, both in and outside of the vehicle.

This infant car seat features a unique design with foldable wheels, allowing parents to move from the car seat to the stroller in seconds. It’s the only car seat with integrated wheels on the market till this post is published.

This means that you don’t need to take an additional stroller no matter where you plan to go, on public transition, in the taxi/uber, or having a chat with friends in the cafeteria.

Doona is also one of the best portable car seats . It not only can be easily installed in your own vehicle for family travel but also allows for a simple installation in the taxi and uber cars.

Plus, it’s approved for aircraft use , making it one of the best car seats for air travel, as long as your baby does not outgrow its height or weight limits.

The unique hybrid functionality does not affect its safety. The Doona has been tested to meet the strictest US standards for car seats, strollers, and hand-held carriers.

The car seat is also made of baby-safe materials that are free of hazardous chemicals and are carefully tested and approved under the strictest European standards and the REACH regulation, including SVHC (Substances of Very High Concern).

Doona combines functionality and quality into one. The company positioned it as a high-end car seat and manufactured it with the highest level textiles for the longest durability and best quality, assuring the safety and continued use of the product.

The textiles are breathable, removable, and washable to provide the best comfort for your babies.

Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller comes with a unique double-wall structure that enables the folding of the wheels into the body and offers a significant safety benefit. It’s one of the six best foldable car seats .

The two layers of durable, impact-absorbing plastic, along with additional layers of EPS, foam, and textiles provide enhanced side-impact protection.

Lightest Car Seat for Infants

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide SnugLock

  • Lifespan: 7 years
  • Budget price
  • 35-lb weight limit
  • 32-inch top height
  • Easy installation
  • Lightweight and portable to take for air travel
  • Easy connect to strollers
  • A bit bulky

If you’re a frequent-flyer family and love traveling around the world even after you have a kid, the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 might be a great choice, just after the Doona Infant Car Seat Stroller.

Weighing at only 7.5 pounds, Graco SnugRide SnugLock is one of the lightest infant car seats on the market,  making it easy for you to carry a baby from car to stroller and everywhere in between.

This car seat is also FAA-certified to be used in aircraft, meaning that you can even use it for air travel with your tiny through different cities.

The Graco SnugRide SnogLock 35 is a rear-facing car seat for newborn infants as small as 4 pounds. Thanks to the 5-point, front-adjust harness, this car seat will still give small babies a secure and snug fit until he or she outgrows the baby car seat by reaching the top weight limit of 35 pounds or a height limit of 35 inches.

From its weight or height limit, you’ll know that the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is not good for tall babies who grow beyond the average growth rate.

But Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is still a safe infant car seat, going through rigorous crash testing, and meets or exceeds the US safety standards FMVSS 213.

Featuring side impact protection, along with the EPS energy-absorbing foam, this car seat offers great protection for your little one in case any crash happens.

Like all newborn infant car seats, the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 also provides shade and sun protection for your baby with a canopy, which is rotatable for more space when you need to carry the handle.

This car seat is compatible with all Graco Click Connect strollers, thanks to the Click Connect technology, with which you can easily attach the seat to strollers in one step for a customized travel system that best fits your lifestyle.

The seat cushion is machine washable and you can simply remove it for cleaning. For the metal and plastic parts, you can clean them with mild soap and water, but for a buckle, you’d better use a damp cloth for cleaning.

Best Car Seats for Infants under 40 LBS

Best all-in-one car seat for infants to toddlers.

Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat

Graco 4Ever DLX - 4 modes

  • Weight range (lb): 5-40 (RF): 22-65 (FF); 40-120 (Booster)
  • Height limits: ~49"(RF&FF); 57"(Booster)
  • Stage: 1st, 2nd, 3rd
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Suitable: Birth to 7-8 years old
  • Up to 120 lb weight limit for big kids
  • Going through the first three car seat stages
  • Extension panel for more leg room
  • Comparatively easy to install
  • No rethread harness
  • Fuss-free harness storage compartment
  • A place to store the buckle
  • Rapid Remove Pad for easy taking off
  • Belt lock-off
  • Two cup holders on both sides
  • 10 years of lifespan
  • Heavy and bulky
  • Not fit 3 across in small cars

If you want to save money and get an all-in-one car seat for infants, you should not miss this Graco 4Ever DLX .

It is a superstar to ride your child going through all three stages – rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster (high back and backless) until they’re big enough to wear the vehicle seat belt for safety.

This car seat can be installed rear-facing to ride newborns as little as 4 pounds, even preemies.

Infants are fragile and weak to hold their heads in the car seat. The included plush head and body inserts provide additional support for small babies and help to keep your infant feeling cradled and comfortable in this child safety seat.

The 6-position reclines, with three of them rear-facing, allow you to find a perfect fit through their growth, newborns, infants, toddlers, and big kids.

The top weight limit in rear-facing is only 40 pounds, making the Graco 4Ever DLX less appealing to those car seats with a higher 50-lb weight limit like Graco Extend2Fit which we’ll talk about later . But there is an Extend2Fit version available with a 50-lb rear-facing weight limit. 

But it’s still good enough to keep the infant rear-facing on the second birthday. If you’re living in states that require a child to ride rear-facing as long as 2 years old , it’s a good option.

Getting the infants in and out of the car seat can be a challenge, especially in the rear-facing position. There is not much space between the car seat and the back seat.

The Graco 4Ever DLX features rubberized fuss-free harness storage for a no-slip grip to get your child in and out easily.

This all-in-one car seat supports smooth transitions to forward-facing as the infants approach the weight limit of 40 pounds in rear-facing.

In the front-position mode, Graco 4Ever DLX is brilliant to ride a child from 22-pound to 120-pound in three modes: forward-facing 5-point harness, high-back booster, and backless booster. It’s one of the best 5-point harness car seats for up to 120 pounds .

Even if you follow the guides and advanced tips to ride the infants rear-facing until their 40 pounds weight limit, it still goes for a long time for a child from 40 pounds to 120 pounds.

To achieve this long-term use, the company made this car seat frame with reinforced steel for durability for up to 10 years .

Here needs your attention: the 10-year lifespan started from the car seat’s manufacture date, so the real use should be shorter than the lifespan the company and car seat boast of.

The manufacture date can be found on the label on the car seat so that you can easily count down the remaining service life before it gets expired. We also write a post on when Graco car seats expire .

Kids should stay safely in the car seat. The 4Ever DLX might be one of the safest car seats for infants. It’s Graco ProtectPlus Engineered to help protect the littles from frontal, rear, side, and rollover crashes.

The ProductPlus is the company’s unique system and says that the car seat meets or exceeds a series of rigorous crash tests, including US standard FMVSS 213, side-impact tests with a 5-point harness system (and high back belt-positioning modes in this car seat), rear-impact tests based on European Rear-Impact Crash Pulse.

Some high-end models have this feature, you’ll see the car seat is ProductPlus Engineered. But this does not mean other Graco car seats are not good.

Actually, as a traditional manufacturer with dozens of years of experience, Graco has a few patented extraordinary functions to make sure the little riders’ safety.

Easy installation can add extra scores to the car seat performance. More than the default included InRight LATCH, the 4Ever DLX upgraded with an integrated belt lock-off feature to make it easy to install with the vehicle’s seat belt. No tangle and wobble!

Riding comfortably is also important to your little one, after all, they’ll spend years in the car seat. The breathable cushioned seat pad is made of machine-washable fabrics, along with the RapidRemove feature , you don’t need to be panicked about the littles messing the car seat up.

The RapidRemove is a new and upgraded feature for the Graco 4Ever DLX to connect the cover and seat with snaps that allow the easy pull of the cover for washing in a few seconds. This is more convenient and easier compared to those Graco car seats without this feature.

Talking to the removable cover, the Chicco NextFit Zip series should have their names. They feature a zip-off design to pull off the cover with a zipper in seconds.

Easy to Use Car Seat for Infants to Toddlers

Chicco NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat

  • Weight range (lb): 5-40 (RF): 22-65 (FF)
  • Height limits: ~43" (RF); ~49” (FF)
  • Type: Convertible
  • Stage: 1st, 2nd
  • Lifespan: 8 years
  • Suitable: Birth to 5 or 6 year olds
  • 43-inch high rear-facing height limit
  • Zip-and-wash seat pad
  • Removable newborn positioner
  • 8 years of lifespan
  • Too wide to fit 3 across

The Chicco NextFit Zip is one of the best convertible car seats for infants. It has a very high rear-facing height limit – up to 43 inches tall. Along with the 40-lb top weight limit, Chicco NextFit Zip is one of the best car seats for 2 year olds to stay rear-facing for a longer time.

This is very different from the Graco Extens2Fit’s extendable length.

Designed for newborns and preschoolers, the Chicco NextFit Zip is able to accommodate infants and toddlers between 5-40 pounds in rear-facing and big kids below 65 pounds in forward-facing.

The 65-pound is a common weight limit for 99 percent of convertible car seats, except the Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max, which comes with the highest weight limit of 85 pounds in a 5-point harness. (PS. The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Max was just recalled by the company and is not available now on the market.)

This is a friendly car seat for growing infants. It includes a newborn positioner that is removable when your kid can stay steadily in the car seat by themselves.

The 9-position ReclineSure leveling system and 9-position adjustable headrest allow you to find a comfortable fit for a growing child.

It’s also friendly-designed for parents, providing additional support for them to install the car seat properly and securely.

The SuperCinch LATCH tightened (Pull 2nd) is good to install the car seat tightly in both rear- and front-facing, while the LockSure seat belt locking system helps to lock and secure the installation. Graco 4Ever DLX on this list also has a belt locking system for easy and secure installation, but both are less convenient than the Britax Marathon ClickTight (and other Britax ClickTight car seats ).

With the one-pull harness tightener , you can easily adjust the harness’s tightness and looseness to perfectly fit your child in seconds.

Another appealing point for parents is the zip-and-wash design . You won’t have much time and energy to wash the seat pad by hand, so whether the car seat is easily taken off or machine washable is important for busy parents.

Even the CupFolder is dishwasher-safe for faster cleaning with a machine without by hand.

The Chicco NextFit Zip is certified for use on aircraft . Contact the airline prior to travel to discuss their Child Restraint policy before you take it on board every time.

Easy to Install Car Seat for Infants to Toddlers

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

  • Weight range (lb): 5-40 (RF): 20-65 (FF)
  • Height limits: ~40" (RF); ~49” (FF)
  • 40-inch high rear-facing height limit
  • ClickTight for easier seat belt installation
  • V-shaped tether for stability
  • CoolFlow high performance fabric
  • 18.5-inch narrow width to fit 3 across in large cars

The Britax Marathon ClickTight might have the highest height limit for riding an infant in rear-facing among the convertible car seats.

It boasts of the same height limit for both rear- and forward-facing, up to 49 inches tall.

However, you should pay attention to its weight limit this time. Children ride in the rear-facing safer and it’s recommended to use the car seat until they exceed the top weight or height limits.

But you should also transfer the car seat from the rear-facing to forward-facing on time. For Britax Marathon ClickTight, the 40-lb is the maximum weight limit in rear-facing for riding an infant.

40-pound is not the best performance for fitting an infant in rear-facing, especially compared to those car seats for infants with a 50-lb rear-facing weight limit , but you should be still impressed with Britax Marathon. It’s one of the best car seats with extended rear-facing as well.

The ClickTight word in every model means a lot. It’s a patented click-tight technique that enables three simple steps to use the seat belt for an easy and safe installation. Installing the car seat with a seat belt requires fewer times than that with a LATCH system because there is a LATCH limit.

The V-shaped tether adds confidence to installing the car seat tightly and securely. Proper installation is the first step to ensuring your child’s safety in a child restraint system.

The Britax’s Marathon car seat for infants features a high-strength steel frame to reinforce the seat structure for a stable fit, while the crumple zone provided by the SafeCell helps absorb crash energy to keep your child safe.

This car seat is also FAA-approved for air travel, but you should take it as a second consideration for its heady-duty body.

That’s the common drawback for all convertible car seats – bulky and heavy, not easy to carry from home to the airport. If you like to fly a lot with your growing kids, finding a foldable car seat that is suitable for air travel is a good idea.

Best Car Seats for Infants under 50 LBS

Best car seat for infants to toddlers.

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

  • Weight range (lb): 4-50 (RF): 22-65 (FF)
  • Height limits: ~49” (RF&FF)
  • 50 lbs high rear-facing limit
  • Budget friendly
  • Too wide to fit for small cars
  • The mediocre appearance

The Graco’s Extend2Fit was designed with a top weight limit of 50 pounds in a rear-facing harness, perfectly to keep infants safely riding rear-facing for a longer period of time. It’s one of the top-rated rear-facing car seats 50 lbs .

Even toddlers around 2-3 years old could stay in this car seat rear-facing .

More than a higher weight limit, the Graco Extend2Fit also features a 4-position extension panel that provides up to 5-inch of extra legroom in rear-facing, while the height limit is still as good as other convertible car seats for infants – up to 49-inch (that’s same as the forward-facing height limit).

Thanks to the 50 lb rear-facing weight limit and adjustable extension panel, this convertible car seat is able to ride an infant rear-facing as long as possible, until they’re ready to turn front-facing .

The seat combines long-term use and safety into one. More than the longer stay in rear-facing, the long-term also means durability.

Made of reinforced steel, the frame delivers strength for safety and durability for 10 years of use , since the manufacturer’s date.

Pro tip: The real usage of a car seat should be shorter than the lifespan that the manufacturer stated because the car seat was generally on sale on the market after several months since it was manufactured in the factory.

So carefully check the label in the car seat manual to make sure it’s not expired. See where to find the expiration date for a car seat .

The Extend2Fit convertible car seat for infants is Graco ProtectPlus Engineered to help protect the little passenger in frontal, side, rear, and rollover crashes.

It meets or exceeds a few basic and strict crash tests, like the US FMVSS 213 standards, European Rear-Impact Crash Pulse, and its own RollSafe testing standard based on European rollover testing procedure.

Installation can be easily finished. The InRight LATCH , along with an easy-to-read level indicator on the top side, provides an easy and one-second attachment with an audible click to help ensure a proper and secure installation.

This convertible car seat for infants was designed to go along with your child’s growth. The car seat insert add-ons included help to keep your infant feeling cradled and comfortable.

It’s removable when your child is big enough to stay in the car seat steadily and safely without additional help. It features a 6-position recline and 10-position headrest height that allow you to find the best fit for a growing child.

The Extend2Fit convertible car seat for infants is friendly for traveling with a child, no matter in a vehicle or on an airplane. It’s FAA approved for aircraft use and can be installed with the seat belt on the plane. But you won’t would like to carry it throught the air port. If you need one, see our post on lightweight convertible car seats .

Narrowest Car Seat for Infants to Toddlers

Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Car Seat

Diono Radian 3R

  • Weight range (lb): 5-40 (RF): 22-65 (FF); 40-100 (Booster)
  • Height limits: ~49" (RF&FF); ~57” (Booster)
  • Slim design to fit 3 across
  • Cheaper price tag
  • Going through three car seat stages
  • FAA approved foldable seat with great portability
  • Extended warranty up to 36 months
  • Lacking head and body insert
  • Less reclines
  • Not fit well in small car seats in rear facing

The Diono Radian 3R is able to fit newborns starting from 5 pounds to up to 50 pounds in rear-facing, making it the best car seat for infants.

Riding in rear-facing is safer and the 50-pound weight limit allows the littles to stay in the car seat in rear-facing for as long as possible up to 4 years of toddlers with an average weight.

Even big kids who grew faster than their peers can ride in rear-facing in their 2-3 years old in this Radian 3R car seat, which is a great option in those US states that require infants under 2 years old should ride in rear-facing.

The car seat has only one height limit throughout its three-stage use – up to 57 inches . So the infant’s weight is the only thing you should consider when it’s a good time to transition the car seat from rear-facing to forward-facing as the infants grow.

As one of the members of the Radian R series, the Radian 3R features a unique combination of Diono car seat engineering and rigorous testing and performs well enough to protect the littles in the event of a crash.

Aluminum reinforced sides, along with the thick energy absorbing foam add scores to its protection performance by distributing crash forces for full shielding upon side impact.

The reinforced steel constructed the car seat core and frame and gave strength for protection and durability.

The Radian 3R lasts for a long time of use up to 10 years after the date of manufacture.

The Diono Radian 3R lacks the headrest position, but just provides the 10-position harness adjustments for growing infants in the rear- and forward-facing.

There are no inserts for infants, and if your baby needs additional support, it’s better to get an advanced version like the 3RX pr 3RXT, or the other variant – 3QX or 3QXT.

Installing the Radian 3R is very easy with its SuperLATCH system, thanks to an audible click for letting you know when the LATCH connectors are locked properly in the safe.

No base is required to install the car seat in rear-facing and included support can be mounted to the car seat to hold it up for rear-facing riding.

The Diono Radian 3R is friendly for compact cars, it is slimily designed to fit 3 across in the back seat. This makes it popular in big families with several kids. Thanks to its 17-inch width, it’s one of the best car seats to do 3 across and also among the narrowest car seats .

As a 3-in-1 car seat , the Radian 3R is able to ride a child from birth to youth across the three stages from rear-facing, forward-facing, to booster.

But it does not feature a detachable design to be a backless booster, even though it allows a 120-pound weight limit. It’s a good car seat with a 5-point harness up t0 120 pounds .

It’s the cheapest model of the Diono Radian series , with the basic features. And if you prefer a high-end model that comes with a few extra functions, check the comparison of the Diono Radian R series .

From the weight and age standpoint, your three-year-old kid can sit in the rear-facing or front-facing convertible.

From the safety point, it’s better to stick to the rear-facing mode as long as possible before your child outgrows their car seat’s weight limit – up to 50 pounds for the Radian 3R. 

If your kid grows at an average speed as their peer, they should not exceed the 50-lb weight limit. But if your kid wants to see and explore the landscape outside the window, you can switch Radian 3R to the front-facing and move your kid then.

It’s not required to put a 3-year-old child in the rear-facing; Most US states only indicate this requirement that a 2 years old child should ride rear-facing in the local laws . 

The Diono Radian 3R also works as a booster for big kids in teens. As long as your kid grows over the harness weight or height, you should change it to booster mode, generally in the ages of 7-8 years. 

Lots of parents love Diono’s car seats for their great accommodation in compact vehicles or small cars with relatively narrow seats in the back. The company noticed this pain point for some parents and big families with several children at different ages. So they developed the 3-series, meaning to fit 3 across in the back seat.

It’s a heavy car seat for infants, weighing up to 25.9 pounds. But it’s still a choice for traveling families, thanks to the foldable design. Yes, the Diono Radian 3R is also a foldable car seat . This makes it very portable as the lightweight convertible car seats .

Things to Consider to Look for the Best Car Seats for Infants

Okay, it’s time to purchase a baby car seat, now what’s next? Do a search , find some, compare them and pick up the best option.

It’s easy to make a list of dozens of car seats, you can find them on Amazon, Target, Walmart, or any other online or offline stores, but the most important and time-consuming part is to compare the car seats’ features, to check if it is the best option for your specific needs.

We do this job for you and make a complete list of great car seats for a kid to ride from birth to the day he or she gets out of a car seat .

It’s recommended to keep these five questions in mind when selecting the best infant car seats for the coming little one.

  • Which infant car seats offer the safest ride?
  • Which are the most comfortable (for both babies and parents)?
  • Which are the most user-friendly in terms of installation and daily use?
  • Which have the highest weight and height limits to allow for extended rear-facing?
  • Which is the most value for the money?

These questions give you a rough view. Based on the questions, we list some basic but important features to look for when you find a superior baby car seat.

Your budget. It’s absolutely okay that your kid deserves the very best. However, what he or she needs during their upbringing is quite a lot more than just a car seat.

All the baby things can add up quickly. You can always find a great seat whatever your price range, so just focus on those that fall into your budget. This will save you both money and time.

Your vehicle. Car seats are available in different sizes. Not all car seats fit well in compact or small cars. Also, consider how many car seats you want to place in the back row.

Make sure you have measured and known how much room there is for a car seat and how much space a car seat takes up, especially when you need to locate it in a small car.

The Safety. All the car seats on the market are required to meet federal crash-test safety requirements. All best infant car seats in this list are FAA approved to assure you of your baby’s safety in a car seat.

Some manufacturers promote their seats with additional safety features like anti-rebound bars, which are not federally regulated or tested for better protection.

Easy to install and use. Proper car seat installation increases safety. However, a study revealed that almost 95% of maiden parents made at least one mistake while installing and using baby car seats?

Seats that are very easy to set up and intuitive to use are much less likely to be used incorrectly.

You might need special attention on the car seat buckles, clips, and LATCH system. You usually use a harness and chest clip to put the infant seat in your car and make sure you have the straps tightened strongly to secure your baby.

Look for buckles, clips, and straps that are simple and require less strength to use and tighten.

The LATCH straps are also a necessity to set up the car seat with your car’s built-in LATCH system. Look for car seats coming with a LATCH that don’t require much strength for setup.

Push-on connectors are generally easier than clip-style. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35, for example, uses push-on connectors.

Seamless switch. Infant car seats generally come with a separate base that can be left in the car. The separable design allows you to take the seat in or out of the car for easy switching between different cars.

Most of the baby car seats can be used with strollers for a travel system. Look for some car seat that can be simply attached and detached to the base and buckled onto a stroller for a travel system, without waking your little one in his/her sleep during the switch.

Easy-to-clean and breathable fabrics. Infant car seats made with a smooth fabric can be wiped for cleaning more easily than a textured fabric such as corduroy. Most car seat covers are machine washable, but not all are dryer-safe use, but as long as you’re not in a rush, hanging it with air dry is acceptable.

Car seats made of breathable materials provide the best comfort to your baby. If you can’t check this from the product description, you can check out the customers’ reviews to see what other parents say about their experience.

Grow with your child. An infant car seat is rear-facing only. To keep your young rear-facing as long as possible, the car seat with a higher weight limit is better for longer use, of course.

Convertible car seats generally have a higher weight limit than newborn car seats. But for preemies, it’s recommended for parents to use a baby car seat like Chicco KeyFit 30.

What about the car seat brands ? Graco and Britax have a few years of experience in the car seat industry, but other new brands found in millennial times are not bad anyway.

Advanced Tips to Install the Car Seat for Infants

Buying a baby infant car seat is just the first step for your child’s safety, installing it PROPERLY is the second and most important step, because improper installation of a car seat can cause injuries, even death to babies.

You should always thoroughly read the car seat manual before doing anything. The State laws also suggest setting up and using the car seat following the manufacturer’s guide.

If you have any questions, you can search for tips and video guides on YouTube or the manufacturer’s official website.

Or you can ask help from someone at the local police station, a pediatrician, a hospital, or even a baby store if you still have questions.

Do remember to call the manufacturer’s customer service if there is anything not clear.

Car seats for newborn babies should be installed in the rear-facing position, and the best place for fitting is the center of the rear seat row. If you have a van or SUV with more than one backseat, the middle seat in the center row is better. Putting the car seat in the middle of the backseat will prevent your child from playing with the window buttons and door locks. The second best spot is the seat behind the passenger. This allows you to check your child in the child safety seat occasionally more easily without taking your eyes off the road for too long. And it’s much easier for parents to take the little in and out if the car seat places behind the passenger’s seat.

Just like you’d better buy a car seat in advance before the baby’s birth, you can also locate the seat in your car to test if it is installed properly or not, or if it is stable in the car. You can test by going around some corners to see how the seat moves. If it tips, slides around or rattles too much, you may have to make some adjustments. For extra security, go to your local car seat technician, pediatrician or police station to have the seat checked by someone who will help to confirm that you’ve set up the seat correctly.

Let’s take installing a rear-facing infant car seat for example to explain the steps. Step 1, put the car seat base in the middle seat of the car with a proper angle at a 30-45 degree to ride your baby most comfortably. Step 2, use the vehicle’s seatbelt to secure the car seat base to the vehicle. Step 3, lock the seatbelt by pulling the seatbelt all the way out and retracting back. You will hear it retract while it’s retracting. Step 4, tighten the seat belt by placing one hand on the car seat base and holding the seat belt shoulder strap with the other hand. Simultaneously pull the seat belt slack while pushing down on the base. Step 5, check the base for slack. The base should not move when wiggled more than an inch at the seat belt path. Step 6, double check to make sure that the car seat base is tight when buckled and does not move more than an inch. Step 7, install the car seat into the base using the “click connect” system. Different baby car seats may have a different system, but all have one. These are the basic steps. If your car seat manual has a different explanation, follow the manual.

FAQs on best car seats for infants

This is related to the position where parents need to place the car seat for their babies. The safest position is the centre of the backseat or second row. A study showed that for children from newborn to 3 years old, sitting in the center rear seat is 43% safer than sitting in the eight seat in the back.

However, only 28% of parents place their baby’s car seat in this spot. It was found that the rear passenger side is the most common place in the vehicle for a car seat, up to 41% of parents in the research mount the child’s car seat here.

It’s a common case to have two or more babies in a family. Following the car installation location, the middle of the back seat is the safest place, the seat behind the passenger’s seat is the next and the last is the seat behind the driver’s seat.

If you have to set up two seats in the car, it would be better to put them in the back seat side by side, with the car seat for younger babies placed in the middle, and the other for older children behind the passenger’s seat. But make sure the two car seats can be put in the same row.

Yes, some convertible car seats can ride newborn infants as little as 4 pounds, like the Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat. But for parents who have premature babies, it’s recommended to start with a baby car seat. Most infant car seats include a support insert for the baby’s head and body for better security.

You can’t use a baby infant car seat for a lifetime. They have a lifespan, which is different from usage time. While babies always outgrow their seats during their 1-3 ages, the car seat can be used for a longer time for their following siblings. Generally, most newborn car seats feature about 6 years of lifespan.

Yes. All baby car seats come with a base, and most parents place the car seat on the base, but this doesn’t mean you always need to set up the car seat with the base. Want to know the way to settle a baby car seat without a base, just move to the next question.

How to install infant car seat without base

Car seats featuring either American-style belt path or European-style belt path can be set up without their base.

This installation video on YouTube demonstrates the Chicco KeyFit 30 that features an American-style belt path without its base.

The summarised steps:

  • Recline the seat for an appropriate angle.
  • Pass lap belt through guides and buckle belt.
  • Engage the seat belt’s locking mode by pulling slowly to end.
  • Apply pressure & pull shoulder beltCheck for tightness

If you have an infant seat with a European-style belt path, it is supposed to Put the seat more securely in a much wider variety of vehicles. Seats with European-style belt path include Doona, Graco SnugRide 35 Classic Connect, Nuna Pipa, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35, UPPAbaby Mesa (older version before 2015), and more.

The installation video shows the steps:

  • Buckle babyPass lap belt through guides and buckle belt
  • Engage seat belt’s locking mode by pulling slowly to the end
  • Pass shoulder belt around carrier and into designated guide
  • Recline seatApply pressure & pull shoulder beltCheck for tightness

Many parents may wonder: Is it safe to use a carrier without a base? The Answer is yes.

That depends. For parents who have prematurely newborn infants, it would be better to use a baby car seat like Chicco KeyFit 30 for the child’s safety. But if your baby can fit a larger car seat well, it is perfectly OK to use a convertible car seat instead of buying an infant-only car seat and then transition to a convertible car seat. Whatever you use, make sure your newborn fits into the height and weight range for rear-facing to ride safely in these car seats.

Both infant and convertible seats are a great option for newborns. For small babies, the infant car seats may be better, featuring some head and body inserts for better safety. Newborn car seats are also portable with a carrying handle so that you can take the baby in and out without waking them. Convertible car seats will save money for their longer use and lifespan and are better for families that have few budgets on a car seat.

It’s time- and energy-consuming to find a suitable car seat, this But there are some basic things you should consider for choosing the seat: your newborns, your car, your budget. A car seat that lets your little one stay most comfortable is a more appealing option. Before purchasing a car seat, you should always check with your doctor with the baby’s conditions, like the estimated weight or height range, and measure your car interior room for a seat. Then pick up one that falls into your budget.

To use the LATCH connectors to set up the car seat, make sure your vehicle has lower LATCH anchors. You should always read the car seat’s instruction manual and the vehicle’s owner manual before starting. Then you can follow these steps to mount the car seat with LATCH:

  • Place the baby car seat in the back center seat of your vehicle, in the rear-facing position. Locate the lower anchors in your vehicle.
  • Connect the lower anchor attachments on the car seat to the lower anchors, making sure the straps aren’t twisted across your toddler’s head or body.
  • Press down firmly on the car seat and tighten the straps. Tips to check the tightness: the car seat won’t be moved side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch.
  • 30-45 degree angle: Babies must ride sitting semi-reclined to keep the airway open.
  • Most rear-facing car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors to assist you, generally found near to the bottom on the side.
  • The angle may need to be adjusted as your child grows, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions.

The car seats that can be used rear-facing generally have a 5-point harness to strap and secure the babies. Doctor Alisa from the Car Seat Lady has made this video for parents to strap their babies in the correct way.  The summarized steps:

  • Loosen the straps. You should pull the shoulder straps towards you while pushing/lifting the loosening tab to make the straps loose.
  • Slide bottom back. Make sure the baby’s bottom is all the way into the back of the car seat.
  • Buckle between legs on both sides.
  • Buckle chest clip.
  • Tighten the straps by gathering the slack bottom to top. Pull straps up while still keeping chest clip low, then pull the tail of the bottom of the seat to make sure the straps tighten enough.
  • Check for snugnessMove the chest clip to armpits

The video also shows how to put a blanket to swaddle the baby correctly in the car seat.

Yes. All car seats have limited lifespan, about several years. For the infant car seat case, the lifespan is generally 6 years. Convertible and booster seats can be used longer and generally also have a longer lifespan up to 10 years.

All infant car seats have weight and height limits. Most US State laws recommend you stop using them and move your child to a higher-weight-and-height-limit convertible car seat once your little one has outgrown their infant car seats. The highest weight or height limit is usually reached somewhere between 9 and 18 months. But it’s better to ride your child in a rear-facing position until age 2.

Yes. Most baby car seats are certified for air travel. Although airlines typically allow infants to ride on a caregiver’s lap during flight, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) recommends that infants ride in properly secured safety seats. You may need to contact the airline first to make sure your car seat is acceptable.

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  • Best Car Seats

The 10 Best Car Seats 2024 | Crash Tested

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall Infant Car Seat

Searching for the best car seat for your little one? After spending tens of thousands of dollars on crash testing car seats in a certified testing lab, we discovered that not all car seats are created equal, despite their ability to pass basic federal crash test requirements. Since 2014, we've tested over 80 seats, including crash testing, to help you determine which car seat is the best for your baby, toddler, or child. We purchase each seat and conduct intensive side-by-side testing, including crash tests at the exact location used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) . We combine crash test results with our extensive hands-on testing to analyze which competitors are the top performers. Choosing a safety seat can be challenging, but you can buy with confidence using our detailed test results and analysis to help you. Below is the list of our favorite award-winning seats across all categories.

Over time, you will need three different kinds of car seats based on your baby's age and size (height and weight). If you know the kind you need, you can check out our comparison test ratings on the best infant car seat , best convertible car seat , and the top-ranking booster seat . These reviews include more products in each category than in this comprehensive review.

Best Overall Infant Car Seat

Chicco keyfit 35.

chicco keyfit 35 infant car seat review

The Chicco Keyfit 35 is a higher quality infant car seat with an easy LATCH installation with the SuperCinch center pull strap. This option has a polished look with a rubbery grip handle and a headrest with a non-rethread harness adjustment. The Keyfit 35 earned better crash-test analysis than most infant competitors and works well with various award-winning strollers.

The Keyfit 35 is somewhat heavier, which could be a deal-breaker if you plan to carry your baby in it. Overall, we believe this top-ranking infant seat is ideal for most families regardless of their infant seat goals, and it is compatible with various strollers from multiple manufacturers.

Read more: Chicco Keyfit 35 review

Best Infant Car Seat Crash Test Analysis

clek liing infant car seat review

The Clek Liing is a well-designed infant car seat with a load leg. The Liing offers impressive crash test sensor results, with some of the lowest in the group (lower is better) and one of the highest analysis scores. It is also the easiest to install using LATCH with color change indication of connection on rigid LATCH connectors that are unbelievably easy to use. This seat is easy to install no matter what method, and it offers above-average quality and features for comfort.

The Liing is expensive; unless your budget can stretch, it might be a deal-breaker. It also isn't the easiest seat to use, and it doesn't pair with many strollers, unlike the Chicco Keyfit 35 . We would love to see a non-rethread harness adjustment on a seat in this price range, but we can accept its absence, given the ease of installation. Overall, there is no better infant seat if your goal is crash test best, and the installation will keep you smiling.

Read more: Clek Liing review

Best High-quality Infant Car Seat

Uppababy mesa max.

uppababy mesa max infant car seat review

The UPPAbaby Mesa Max is a looker of a seat with quality and comfort you can see before you even touch it. The headrest has lots of cushion and support for napping, and the material is skin-friendly for sensitive newborns. We love the self-retracting tightening strap for LATCH installation and the anti-rebound bar and load leg. This seat has one of the best harness adjustment systems with a simple push/pull of the headrest assembly, and the canopy is large enough for most sun protection.

This seat is a little more expensive than the average option but offers more consideration for comfort and quality, somewhat justifying the added expense. It also only has an average crash test analysis score, which means it isn't the one for you if the best crash test score is the goal. You'll have to look at the Clek Liing for the best or the Chicco Keyfit 35 for better-than-average results. Overall, we love this UPPAbaby offering more than the UPPAbaby Mesa V2 and think it provides more than most seats for comfort, quality, and ease of use.

Read more: UPPAbaby Mesa Max review

Best Overall Convertible Car Seat

Graco 4ever dlx.

graco 4ever dlx convertible car seat review

The Graco 4Ever DLX is one of those rare products that seems like nothing can go wrong. This reasonably priced convertible seat has the group's best crash test analysis and performed well in the remaining metrics. The 4Ever is easy to install using LATCH, significantly easier than the average seat for belt installation, and has super easy-to-use features like a non-rethread harness height adjustment. It is hard to go wrong with the 4Ever.

This Graco is not the most comfortable or budget-friendly. The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 is less expensive and offers more padding for comfort while maintaining a similar crash test profile. If you want the best for comfort and budget isn't a concern, then the Nuna Rava is a high-quality option with ample comfort padding and soft fabric, but the entry price is steep. Overall, we think the 4Ever DLX is the perfect choice for most.

Read more: Graco 4Ever DLX review

Inexpensive High-ranking Convertible

Graco extend2fit 3 in 1.

graco extend2fit 3 in 1 convertible car seat review

The Graco Extend2Fit 3 in 1 is one of our favorite convertible car seats with a very reasonable price tag (that is often on sale) and one of the highest crash test analysis results in the convertible lineup. This Graco is comfortable with supportive padding that decreases pressure points and a headrest suitable for road trip napping.

This option isn't as easy to install using either method as the Graco 4Ever DLX , but it isn't challenging compared to lower-ranking contenders. It also isn't as easy to use as those with slightly more thoughtful designs like the Nuna RAVA . However, overall, we think it is a great all-around choice for many families that offers enough to keep both parents and toddlers pleased.

Read more: Graco Extend2Fit 3 in 1 review

Best Budget-Friendly Convertible Seat

Graco slimfit 3-in-1.

graco slimfit 3-in-1 convertible car seat review

The Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 is a budget choice that excels at the most important metrics like crash testing and installation. The SlimFit is a lightweight option with more comfortable padding than some of the other Gracos we tested, and it has features that are easy to use.

This seat has great crash test results, but if you want the absolute best, the Graco 4Ever DLX is the better bet. Also, if you want to try a rotating seat, the SlimFit isn't going to fit the bill, and the Cybex Sirona S might be better. However, this is a great option for most families with performance results and a price combination that can't be matched.

Read more: Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 review

Easiest Convertible Car Seat

nuna rava convertible car seat review

The high-quality Nuna RAVA is an ultra-comfortable convertible seat. This seat is one of the easiest to use, with a thoughtful design that works well and has daily functioning in mind. It has easy-to-use harness adjustments, and either installation method is a no-brainer. With one of the highest crash test analysis scores, there isn't much stopping families from looking closer at the Rava.

The downside to this seat is largely the price. With a list price that is double much of the competition, this could be a deal-breaker for many. If your budget is average or even tight, the Graco 4Ever DLX , Graco Extend2Fit 3 in 1 , and the Graco SlimFit 3-in-1 also performed well and have significantly lower prices. If you want the easiest-to-use seat or one with obvious quality and comfort compared to the competition, and budget is less of a concern, then the Rava is the seat for your kiddo.

Read more: Nuna RAVA review

Best Revolving Convertible Car Seat

Cybex sirona s.

cybex sirona s convertible car seat review

The Cybex Sirona S is our favorite revolving convertible seat. The Sirona has ample comfort features, non-rethread harness adjustment, one-way installation, and a fully rotating chair for rear or forward-facing configurations. This quality option also has a smart chest clip that can send alerts to your phone when paired with an app.

This seat doesn't have the best crash test analysis results and is expensive, which could be a deal-breaker. If you want a rotating seat with better crash test results, the Baby Jogger City Turn should garner a look. The Turn doesn't rotate in the forward-facing position but has a higher crash test result. If you are willing to forgo rotation for safety, then we'd point to the Graco 4Ever DLX that earned top crash test scores in our review. Outside of crash testing and price, the Sirona is a quality option with excellent rotation that is fun to use and quickly became a tester favorite.

Read more: Cybex Sirona S review

Best Overall Booster

Chicco kidfit zip air plus 2-in-1.

chicco kidfit zip air plus 2-in-1 booster seat review

The Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 is the one booster that does it all well and does it for a below-average price. With higher crash test analysis results and an easy-to-use design, this higher-quality option is a shoo-in for your shortlist. The Air Plus has a zip-off cover, a padded leg lounger feature and installs using LATCH.

This option is not the best for travel and parents might consider a backless option like the BubbleBUm instead. Alternatively, if you want the highest crash test results or the easiest option to use, and your budget is bigger, then the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 is one to consider. Because the KidFit Zip Air Plus ranks so high and has a buyer-friendly price, it is hard not to recommend it as the right choice for most families.

Read more: Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 review

Best Crash Test Booster

Peg perego viaggio flex 120.

peg perego viaggio flex 120 booster seat review

The Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 is an impressive high-backed booster that offers exceptional adjustability, the best crash testing analysis for booster seats, and is of higher quality than other competitors. We love the expanding wing sides, the two-point height adjustment, and the tapered seat for easy buckling. There isn't much to dislike about this booster.

The Peg is expensive, with a price almost twice that of the next highest scoring seat, the Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 . It also doesn't have armrests, which some kids might think is a deal breaker. However, our tester felt it was one of the most comfortable in the group, and parents and kids thought the loss wasn't a problem. Overall, the Peg might not be for everyone because of the higher price, but it performed so well in all metrics that we believe it is a top contender for anyone whose budget allows.

Read more: Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 review

Best Budget Booster

Diono cambria 2.

diono cambria 2 booster seat review

The Diono Cambria 2 is our budget-friendly, high-backed option in our booster review. This seat has a lower price paired with a higher crash analysis result. We love the idea of an economical booster that also provides an additional margin of protection over lower-scoring seats.

The Cambria 2 did not score well overall or in key metrics like ease of use or quality. The Chicco KidFit Zip Air Plus 2-in-1 offers more in every metric and could be one you try to stretch your budget too if you hope for more beyond crash scoring. However, if your budget is tight and you can't find a good sale, or you need a second seat for occasional use, the Cambri is one parents can feel good about.

Read more: Diono Cambria 2 review

Best Travel Booster

bubblebum booster seat review

The BubbleBum is a unique booster that inflates for use and rolls up in its own carry bag for transport. This compact and lightweight booster is the perfect option for any situation where you or your child need to frequently carry a booster. Be it travel, carpooling, or the summer camp van, the BubbleBum can provide a useful boost without the cumbersome hassle of a high-backed option.

The BubbleBum didn't perform as well as competitors for crash test analysis, but it did manage better results than other backless contenders. While its results aren't as impressive as the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 , it almost managed an average score. It also isn't the best quality, with some errant stitching and a flimsy feel. However, the price is low, and if it is a secondary seat instead of your everyday option, this shouldn't be a concern. Overall, this innovative option is our pick for travel.

Read more: BubbleBum review

car seats - for crash testing, we work with mga research, the same certified...

Why You Should Trust Us

Our testing protocol for car seats is intense and highly detailed; we've conducted more than 6,000 individual tests to evaluate the more than 200 safety seats we've tested since 2014. Our tests show that car seats vary significantly in their performance. To help you determine which option is the best for you, we purchase two seats of every brand and model ourselves for testing. We do NOT accept free products from manufacturers to assure our readers that our opinions are independent and unbiased.

We send one car seat to the same professional crash test facility the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) uses for testing. We keep the other seat in-house for over 45 detailed scientific tests on each seat. In-house, we use and assess all features and functionality, from the stiffness of the buckle and how challenging it is to change shoulder strap height to the difficulty of installation for every method possible. Our extensive, months-long testing process means you can feel confident in our test results and analysis to help you find the best car seat for your family and budget.

Car seat testing is divided into five test metrics (with some variation based on car seat type):

  • Crash Test Analysis (based on professional, 3rd party tests by MGA Research)
  • Ease of Installation (every configuration in multiple vehicles)
  • Ease of Use
  • Comfort/Quality
  • Weight & Size

Our exhaustive testing and rating process provides the information you need to make your family's best car seat purchase. Each metric's weighted contribution to the overall score is based on how important we believe it is to the purchasing decision. Weighting varies somewhat for each car seat category, as some features or functionality could be more critical from one product type than another.

car seats - a collection of some of the convertible options we've tested recently.

With over 100 car seats under our testing belt, it is easy to say you're in good hands with an expert crew for safety seats and crash testing. This team is led by our founder, Dr. Juliet Spurrier uses her experience as a board-certified pediatrician to select products with safety and installation in mind, as these are the key factors in creating a safe car environment for little passengers. Bob Wofford , father of 7, Senior Review Analyst and Certified Passenger Safety Technician , leads the in-house testing team with extensive side-by-side testing for ease of installation and more. Given our test process of installing every seat in at least three different vehicles and Bob's seven years of seat testing prowess, you can rest assured that Bob has more installation and car seat experience than probably anyone on the planet. Wendy Schmitz , mom of two boys and Senior Review Editor, takes part in score analysis as well as hands-on testing and installation with over six years of experience testing seats of every kind. Abriah Wofford , Senior Review Analyst, rounds out the team and provides another set of hands and alternate experiences to give more insight on installation and ease of use. Abriah has been testing car seats since 2016.

Types of Car Seats

If you are a new parent, the world of car seats could be brand new and somewhat daunting. We remember all too well wondering what to choose, when to switch to a new seat, and why installing them was so darn complicated. Luckily, we have the information you need to decide which safety seat is right for your little one.

Infant Car Seats

Parents must have a safe car seat when leaving the hospital with their new baby. Infant safety seats are designed with consideration for tiny baby bodies and developing systems. From proper positioning to avoid positional asphyxiation to narrower shoulder harness straps, serious engineering goes into a safe infant car seat. Infant safety seats combine a carrier and a base to create a system that allows you to install the base in your car once, carry your infant in the carrier to and from the car base, or attach it to a compatible stroller. Unlike "all-in-one" seats or convertible seats that claim suitability for infants, infant car seats are only for infants and babies typically up to about nine months or 30-35 lbs. We believe they are uniquely qualified to potentially better protect your little than a seat designed for children from 4-80 lbs. Most parents feel infant carriers are valuable tools and are grateful for the ability to leave a child to sleep while running errands using a stroller or the carrier handle.

Below is a chart with the overall performance scores of all the infant car seats in our current review of the best infant car seats available today.

Convertible Car Seats

Convertible seats are for older babies (around nine months) and can last until your little one is about 3-7 years old, depending on the model and your child's size. The seat starts facing the vehicle seat or backward (the safest position for little ones). Depending on the manufacturer's recommendations, you turn the seat to face forward when your child reaches a certain weight or height range. The moniker "convertible" is related to the seat facing backward and then "converting" to a forward-facing seat.

Below are the scores from our comprehensive review of the best convertible car seats you can buy today.

Booster Car Seats

Once your baby outgrows their convertible seat, they're ready for the big kid favorite booster seat . This transition will depend on the manufacturer's guidelines and your child's size. Pay special attention to weight and height restrictions, as most children outgrow one before the other. Depending on the seat, your child will likely need a booster around 5-7 years old, but child size is more of a factor than age. Just as you wanted to stay rear-facing as long as possible, we think keeping your child in a convertible seat as long as the seat user manual allows before swapping it for a booster is wise. We believe the 5-point harness and side shell of the convertible seats potentially offer more protection.

Below is a summary chart from our review of the best booster car seats .

car seats - we don't care for a one-and-done style car seat and believe an...

Can One Product Do it All?

While convertible seats can work for babies from 5 - 50 lbs and beyond, we don't believe it is good to choose a one-and-done seat regarding safety.

Infant seats are designed for smaller newborn bodies. These seats are configured for a baby's anatomy and provide posture positioning for optimal breathing and protection in a crash. The harness design is narrower and more appropriate for an infant than that on a convertible seat, designed for older babies and modified for infants.

Tiny infants deserve to have a car seat designed specifically for...

Many convertible car seats have an infant insert to make the car seat more suitable for smaller passengers. We believe it is smart to purchase car seats specifically for each age/size instead of opting for one product that can accommodate a baby but isn't explicitly designed for infants. If you want to save money on baby gear (don't we all?), we do not think car seat purchasing is the time to do it, given the potential safety implications.

car seats - the uppababy vista can be used with 2 infant car seats for easy...

The other advantage of infant seats is they are handy. Infant seats have a carrier with a handle for easy carrying from one location to another.

This design allows you to move a sleeping infant from a car to a stroller or car without disruption. This functionality may seem insignificant before your baby is born, but trust us, you will do this more than once; you'll be grateful for the carrier.

Is Ease of Installation or Crash Test Results More Important?

While many parents are concerned with crash test safety (as you should be), few know that improperly installing a seat or not using it as indicated is a significant cause of infant injury in car accidents. In our research on car seat safety testing, safety engineers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) emphasized that improper use is a more significant safety concern than the differences in crash test performance results.

In fact, an NHTSA study showed that 79% of infant seats exhibited a critical misuse related to either installation of the seat or incorrect restraint of the infant, or both. Another study by Portland's top Children's Hospital followed 267 families as they left the hospital with their infants after birth. The study showed that "93% made at least one critical error — a mistake that put their infant at increased risk for injury in a crash — when positioning their infant in a car safety seat or installing the safety seat in their vehicle."

The "linear side-impact protection" on the Cybex is a nice to see...

Ninety-three percent is a significant number. That is why we feel that ease of use and installation are critical components of seat safety, potentially more so than the crash test results. So, while crash test analysis is important, it should not overshadow how challenging a seat is to use or install. Many award-winning seats are easy to install, with at least one installation method. Some even have perfect scores and are practically foolproof or as infallible as possible.

car seats - parents who frequently ride in taxi cabs or use services like uber...

Does Lifestyle Matter?

Your lifestyle might be a consideration in your selection process for a new car seat. Suburban parents typically have a personal car and a semi-permanent location to install their seats with limited alterations. Other parents might live in a larger city where they frequently use Uber and taxis, requiring a relatively mobile option with frequent installations in multiple vehicles. Therefore, a lightweight, easy-to-install car seat is more critical to urbanites than others. If you aren't carrying your seat frequently, you have more options because weight is less of a determining factor. Some heavier products are likely non-starters if you need to carry the seat frequently.

The weight of your booster seat could play a role in your decision-making if you carpool or travel. Your child may need a booster seat in some locations to participate in camp vanpooling or sharing rides with friends from school activities. A heavy steel frame seat like the Clek Oobr is a beast and isn't something you want to move very often. It is a poor choice for carrying or stuffing in a backpack without the back. The Evenflo Spectrum is significantly lighter and can go backless for even easier carpooling.

car seats - the evenflo tribute is one of the lighter seats in the convertible...

A convertible seat's weight is less of a consideration for most people because it typically spends most of its life installed in a single location. However, if you need to catch a taxi with your seat and your baby, you will likely prefer the lightest seat possible.

For infant seats, the weight of the carrier can play a role for similar reasons. Carriers can be cumbersome when combined with the baby's weight. If you plan to attach your carrier to a stroller, the weight is less critical, but if you plan to hold your carrier or travel frequently, its weight plays more of a role.

car seats - the keyfit 35 is easy enough to install without the base and uses...

Are you an urban dweller looking for an infant carrier? Then, you should consider the ease of installation without the base, as you are more likely to install the seat in an Uber without the base than you are to carry the base. This installation style is a safe practice, and the seats have a method for this practice. However, some seats are significantly more straightforward to install without the base than others, so choosing the easiest, high-ranking option could make your life easier. Alternatively, the Doona is easy enough to install without the base and includes an attached stroller that takes the weight off you and puts it on wheels.

What About Weight Range?

Infant seats claim to be appropriate for a baby from 4 lbs to typically up to 30-45 lbs; convertible seats also have limits, usually between 5 to 55 lbs (or higher, depending on the seat). Manufacturers advertise these ranges and make them seem very important. Should this weight range be a consideration when making your purchase? No, probably not.

Despite the manufacturer's focus on weight, most babies will outgrow the height limits before reaching the weight limit for most infant seats. The same is typically true of convertible seats.

According to the CDC's infant boy age vs. weight growth chart (pdf), a 95th percentile baby boy (which means a baby growing faster than 94 babies out of 100) will still weigh under 28 lbs and be close to 32 inches on their one year birthday. Based on height, most infants will transition out of their infant seat and into a convertible seat between 9-12 months. You can see from the data that even the fastest-growing boy will fail to exceed the maximum weight of the majority of seats in our tests, but he might grow too tall, which means a transition to the following safety seat style before his weight impacts a change. So, while having a general idea of how long your baby can use a seat is helpful, it is only an estimate.

Ultimately, the restrictions have more to do with height than weight. For this reason, we wouldn't necessarily make the weight range a deciding factor in your buying decision unless it is below 30 lbs for an infant seat (very rare). Even if your little one is exceptionally tall, you will simply move to a convertible seat sooner than other babies of the same age, which isn't a big deal, is safe, and will occur eventually, no matter what.

car seats - there are many varieties of combinations when it comes to strollers...

What About Travel Systems?

A travel system is a package deal that includes an infant car seat and a compatible stroller. These combinations are traditionally a predetermined set from the same manufacturer. Pre-arranged sets (in our experience) often include less impressive choices than you get if you create your own combination, so we prefer to create our own. Alternatively, you can skip the pre-packages to create your own mix where you purchase a seat and compatible stroller separately (which may require buying adapters). Manufacturer sets, however, may be less expensive.

Because safety is paramount, we believe you should choose your car seat before a stroller. We think choosing the right infant seat before selecting a must-have compatible stroller is wise. Most infant safety seats are compatible with at least a couple of strollers ; if they aren't, you still have the option of wearing your baby in a carrier.

car seats - the car seat recommendation from the nhtsa website

How to Choose

You can narrow your options to a handful of top contenders by considering how you plan to use your seat and how easy it is to install. First, we believe you should choose a seat that corresponds to your little one's appropriate age and size. We strongly encourage you to resist the temptation to buy an "all-in-one" or "lifetime" product for your infant. From there, you can narrow your search by the crash test results. Last, while we understand budget can be a concern, and some new parents have the tightest of budgets, we believe that car seats are not the right product type to try to save a few bucks. Our tests reveal that there are affordable seats that are easy to install with impressive crash test analysis results in every category. However, they could still be slightly more expensive than the cheapest options.

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The 7 Best Travel High Chairs for Families on the Go

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Travel high chairs provide your baby with their own space to eat solid foods while you're on the go. The best travel high chairs are easy to set up, equipped with many safety features, and, above all, portable.

From booster seats to clip-on to floor chairs, travel high chairs come in a variety of styles. Regardless of the style, you'll want to look closely at its durability, weight capacity, and how easy it is to clean. Many portable high chairs can be wiped down with a damp cloth or will have removable pieces that you can throw in the dishwasher or washing machine once you're home. We researched the top options from trusted brands with these features in mind. A board-certified pediatrician on our Review Board also reviewed this article for medical accuracy and integrity surrounding travel high chairs, safety features, and size limitations.

Here are the best travel high chairs on the market.

  • What to Look For
  • Why Trust Verywell Family?

Best Overall

Summer infant deluxe comfort folding booster.

Dishwasher-safe removable tray

Removable machine washable cover 

Portable design

Not safe for use until baby is 6 months old

We love this booster because it's affordable, durable, and easy to clean. Crafted with BPA-free materials in three adorable designs, this chair has two height levels and two separate straps that secure it safely to a standard chair. It also has a 3-point harness to buckle your baby in and keep them secure. It's safe to use for babies 6 months and up and has a 33-pound weight limit.

Other features include a removable tray and fabric seat cover. The tray can be used for eating or removed so your baby can scoot right up to the table. It has three different position options and is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.

Meanwhile, the seat cover provides some soft support against your baby's back. It can be removed and tossed in the washing machine when it needs to be cleaned. The bottom of the seat is made of durable plastic which can simply be wiped down if dirtied.

Finally, this seat folds down neatly for easy carrying, transport, and storage.

Key Specs: Product Weight: 0.82 pounds | Type: Booster | Weight Limit: 33 pounds

Best Budget

Nuby easy go booster seat.

Super lightweight

Has storage space

Folding design for easy transport

No food tray

Needs to be wiped clean

This seat is super lightweight and folds down compactly so it is perfect for travel. It features two straps to safely secure it to a chair as well as a removable pad for extra comfort and height.

There is a storage pocket on the back of the seat that can hold utensils or a small toy, and the seat is equipped with a strong three-point harness for extra safety. While it does not include a tray, this seat can accommodate toddlers weighing up to 50 pounds.

Key Specs: Product Weight: 1.83 pounds | Type: Booster | Weight Limit: 50 pounds

My Little Seat Travel Highchair

Machine washable

Securely attaches to the chair it’s sitting on

Does not provide extra height

It doesn’t get much simpler than this travel seat, which slides over the back of a chair and ties on for a secure attachment. Once the seat is secure, you just slip the baby through the five-point harness and let them sit directly onto the chair.

It’s made for babies and kids weighing up to 35 pounds and can be tossed into the washing machine whenever it gets dirty. When it’s not in use, this seat folds down to the size of a diaper and tucks away into a small bag, making it super portable. 

Key Specs: Product Weight: 0.7 pounds | Type: Booster | Weight Limit: 35 pounds

Best Clip-On

Inglesina fast table hook-on high chair.

Compact design is great for travel

Features storage pocket on the back

Might not be ideal for babies/toddlers with thicker thighs

Hand wash only

This lightweight seat uses adjustable, non-slip clamps to firmly attach to tables between 0.8 and 3.3 inches thick. When it’s not in use, it folds down compactly into the small carrying case that it comes with.

It features a storage pocket on the back of the chair that’s just the right size for utensils and small toys, and it has a high-back design to offer full support to smaller babies. The chair can also be combined with a removable tray (sold separately).

Key Specs: Product Weight: 4.2 pounds | Type: Clip On | Weight Limit: 37 pounds

Best Pop-Up

Summer pop ‘n sit portable highchair.

Easy set-up/tear-down 

Includes dishwasher-safe tray

Harness can be difficult to buckle/unbuckle

Available in several fun colors, this chair can be set up as a floor seat. It features a removable tray that is dishwasher safe and comes with a storage backpack for easy transport. The company also sells a nearly identical booster seat with a strap that will attach it to a standard chair.

Kids between 6 months and 4 years old (or up to 45 pounds) can safely use this floor seat, which is equipped with a three-point harness. When it’s not in use, simply fold the seat up like a camping chair and then pop it back up the next time you need it.

Key Specs: Weight: 5 pounds | Type: Floor | Weight Limit: 45 pounds

Best Traditional

Lalo the chair.

Removable cover is washing machine safe

Great longevity

Converts into play chair

On the pricier side

Does not include transport bag

If you want the option of traveling with a traditional high chair, this 10-pound option is perfect. It breaks down into several pieces (depending on the model you choose) so that it can be easily transported wherever you go. The high chair includes a removable tray that is dishwasher safe, comes with a removable pad, and has the option to convert into a play chair.

It’s equipped with a five-point harness and is safe for babies 4 months old (if they are sitting independently ) up to 3 years old, while the play chair is made for kids at least 1 year old and weighing up to 200 pounds.

Key Specs: Weight: 10 pounds | Type: Floor | Weight Limit: Up to 4 years old (Play chair weight limit is 200 pounds)

Best 2-in-1

Chicco pocket snack booster seat.

50-pound weight limit

Compact and easy to transport

Tray is not dishwasher safe

This chair attaches to a standard dining chair and features three height options to help your little one reach the table. It includes a removable tray with three position options and a three-point harness for safety.

When it’s not in use, this seat folds down compactly and features a carrying strap for easy transport. It’s designed for babies 6 months old who can sit unassisted, to kids up to 3 years old or under 50 pounds (whichever comes first).

Key Specs: Weight: 5.75 pounds | Type: Booster | Weight Limit: 50 pounds

Final Verdict

The Summer Deluxe Comfort Folding Booster ( view at Amazon ) ranks top on our list because of its versatility and overall portable design. Cleanup is easy with the removable tray and cover, and it can hold toddlers up to 33 pounds, meaning it offers a few years of use. 

What to Look for in a Travel High Chair

Set-up options.

There are various types of travel high chairs which can be set up in different ways. The one that is best for you depends a lot on how you plan to use it.

Typically, booster high chairs will sit on top of a standard chair and attach to its back with a clip or strap of some kind. Keep in mind that boosters should always be securely attached to a sturdy chair in order to be used safely. Also, be mindful of your child's age and development before transitioning to a booster chair . Most babies are booster chair-ready by 18 months old while older toddlers are typically too big for them.

The booster may come with a tray that can slide on and off of the front of the seat, much like a standard high chair, or it may be designed for you to push the chair right up to the table without needing a tray at all. These types of chairs are usually pretty bulky, so they aren’t great for restaurants but work well for visits to friends or family members’ homes. 

Clip-On Chair

Sometimes called “lobster chairs,” these chairs are usually super compact and attach to tabletops using clamps that can be adjusted to fit most tables. The clamps are what support the seat, and this type of chair is ideal for restaurants, counters, or high-top tables (as well as air travel) because it’s compact.

However, many of these kinds of seats are designed for babies, so they aren’t good for families with toddlers. 

Floor Chair

Instead of pushing up to a table, this type of chair comes with a tray and sits right on the floor. They can be small or closer to the size of a standard high chair but easily break down for travel. Since there are multiple variations of floor chairs, there are a lot of different uses for them. They’re especially good for outdoors where there may not be a standard table and/or chair to attach a travel seat to. 

Safety is the most important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a travel high chair. If it’s a booster, you’ll want to make sure it has a strap that will securely attach it to the chair it’s sitting on and that it has a level bottom that will stay put even if your child is wiggling. For clip-on chairs, make sure the clamps are high quality and will not loosen as your child moves around.

Also, make sure the seat’s fabric is strong and secure since it will be supporting your child’s weight. Different high chairs have different weight and age parameters so ensure your baby meets these and is showing signs of readiness for a high chair before buying.

Finally, regardless of the type of high chair you get, it should have some kind of harness to keep your kid in the seat. Children shouldn’t be able to crawl or wiggle out of the chair due to the potential risk of injury. It’s also important to note that parents should never leave their babies unattended or let them sleep in any high chair. 

Portability

The whole point of getting a travel high chair is that you can easily transport it. Depending on how you plan to use the chair, you may want it to fold down compactly for easy storage or travel. No matter what style you get, though, you will want to be sure that it is light enough to carry (most likely when you’re also carrying a baby and a diaper bag).

Frequently Asked Questions

There's no specific age when your kid should stop using a high chair. Instead, it depends on whether or not they're steady and strong enough to support themselves sitting through an entire (or most of) a meal. That said, generally, children use a high chair until anywhere from between 18 months to three years old.

So, your kid is finally ready to graduate from the high chair. Congrats! You can now move them to a booster seat, which secures to the top of a normal-sized chair and belts them in to enable them to reach the table comfortably and safely.

Ideally, your child's high chair should have a foot rest. This is because it gives them better support and stability while they're eating. (Bonus: This can also help develop their sense of balance.)

When it comes to our little ones, safety is rule #1. By buckling them into their high chair, you can help ensure they don't slip or fall out of it and end up hurting themselves. So, always be sure they're snapped in snugly, but not too tight—you should be able to fit two fingers in between their body and the belt, no more, no less.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Ashley Ziegler is a full-time parenting writer and mom to a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. She has personal experience in researching and purchasing a variety of children’s products, and key considerations she used when selecting these recommendations include materials, design, and user reviews.

  • Strollers /

Best Travel Strollers of 2024, Tested and Reviewed by Parents & Experts

Lightweight and compact, a travel stroller can help make your next family vacation a little bit easier., by jen labracio.

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If the thought of trying to wrangle your full-size stroller on your next family adventure feels daunting, it’s time to consider a travel stroller.

Travel strollers make leaving home with your little one a little bit easier and a lot more convenient. Today’s travel stroller is a minimalist’s dream. Most have many of the same high-end features as traditional strollers all rolled into a compact, portable package. Many travel strollers break down to fit in the overhead bin of a plane or can be folded down quickly (and with one hand—win) and slung over your shoulder. Many parents even use them as their day-to-day stroller.

If you’re a family who’s frequently on the go, a travel stroller may be the answer to help lighten your load and simplify your life. We’re sharing Babylist parents favorites and bestselling picks to help you narrow down your search. I also added my own thoughts and picks from the countless travel strollers I’ve tested over the last decade as a mom of two and in my role as Babylist’s Gear Editor.

Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best Travel Strollers

  • Best Travel System: Nuna PIPA urbn + TRVL Travel System
  • Best for Toddlers: Bugaboo Butterfly Complete Stroller
  • Best Budget: Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller
  • Best for Everyday Use: UPPAbaby MINU V2 Stroller
  • Best for Planes: Babyzen YOYO2 6+ Stroller
  • Best Compact: Joolz Aer+ Lightweight Stroller
  • Best Lightweight: Zoe The Traveler
  • Best Value: Baby Jogger City Tour 2 Single Stroller
  • Best for Infants: Mountain Buggy Nano V3 Stroller
  • Best Umbrella: Summer 3D Lite Convenience Stroller

In This Article

How we chose the best travel strollers.

  • Our Top Picks

Which Stroller Is Best for Travel?

What to look for in a travel stroller, how do you travel with a stroller on a plane, babylist’s picks for the best travel strollers, best travel system stroller.

Nuna PIPA urbn & TRVL Travel System - Caviar - $850.00.

Nuna PIPA urbn & TRVL Travel System - Caviar

  • Baseless infant car seat, installs in seconds
  • Stroller has one-handed fold, weighs 13 pounds
  • Car seat weighs just 7 pounds

What Our Experts Say

If you know you’ll frequently be traveling while your baby is an infant, you may want to invest in a travel system (a stroller and car seat that attach to each other; here’s more on how to pick a travel system ). This combo is the best of the best, and what I wish I’d had when I was a new mom living in New York City seven years ago and didn’t own a car. It combines the ultra-popular TRVL, the brand’s first dive into the lightweight stroller market, with the urbn, a first-of-its-kind car seat.

What’s so special about a baseless car seat? Most infant car seats can be installed without a base, but require a seat belt—along with time and patience. That’s not the case with the urbn. There’s no base to worry about AND the latch system is built right into the seat’s base. I was blown away by how quick and easy this seat was to install. I pressed a button on each side and pushed to attach it directly to my vehicle’s lower anchors—that’s it. It’s about as foolproof as it gets, and especially ideal if you’ll be using your car seat on the go in rideshares or taxis. This is also our pick for best travel car seat .

As for the TRVL stroller, it’s just as great. The two standout features for me were its fold (one-handed, quick and ridiculously easy) and its compact size (it stands on its own and weighs just over 13 pounds. While not huge, the basket is large enough to hold your essentials (and a little more) and is easy to access, and the TRVL’s maneuverability is good enough that you’ll be able to steer easily with one hand.

What’s Worth Considering

The TRVL is on the pricier side and it doesn’t have a carry strap, but the maneuverability, suspension and versatility help explain the higher price point. I found it worked as a travel stroller, but also as an everyday stroller, too. There are also lots of thoughtful design details like magnetic buckles, a no-rethread harness and leatherette bumper bar and handlebar. The urbn car seat has a lower height limit than many infant car seats—not ideal, but not a huge dealbreaker, either.

Additional Specs

Best Travel Stroller for Toddlers

Bugaboo Butterfly Complete Stroller - Midnight Black - $449.00.

Bugaboo Butterfly Complete Stroller - Midnight Black

  • Four-wheel suspension for a smooth ride
  • Fast, easy fold
  • Included footrest and high seat back

There are two travel strollers I recommend again and again to families, and Bugaboo’s newest compact stroller, the Butterfly, is one of them. (The other one is the Joolz Aer+—more on that below!). This style-forward stroller is packed with thoughtful, impressive features, just like the brand’s popular full-size strollers. Two of my favorites (and there are many to choose from!) are the smooth ride and the quick, easy fold. The four-wheel suspension system means the Butterfly rides more like a traditional stroller than a compact one, a huge perk when I pushed it on anything other than smooth pavement and perfect for toting around my larger toddler. It moves and turns easily and I was able to steer it with only one hand, a huge plus. The fold is just as impressive; I also did it one-handed, and the Butterfly folds down to about the side of a small bag. (There’s also a built-in carry strap, a feature I value in any stroller, but especially one designed for travel.)

A few other things I love: it accommodates an infant car seat with adapters, so you can use it from day one, and the seat has a high back for larger kiddos and reclines almost fully for napping on the go. There’s even a footrest built in for extra comfort, another toddler-friendly feature. (My 95th-percent-in-height two-year-old still fits perfectly in it.) And the sun canopy on the Butterfly is one of the best I’ve seen of all the travel strollers on our list.

There’s not much to pick on with this stroller, minus its high price tag. The back wheels on the Butterfly are fairly close together. That setup, combined with a handle that doesn’t extend (which is the norm for compact strollers), means that if you’re on the taller side like me (5’10”), you may kick the back of the stroller while you’re walking. And although I wouldn’t consider it heavy, it is one of the heavier travel strollers on our list by about three pounds.

Best Budget Travel Stroller

Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller - $79.99.

Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller

  • Great value
  • Extremely light—weighs less than 12 pounds
  • Easy fold but not as compact as others on our list

If you’re not looking to spend a lot on a travel stroller or you’re a family who doesn’t travel very often, the Kolcraft Cloud Light is an excellent value for an inexpensive stroller . It boasts lots of thoughtful features, especially considering the stroller’s price. Weight is the standout here—the Cloud Plus weighs less than twelve pounds, making it one of the lightest strollers on our list. The fold is also worth a second look. Although it’s not super compact (the stroller folds in on itself, much like an umbrella stroller, rather than in a tri-fold like many other travel strollers on our list), it’s quick and easy and you can do it with one hand, a feature we always appreciate especially when we’re on the go.

Other features to note include an extendable canopy with a peekaboo window, a parent tray with two drink holders and a large storage basket (it’s one of the biggest on our list).

The seat on the Cloud Plus has multiple positions but doesn’t recline completely flat. It has a lower weight limit than many of the strollers on our list—40 pounds—and doesn’t have much in the way of suspension and shock absorption. The fold is slim but not all that compact.

And remember—this stroller is under $100. It’s not going to compare to travel strollers five times its price in suspension, maneuverability, stability or materials. But, considering the price, it’s a great option if you don’t travel all that much but want a lightweight stroller option when you do.

What Babylist Parents Say

“Easily fits in the trunk of my car.” -Cora

Best Travel Stroller for Everyday Use

UPPAbaby Minu V2 Stroller - Jake - $399.99.

UPPAbaby Minu V2 Stroller - Jake

  • Great for travel + everyday use
  • Roomy storage basket
  • Shock-absorbing suspension for a smooth ride

UPPAbaby was one of the first stroller brands to dive into the “travel stroller that can also be used as an everyday stroller” category, and the Minu does both of these things extremely well. From your own neighborhood to wherever your travel adventures take you and to everything in between, the Minu offers all the conveniences of a day-to-day stroller in a travel-friendly package. A few of my favorite features are the one-handed fold, the huge sunshade, the comfy seat with multi-position recline and a roomy, easy-access basket. The spring-action, shock-absorbing all-wheel suspension makes for a smooth ride even over bumpy terrain, so it’s a stroller you can use both in the suburbs and in a city. The Minu stands when folded and features a carry strap and a storage bag for easy transport.

As-is, the Minu works for babies three+ months; that means if you want to use it with your newborn, you’ll need to add the bassinet and adapters , which will cost you.

The Minu folds compactly but is a little bulkier than some of the other strollers on our list when it’s broken down. It’s also a little heavier, weighing in at about 17 pounds. And the seat back is on the shorter side.

“Amazing stroller. Great for travelling (fits in overhead bin), shopping (takes up minimal trunk space), walks in the park (very smooth ride, even over grass!). Has oversized canopy to block sun and folds with one hand. Bought it for travel, but use it as our primary stroller because I love it so much.” -Jessica

Best Travel Stroller for Flying

Babyzen YOYO2 Stroller Bundle - Black Frame/Olive - $499.00.

Babyzen YOYO2 Stroller Bundle - Black Frame/Olive

  • Fits in overhead bin
  • Fast, one-handed fold
  • Options to customize color, add a second rider and more

The YOYO2 was ahead of its time in the world of compact strollers and remains a parent favorite both for travel and for families looking for a smaller, lighter everyday stroller option. This compact favorite fits in the overhead bin and is the stroller of choice for many light-packing parents who don’t want to deal with the hassle (or risk) of gate-checking a stroller when they fly. It performs like a champ off the plane, too, easily steering through crowds and through narrow spaces.

There’s one other unique thing to love here—the custom options. You can change out the seat and shade fabrics with a new color pack , add a custom footmuff for cooler temps, help your older kiddo hitch a ride on the stroller board and even add a storage bag that uses wheeled support so your stroller won’t tip. With adapters that are sold separately, you can also use this stroller with infant car seats from Nuna and Maxi Cosi, among others.

The YOYO2’s fold isn’t hard, but it’s not quite as easy as some of the other travel stroller picks on our list. (There are two steps, and it takes a little getting used to.) The canopy is on the shorter side. This travel stroller does come with a rain cover, but all the other extras and custom adds will cost you. (And this stroller is on the pricier side to begin with.)

“Fits in airplane cabin. We took it on so many trips!” -Emily

Best Compact Travel Stroller

Joolz aer+ lightweight stroller - sage green.

  • One-handed fold and compact carry
  • Comfy, contoured seat

I’ve tried a LOT of travel strollers in my day, and the Joolz Aer+ is the one I come back to again and again. Pushing it doesn’t feel much different than pushing much larger, much more expensive strollers—and that’s one of the things I love about it. The Aer+ has four-wheel suspension, a feature that’s not very common in travel strollers, so it maneuvers easily and glides smoothly even across uneven surfaces like bumpy sidewalks and dirt paths. That combined with the ridiculously easy one-handed fold, the compact design and the comfortable seat that contours to fit your child’s body makes this stroller a great choice for travel and for everyday use. (It currently occupies a permanent spot in the trunk of my car.)

The Aer+ is newborn-friendly and compatible with Nuna and Clek car seats (adapters sold separately), so it works if you want to use it from day one. The stroller folds small enough to fit in an overhead bin or to sling over your shoulder (carry strap included) and tote up and down stairs, on public transportation or anywhere else you need to go. It also comes with a rain cover and travel bag included.

The Aer+ is on the pricier side, but if you’re planning on using it for travel and for everyday, then the cost doesn’t seem as daunting. I also wish it came with a footrest instead of having to purchase one separately.

“It’s so easy to push and steer and SO easy to fold with just one hand. We use it as a travel stroller and often as our everyday stroller as well.” -Jennifer

Best Lightweight Travel Stroller

Zoe the traveler.

  • One-handed fold
  • Extended canopy, full recline

Lightweight, compact and travel-ready are the three features that come to mind when I think of The Traveler from Zoe. This aluminum-frame stroller is light enough for easy portability but durable enough to handle lots of different adventures. I love the one-handed fold and that it’s small enough to fit in an overhead bin if you don’t want to wrangle with gate checking your stroller on your next trip. There are lots of high-end features like an extended canopy, adjustable footrest and a near-flat recline. And don’t forget one of the best parts: The Traveler folds in seconds with one hand and stands on its own.

The Traveler isn’t compatible with any car seats so you won’t be able to use it with younger babies. There are also no straps or backpack included; if you want those, you’ll have to pay extra to add them on. And while it shines on smooth pavement, it’s not great on bumpy or uneven terrain.

Need a double travel stroller? Zoe’s The Twin+ is a great choice. It weighs under 20 pounds and fits through standard doorways but is comfortable and roomy enough for two children up to 45 pounds each. The fold is quick, easy and compact and the stroller is Disney-approved. And it can expand to a triple or a quad stroller with additional seats.

Best Value Travel Stroller

Baby jogger city tour 2 single stroller - jet.

  • Same one-handed fold Baby Jogger full-size strollers are known for
  • 3 ways to ride: infant car seat, bassinet or toddler seat
  • Padded seat with added depth

Travel strollers can get expensive. If you don’t want to spend $500+ on one, but you travel frequently and want a reliable option, the City Tour 2 is a great mid-priced pick.

Baby Jogger strollers are known (and loved) for their easy, one-handed fold—and this travel stroller is no exception. The City Tour 2 folds into a 19-by-23-inch rectangle and automatically locks closed. You can carry it by the handle or tuck it away in the included tote bag carryall while your little one explores. The stroller has a deep, padded seat and adjustable calf support to keep your kiddo comfortable. Plus, a huge UV 50+ sun canopy provides shade.

There’s suspension system in the frame isn’t great, making for a bit of a bumpy ride. Some parents wish the tote bag carryall had backpack straps for easier transport rather than a shoulder strap.

“I love that I can carry, open and fold it with one hand. It’s easy to maneuver and the only stroller I own. Perfect for city living!” -Amie

Best Infant Travel Stroller

Mountain buggy nano v3 stroller.

  • Comes with universal car seat adapter
  • Full recline seat
  • Ventilated backrest for airflow

The Mountain Buggy Nano stroller is the best of both worlds—a travel stroller that can also act as a travel system . Unlike most travel strollers, this one comes equipped with a universal car seat adapter so you can pop in your infant seat and be on your way with your newborn in tow. (You can also purchase the Cocoon Carrycot separately if you prefer a bassinet option.)

The Nano is lightweight and compact enough to fit easily into many carry-on luggage units on planes and trains or in a trunk, and the travel bag has a handle and strap for portability. The narrow width and front-wheel swivel makes it good for use on city streets or other tight spaces and the seat features a full recline perfect for naps.

There’s no suspension system and no peekaboo window. You need to use two hands to fold the Nano. (Although it’s still really easy.)

“It folded up so small that it fit on the plane as a carryon but it also handled really well on european cobblestone” -Nikki

Best Umbrella Stroller for Travel

Summer 3d lite convenience stroller.

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Umbrella-style fold is bulky

Umbrella strollers used to be the norm in the compact stroller category. That’s changed over the last five years or so, but if you still prefer one for travel, the Summer 3D Lite should be on your list.

The 3D Lite is a great all-around travel stroller. It’s light (about 13 pounds), features a simple, compact fold and a built-in carry strap, has a seat that lays nearly flat and boasts an ample storage basket. The ride isn’t super cushy, but it’s not all that bumpy, either. And at well under $100, it’s an incredible value for a stroller with this many great features.

Since this is an umbrella stroller, you won’t find the compact tri-fold that parents love so much about many travel strollers.

“It is so easy to travel with - we used it on a cruise ship, in various airports, and for all our daily errands.” -Jeanine

Also Worth a Look…

The world of compact travel strollers has exploded recently, flooding the market with lots of options. Here are a few other travel strollers worth a look:

  • The Bumprider Connect 3 Stroller ($599.99) is totally unique. It features a magnetic lock system that allows you to join two or more strollers together. It’s pricey, though, especially if you need more than one.
  • Evenflo Gold’s Otto ($199.99) is a competitively priced self-folding, lightweight stroller with a high weight limit (55 pounds) and a two-position adjustable footrest.
  • The Inglesina Quid ($299.00) fits in an overhead bin and offers thoughtful features like a self-standing fold, an extendable canopy and a large flap on the hood that fully retracts for ventilation on warm days. The Quid weighs in at only 13 pounds.
  • We analyzed results from Babylist’s Best Baby Products survey, which polled 6,000 Babylist users and asked them to share the baby products they love the most and why.
  • We utilized insight from the Babylist editorial team, including Gear Editor Jen LaBracio, an expert in the baby space for over six years and a mom of two who has written hundreds of baby gear guides and personally researched and tested hundreds of baby products, including many travel strollers.
  • We reviewed customer reviews from hundreds of real Babylist parents.

Some families use a traditional stroller for everything, even traveling. But having a lighter, more nimble travel stroller pays off when you really need it: for airports, narrow city sidewalks , public transportation or just to lighten the load.

Here are some of the pros and cons of using different types of strollers for travel:

  • Traditional stroller: Everyday strollers typically have convenient features like lots of storage space, cup holders and trays, and large canopies. Some may also have all-terrain wheels and accommodate an infant car seat. But they’re heavier and bulkier to fold, which makes using and storing them in tight spaces more difficult (think: narrow doorways, airplane overhead bins, small car trunks).
  • Umbrella stroller: Bare-boned and exceptionally lightweight, umbrella strollers often lack many amenities you find in traditional strollers like adjustable seats and cup holders. They have skimpy canopies, minimal cushioning and seat support and don’t fold small enough to fit in airport storage bins. You also can’t push an umbrella stroller with one hand. Umbrella strollers are good for when you occasionally need a slimmer, fast-fold stroller.
  • Travel stroller: Sometimes also called a lightweight stroller, travel strollers strike a balance between traditional and umbrella stroller styles. They’re lighter than the standard stroller, easy to fold and compact in size when collapsed. (Some travel strollers fold in half, called a square fold, while others feature a more compact tri-fold.) Travel strollers have some full-size amenities like large sun canopies and a storage basket and most even have extras like cup holders.

Figuring out which type of stroller you want to use for travel often comes down to what type of trade-offs you want to make around budget , space and personal preference.

  • Some traditional strollers offer a compact fold that’s great for travel, but the stroller weighs a ton.
  • Umbrella strollers tend to be affordable but require two hands for pushing and only offer a vertical fold.
  • Compact travel strollers are light, portable and easy to steer but come at a cost.

Before you invest in a travel stroller, think through:

  • How often you travel
  • How much money you want to spend
  • Where you’ll be storing your stroller when it’s not in use

Also note that lots of parents find that a travel stroller can work just as well as a full-size option for everyday use; just keep in mind that unless the travel stroller you choose is compatible with an infant car seat or comes with a separate infant kit, you’ll need to wait to use the stroller until your baby is six months old and can sit up unassisted.  

A travel stroller should be easy to take with you on trips and be a comfy spot for your little one, especially since your child will probably spend more hours in it while traveling than at home. Consider these features as you research and shop:

  • Size and weight. You’re going to be lifting, carrying and storing your travel stroller often, so the stroller’s size and weight is important. Look for one that’s lightweight and manageable. Also pay attention both to the folded and unfolded size of your travel stroller. Hoping to If you’re planning on using it for an older toddler, also be sure it’s large enough to accommodate them.
  • Fold. There’s also a lot of folding and unfolding a stroller during travel, whether it’s to take it in and out of your car, stash it under a table at a restaurant or storing it in the overhead compartment of an airplane. Choose a travel stroller with a quick, easy fold, preferably one you can do one-handed.
  • Maneuverability. Not all travel strollers are created equally. Some offer much more maneuverability and a better suspension system than others; however, these features often come at a cost. Thinking through how often you’ll be using your travel stroller and what types of terrain you’ll encounter most often can be helpful in determining whether or not a more expensive stroller is worthwhile.
  • Canopy size. Most travel involves at least some, if not a lot, of outdoor time. A large canopy is essential for protecting your little one from the elements, especially the sun.
  • Comfort and convenience features. Similar to a full-size stroller, look for features that will make you and your little one more comfortable, especially while traveling. Things like an adjustable seat with a full or nearly full recline, an ample storage basket, an adjustable handlebar and easy to clean fabrics are all important. And don’t forget a built-in strap or a separate carrying case for easy transport.

Bringing a stroller with you on trips can seem daunting. How do you get it from point A to point B when you’re flying ? Will it count toward your carry-on and baggage allotment? And what if you need to use your stroller in the airport? Good news: You can pick how you want to travel with your stroller, depending on your needs. Here are the choices:

  • Check the stroller with your baggage: Some parents unload the stroller during check-in and switch to using a baby carrier through the airport instead. Pair a front carrier with a backpack-style diaper bag so your hands will be free to deal with other things (like the toys that will make your trip a breeze ). Note that if you have a large stroller, you may be required to check it as baggage anyway. This usually doesn’t count toward your baggage allotment.
  • Check the stroller at the gate: Want to use the stroller until you board the plane? You can check the stroller with the gate agent—it just needs to be tagged—and then pick it up outside the aircraft door when you arrive. (Just remember if you have a connecting flight to catch, waiting for your stroller to be placed on the jet bridge can eat up precious time.)
  • Stow the stroller on the airplane: Some travel strollers fold up so small they fit in a backpack and can be stored in an overhead bin. Having your stroller with you eliminates the hassle of waiting for it on the jet bridge or at baggage claim (or losing it).

Some other air-travel tips to keep in mind:

  • If you check the stroller with baggage, you do run the risk of damage. If you’re not using a travel stroller bag, ask the agent at check-in for a plastic bag to cover and protect it during transport.
  • If you’re taking the stroller through security, it will need to be folded and put through the X-ray machine. Don’t stuff the undercarriage basket until after security.
  • If your checked stroller doesn’t come out with the suitcases at baggage claim, check the oversized luggage area. It may have been set aside there (this may also be where your travel crib is, if you checked one).

Do you need a travel stroller bag?

How you plan to use your travel stroller will affect whether or not you need a travel stroller bag.

If you plan on flying with your stroller then you’ll probably want to use a travel stroller bag, especially if you don’t plan on stowing your stroller in the overhead compartment of the plane (either because you don’t want to or because it won’t fit). A checked stroller, even one that’s gate checked, may get tossed around quite a bit while in transit, so you’ll want a travel stroller bag to keep it protected.

If you’re not planning on flying much with your stroller or if you’re simply using your travel stroller as a more lightweight day-to-day option, then a travel stroller probably isn’t a must-have.

Some travel strollers come with a travel bag while others require you to purchase one separately, so check with your particular brand. There are generic travel stroller bags that may work, too.

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The 23 Very Best Car Seats and Booster Seats for Kids

Portrait of Latifah Miles

Jump to section

  • Best for infants
  • Best convertibles
  • Best all-in-ones
  • Best boosters
  • Best for travel

Navigating the complex and endless world of baby gear — from strollers to high chairs to cribs — can be a bit overwhelming, and car seats are no exception. All car seats in the United States have passed the same rigorous safety-testing standards, so they are, at minimum, equipped to protect your child during a crash. But with hundreds of seats on the market, you’ll need to narrow your options somehow.

Ultimately, “the best car seat for any child and family is the car seat that fits the child, fits the car, and that the family will be able to use correctly every time,” says Ben Hoffman, a pediatrician who helped write official American Academy of Pediatrics policies on child-passenger safety .

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides a guide to help you figure out which type of seat you need. You’ll want to focus on four main factors: your child’s age, weight, and height; the car you drive; the convenience features that are important to you; and, of course, your budget. (If you have multiple children in car seats, you’ll also need to make sure each seat fits in your car when installed according to manufacturer instructions, as some are not narrow enough to sit side by side.)

To help you get started, we asked experts and parents for recommendations in each category of car seat — infant, convertible, and booster — that would fit a variety of vehicles and budgets, plus make installation smoother and safer. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all option, we’ve formatted this post a little differently than usual: Instead of naming a best overall pick, we broke the choices down into age groups and types of seats.

What we’re looking for

Max weight and height.

“From a safety perspective, we recommend that kids stay in the safest car seat until they outgrow it,” says Jennifer Saxton, the founder of Tot Squad and a child passenger safety technician. “Don’t try to move your kid too quickly to the next car seat.” In other words, children should max out the weight or height limit of their current car seat before moving to the next stage. The exact laws around car seats and when a child must be rear-facing vary by state , but all of the experts we talked to agreed that the longer you can keep your child in a rear-facing position, the safer they will be. We listed the maximum weight and height limit of each seat, below. For car seats that can be used in multiple positions (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster), we listed the weight limits for each.

There are five major types of car seats:

Infant (or bucket): As the name suggests, infant seats are designed to be used from birth, with most having a weight limit of 35 pounds. They can only be used in a rear-facing position and typically come with a base that is installed in your car, allowing you to easily click the bucket seat into and out of it. Bucket seats can double as infant carriers, and most can be attached to a stroller or a stroller frame (though you may need a special adapter). For this reason, considering the weight of the actual seat is a good place to start, as it will only get heavier as your baby grows.

Convertible: Convertible car seats are designed for use from birth through toddlerhood. They can be used rear-facing or forward-facing, and the switch is typically made when your child maxes out the height or weight limit of the rear-facing mode. If you don’t care about using your car seat as an infant carrier, you can choose to skip the bucket seat completely. The main trade-off is that you’ll save money on replacing a bucket seat when they outgrow it (around age 1, on average), but you’ll lose the convenience of easily transferring your baby from the car to their stroller or into your home without having to remove them from their seat.

All-in-one: All-in-one car seats are convertible seats that can also be used in booster mode, allowing some kids to use them up to age 10. Their one-and-done quality is their main appeal: Instead of buying two or three separate car seats over the course of your child’s first years, the thinking is that you can buy just one and save money in the process. However, once you get to the booster stage, they will be bulkier in your back seat than a high-back booster. And if you’re going to use one car seat over the course of ten years or so, you should expect to do some work to keep it clean.

High-back booster: Booster seats are made for children who have outgrown their harnessed seat but aren’t tall enough to safely use a regular seat belt. “Seat belts and cars are designed for adults four feet nine and taller. So if they’re four-feet-nine or shorter, the seat belt is not going to fit the child’s body safely. In particular, the lap belt of a seat belt, instead of going across the bony hips of an adult, is going to go across the belly of a 4-year-old instead,” explains Eli Gurock, founder and CEO of the baby-gear and toy-retailer Magic Beans . Booster seats literally give your child the boost they need to ensure proper seat-belt placement, and high-back boosters have more structure around the head and shoulders to position the shoulder belt, give your child a place to rest their head, and minimize forward head movement and whiplash in the event of a crash.

As a general rule, children should weigh at least 40 pounds and be 40 inches tall before riding in a booster seat with just the seat belt. However, age and size are not the only factors that determine a child’s readiness for a booster seat . Alisa Baer, pediatrician and co-founder of  thecarseatlady.com , says parents and caregivers should also consider their child’s maturity and ability to sit in a booster without slouching, leaning, or yanking on the seat belt. NHTSA points out that most kids will need to use either a high-back or a backless booster until they are between 8 and 12 years old.

Backless booster: The function of backless boosters is the same as high-back boosters — to raise the child’s body and ensure proper seat-belt placement — but they are much lower profile and more portable. They usually have the same weight and height restrictions as high-back boosters and work best for older kids who still need to use a booster but are reluctant to be seen as babyish, or as a space-saving option to keep in your trunk for carpooling. They are also travel-friendly.

Extra safety and specialty features

In the United States, every car seat on the market must pass strict Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) — so as long as a seat fits your child and your car, your choice really comes down to any additional safety features you’re looking for as well as convenience and comfort features. Parents may appreciate simple installation, a rotating feature that makes it easier to get a child into the seat, a no-rethread harness, or an extended rear-facing weight limit. Children may benefit from extra cushioning, cupholders, and extended footrests. We’ve highlighted the notable safety and convenience features of each of the car seats in our list.

Rigid LATCH vs. Flexible LATCH

LATCH is a system that allows you to secure your car seat or car-seat base to your vehicle without using a seat belt — it’s an acronym for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children. With the exception of a few boosters on our list, the seats we recommend below have either rigid or flexible LATCH connections. Rigid LATCH uses alligator-like clips that come directly out of the car seat or base without any straps or rotation. They allow for a more secure hookup that is not dependent on your ability to pull the belt strap tightly. Flexible LATCH connectors are attached to a pull strap that can be tightened or loosened, either by hand or, depending on the seat, with some type of tightening mechanism. Both options are safe and meet FMVSS requirements, but rigid LATCH is easier to install and doesn’t require any manual tightening or adjusting, ensuring correct installation. In the event of a crash, rigid LATCH also helps keep the car seat from sliding forward or side to side.

There are four price points we decided on, denoted as $, $$, $$$, and $$$$, respectively: under $200, under $350, under $500, and over $500.

Best infant car seats

Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat with Load Leg Base

Max weight and height: 35 pounds, 32 inches | Features: Load leg, cooling mesh fabric | LATCH: Flexible | Price: $$

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly infant car seat, Babylist gear editor Jennifer LaBracio recommends Evenflo’s LiteMax DLX. “It’s consistently a top pick among child-passenger safety technicians for a safe, affordable infant seat,” she says. “It has a lot of features that are only found in much more expensive seats, like a load leg — which in a seat that’s a couple hundred dollars is a huge bonus.” According to Gurock, load legs offer added safety by stabilizing the car seat “to keep it from rotating in the instance of a crash.” The seat without the base weighs just under nine pounds, which LaBracio says is “really light” for an infant car seat.

Chicco KeyFit 35 Zip ClearTex Infant Car Seat

Max weight and height: 35 pounds, 32 inches | Features: Anti-rebound bar, full-coverage canopy, quick-remove seat pad | LATCH type: Flexible with SuperCinch | Price: $$

The Chicco KeyFit line of infant seats is an established favorite among the parents and experts we’ve surveyed. “It’s so darn easy to install,” says CPS technician instructor Kecia Healy, who is also a member of the New York State Child Passenger Safety Advisory Board . The base of the seat has a spring-loaded recline foot and bubble indicator to help get it perfectly level. The flexible LATCH connectors also have Chicco’s SuperCinch tightening system to ensure a secure fit. Allyson Downey, who runs a consumer-review site for child and baby essentials called WeeSpring , says that for her first child, she bought a Chicco KeyFit after doing extensive research. “It had outstanding reviews,” she says. Lauren Brown, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital ’s lead car-seat-safety specialist, says the seat is also a popular choice among parents she works with, and Saxton calls it a “tried-and-true, solid car-seat choice.” This Chicco Keyfit 35 Zip ClearTex seat is the latest addition to the Keyfit line and features GREENGUARD Gold–certified materials, a fully extendable canopy, an anti-rebound bar for added stability, a no-rethread harness, and a “quick-remove” seat pad for easier cleaning.

Uppababy MESA MAX Infant Car Seat & Base

Max weight and height: 35 pounds, 32 inches | Features: Load leg, anti-rebound panel, red-to-green installation indicators | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$$

Statusy Uppababy seats are another popular choice, especially among those who want a seat that is easily compatible with their stroller. This Mesa Max seat, released in 2022, is a newer version of a seat we previously recommended. Gurock likes that it has a load leg on the base, and Mei Ling Starkey of the blog Family Entourage appreciates the no-rethread harness: “You pull the tabs to tighten it and the harness slides right down. You can put a tall child in it one day and a tiny, tiny child in it the next day and get a perfect fit.” The base has a flexible LATCH system and a red-to-green indicator that lets you know it is secure. It also clicks directly into Uppababy’s Vista and Cruz strollers as well as into the brand’s more compact Minu stroller with adapters.

Nuna Pipa Lite RX Infant Car Seat and Relx Base

Max weight and height: 32 pounds, 32 inches | Features: Load leg, anti-rebound panel, push-button recline, full-coverage canopy | LATCH type: Rigid | Price: $$$$

Both LaBracio and Gurock say that the Nuna Pipa Lite RX is not only a premium choice thanks to its added safety features of a load leg and an anti-rebound panel, but because it’s incredibly light, weighing just 6.9 pounds without the base. It’s “super-easy to carry, especially as your baby gets older and heavier,” LaBracio says. It’s made of GREENGUARD Gold–certified materials and has upscale touches like an organic merino-wool infant insert, a faux -leather-wrapped handle, and magnets on the side that hold the no-rethread harness out of your way when you’re getting your baby into or out of the seat. It also has a push-button recline and color-coded locking indicators on the rigid LATCH connectors and load leg that let you know it is tightly and properly installed.

Best convertible car seats

Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 40 pounds, 50 inches (Forward) 65 pounds, 50 inches | Features: Compact frame, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible | Price:  $

Healy’s pick for an affordable (but basic) convertible car seat is the Evenflo Sonus 65, which has a rear-facing weight limit of 40 pounds and a forward-facing weight limit of 65 pounds. It also has a compact frame, allowing you to install three of them across the back seat of most midsize vehicles. “It doesn’t have many bells and whistles, but for just a little more than $100, if you are looking for a spare seat for a second vehicle or a seat that you can travel with” it’s a good choice, says Healy. She adds it’s worth noting that Evenflo car seats require children to be at least 2 years old to ride forward-facing.

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 40 pounds, 49 inches (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches | Features: ClickTight installation system, add-on anti-rebound bar | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$

“I swap my car seats from car to minivan, and the extreme simplicity of the ClickTight system is the feature,” says Kenny Fried, the vice president of Brotman | Winter | Fried . “Instead of having to thread the seat belt behind the seat, you lift the inside seat up on a hinge and then pull the seat belt over and click in the seat belt. Takes about 30 seconds to install.” The ClickTight system eliminates needing to pull, tug, and lock your seat belt in place because it has an automatic tension mechanism for a snug fit. And if you want even more protection in a crash, you can invest in an attachable anti-rebound bar from Britax that works with its convertible car seats in rear-facing mode; it’s another feature Hoffman recommends for reducing movement during crashes.

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 50 pounds, child’s head one inch below handle (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches | Features: Extended rear-facing weight limit, extendable legroom panel, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$

LaBracio loves Graco’s Extend2Fit convertible car seat and calls it a “really good value.” She likes that it has a high rear-facing weight limit of 50 pounds (with a forward-facing limit of 65 pounds), plus it’s “easy to install, and it’s also a great fit for almost any type of car.” It also has a no-rethread harness, two cupholders, and an adjustable extension panel that provides extra legroom to keep taller children comfortable while rear-facing (as long as there’s enough space in your car to use it). The Extend2Fit line also includes a 3-in-1 version that converts to a high-back booster, and an all-in-one version that converts to both a high-back and a backless booster.

Strategist senior editor and mom of two Jen Trolio used different versions of the Graco Extend2Fit for both of her daughters, who are now 5 and 8 years old. She originally chose the seat because it fit well rear-facing in the back seat of her Mazda sedan. Each kid used their Extend2Fit from about one year old to 5 years old. Although one of the Extend2Fit models Trolio owned could also be used as a booster, Trolio ultimately replaced it with a Chicco high-back booster because the Extend2Fit was bulky and made it difficult for her older daughter to buckle herself in.

Nuna RAVA Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 50 pounds, 49 inches (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches | Features: Extended rear-facing weight limit, push-button leveler, extendable legroom panel | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$$$

Gurock says the Nuna Rava is one of the most popular convertible car seats his store sells because it has supreme safety and convenience features — like a reinforced steel frame — plus an overall sleek and stylish look. Designed to make installation easy and straightforward, the seat’s “Simply Secure” system has a bubble-free leveler that uses a simple push button so you can find the correct angle effortlessly. And if you’re not using LATCH, the color-coded belt paths indicate the proper way to thread your car’s seat belt. Like the Graco Extend2Fit, the Rava has an extended rear-facing weight limit of 50 pounds and an adjustable legroom panel. It also has a no-rethread harness, crotch strap, and GREENGUARD Gold–certified cover.

Best all-in-one car seats

Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 50 pounds, 49 inches (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches (Booster) 120 pounds, 63 inches | Features: ClickTight installation system, extended rear-facing weight limit, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$$

The Bump deputy editor Ashlee Neuman likes the all-in-one Britax One4Life ClickTight car seat because “it’s easy to install thanks to the color-coded belt paths, recline angle indicators, and the brand’s ClickTight technology,” she says. Saxton, who also loves Britax’s ClickTight line, agrees: “That is what I recommend to my personal friends and family,” she says, adding that “the ClickTight system is the easiest car-seat installation on the planet.” It’s also easy to use once it’s installed, says Neuman, citing its 15 head and neck positions, nine recline positions, and no-rethread harness. This seat has the same 50-pound rear-facing weight limit and 66-pound forward-facing harnessed weight limit as the Graco Extend2Fit and the Nuna Rava convertible seats. In booster mode with a regular seat belt, it can accommodate children who weigh between 40 and 120 pounds.

Evenflo All4One DLX 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat with SensorSafe

Max weight and height: (Rear) 40 pounds, 48 inches (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches (Booster) 120 pounds, 57 inches | Features: SensorSafe chest clip, EasyLatch installation system, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$

Evenflo’s All4One convertible seat has a rear-facing weight limit of 40 pounds, a forward-facing weight range of 22 to 65 pounds, and, in the high-back booster mode, a weight limit of 120 pounds. For wiggle-free installation, the seat uses the brand’s EasyClick technology that allows you to crank the LATCH to its tightest point. The seat also uses SensorSafe , a Bluetooth-enabled technology in the chest clip that syncs with a smartphone app to alert you of dangerous conditions like unsafe temperatures in the back seat or the chest clip being unbuckled while the car is moving.

Graco 4Ever DLX 4 in 1 Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 50 pounds, child’s head one inch below handle (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches (Booster) 120 pounds, 47 inches | Price: $$ | Features: Extended rear-facing weight limit, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$

Both Saxton and LaBracio suggested the Graco 4Ever DLX all-in-one car seat as an affordable option that can potentially last your child from birth to age 10. It has an extended 50-pound rear-facing weight limit as well as six recline positions, a feature LaBracio especially likes. It can also be used as both a high-back booster (with a 100-pound weight limit) and a backless booster (with a 120-pound weight limit).

Nuna Exec All-In-One Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 50 pounds, 49 inches (Forward) 65 pounds, 49 inches (Booster) 120 pounds, 57 inches | Features: Extended rear-facing weight limit, anti-rebound panel, extendable legroom panel, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$$$

LaBracio and Saxton both told us about Nuna’s “die-hard” fans who love the brand’s luxe feel and features, like added foam for minimizing impact and easy installation. This all-in-one Nuna Exec is the seat that LaBracio purchased for her own baby; she appreciates its easy installation, 50-pound rear-facing weight limit and extendable legroom panel, all-steel frame, and anti-rebound panel. (At this price point, a no-rethread harness is a given.) It can be used from birth (starting at five pounds in rear-facing mode, and as a booster for kids up to 120 pounds. It is also compact enough to fit three across in many midsize vehicles.

Evenflo Revolve360 Extend All-in-One Rotational Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 50 pounds, no height provided (Forward) 65 pounds, no height provided (Booster) 120 pounds | Features: 360-degree rotation, single installation required | LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$

The rotating car seat is the latest innovation in the car-seat world, encouraging parents to keep their kids in the rear-facing position longer by making it easier to buckle them in, says LaBracio. The Evenflo Revolve “swivels 360 degrees, a huge convenience for parents and caregivers who are loading a child in and out of a car seat multiple times a day,” she explains. The Evenflo Gold Revolve360 is an all-in-one convertible option that your child can use from birth (in the rear-facing position) up to 120 pounds (with a seat belt in the booster mode). Vox Media engineer Stephen Galamb, the father of a 17-month-old, says “the ability to rotate the seat to face you while putting your child in is an absolute game changer. I don’t even like taking the baby in my car because the Revolve in my wife’s car has spoiled me so badly.”

I am currently pregnant, and in preparation for our new baby, my husband and I recently installed the Revolve360 in our Volvo Atlas truck. I am also a mom to a tween and haven’t installed a convertible car seat in several years — so I wasn’t expecting the process to be as straightforward as it was. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish, with most of the process focused on adjusting the tension of our car’s seat belt, which the Evenflo instructions prefer over using LATCH. The seat belt slips through clearly marked guides under a “LockStrong” belt compartment. There is also a tether strap that gets clipped to your car’s upper anchor.

The base and seat are two different pieces, but unlike with an infant bucket seat, you really only separate them for installation. Once the seat belt was buckled through the base and the tether attached, we had to push the base down into our car’s seat and pull the belt taught simultaneously, as there is no automatic tensioning mechanism. There was a bit of a learning curve to do this, but once we tightened the slack of the tether and closed the LockStrong compartment over the seat belt, an indicator turned green to show that the belt was secured in place, and the base was firmly installed on the seat.

Once the seat had clicked into the base, we tested the rotating feature — you simply click a button on the side of the seat and turn it rear-to-side or side-to-front. It swivels smoothly and will make it so much easier to get our baby in and out of the seat. Evenflo also has a few versions of this seat, the Revolve360 Slim , and the Revolve360 with SensorSafe , so you can choose one that fits your lifestyle, budget, and needs.

Best booster car seats

Britax Grow With You ClickTight Harness-2-Booster Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Harness) 65 pounds, 49 inches (Booster) 120 pounds, 63 inches | Features: Forward-facing harness-to-booster, ClickTight installation system, cupholders | LATCH type: Seat-belt installation | Price: $$

Strategist writer and mom-of-two Lauren Ro says that by the time her older son hit 2, she “didn’t want the bulk of a convertible car seat anymore since I wasn’t going to use it rear-facing and didn’t want all of those unnecessary features that make the car seat heavier and more awkward to get in and out of.” Ro transitioned him to this combination seat, which can move from a forward-facing seat with a five-point harness to a high-back booster. Gurock loves this seat for families with more than one child in a car seat, because “you want your kids to be in a harness as long as possible,” and this seat eases the transition from a bulkier convertible seat. The seat also has cupholders for snacks and drinks plus the ClickTight installation system that parents love.

Chicco KidFit ClearTex Plus 2-in-1 Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat

Max weight and height: 110 pounds, 57 inches | Price: $ | Features: Quick release button, ClearTex fabric, cupholders | LATCH type: Flexible with SuperCinch | Price:  $

This harness-free option can be used as a high-back or backless booster. It comes recommended by Trolio, who used 3-in-1 and all-in-one editions of Graco Extend2Fit for her now 5- and 8-year-old daughters but found they were still quite bulky in booster mode. Her older daughter now uses this KidFit, which is more streamlined in the back seat. It has a flexible LATCH system to secure it to your car’s anchors, with Chicco’s SuperCinch feature to ensure a snug fit. If you are hopping between cars, the seat also has a quick-release button that quickly unlatches it. Other features include cupholders and Chicco’s GREENGUARD Gold–certified ClearTex fabric. (For slightly younger kids who would still be safer in a harness, Trolio recommends the similar Chicco MyFit Harness Booster with ClearTex , which her 5-year-old is currently using.)

Uppababy ALTA Booster Seat

Max weight and height: 100 pounds, 57 inches  | Features: Extra seat-belt routing, cupholders  LATCH type: Rigid | Price:  $

Saxton recommends the Uppababy ALTA booster seat because “it has seat-belt routing at the crotch area and not just at the shoulder, which I think will help keep my daughter safer.” The included cupholders can also be removed to save space.

Clek Oobr Booster Car Seat

Max weight and height: 100 pounds, 57 inches  | Features: Reclinable | LATCH type: Rigid | Price: $$$

“What I always recommend is a booster with lower anchors, so it attaches to the car,” says Saxton. This model has a rigid latch system, so it’s easy to use, and it has energy-absorbing foam. She also likes that it reclines, so your kid can take a nap, and points out that “it’s got some of the best crash-test results.” Neuman agrees: “The safety is outstanding.” LaBracio also likes the Oobr, saying that Clek in general makes very durable, well-thought-out products, but acknowledges that it is an expensive brand.

Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus 120 Booster Car Seat

Max weight and height: 120 pounds, 63 inches  | Features: Extended height limit, independently adjustable headrest and backrest | LATCH type: Rigid | Price: $$

For a booster seat to fit your child properly, it should guide the seat belt over their lap , across their chest, and between their shoulder and neck . This can be tricky for kids who are taller in their torso versus their legs. The Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Plus 120 is unique in that its headrest, backrest, and side wings can all be adjusted independently from one another, making it easier to get the right fit. When your child is ready for a backless booster seat, the upper portion of the seat can be removed from the base.

Chicco GoFit Backless Booster Car Seat

Max weight and height: 100 pounds, 57 inches  | Price: $ | Features: Lightweight, shoulder cincher, ClearTex material, cupholders | LATCH type: No LATCH | Price: $$

This backless booster weighs just five pounds, and since it rests on the backseat of your car while your child is secured by the car’s seat belt, moving it between cars takes just a few seconds. Trolio likes it for carpools and travel, and appreciates that it has a clip for cinching the seat belt at the child’s shoulder to help achieve the safest possible fit. And because it has cupholders, cushioning, and GREENGUARD Gold–certified ClearTex fabric, it’s a good-value backless booster for everyday use with older kids.

Best car seats for traveling

Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat

Max weight and height: (Rear) 40 pounds, 40 inches (Forward) 4o pounds, 43 inches | Features: Lightweight one-piece shell LATCH type: Flexible | Price:  $

While the best and safest car seats are typically sturdier, they’re usually not lightweight, which is why many parents end up buying a separate one for traveling. Though it’s hard to pass up the chance to save money on flights by holding children under 2 on your lap, Saxton and LaBracio agree that it’s always safer for your child to have their own airplane seat with a Federal Aviation Administration–approved car seat. (The American Association of Pediatrics, National Transportation Safety Board, and FAA all recommend this as well, making an extra travel-friendly seat a worthwhile purchase.)

In the convertible category, both Saxton and Renee McCabe, the injury-prevention and Safe Kids coordinator for Safe Kids Greater Augusta , suggested the eight-pound Cosco Scenera Next. “It’s a $60 car seat that you can find at Walmart,” Saxton says. “It’s easy to install in planes, can be installed upright so babies can have neck control, and comes in a one-piece shell so there are no extra parts you have to deal with.” It’s also one of the most well-known and beloved travel car seats out there, especially if you aren’t concerned about matching it up with a specific stroller. “People love it,” LaBracio says. “Everyone in the city has one when their kid ages out of the bucket seat. It’s easy to install — with the LATCH system or your car’s seat belt — no-frills, super-affordable, and you can carry it.” This seat does not have a no-rethread harness, so we recommend adjusting it to fit your child before you leave home. It can be used in the rear-facing position for infants starting at 4 pounds and up to 40 pounds in both rear- and forward-facing positions.

Doona Infant Car Seat and Stroller

Max weight and height: 35 pounds, 32 inches | Features: Stoller and car seat all-in-one LATCH type: Flexible | Price: $$$$

For an all-in-one traveling unit, the Doona is basically a car seat and stroller in one. Charlie Stein , brand-relations manager at Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, used it for his firstborn and says it made being a first-time parent much easier. “I have had multiple people ask me what it is, particularly because the Doona fits perfectly in airplane seats, and I say ‘Transformers for adults.’” He adds that for car travel, it’s very easy to install and clicks to let you know it’s locked in. Though it’s expensive for a single piece of baby gear, it functions as two — and the streamlined traveling experience could be well worth the investment. Just note that there is limited basket storage, and the wheels maneuver best on flat sidewalks (versus bumpier terrain). Saxton used it as her everyday car seat and stroller when her baby was an infant, and says its convenience cannot be beat. And for taller parents, Saxton notes that she is five-feet-eight and her husband is six-feet-three and they had no problem pushing the stroller. One note: Healy says that the popularity of the Doona means there are knockoffs and fakes on the market and recommends doing your due diligence and purchasing your car seat from reputable retailers.

Nuna Pipa Urbn with TRIV Next Stroller Travel System

Max weight and height: 22 pounds, 29 inches | Features: Easy installation without a base, lightweight LATCH type: Rigid | Price: $$$$

The latest edition to Nuna’s line of infant car seats is the Pipa Urbn, which is sold as part of the brand’s TRIV travel system. What sets it apart is that it doesn’t have a base but can be quickly installed into any car with the PipaFIX rigid LATCH system. “This is great for Ubers and taxis because it has an integrated LATCH system built right into the bottom of the seat itself, so all you have to do is click it into the seat of the car and you’re good to go,” Gurock says. LaBracio calls it “as foolproof as it gets,” and if a car’s anchors are deeper down in the back seat, the Pipa Urbn has anchor guides to make connection easier. When the seat is not installed, its LATCH connectors fold into the seat so you can tote your baby around without the legs getting caught on anything. Like many of Nuna’s other infant seats, the Urbn is also extremely lightweight, at only seven pounds.

Despite its convenience, it’s not without drawbacks: It is currently available only as a travel system with the TRIV Next stroller and has a very high price tag. It also has a much lower weight limit — 22 pounds — than most other infant seats, so depending on the size of your baby, you may not be able to use it for very long. However, this stroller can be used without the car seat and has a weight limit of 50 pounds (which should fit many kids until they’re 4 or 5 years old).

Best inflatable booster seat for traveling

Bubblebum Backless Inflatable Travel Booster

Max weight and height: 100 pounds, 57 inches | Features: Inflatable, shoulder cincher | LATCH type: No LATCH | Price:  $

Saxton, McCabe, and LaBracio all pointed us in the direction of this inflatable Bubblebum travel booster seat, which compresses into a stuff sack about the size of a two-liter soda bottle for easy portability. “A lot of families love this for carpooling because it can fit in a backpack,” says Saxton. Like the Chicco GoFit backless booster, above, it also has a clip for cinching the seat belt at the child’s shoulder to help achieve the safest possible fit. Boosters are not approved to use on airplanes, but McCabe notes that the Bubblebum is ideal for hopping in cars or Ubers. Trolio has also used the Bubblebum and finds it especially helpful when she is going to have extra kids in her car on the way home from school or soccer practice. While the seat requires a bit of extra belt threading at the lap, it offers peace of mind that she isn’t taking unnecessary risk, even for short trips.

Our experts

• Alisa Baer, pediatrician and co-founder of  thecarseatlady.com • Lauren Brown, lead car-seat safety specialist at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital • Allyson Downey, co-founder of WeeSpring • Kenny Fried, vice-president of Brotman | Winter | Fried • Stephen Galamb, Vox Media engineer and dad • Eli Gurock, founder and CEO of the baby-gear and toy-retailer Magic Beans • Kecia Healy, CPS technician instructor and member of the New York State Child Passenger Safety Advisory Board • Ben Hoffman , pediatrician who helped write the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policies on child-passenger safety • Jennifer LaBracio, gear editor at Babylist • Renee McCabe, injury-prevention and Safe Kids coordinator for Safe Kids Greater Augusta • Ashlee Neuman, deputy editor at the Bump • Jennifer Saxton, founder of Tot Squad and child-passenger-safety technician • Mei Ling Starkey, co-founder of Family Entourage • Charlie Stein , brand-relations manager at Biederman Redevelopment Ventures • Jen Trolio, Strategist senior editor and mom of two

Additional reporting by Lauren Ro

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travel car seat for 6 month old

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Mom of a 2-Month-Old Put the Nuna MIXX Next Stroller to the Test

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In a nutshell: The Nuna MIXX Next Stroller is a flexible option for growing families. Giving it a total score of 4.7 out of 5, our product tester was a fan of the fully reclining, reversible seat and liked that it can be used as a travel system with Nuna infant car seats.

When it comes to baby gear, finding a stroller is top of the list for most families. But you don’t just want any old stroller, you want one that actually works for your lifestyle. And for folks looking for a versatile mode of transportation, the Nuna MIXX Next is hard to beat. In fact, it was voted the overall best stroller in our latest Best of The Bump awards programme .

To get a clear picture of how this stroller actually works for families, we asked a mom of one to test it out and tell us what she thought. Below, find her honest review—plus pros and cons to consider, technical specs and additional input from the editorial team and members of The Bump community.

Overview of the Nuna MIXX Next Stroller Features

About the nuna mixx next.

Nuna MIXX Next Stroller

  • UPF 50+ sun canopy
  • Easy to steer with one hand
  • Compatible with Nuna car seats
  • High price point
  • Car seat sold separately
  • Awkward to carry when folded

Before we get into our product tester feedback, let’s do a quick recap of the Nuna MIXX Next’s key features. It offers four modes of use including rear- and forward-facing seat options. It's good to go from day one thanks to a near-flat recline that safely accommodates a newborn. And a magnetic self-guiding harness makes it easy to buckle in your little one. It’s compatible with all Nuna infant car seats and features a unique ring adaptor, which makes it easy to attach or detach the car seat in seconds. Meanwhile, rugged rubber tires with all-wheel suspension make for smooth strolling over any type of terrain and it's incredibly easy to push and steer. We also like the fact that the stroller stands upright when folded, making it easy to store until your next journey.

Dimensions (open): 32.7" (L) x 23.6" (W) x 45.3" (H) | Dimensions (folded): 27.5" (L) x 23.6" (W) x 19" (H) | Weight: 28.3 lbs. | Weight capacity: 50 lbs. | One-handed fold: No | Car seat compatible: Yes | Number of children: 1

How We The Tested Nuna MIXX Next Stroller

To find out how the Nuna MIXX Next stroller performed in a real family setting, we took the following steps:

  • Enlisted the help of Sarah, an independent product tester and mom of a 2-month-old baby, to take the stroller for multiple test-drives. She used the Nuna MIXX stroller in combination with the Nuna PIPA urbn car seat as a travel system, and tested it across a number of different situations.
  • We asked Sarah to rate the stroller across six categories—including ease of use, folding and unfolding, features, design, value and overall experience—on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst possible score and 5 being the best. Her ratings have been combined with extensive research by our in-house editorial team to inform the in-depth product review below.
  • In May 2023 we surveyed over 300 new and expectant parents, gathering feedback on the baby gear they used with their own families. We asked survey respondents to rate the Nuna MIXX Next stroller and tell us what they liked and disliked about it.

Editorial integrity is at the heart of everything we publish. Read about how The Bump develops and reviews all articles , including product reviews.

Nuna MIXX Next Stroller Review

After using the Nuna MIXX Next with her 2-month-old baby, our product tester, Sarah, evaluated the stroller based on the following categories: Ease of pushing and steering, folding and unfolding, ease of use as a stroller and travel system, features, style and design and value for money. Keep reading to hear her thoughts.

Ease of pushing and steering

Our product tester awarded the Nuna MIXX Next top marks for ease of pushing and steering. “I was actually really impressed with the stroller’s ease in maneuverability. It’s easy to steer one-handed and the turn radius is fantastic,” says Sarah. “We went on walks that included turns, going over bumps and curbs, as well as uneven grassy fields and this stroller handled it all great. The suspension is really good and helped make it a pretty smooth ride for my baby even on bumpy terrain,” she continues. We’re not surprised at this assessment as the stroller has free-flex suspension and large foam-filled tires designed to absorb any jolts or shocks along your journey. Another plus point is the compact frame that weighs under 29 lbs. and is small enough to maneuver through tight spaces. “It doesn’t feel heavy to push at all. It’s nice to take shopping and doesn’t feel weighed down when items are in the basket.” An adjustable handlebar also makes it easy to steer and push, whether you are tall or on the shorter side. This is evident in our product tester’s review as she told us that “the handlebar is comfortable and a good width and length.” Overall, the pushing and steering process was a positive one: “I felt like my baby was secure at all times when we had to go down and up curbs, and again I was able to use just one hand if necessary.”

Rating: 5 out of 5

Folding and unfolding

travel car seat for 6 month old

The Nuna MIXX Next folds 6.5 inches smaller than its predecessor; however, our product tester felt that the folding process could be improved upon. “While it is pretty easy to fold and unfold the stroller, you unfortunately can’t do it with one hand,” says Sarah. “It requires both hands, as the mechanisms are at the top by the handle on both sides,” she explains. “This was one of the few features I didn’t like about this stroller, as I’ve personally used others where it’s quite easy to fold and unfold with one hand.”

The stroller is relatively compact, stands upright once folded and can be pulled behind you like a trolley. But our product tester found it difficult to pack away and store. “It was a little awkward to carry when folded. However, that could be an issue on my end as I’m short in stature, so it could be much easier for taller users.” In terms of size when folded, our tester reported that the Nuna MIXX Next was “average” for a travel system stroller. “It does take up quite a bit of space but from experience so do the others. It will stand up on its own while folded, which is a nice aspect.”

One of the claims made by Nuna is that the stroller automatically locks into place once folded, but our product tester wasn’t overly impressed with this feature. “I wish that when folding the stroller you didn’t have to use a latch to lock it in place—and honestly since there is a latch and it has to be used, I wish there were two because the single latch, on just one side of the stroller, doesn’t keep it folded very tight and adds to the cumbersomeness when trying to move it folded or lift it into a car.”

Rating: 3 out of 5

Ease of use as a stroller travel system

One of the biggest selling points of this stroller is its versatility. The stroller itself can be used from birth thanks to a reclining seat with a flat position for newborn naps on the go. And the stroller is compatible with all Nuna infant car seats, so you can easily create a travel system. Our product tester tested the Nuna MIXX Next in combination with the PIPA urbn and gave it top marks for ease of use. In terms of assembly, “the longest part of setting up this travel system was probably just getting all the straps and buckles adjusted to fit my baby, and taking out any of the inserts.” All in all it took her “an hour, or a little less, to set up both the stroller and the car seat.”

Our product tester said it was easy to attach and detach the car seat, earning this stroller major brownie points: “It comes with the adaptor piece to put the car seat in place versus the regular seat. It’s very easy to click the car seat into place and to take it off. Plus, you can do that with one hand, which is awesome.” She was also a fan of the one-touch rear-wheel braking system, telling us that “the stroller brake works well, it’s right at the bottom of the stroller near where your feet are, so it’s easy to access.”

It also has plenty of adjustable features, including a reclining seat, removable armbar and “you can adjust the stroller handle into several different lengths, which is great.” It also has an all-weather seat with removable cushioning for winter and an airy mesh back panel for summer. According to our product tester, “the stroller is also fairly easy to keep clean as the fabric seat lining and the inserts for the car seat are machine washable, which is a big plus.”

Car seat compatibility

travel car seat for 6 month old

As mentioned above, Sarah used the stroller as her primary travel system with a baseless car seat. “Initially I was a bit concerned about using the car seat since it doesn’t have a base. But after reading up on the safety features and using it multiple times, I really, really love it,” she gushed.

One thing she liked was how easy it was to install the seat into the car. “The first couple of times I needed to go on both sides to make sure it clicked in place, but after that I was able to get it clicked in on both sides all at once.” Once installed, she told us that “it does feel secure when locked into the bars, which is something I was worried about since it doesn’t have a base.”

Despite her initial concerns, Sarah is a big fan of the Nuna MIXX and PIPA urbn pairing. “I love that it has a one-handed release button—it makes it so easy to get it out of the car.” She found it lightweight and a lot easier to carry than other car seats she’s used. “Overall I’m really impressed with how easy it is to use, lift and carry this car seat.” Sounds good to us!

Stroller features

The Nuna MIXX Next has many noteworthy features, but our product tester paid particular attention to a few key aspects that set this stroller apart from the crowd. “The two features I love most about the stroller are the recline for newborns and babies under 6 months of age and the fact that you can face the seat either way (facing towards you or out).” As our tester’s child is only 2-months-old, she only used the stroller in a reclined position as per safety guidelines, but she did appreciate the multiple options: “The seat reclines and clicks into multiple different positions, which is great since every baby has a different preference.” Aside from the built-in seating arrangements, “I love that I have the option to either use the car seat in the stroller, or I can just take my baby out of the car seat and place them in the stroller with the seat in recline.” Another feature our product tester mentioned was the canopy. “It’s UPF 50+ and water resistant, but it also has ventilation panels so baby can get good air circulation.”

While Sarah loved the stroller features there was one thing that she felt was lacking. “The only thing I really wish this had was a cupholder included on the stroller,” she told us. While she noted that it is possible to buy a separate stroller organizer , she said that “I’d love to be able to put my phone somewhere, maybe my keys and a drink. I know there’s a pocket on the back of the seat to put your phone, but that’s only good for if you’re using the seat facing away from you. If you’re using it facing towards you (like for newborns) or using the car seat, you don’t have anywhere to put a phone or keys.” While this issue is definitely worth flagging, our product tester said that it was a minor bugbear that didn’t really affect her overall opinion on the features of the stroller.

Style and design

travel car seat for 6 month old

Given that you’ll use it everyday, your stroller should match your style aesthetic. And that was certainly the case with the Nuna MIXX Next and our product tester. “The stroller looks really modern and sleek in its design. I like the ‘leatherette’ handles, as it makes the stroller feel really luxe,” she told us. It comes in seven colors but our product tester handled the caviar colorway and likes the black and brown combo. “I don’t feel like the black makes the fabric hot or anything like that, so I wouldn’t put that into consideration when choosing between the black or gray colorways,” she said.

In summary: “Overall I’m really happy with the look and design of the stroller and don’t have any suggestions other than maybe offer it in more colorways for others to choose from. But black goes with everything and it looks great to me!”

Value for money

travel car seat for 6 month old

The Nuna MIXX Next stroller is priced at $800 on its own, but is also available in a bundle alongside the PIPA urbn car seat for $1,200. “This travel system definitely has a higher price point than some other travel systems. But I do think that it’s worth the price,” says our product tester. “As you can use the car seat or the newborn full recline for the stroller, and then can use the seat up to 50 pounds you’ll get a lot of use out of this—quite possibly from birth till 4 or 5 years of age,” she explains.

Another key selling point for our product tester was the fact that the car seat is baseless, as “/[it] makes it so much easier to travel with one less stroller item to carry around.” Admittedly, it is expensive but our tester says that “it really is worth the money as long as you’re looking for something with all its features, are going to get good use out of it for multiple years and plan on traveling.”

travel car seat for 6 month old

Our final question for our product tester was: would you recommend this stroller? And her answer was a resounding yes. “I would definitely recommend this travel system!” she responded. “The car seat not needing a base to use in your car … and the many different ways you can recline the stroller seat and have it face in either direction are the main reasons why I think this travel system is great and why I’d recommend it,” she told us.

Average rating: 4.7 out of 5

More Thoughts From The Bump Community

In May of 2023, The Bump editors conducted a survey of 300 new and expectant parents from among our community, and asked what type of stroller they used and whether or not they liked it. Below, find a selection of feedback from survey respondents who have firsthand experience with the Nuna MIXX Next stroller:

“It's easy to fold (though not one-handed), feels sturdy, offers great sun coverage, and has great style and design. That said, it's very expensive.” - Heather*, parent of one and The Bump survey respondent

“It's probably bigger than we (and our compact car) need; it can only accommodate one, right-hand cup holder for no obvious reason.” - Heather*, parent of one and The Bump survey respondent

*Note: Some names have been changed due to privacy requests.

Plus, more from The Bump:

The Best Strollers for Every Need, Tested and Loved by Parents

Mockingbird Single-to-Double Stroller Review From Mom of Two

One Mom’s Honest Review of the SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet

The Bump survey of 300 parents and parents-to-be, May 2023

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Flying With A Car Seat? Here's What You Need To Know

Y ou've probably already heard it but it bears repeating: Bringing a car seat for your baby on a flight is the safest way for your child to fly. And although it's not required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency strongly encourages parents to bring a car seat or other FAA-approved child restraint system or device when flying with young children. This means the car seat has the required label noting it is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.

And, no, it's not enough to hold them in your lap, especially during turbulence, which is the leading cause of pediatric injuries on a plane, according to the FAA. As Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told The Washington Post , "We've seen airplanes go through turbulence recently and drop 4,000 feet in a split second. The G-forces are not something even the most loving mother or father can guard against and hold their child. It's just physically impossible." You'll also need your hands to put on your oxygen mask in cases of low cabin pressure.

So, yes, flying with a car seat is a good choice, especially if you're flying with a young child, i.e., under 2 years. But, if this is your first time flying with one, it's understandable that you have questions. We'll do our best to answer the most important queries you might have. So let's dive in.

Do You Have To Pay To Bring A Car Seat On The Plane?

Technically, no, but you'll have to hope and pray that there's an open seat and that the flight attendant will allow you to use it. Otherwise, you'll have to check your car seat and hold your child in your lap for the duration of the flight. In short, when you don't pay for a seat, there's no guarantee your child can sit securely in their car seat next to you during the flight.

Although paying for an extra seat can be hard on the budget, you should carefully consider it. Having peace of mind and assurance of your child's safety during the flight is priceless. Plus, if you have a toddler, a car seat can keep them behaved, and you  stress-free . As a user commented in the Toddlers Reddit forum's car seat discussion : " ... [I]t's so nice to have her contained! Someone behind me was trying to get their toddler to sit down the whole flight and it sounded exhausting."

Which Plane Seat Is The Best For A Car Seat?

When you bring a car seat on a plane, your options for seating are limited. Of course, you should book adjoining seats. The FAA says not to put car seats in exit rows, and you should avoid rows in front of or behind exit rows as well. Additionally, a lot of airlines ask that you put a car seat in the window seat. Putting children in aisle seats can be dangerous due to the possibility of falling items from overhead compartments and hot beverages spilling from carts. But, if you're flying on an aircraft with two aisles, a middle seat in the center is a good option too. Basically, book a seat for your baby's car seat that won't hinder another passenger from exiting or accessing the aisle.

And, when booking first class and business class, check that your car seat can fit in the seats you book. Sometimes, these cabin seats have angles that won't fit a car seat. In fact, double-check your car seat's weight limitations and dimensions against your plane's seat — it should be no more than 16 inches wide for most airlines. However, if you find that your car seat doesn't fit the seat, the FAA requires your airline to find another seat where it will fit.

If in doubt or you have questions, reach out to your airline for confirmation and answers. Also check with your airline if they allow car seats in the bulkhead, as many don't. If they do, book seats there for more leg room.

How Do You Install A Car Seat On The Plane?

Once on board the plane, your next agenda will be to install the car seat. While asking for the help of a flight attendant might sound like a good plan, don't rely on them. You are responsible for knowing how to install your car seat. The FAA has videos explaining the installation of forward-facing and rear-facing car seats, but it's always best to read the manual beforehand to be sure you're not going to break or damage anything.

If, after reading the manual, you have some questions, seek out the advice and expertise of a child passenger safety technician (CPST). You can search the National Child Passenger Safety Certification training program's website or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's online directory, or reach out to your local Safe Kids Coalition. Don't forget to have your child's weight and height info, your car seat's manual, and, if possible, your child, among other things during the checkup.

In general, you can install either a forward-facing or rear-facing car seat. First, locate the right belt path in your car seat, loosen the airplane seatbelt and get it through the belt path, and then buckle and tighten it. If you're using a rear-facing car seat, note that it will interfere with the recline function of the seat in front, so you might arrange for a companion to sit there, if you're traveling with one.

Should You Buy A Rear-Facing Or Front-Facing Car Seat?

There's no prohibition against any of these types of car seats. You can bring a front-facing or rear-facing car seat on a flight as long as it is installed in a forward-facing plane seat. According to BabyCenter , children below 20 pounds should be seated in a rear-facing car seat whereas children from 20 to 40 pounds should be seated in a forward-facing car seat.

With this in mind, infants and toddlers should generally use a rear-facing car seat, while children more than 3 years old and younger than 7 years old or who have reached the height and weight limits can be placed in a forward-facing car seat. Basically, your child's age, weight, and height will dictate what type of car seat they'll use.

As mentioned, the car seat you bring with you on a flight should be one that's FAA-approved, i.e., it should have the certification label required for air travel. You can find this in a sticker with red text. Make sure you know where it is before boarding the plane as flight attendants will look for this label upon boarding. If you don't know where it is and the flight attendant can't find it, you might be asked to check your car seat instead.

How Do You Check Your Car Seat?

If shelling out those extra bucks just isn't in the budget, then you can check your car seat for free with most airlines. And whether you check it at the ticket counter or at the gate, remember to get your luggage tag, fill it out, and attach it to the car seat immediately. This way, you don't have to worry about it upon boarding.

If you gate check your car seat, you can drop it at the ramp right before boarding or a flight attendant will take care of it for you. Upon arrival, your car seat should be waiting for you at the jetbridge. If not, go to the baggage claim or ask a flight attendant about it.

If you check it at the counter, you might want to invest in a car seat travel bag. While this doesn't guarantee that your car seat won't be damaged, at least it will not be dirty. After deplaning, head to the oversized luggage section at the baggage claim area. You can usually claim car seats and strollers there, but call your airline to double-check. If you have a connecting flight, ensure you have time to retrieve your luggage, get to your next flight, and install the car seat there. Also, have a plan B in case your car seat gets damaged or lost. This typically means buying a new one or renting, so research in advance to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

Read this next: Tips For Making Road Trips With Your Newborn Less Stressful

baby on plane

6-month-old girl left inside closed Philadelphia day care: 'This is heartbreaking'

6-month-old girl left inside closed philadelphia daycare.

Authorities say an infant girl is safe after being left inside a Philadelphia daycare after it closed.

PHILADELPHIA - Authorities say an infant girl is safe after being left inside a Philadelphia day care after it closed. 

Police responded to New Arisens Day Care on Whitaker Avenue after the child's parents came to pick up their child around 5:30 p.m. and found the building closed.

Chief Inspector Scott Small told reporters police tried to call the phone number on the building's front window and got no response. They managed to contact the owners of other daycare centers to finally get in touch with the owner and manager of New Arisens. 

Day Care management couldn't get the steel front gate to lift higher than 4-feet, Small said, which required members of the Philadelphia Fire Department to cut through the gate to finally allow police inside. 

Father recalls panic felt after infant daughter was left inside Philadelphia day care

Cam'ron Banks, the 24-year-old father of an infant daughter who was left inside a Philadelphia day care, spoke to FOX 29's Hank Flynn.

Small said the child was found asleep in her car seat in a corner of the darkened day care center. She was taken to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children for medical evaluation. The child's father was taken to police Special Victim's Unit to provide a statement, and several day care staff members were also interviewed by police.

"Today was supposed to be picture day...today was supposed to be a happy day," the baby's father, Cam'ron Banks, told FOX 29. 

Banks claims that in the four months they've sent their child to the day care, they've never been allowed inside the building. He said they were recommended by a family friend to send their infant to the child care facility. 

"We were recommended to this day care by a family friend and my sister worked there in the summertime, so we thought we were in good hands and to come out to this is heartbreaking," Banks said.

Travel Car Seat Mom

What’s the best travel car seat for a 6 year old? (2024 reviews)

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This article about the best travel car seat for a 6 year old is written by certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Melissa Conn and may contain affiliate links.

Are you trying to pick the best travel car seat for a 6 year old? Or maybe you feel like your 6 year old is ready for a travel booster seat? You’ve come to the right place! If you’re shopping for a child of a different age, check out the best travel car seats for all ages to get to the right list.

If your family is anything like ours, at home the kids are riding around in harnessed boosters that might as well be kid-sized thrones . They’re amazing for safety and comfort.

But for air travel? Not so much. Many families don’t want to lug a 25 pound car seat through the airport, hoist it over an entire row to get it installed in a tiny airplane window seat, navigate back through another airport and then lift it into a taxi or rental car. A better choice if you can swing it is to pick up one of the many travel car seats for 6 year olds on the market today.

If your child is big enough and mature enough you can also start to consider some travel booster seats on the market. Nearly all of them are lighter than harnessed combination seats but not all 6 year olds are ready to make the jump – I know mine isn’t! Every family will need to decide what is the appropriate car seat for their 6 year old. In this article we’ll help you make that choice.

Read more: Bringing your booster seat on an airplane

Quick Picks: Best Travel Car Seat For A 6 Year Old

If you want to skip the details, here are my top picks for the best travel car seat for a 6 year old:

  • Graco Tranzitions / Graco Wayz – best lightweight harnessed booster that works well for kids ages ~3-12 as a forward-facing harness, highback booster and then backless booster
  • Ride Safer Travel Vest – booster seat alternative perfect for lightweight travel with kids who aren’t mature enough for a booster ( full review here )
  • Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 – most portable folding highback booster seat on the market
  • Bubblebum – inflatable booster seat for mature kids who don’t sleep in the car ( full review here )

How to Choose the Best Travel Car Seat for a 6 Year Old

What do we look for in the best portable car seat for a 6 year old? In my experience, there are a few important priorities:

-It has to be light, ideally not more than ~10lbs

-It has to be easy to use

-Ideally it should last at least 3-4 years

On that last note, some of the options on this list are affordable enough that you might want to choose them even if they’ll only last you a year or two. Better to spend a few dollars to keep your kid boostered to a safe age than to let them ride around unsafely, even on vacation! Most kids need a booster seat until 10-12 years old to get a safe fit with an adult seatbelt.

Of course every family has unique needs. If your child is extremely tall for her age or you think she would benefit from staying harnessed for a few more years, you might want to choose taller car seat even at the expense of a few extra pounds. If your travels involve a long flight and a long drive, look for comfort features like padding and cup holders to keep your youngest passengers happy.

DEAL ALERT! Save $11 off the Ride Safer Travel Vest with coupon ‘ VOYAGE ‘

Want to know all my best secrets? Click here to learn how to travel with your car seat like a pro!

Portable Car Seat For A 6 Year Old Comparison

Best travel car seats for 6 year olds.

The NHTSA recommends that kids remain in a forward-facing harness as long as possible, and many safety advocates urge parents to keep their kids harnessed for several years beyond age 4.

The right type of car seat for a 6 year old is something of a crap shoot. You may feel ok with a booster for a 6 year old who is extremely mature, good at listening to directions and doesn’t usually fall asleep in the car. On the other hand, you may need to look for a 5 point harness booster seat for over 40lbs if you think your kid won’t be able to stay in a safe position 100% of the time.

In the reviews below, we mostly recommend travel combination car seats, which can be used forward-facing with a harness until your child is big enough and mature enough to use the seat as a high-back booster. That means they’ll last you for years – maybe even until the end of your car seat days.

Some lightweight convertible car seats might still work for your 6 year old, so if you have one laying around you can stick with that! But I wouldn’t recommend buying a new convertible car seat as you won’t get to use it for long.

At the bottom of this list you’ll also find a few booster seats that are appropriate for a mature 6 year old who meets the size requirements too. YMMV.

Does my 6 year old need a carseat to fly?

Probably not, as long as she’s at least 40 pounds and will abide by the seatbelt sign. The main reason to fly with it is that you need it at your destination and want to avoid checking a car seat on an airplane . We continued to bring this car seat on flights with us if we were doing a trip with lots of driving. If we weren’t doing as much driving (or were flitting around on trains and buses too) we brought this instead and didn’t use anything on the plane for our 6 year old.

Graco Tranzitions review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 12.5lbs -Max harness height 18” -Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 27-49″ -Highback booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+ -Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+

Pros: ✔ Fits from age 3 (as a harness) to ~age 12 (as a backless booster) ✔ Reasonable price for longevity ✔ Very narrow

Cons: ✘ Can be tough to install in some cars ✘ Heavier than other options ✘ Back and base may separate when carrying ✘ 7 year expiration

If we were on the market for a travel car seat for a 6 year old who still needs to be harnessed, the Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 harness booster car seat would get some serious consideration. The price tag is extremely reasonable for what you get and it would be a great seat to use both at home at on the go (it’s sometimes even cheaper at Walmart ).

The best part? You might never have to buy another car seat again (unless you want to, that is) thanks to the 7 year lifespan and the ability to “tranzition” the seat to a highback booster and later a backless booster.

Unlike the Evenflo Maestro , the Tranzitions harnesses to 65lbs (rather than only 50) has harness pads and a slightly wider distance between straps to keep your kid comfortable. It’s a better choice all around if your child is bigger than average.

It has an option pillow for extra padding and even two cupholders, which can be rotated inward to save space and make this a great car seat for traveling with three kids. For added convenience, as your child grows taller you can use the Simply Safe feature to adjust harness height – a no-rethread harness is a feature usually reserved for much heavier car seats.

So what are the tradeoffs? Nothing is perfect. You’ll have to carry around a few extra pounds to get all those features in a 6 year old car seat, though you won’t notice a difference if you use a cart like this one or strap it to your suitcase . Just know that if you’re using it as a booster seat for your 6 year old, you won’t be able to bring it on board a plane with you.

Some parents have had trouble installing the Tranzitions (or the Graco Wayz ) in certain cars since the path for the seatbelt and LATCH strap is mounted very high on the car seat – I’ve even had difficulty sometimes when helping caregivers with this seat. Prepare to spend a little more time with it and use these tips for installing your car seat . It also requires a top tether for installation, which you may not find in developing countries.

Lastly, the base and the back can click apart from each other too easily when you’re carrying it around – this problem afflicts just about every booster seat that can become backless (including the one we use at home) and it’s such a nuisance!

The Graco Tranzitions might be the best car seat for 6 year old kids whose families are on a budget but want a travel-worthy option. Since it converts between a forward-facing harness, highback booster seat and a backless booster seat, many families can get at least five years of use out of it – not bad for a seat with a retail price under $150.

Ride Safer Travel Vest review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 2lbs -Size small: minimum age 3, fits best for 30+ lbs and 35-47″ -Size large: minimum age 4, fits best for 50+ lbs and 45-57″

Pros: ✔ Rolls up to the size of a 2L soda bottle ✔ Perfect for taxi rides ✔ Lowers seat belt to provide an appropriate fit for young children ✔ Keeps kids properly seated better than a traditional booster seat – even when sleeping ✔ Easy to fit 3-across since it’s only as wide as the child ✔ 5 year expiration

Cons: ✘ No side impact protection like a highback booster seat ✘ Takes practice to get belt fit right ✘ NOT permitted for use on planes

Several years ago the kind folks at Safe Ride 4 Kids sent us a Ride Safer travel vest to review, and it hasn’t left our travel kit since. The Ride Safer travel vest is completely different than the other travel car seats and booster seats on the market.

You could say that the Ride Safer travel vest is sort of in between a booster seat and a traditional forward-facing car seat. It relies on the car’s seat belt to handle most of the restraint, but also has an optional top tether that minimizes head movement in an accident and keeps your child in the correct position even if they fall asleep (or drop a toy). While our youngest child wasn’t ready for a booster seat yet at 6 since she was a car sleeper – especially when jet-lagged – we were comfortable with her riding in the Ride Safer vest.

So comfortable, in fact, that we brought our Ride Safer vest on our year-long trip around the world! It’s seen action on six continents and served us well the whole time. Once we practiced a few times, we got very fast at putting her in the vest and getting her secured in the car. The newer version features an easier buckle in the front and more adjustability, so that should help many parents.

Travel Car Seat Mom - A young girl sitting in a car seat.

Many families wonder what size to buy. The size small should last most kids until 6 or even 7 (if they’re on the smaller side). Above you can see my niece at 7 years old, around 46″ and 45lbs – she has a very slim build and still fits nicely in the small.

Travel Car Seat Mom - A young girl wearing the Ride Safer Travel Vest sits comfortably in the back seat of a car.

If your child is bigger than average or older but still not ready to ride in a booster seat, you can opt for the Large or even XL size. In fact, the Ride Safer travel vest is one of the best travel car seat options for taller kids who aren’t booster-ready, as all of the very tall harnesses on the market weigh 20+ pounds. My daughter pictured above is around 48″ and 55lbs; the small didn’t work for her but large is perfect.

Read more: My in-depth Ride Safer travel vest review

While we generally think of the Ride Safer as a travel car seat alternative, we also use it at home often. I keep it in my trunk at all times so that we can fit 3-across in our car for those unexpected carpools or for when Grandma comes for a visit! Since the vest is as narrow as the child in it, there’s no trouble fitting it between two big car seats in our compact SUV.

Best travel booster seats for 6 year olds

Ok, so what if you feel like your 6 year old is mature enough (and big enough) for a booster seat? There are a few great choices to consider for the next stage.

When you’re shopping for a portable booster seat, it’s important to remember that even the best booster seats are not FAA-approved – here’s what you need to know about flying with a booster seat . From a safety perspective, that’s fine: your child will be over 40lbs, so the airplane seatbelt will secure her properly. But what should you do with her booster seat so it’s not lost or damaged?

Take it on board! There are a few ways to manage this. One option is to buy a folding booster seat from the list below. We own several of these and they’re great! They fold up small enough to fit in the overhead bin of a plane so that you’re never separated from them.

The other option is to separate the bottom of the booster seat from the back and put the back in a suitcase. It’s ok to check the back that way because it’ll be protected by the suitcase and padded by clothing. You’d then carry the backless part of the booster on-board with you and put it in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of your kid. The only risk is if your luggage is lost or delayed, but at least in a pinch you could use the backless portion of the booster on its own.

You can also find even more travel booster seat options here .

Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 Booster Seat review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 15lbs -Highback booster size limit 40-120lbs, up to 63″

Pros: ✔ Steel reinforced frame ✔ Rigid LATCH ✔ Tons of size adjustments for a great fit ✔ Reclines for sleep ✔ Extremely narrow ✔ 10 year expiration

Cons: ✘ Really expensive ✘ No arm rests ✘ Heavy ✘ Folded size is as big as a carry-on suitcase

If you don’t have an enormous budget to spend on a travel booster seat for your 6 year old, just look away now.

If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you. The Peg Perego Viaggio Flex 120 (usually available at a discount thankfully) has some great features, but a price tag to match as well. It’s hard to fathom spending that much on luxury high back booster seat that doesn’t have any other modes available. However, some of the premium features make it a solid choice. First off, it’ll last forever… or at least as long as you want it to. The upper size limit is a whopping 120 lbs and 63″, which is the size of a petite adult. Most riders that size will fit in a seatbelt just fine without a booster seat so you may not ever need a backless booster. The other piece of lasting forever is that Peg Perego gives a whopping 10 years until expiration of this seat. If you have a second child (or third or fourth!) they’ll be able to get a few years out of this seat as well.

Second, it’s loaded with reassuring safety features. The Viaggio Flex 120 has rigid LATCH connectors to easily install the booster seat and keep it from moving around. The back of the seat is also steel reinforced for additional safety.

Third, kids generally like it. It’s padded, it has folding cupholders on each side and the lack of armrests (though a downside for long drives) means it’s easier for booster-age kids to buckles themselves.

So what’s wrong with this portable booster seat for 6 year olds, other than perhaps the price ? It comes down to the portability aspect. The steel reinforcement and rigid LATCH add an extra 5-6 pounds, making you less likely to sling this one over your shoulder and use it out on the town. Likewise, it’s not all that small when folded – about 2′ long! You’ll be lucky to fit it in the overhead bin, but taking it when you walk around a city means you’ll need a really big backpack to carry it.

The best use for the Peg Perego Viaggio Flex booster seat is probably when you’re flying to head on a road trip and won’t be moving it in and out of cars all the time. This is a solid competitor against the Diono 5iST below.

Diono Monterey 5ist review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 19lbs -Highback booster size limit 40lbs/38″ to 120lbs/63″; max belt guide 21″

Pros: ✔ Folds for compact storage ✔ Easy for kids to buckle ✔ Side impact tested ✔ Rigid LATCH for quick installation ✔ Very roomy, width adjusts to fit even the biggest kids ✔ Highest weight and height limits of any booster ✔ 8 year expiration

Cons: ✘ Heavier than other folding booster seats ✘ Too wide for 3-across as kids get taller

If you’re looking for the best booster seat for a 6 year old who will just be traveling to Grandma’s house now and then, put the new Diono Monterey 5iST on your consideration list. It’s not the lightest car seat for a 6 year old on this list, but it has a ton to offer.

First off, the Monterey 5iST adjusts tall enough and wide enough to last nearly every kid to the end of their boostering days (it’s officially rated to 63″ and 120lbs). Since it’s good for 8 years, if you buy it now you may not need to buy your child another car seat or booster seat ever again .

travel car seat for 6 month old

When you do plan to take that occasional flight, the 5iST folds to about the size of a carry-on suitcase so that you can probably fit it in the overhead bin (YMMV depending on the airline and aircraft). Alternatively, you can just leave it at Grandma’s and she won’t even notice it in the closet since it folds so compactly.

The Monterey 5iST has plenty of great features: side impact protection, rigid LATCH, unbeatable ease-of-use and more. Subjectively, it also feels extremely sturdy. This is a wonderful everyday booster seat.

My kids absolutely love the booster we received from Diono. You can read more in my in-depth Diono Monterey 5iST review , but my 10 year old is so enamored that he’s chosen to ride in it full-time. That’s high praise from an image-conscious tween!

Bubblebum booster seat review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight under 1 lbs ( really! ) -Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, age 4+

Pros: ✔ Lightest booster seat ✔ Extremely narrow ✔ Good seatbelt fit in lots of cars

Cons: ✘ Can slide around if kids are wiggly ✘ 4 year expiration (from first use)

Here’s a great portable booster seat for a 6 year old in this roundup with which we’re extremely familiar: the Bubblebum inflatable booster seat . We traveled full-time with this booster seat for the better part of two years starting when our son turned 6.

The Bubblebum is pretty amazing. It weighs about one pound and deflates/rolls to the size of a soda bottle. Setting it up takes just a few seconds, and there’s even a shoulder belt guide to give a great fit for kids of different sizes in all different vehicles. It’s also extremely affordable, even for something you’ll only use every now and then.

If you’re a family with a mature 6 year old who doesn’t usually sleep in the car the Bubblebum gives you the paragon of portability. It’s the best booster car seat option for taking around on days in a city when you think you might hop in a taxi to get home at night or if you’re taking lots of planes and trains for an extended trip.

Bubblebum is the best travel booster seat because it gives a great, consistent belt fit in nearly every car

The Bubblebum is so light that it may shift if your kid is very wiggly. But if your kid is very wiggly, they may not be ready for a backless booster seat just yet. In that case, I’d go with the RideSafer travel vest for an ultra-portable option. We also had an issue with one of our Bubblebums deflating after we left it inflated in a hot car for a month (oops!); we reached out to customer service and they sent us a whole new one for just the $7 shipping charge!

The Bubblebum also has a relatively small seating area and your child’s bottom needs to be within the silver edge. If your 6 year old has wider hips, you might want to scroll down to the next option, the Cosco Rise LX .

We started using this booster seat at 6 years old, and we think that’s about right. But it’s approved for 4 years old/40lbs and there are plenty of 5 year olds who can use it successfully, especially if your drives are short. This is a judgement call for each family and also depends on the specifics of your travels.

You can also read my in-depth review of the Bubblebum .

Graco RightGuide booster seat review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 2 lbs -Backless booster size limit 50-120lbs, 43-60″, age 5+

Pros: ✔ Extremely light booster seat ✔ Very compact booster seat when folded ✔ Narrow option for 3-across with big kids ✔ Inconspicuous option for tweens ✔ 10 year expiration

Cons: ✘ Belt guide may not stay in place securely ✘ Incompatible with some seatbelt designs

If you have a big kid or tween who’s approaching readiness for the adult seatbelt (usually 10-12 years old) but not quite there, check out the Graco RightGuide . It’s ultra low profile and easy to throw in a backpack or clip to the outside of a carry-on suitcase. It does require that kids be at least 5 years old, 43″ and 50lbs – a weight many kids don’t achieve until they’re around 7 or even older.

The RightGuide offers a wonderful seatbelt fit even for kids at the bottom of the stated size range. It can be problematic with certain types of seatbelts, so be sure to read my Graco RightGuide review to know what you need to look out for.

travel car seat for 6 month old

Cosco Rise LX booster seat review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 2 lbs -Backless booster size limit 40-100lbs, 43-57″

Pros: ✔ Extremely light ✔ Bargain price ✔ Good seatbelt fit ✔ Narrow enough for 3-across ✔ Updated LX version has more padding

Cons: ✘ Doesn’t fold

Do you like the idea of a more “traditional” booster seat but want a more compact form for travel? Or do you worry that your child will outgrow the width of the Bubblebum too quickly? The new Cosco Rise LX might be your best travel car booster seat option! We own the original non-LX version and have used it extensively.

The Cosco Rise LX (and original) are the booster seat in its simplest form: you put it down on the seat and then your kiddo buckles and runs the seatbelt under the arm rests to place it properly on her body. If your child is on the shorter side, there’s also an attached adjustable shoulder belt guide to bring the seatbelt down low enough to cross her collarbone.

That’s it. It’s not a folding booster car seat, but at 2 pounds it’s one of the lightest booster seats on the market. It’s also incredibly affordable, coming in right around $20. I’ve used it for multiple kids ranging from 6 to 10 and the fit is good on all of them. Even if you never plan to use it for travel, this is a great one to have on hand as a spare since it’s the cheapest booster seat you can buy.

The Cosco Rise is also the narrowest booster seat aside from Bubblebum at just 15″. That makes it a viable booster seat for 3-across, especially since it’s narrower at the back where your child will need to reach the buckle. We managed to squeeze one into the middle seat of our old CR-V between another narrow booster seat and an adult!

The biggest downside of the original version is the sparse padding, including none on the arm rests. This isn’t the seat my kids typically want to ride in for more than about 30 minutes, and we probably wouldn’t choose it for a long road trip if we had another choice. I recommend that you spring for the LX for just an extra $3-5, as it has more padding including on the arm rests.

Note that the minimum height for this booster seat is 43″ – many kids won’t reach that until almost 6 years old. Our son didn’t get there until almost 7 years old, so parents of shorter kids may need to look elsewhere . But the Cosco Rise LX may be the best booster seat for 6 year old globetrotters who need more hip room and prefer a stable seating area. On the other end of the spectrum, the Rise may not offer quite enough thigh support for the oldest booster riders since the seat is on the shallower side; at 11 years old, my son usually refuses it.

At 2 pounds, the Cosco Rise booster seat is one of the lightest booster seats available. It’s also extremely affordable ! If your child is ready for a backless booster and you don’t mind the extra size or weight compared to the Bubblebum or if your child has outgrown the small seat of the Bubblebum, this just might be the best booster seat for travel.

Chicco GoFit Plus review

travel car seat for 6 month old

Key stats: -Weight 5lbs -Backless booster size limit 4yo/40lbs/38″ to 110lbs/57″

Pros: ✔ Great padding ✔ LATCH to secure it when unoccupied ✔ Nice, removable/foldable cupholders ✔ Long arm rests ✔ 8 year expiration

Cons: ✘ The 57″ height limit means tall kids might need another booster down the line ✘ Seat isn’t wide enough for kids at the top of the growth chart

We own the Chicco GoFit and love it! (Actually, if I’m being honest we now own four Chicco GoFits and three of them are permanently in my van.)

The padding is nice and squishy, the arm rests and cup holders are great and the price is very reasonable. It’s not terribly wide and the cupholders fold in to help it play nicely with other car seats. Installing the booster seat with LATCH is just as easy as with all of our other Chicco car seats.

This is one of the best car booster seat options for kids who are on the smaller end of the growth chart. If you have taller or broader kids, the seat may not be wide enough to hold them until the end of their booster days. There’s also a 57″ standing height limit, which may not work for the tallest kids.

This is the booster seat we use at home and the one we take for our child when we know we’re going to be doing a lot of driving at our destination. It’s extremely comfortable and has a great carry handle integrated into the back of the seat (it’s where the back would attach if you’d bought it as part of the KidFit highback booster seat, which we also have and like). On some planes my son has put the GoFit at his feet, while on other flights he’s put it in the overhead bin.

If you want to save a little money and a little weight, the original Chicco GoFit weighs about a half pound less than the Chicco GoFit Plus – the only differences are the lower anchors and fancier armrest fabric on the Plus.

Best car seat for 6 year old FAQs

Most 6 year olds are big enough and mature enough to ride in a high back booster seat or even a backless booster seat. If your 6 year old can’t sit still in the car or still likes to sleep in the car, it’s better to choose a 5-point harness. For 6 year olds who still need a harnessed booster seat, the Chicco MyFit ( save 20% when you buy direct ) and the Britax Grow With You ClickTight both offer long-lasting harnesses. You might just need to strategize about how to travel with them !

Most 6 year olds meet the height and weight requirements to ride in a booster seat. However, their developmental level is just as important. Your child needs to be able to sit correctly in a booster seat 100% of the time, even when sleeping.

Most 6 year olds meet the height and weight requirements to ride in a backless booster seat. If your child is developmentally ready for that step, a highback booster can still be a better choice because it provides support for sleeping and the sides are an important reminder to stay seated in the proper position. The right backless booster seat age varies a lot by kid.

The best car seat for your 6 year old is the one that fits their bodies, fits your car, fits your family budget and that you can use correctly 100% of the time. Many 6 year olds ride in combination (also called “harnessed booster”) car seats. In addition to the travel-friendly car seats in this list, here are some fantastic options to consider that will last your child for many years: – Britax Grow With You ClickTight – Chicco MyFit – Graco Nautilus SnugLock Grow If your 6 year old is ready for a booster seat, check out these great options to find the right one for your family!

A 6 year old absolutely needs a car seat or a booster seat to ride safely and legally in the car. Seat belts are designed to restrain adult bodies, and most kids don’t get a safe seat belt fit until 10-12 years old.

There’s a lot that goes into choosing the right booster seat for a six year old! In addition to making sure your child is mature enough and within the height and weight requirements of the booster seat, you’ll need to do a little research before buying. Some vehicles need to have their head restraints removed when using a booster seat, but some booster seats require a head restraint behind them; that can make some combinations incompatible. It’s important to read your car’s manual and the manuals of booster seats you’re considering before you buy. In addition to the travel-friendly booster seats in this list, here are some fantastic 6 year old booster seat options to consider that will last your child for many years: – Chicco KidFit – Diono Monterey 4DXT  (requires headrest) – Nuna AACE You can also read about the  most comfortable boosters for long drives  (or for around town!).

What’s your favorite travel car seat for a 6 year old? Tell us in the comments below!

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