When it comes to our children’s safety, having a car seat that will keep them appropriately harnessed with ample protection is our number one priority.
As traffic deaths have reached staggering levels in recent years, we want to ensure that our child safety restraints are the best possible.
In the process of doing our due diligence on which car seats for one-year-olds are best, it is clear that the choice with parents everywhere is the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.
With the capability to extend rear-facing and multiple safety features, it’s been sitting at the top of the rankings ever since it came on the market.
How Long Do You Use an Infant Car Seat in 2023?
The practicality of using an infant car seat can lead some parents to use it for a more extended period than they should.
While removing the seat and carrying it into your home is beneficial, as well as using one seat with extra bases, most children will outgrow these restraints before they hit one year old.
Each infant car seat comes with its own set of dimensions. However, there are a few rules of thumb to help you know when the time has come to switch from the infant seat to a convertible option.
At a minimum, a baby should have one inch of car seat shell above their head at all times. If you notice that they are getting close to the top of the seat or their head rises above the seat’s body, they are too big to use an infant seat any longer.
Each child's safety seat has specific instructions on what weight ranges are acceptable for each seat. While some may go to a higher weight range, others will have a lower level that they deem safe for use.
It’s important to note that if your child reaches one milestone and not the other, they still need to graduate to a more oversized seat. If your baby exceeds the weight limit but not the height, it is not safe to keep them in their safety restraint until they reach the maximum size.
This situation is the same if they reach the height restriction first but not the weight.
When Can My Baby Go in a Group 1 Car Seat?
Once your baby has met the height or weight limit for their infant seat, they are free to move into a convertible car seat, also known as a Group 1 seat in the United Kingdom.
These seats provide both rear and forward-facing protection for children and a surplus of safety features.
Children will remain in a convertible car seat for many years.
Depending on the model you purchase, a child can easily stay in this level of safety restraint until they reach 4 to 5 years old, at which point they will move into a booster.
If your child has extenuating medical circumstances in which they aren’t able to support their head or sit up easily, there are special needs restraints that you can utilize to ensure the proper protection is in place.
What Is the Best Car Seat for 1-Year-Olds?
While the best car seat is one that a person can use the correct way every time and that works with your vehicle, some options come out on top in various categories.
1. Graco Extend2Fit
Many features make the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat our choice for the best overall for one-year-olds.
In addition to being a well-known brand, parents rave about the following:
Extended rear-facing capabilities
Slider to provide additional legroom
No-rethread harness for seamless adjustments
Thick cushions to provide comfort
A 65-pound weight limit for forward facing
You can select from various colors and patterns when ordering the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat. The seat has a six-position recline feature and attached cupholders.
This car seat isn’t suitable for those with small vehicles.
Between the recline features and the legroom slider, the restraint can take up a significant amount of space in the back seat.
Those with larger cars will find this car seat to be of high quality and packed with incredible safety features. Your child will easily be able to use this seat for years to come!
2. Chicco OneFit ClearTex
Many are familiar with the Chicco brand name, but only some are aware that children can use one of their best-selling child safety seats from infancy through the booster years.
Parents can use the Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-in-One Car Seat for children through four stages.
Newborn, starting at 5 pounds (2.3 kilograms)
Forward-facing, starting at 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms)
High-back booster, beginning at 40 pounds (18 kilograms)
Parents love the Chicco OneFit ClearTex All-in-One Car Seat for all the reasons above, as well as the comfort it provides to children. With ample padding, children are able to ride comfortably in the car for more extended periods without complaint.
Another perk of this seat is that it has a design conducive to vehicles with small interiors. Therefore, parents don’t have to be as concerned that the restraint won’t fit appropriately in their cars.
3. Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1
For parents who have multiple children in child safety seats, finding the best option that will permit three seats in one row can be a challenge.
Thankfully, the Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat comes in a slim design that meets this critical need.
In addition to its narrow structure, the Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat has the following perks:
Ten years of use, from newborn to child
Steel base design
Maximum child weight limit of 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms)
Rear and forward-facing capabilities
Folds for airline travel
One thing to keep in mind with the Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is that the seat itself weighs 25 pounds (11.3 kilograms). For those who have just given birth and have restrictions for lifting, it’s vital to have another individual install the restraint.
While this seat doesn’t have the excess cushioning that the other options do, its steel structure allows it to withhold tremendous force in the event of an accident.
4. Britax One4Life ClickTight
Parents everywhere know that when it comes to children, messes are abundant. Therefore, having a fabric cover on your car seat that one can easily wash is highly beneficial.
There’s nothing worse than spilled milk or juice in a hot car!
The Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat not only comes with a washable fabric but also includes many other high-end features.
Ten-year life to accommodate all stages
Safe Cell impact protection
Nine position recline
Dishwasher-safe cup holders
Britax is well-known for its attention to child safety in its products being highly proactive when it comes to recalls. With a base made of alloy steel, the seat can withstand high-speed accidents to provide your child with the highest level of safety.
You can purchase the Britax One4Life ClickTight All-in-One Car Seat in various colors. Additionally, parents can use this safety restraint for newborns of five pounds (2.3 kilograms) up to children of 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms).
5. Evenflo Gold Revolve360
This feature is beneficial when getting a child out of the car or when you are transporting another child and need to change to a different direction.
By now, many people have heard about car seats for one-year-olds, rotating features included.
While a few options currently available on the market incorporate this technology, the Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational AllinOne Convertible Car Seat has the highest ratings among parents.
With this seat, you can easily switch from rear to forward-facing.
In addition to the rotating element, the Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational AllinOne Convertible Car Seat has many other favorable features.
Weight range from four pounds (1.8 kilograms) to 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms)
14 position headrest
Four recline positions
Many perks come with the Evenflo Gold Revolve360 Rotational AllinOne Convertible Car Seat. Not only can you use it for up to ten years, but the ease of use is unrivaled in the car seat market.
Best Car Seat for 1-Year-Olds Honorable Mentions
While the five seats we list above are the most preferable on the child safety restraint market for the Group 1 category, there are many well-designed options that we also felt worthy of mentioning.
While this seat doesn’t last through all the life stages that a child has, it does have a high weight limit of 65 pounds (29.5 kilograms). Additionally, this Britax Boulevard model comes with Clicktight technology to make installation a breeze.
A unique feature of the Primo Viaggio is the side impact protection that the company integrates into the seat's design. Additionally, the fabric allows for a cooler experience when traveling on hot days.
This car seat has the functionality to accompany a child through all four car seat stages. However, your baby may outgrow the seat in height before getting proper use out of all the different developmental level features.
Chicco has many high-performing car seats available on the market. While the NextFit Zip Convertible Car Seat doesn’t go to 120 pounds (54.4 kilograms) like some others above, it comes with a simplified installation process and washable zip covers.
As a budget-friendly option, this Evenflo seat meets many expectations for parents of young children. Although it doesn’t come with a steel base, it has Easy Click Installation, allowing you to get the seat in place in minutes.
One of the most significant problems with child car seats comes during the months of hot weather. When your child is rear-facing, it is challenging to get cool air in their direction.
The Grow and Go Comfort Cool is made with a moisture-wicking fabric to keep children cool and comfortable in the heat.
There are many variables that come into play when you are selecting the best car seat for 1-year-olds. While our research has pinpointed the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat as the best option, it may not meet the needs of every family due to its size and height restrictions.
To provide suitable safety restraint options for parents, we did endless amounts of research to take the guesswork out of the equation. The car seats we list in this guide are practical solutions for children graduating to a Group 1 restraint and provide high levels of safety to your most precious cargo.