Drive Like a Super Parent With the Best Travel Car Seat for 1 Year Old

You're planning a road trip with your 1-year-old, but you don't know what the most convenient car seat to bring along is? Say no more!

If you're a super-parent like me, you must have bought a heavy-duty convertible all-in-one car seat when you first got out of the nursing home with your newborn. Good thinking! It definitely saves a lot of money and lasts, well, almost forever!

But, once I decided to give myself a little treat and travel with my one-year-old, I figured that the seat is too bulky to carry around to the airplane, taxis, and rented vehicles. I mean, I was in a situation where we had a load of baggage, a 25-pound heavy seat, and a 25-pound kid to take care of.

Man, my kid better buy me one of those supermom cups once he grows older! Yet, I learn from my mistakes.

So I figured that it's an excellent investment to have another travel car seat for these occasions.

Today, I'll share my wisdom with you, talking about the best car seat for 1 year old, adapted for traveling! Stay tuned!

Top 3 Recommendations
Editor's Choices
Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Car Seat, Everest Pink*
Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat, Vibrant Blue*
Best Selling
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with Extend2Fit, Davis,...*
Price
$169.99
$69.99
$209.99
Prime
Best for
Best travel car seat
Affordable travel car seat
Best common use car seat
Customer's Rating
Editor's Choices
Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Car Seat, Everest Pink*
Price
$169.99
Prime
Best for
Best travel car seat
Customer's Rating
Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat, Vibrant Blue*
Price
$69.99
Prime
Best for
Affordable travel car seat
Customer's Rating
Best Selling
Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with Extend2Fit, Davis,...*
Price
$209.99
Prime
Best for
Best common use car seat
Customer's Rating
Quick Note

Trips alone are expensive enough, and on top of that, you have to purchase a car seat that you are likely to use only once.

To stop you from making my mistakes, I have created a helpful list divided into two sections.

The options below are some of the best travel-friendly car seats you can purchase for a one-year-old.

However, if you scroll down a bit, I have included some of my top options for everyday use! Of course, they are not so travel-friendly in size and weight, but it would not hurt to have them in mind even if you are not a voyager like me!

Plus, I advise you to invest in them before spending all of your budgets on a car seat you will only use for traveling.

Travel-friendly Vs. Common Car Seat: What's the Difference?
1. Travel Friendly
best car seat for one year old and up

As I mentioned, traveling is expensive. So, do you need a car seat when flying with a child or taking the bus? Yes! It would help if you had a car seat when traveling, especially with younger children.

One-year-olds have just transitioned from their infant car seat into an upright positioned seat. 

However, they still need to be rear-facing, so here is where the problems start. It's not as easy finding a quality but easy on the budget car seat you can travel with.

I keep one in the storage when it's time for our family adventures, but I like to stick to other car seats for everyday use.

For traveling with a one-year-old, I would recommend you do not spend a lot of money. After all, this is a car seat you will only use for taxi rides from the airport, airplane travel, or Uber rides.

Pick something that is easily installed, especially if you are traveling abroad. Some vehicles do not support LATCH or seat belt installations, so make sure you check those too.

Narrow designs are always good, particularly for air travel, as the aisles are often cramped up, and you are left with no space.

2. Everyday Car Seats

Here is where you need to invest! You will be using these car seats for everyday rides. Therefore they are more prone to wear and tear.

As soon as I started putting up my baby gear list, I knew I wanted to invest in a high-quality car seat.

Don't hold a tight budget to this one. Instead, make sure the car seat has passed all of the safety requirements, is easy to install, and offers the best comfort for your little nugget in the back.

Also, don't expect a common everyday car seat to be lightweight and portable.

These car seats are often bulky and heavy. However, consider that you will be using these car seats every day, and there is no need to take them out of the car frequently.

The Best Travel Car Seat for 1 Year Old in 2021 - Top 7 Choices

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 - Top Pick Car Seat For a 1-Year-Old

The first car seat I am to review in this article is the personal favorite - Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1.

I simply love this car seat! It is extremely practical, weighs no more than 18.7 pounds, and features the three-in-one design. What else could you want?

The seat comes from Safety1st, a reliable car seat manufacturer, present on the market for more than thirty years.

You can easily deduce from the company name what these folks care about the most. Yes, you got it right, your child's safety!

Namely, this convertible car seat can be used in a rear facing (five to forty pounds), forward facing (twenty-two to sixty-five pounds), and booster mode (forty to hundred pounds), so it follows your child's growth from the tiny five pounds to hundred pounds.

If you haven't bought a car seat, this would be a fantastic choice since you could use it regularly and while traveling.

I especially like this seat because the integrated side impact protection and comfortable baby pillows provide an honestly convenient ride for your precious every time.

Additionally, it has the handy harness holders so that you can quickly put your kid in and out of the seat.

When I first bought this Safety1st car seat, I was amazed by the QuickFit system that allows headrest and harness adjustment in a single step only. It turns out pretty handy when everyone is waiting for you; trust me.

And you can adjust it between three recline positions, so your kid is perfectly comfortable.

Most importantly, the seat is very compact and gives seven inches of extra space to the passengers in the front, so it will fit taxis and rent-a-cars.

Of course, it is FAA-approved, so you can take it with you on a flight.

Pros
  • 3-in-1
  • Not too heavy
  • Safe
  • Can be used in an airplane
  • Easy to adjust
Cons
  • Not the lightest option 

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible - Second-best Seat For a One-Year-Old

I have chosen another model from Safety1st because this brand really has some amazing offers when it comes to compact, convenient car seats.

This one is a bit smaller and less heavy than the previous model, but it includes only two modes: a rear facing and forward facing. So it is more of a travel car seat, as you can also judge by the price.

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible accommodates children from five to forty-five pounds in a rear-facing position and from twenty-two to sixty-five pounds in a forward facing position.

The seat itself weighs only fifteen pounds. Hence it is more than convenient for traveling and bringing along to the airplane.

What is more, this car seat is very compact; it was designed to fit three across. Therefore you can be sure it will most certainly fit the airplane seat, cab, or rent-a-car, and it won't be too inconvenient to carry along.

Always check the size of a car seat when you're planning to rent a car, guys.

I guess you'll be suspicious of the quality when you see the price. But, this seat, in fact, has side-impact protection and has passed the ASTM and JPMA safety standards.

As for convenience, this convertible car seat has a five-point harness, adjustable on the front.

Plus, it includes removable body pillows, and adjustable headrest to accommodate your little one comfortably and removable cups, so you can save even more space when on the go.

Most importantly, Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible is federally-approved and can be used in an airplane, so you're covered in entirety.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Federally-approved
  • Can be used in an airplane
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Only two modes

Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat - The Best Affordable Car Seat For a One-Year-Old

Guys, if you're looking for a cheap car seat to use it in a taxi or rent-a-car while traveling, Costco is definitely your brand.

Costco has the most affordable car seat offer yet pretty high-quality for the price. Hence, if you happen to have a bulky car seat, and you won't travel in your own car, the most practical solution is to buy one of these and rent-a-car.

First of all, this car seat is a convertible. Yes, you can get a convertible for less than sixty dollars!

It accommodates children in a rear facing mode from five to 40 pounds and forward facing from twenty-two to fifty pounds.

Now, the Cosco Apt 50 has a five-point harness, with six adjustable height positions and three buckle locations.

I like that besides the low price, this seat has many convenient features. It includes the impact protection on the sides, has removable and machine-washable seat pad and cup holders.

I find the greatest advantage of this seat to be the weight. It weighs only eleven pounds and measures 30.4 inches x 23 inches x 16.5 inches.

Most importantly, the seat is FAA-approved, so you can use it on an airplane! Also, it meets the federal safety standards; hence, while pretty simple in design and cheap, it is still safe enough for your kid.

This is the beauty of Cosco seats at its best! They are perfect for travel!

For less than sixty bucks, you get a convertible car seat, no more than eleven pounds heavy, compact, and approved for the flight. How perfect!

Pros
  • Cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Simple
  • Safe
  • Can be used in an airplane
  • Adjustable height
  • Five-point harness
Cons
  • Not the highest quality 
  • Has only two convertible positions

Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible - The Best Seat With Extended Use

Evenflo is another reliable yet affordable manufacturer, present on the market for more than one hundred years.

This convertible model is particularly adequate for traveling because it features a lightweight, highly adjustable, compact design.

The first thing that caught my attention in this fantastic convertible car seat is that it weighs barely 11.65 pounds.

Despite a broad seat base, the Evenflo Sonus 65 was designed to exhibit a compact, slim design that would allow fitting three across many mid-size vehicles. You know what this means. You'll easily install this model in a taxi, rent-a-car, or an airplane seat.

Now, let's see what features this Amazon travel convertible offers.

It has a two-in-one design, rear facing infant car seat, and forward facing car seat.

The manufacturer recommends the rear facing use until your child gains 40 pounds and forward facing use until he/she gains 50 pounds; however, the seat's reinforced structure enables extended use up to 65 pounds.

You can rest assured that your little rascal will be comfortable in this seat because it incorporates plush head and body pillows.

What is more, the convertible car seat includes a built-in ventilation system that allows airflow and keeps your child super-comfy during all seasons.

I love the easy-access harness system that allows adjustments on the front and handy buckle pockets that prevent overheating of the metal. Also, the harness includes six shoulder positions so you can properly adjust it to fit your little one perfectly.

The seat meets the federal safety standards, and, importantly, can be used on an airplane so you can plan your flights with it, waiting in the garage.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this one for one-year-olds.

It costs under $100, allows extended forward-facing use, weighs less than 12 pounds, and features a compact design that fits almost anywhere.

Pros
  • Compact design
  • Lightweight
  • Cheap
  • Safe
  • Functional
  • FAA-approved
Cons
  • /

Disney Baby Apt 50 Convertible - The Best Attractive Convertible Car Seat For One-Year-Old

If you have a stylish baby girl, and you're looking for a nice-looking convertible travel seat, this is definitely your stop.

I have literally not seen another car seat for girls this adorable! It features a cute pink-black Mouseketeer Minnie design produced by Disney.

When I first saw this convertible car seat, I wasn't very trustworthy. Disney is producing child restraint systems...something has to be up. However, going through the reviews and customer ratings changed my opinion completely.

Disney Baby seats meet all the federal safety standards and can be used in an airplane. What is more, it includes impact protection on the sides, while a one-click latch system makes this seat easy to install.

You can accommodate your little girl in a rear facing and forward facing position.

Namely, the seat comes with an infant insert allowing the use from five pounds to 40 pounds in a rear facing mode, and from twenty-two to fifty pounds in a forward facing mode.

Furthermore, the seat features a five-point harness with six heights and three buckle positions, plus two cup holders. You'll find it super-convenient that the insert cushions are machine-washable and dryer-friendly, so you can always keep them clean and hygienic.

The most important thing about this convertible car seat is that it is honestly lightweight. Namely, it weighs only eleven pounds, which makes it super convenient for traveling.

It also features a very compact design, specially built to make your pass through the airplane aisle less of a trouble.

Pros
  • Attractive design
  • Honestly lightweight
  • Compact
  • Machine-washable
  • Two modes
  • Latch system
Cons
  • Not the most reliable manufacturer

Baby Trend Trooper 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Best for Three Across Installations

Here is another fantastic budget if you don't want to spend much money but still need a spare car seat you can travel with.

The Baby Trend Trooper is known to go easy on the wallets of new parents who are still unsure how to spend their money wisely.

Let's start with the item's weight, as that is one of the first things you should be looking for in travel car seats. This one weighs only 14 pounds and has up to three modes of installation.

I have to say that for this kind of price, the multi-staged construction impressed me. I did not expect it to last for even a year, but surprise, surprise, this one will last you until your kid is ready for a booster.

That being said, it can be installed in infant rear-facing, rear-facing toddler seats, and forward-facing. With this in mind, the car seat is designed to support kids between 4-65 pounds.

The Trooper is also slim at only 16 inches of width! You know what that means-three across installations are possible! If you are traveling with multiple kids, it's great to see that you can fit this one and two more in the back seat without any hassle.

Speaking of no-hassle, did you know that you can find the immediate right angle when installing this car seat?

That's right, with the built-in bubble level indicator, you can finally make sure you have achieved a secure installation.

This is one of my go-to features when traveling with a rental! But, for safe rides and a sound mind, the Trooper has deep side wings and side-impact protection!

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Three modes of use
  • Lightweight
  • Narrow for three across installations
Cons
  • The color is a bit off
  • Tricky to install for some

Graco Sequence 65 Convertible - The Best Reliable Car Seat For a One-Year-Old

As a parent, I guess you are familiar with Graco, the leading car seat manufacturer, producing only the highest quality car seats.

Here, I selected one lightweight convertible car seat model, perfect for one-year-olds, and pretty functional for traveling.

This Graco convertible car seat weighs fifteen pounds, which is a bit heavier than the other super-light models we found, yet still lightweight in comparison to ordinary convertible car seats.

This convertible car seat can be installed as a rear-facing car seat for infants from four to forty lbs and forward facing car seats for toddlers from twenty-two to sixty-five lbs.

What I love about Graco seats is that they are genuinely adjustable. This model, for example, includes six recline positions and ten headrest positions adjustable in only one motion.

What is more, the seat also features a SimplySafe harness system, handy LATCH, and level indicator, which all make the seat easy to install.

Now, the reason why Graco resides at the very top of the market is the guaranteed safety that comes with their car seats.

All the Graco seats pass rigorous crash tests that ensure your child is safe even during the front, side, and rollover crashes. It meets the federal safety standards and can be used in an airplane.

You will notice that this convertible car seat from Graco is considerably more expensive than the other car seats on our top eight list, but it is worth it!

Trust me; this car seat isn't useful only for traveling; you can use it every day since it exhibits honestly high quality and impressive durability.

Among the car infant seats mentioned thus far, I honestly think this one is the best rear facing car seat for a 1 year old, also converting to a forward facing car seat.

Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Rear facing and forward facing
  • Lightweight
  • High-quality
  • Reliable
  • Super-safe
Cons
  • /

Best 1 Year Old Car Seat for Common Use - Top 3 Picks

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat - Best Car Seat That Grows With the Baby

By now, you know that Graco is one of the leading brands in the car seat industry, so it would only be fair if I reviewed one of the most popular models.

This is the Graco Extend2Fit convertible car seat that is the number one choice for many parents.

The car seat grows with your little one and supports two stages of installation-rear-facing one and forward-facing. Therefore, the seat is suitable for children between 4-65 pounds.

As it supports up to 50 pounds in the rear-facing position, I give it a big plus when it comes to extended rear-facing rides. Not only that, but the 4-position extension panel is its biggest selling point. How so?

Well, because thanks to the extension panel, your baby can have extra leg space when riding rear-faced. Trust me, for longer trips, this is a must-have if you put comfort as a priority. The additional 5" of space comes in handy all the time.

As the car seat grows with your child, it's utterly important you know about the adjustments.

Thankfully, the Graco features the no-rethread harness along with the one-hand headrest adjustments you can fix in under 10 seconds.

The headrest is adjustable in 10 different positions so that it will fit best for growing toddlers.

As the article is aimed at one-year-olds, I have to mention the 6-position recline. It offers the best recline angles for those long naps so that you won't be hearing any complaints from the backseat.

Plus, the seat includes dual cupholders where the kid can hide a few snacks or store their favorite juice!

As one of the top car seats on the market, Graco exceeds all safety requirements for frontal, rear, side, or rollover crashes.

Pros
  • Easily installed
  • Features cupholders
  • Adjustable in 6 position recline
  • Grows with your baby
Cons
  • Challenging to tighten the straps

Chicco NextFit Sport Convertible Car Seat - Master of Easy Installation

Seriously, did you think this review could go without Chicco?

I had to include at least one of their car seats because every parent deserves to know Chicco's benefits.

This one is the NextFit model, which is a convertible car seat. You know what that means, do you? Save money in the long run! I am all about convertible models, and this one is at the top of the game.

For starters, it has a great weight limit of 12-40 pounds in the rear-facing mode and 22-65 in forward-facing. However, there is one problem with this weight limit. As you can tell, this does not allow for infant rear-facing installations.

If you own an infant car seat at home, then great! You can use Chicco.

However, if not, this would be a waste of money, and you should opt for a model that offers an infant rear-facing mode, such as Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.

Furthermore, what makes the Chicco car seat so unique is the easy installation!

I'm telling you, I had my deal of challenging car seats that were a nightmare to install, but Chicco always surprises me with the easy process.

This car seat is packed with safety features and those you can adjust to fit the kid's growth. For instance, the car seat allows for nine positions in recline that offer the best comfort for taking naps during the car ride.

In addition, it has a SuperCinch LATCH tightener so you can rest sure your car seat stays in its place after installation.

With the steel-reinforced frame and the EPS foam in the padding, this car seat is one of the safest options you can get for your one-year-old.

Pros
  • Soft padding
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Easily installed
Cons
  • Cumbersome design

Diono Radian 3R 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Up to 10 Years of Use

We want the best for our little nuggets, and that is why the safest option is for them to ride rear-facing for longer! This is why I would recommend you the Diono Radian convertible car seat.

It has a massive weight limit and supports extended rear-face installations up to 50 pounds. This means your one-year-old can ride in this mode at least until they are four years old.

That being said, the Diono Radian supports three types of installation: rear-facing, forward-facing, and a high back booster that accommodates children up to 120 pounds!

One of the issues you will find with this car seat is that it's a nightmare to clean! It does not feature a removable cover, so it has to be spot cleaned. As a mom of a messy toddler and an infant, I could not imagine myself cleaning this one daily.

But, to compensate for the demanding cleaning, the car seat has excellent design in terms of safety.

For instance, the frame is made from reinforced steel, and it features a high-grade automotive plastic that offers the best safety systems for your child.

One more thing you will love about the design is how narrow this car seat is.

At only 17 inches of width, the car seat allows for three across installations. Not only is this great for having more commotion in the back seat, but it's also perfect for carpooling.

As far as the installation process, I have not heard a single complaint.

In addition, the Diono Radian features a SuperLatch installation with an audible click that lets you know the car seat is installed correctly.

Pros
  • Easily installed
  • Comfortable
  • Allows for three across installations
  • Up to 10 years of use
  • Easy to use buckles
  • Reinforced steel frame
Cons
  • Difficult to clean

Frequently Asked Questions

When should a 1-year-old change car seats?

The NHTSA recommends that you should keep your little one in a rear-facing position for as long as possible, approximately two years.

However, if your 1-year-old exceeds the rear facing weight limit set by the manufacturer, you should upgrade to forward facing car seats.

best car seat for a 1 year old

Can a 1 year old sit forward facing?

Although a one-year-old child can sit forward-facing, it's not recommended.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that you keep your child rear-facing at least until the age of two.

Many car seats now have extended rear-facing positions where they accommodate children between 5-50 pounds.

It's always best to go with one of those options than to prematurely move your child to the forward-facing car seat.

My top recommendation here would be the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat.


Can I put my 1-year-old in a booster seat?

Now, this is an excellent question; however, the answer depends on two factors: manufacturer's recommendation and the possibility of a car crash.

By no means, you should drive a 1-year-old in a booster seat! A booster seat is intended for kids at least four years old.


What is the safest car seat for a 1-year-old?

The safest car seats for 1-year-olds are definitely car seats that allow longer rear facing use.

Personally, I would choose some model from Graco since they perform the most rigorous crash tests, but all the rear facing car seats for infant/toddler use that meet federal safety standards will do.


What is the best child car seat for a 1-year-old?

The best car seats for 1-year-olds are the convertible car seats because they allow you to accommodate your kiddo in a rear facing position for as long as possible.

And then you can simply convert the seat to a forward facing position as he/she outgrows it.


How long should a 1 year old be in a car seat?

best car seat for 1 year old baby

A one-year-old child should not be in the car seat for longer than two hours. Unfortunately, many parents are not aware of the two-hour rule so let's break it down.

Within 24 hours, your little one should not stay in their car seat for too long, in this case, more than two hours. This is because the upright or the semi-upright position can cause more harm than good.

It often leads to a spine strain as well as restricted airflow in the lungs. In this case, it's not only a matter of comfort but a matter of the safety of your child.


How do you travel with a 1-year-old car seat?

When traveling by a one-year-old and your new car seat, you need to make sure you installed everything correctly.

Safety first, so check if the car seat is as stable as it should be in the back of the vehicle.

In addition, you should install the car sear rear-facing if you are traveling with a one-year-old child.

Besides the proper installation and ensuring your baby is comfy in their seat, all you should do to make the trip manageable is bring a few snacks and toys!

Add Much Other Useful Information

Did you know that your child is the safest in a rear facing infant child restraint system? 

According to the AAP, children are the safest in the rear-facing position, and therefore, the best practice should be to keep them in the rear facing seats for as long as possible, approximately until they are two years old.

What is more, even though your kids are allowed to ride in a front facing position once they turn 1, it is the best to wait for them to exceed the weight limit set by the manufacturer and only then put them in a forward facing seat.

According to the federal standards, children are not allowed to ride in a booster seat until they are at least four. However, it is recommendable to keep them in a forward facing seat until they exceed the weight limit.

Seat belt use is regulated differently in every state in the US; however, the best practice is to use a seat belt only when your child passes all the requirements for seat belt use. You can find a safety belt test here.

More information about the national safety standards regarding child restraint systems, you can find here.

If you're having trouble installing your car seats, there are certified CPS technicians that know all about the car seat installment, and there are many fitting stations all around the world for you to visit them and have your car seat checked.

You can find CPS technicians following the links below:

Also, never forget to register your car seat, so you can get informed on all the changes or eventual recalls.

Final Thoughts

That is all from me! I shared everything I know about the best convertible car seats for one-year-olds.

I hope you learned something useful here and that your next trip will go as smoothly as possible. Convertible car seats are the best budget-savers, don't forget!

When it comes to the best travel car seat for 1 year old, I recommend Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 since it includes a rear facing, front facing and booster mode, has the highest ratings, and does not cost too much.

And, if you were to ask me about the best common use convertible car seat for a 1-year-old, I wouldn't hesitate to pick the Graco Extend2Fit.

It strikes the perfect balance between the safety and comfort you need in a car seat. At a very affordable price, your child will be best protected to be ready for long journeys by car.

What else is there to say, have a nice trip, and don't forget to bring your convertible car seat for travel!

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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