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

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.

  • 3-in-1
  • Not too heavy
  • Safe
  • Can be used in an airplane
  • Easy to adjust
  • 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.

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Federally-approved
  • Can be used in an airplane
  • Affordable
  • 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!

  • Cheap
  • Lightweight
  • Simple
  • Safe
  • Can be used in an airplane
  • Adjustable height
  • Five-point harness
  • 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.

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

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.

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

Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX - The Best With Slim Design

As I have previously mentioned, Cosco is an amazing brand to pick when it comes to travel car seats. Their convertible car seats feature a simple, lightweight design, pretty compact and affordable. Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX, in contrast to the previously reviewed Cosco model, weighs a bit more, but it features a slimmer design.

Namely, this convertible infant car seat weighs 12.79 pounds and measures 17 x 22 x 23.5 inches.

Moreover, it includes two modes of use: rear facing infant car seat and forward facing car seat. The manufacturer recommends rear facing car seat for infants from five to 40 pounds of weight, and forward facing car seat for kids up to sixty-five pounds of weight.

This model also has a five-point harness with three buckle positions and five heights. It also includes side protection and deluxe fabrics, gentle on the skin, and machine-washable. Plush foam padding makes this seat super-comfortable, so your kid will enjoy the ride.

As I have already mentioned, the seat is very compact. Namely, it was designed to be just the right size and save some space for the parents in the front seat. It was made to fit three across. Hence it will fit into whatever car model.

As for safety, this seat meets or even exceeds the federal safety standard (ASTM, JPMA) and can be used in an airplane.

If you don't find Cosco reliable, check out the thousand customer ratings on Amazon that say differently. Parents love these car seats, especially for airplanes and road trips.

This model is under $80, so it is worth having even if you already own a high-quality convertible that is not very portable.

  • Portable
  • Two modes
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable
  • FAA-approved
  • Safe
  • Not the highest quality

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.

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

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 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.

best car seat for 1 year old baby

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.

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.

best car seat for one year old and up

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 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.

Safety 1st Grow and Go All-in-One Car Seat, Everest Pink*
  • Built to Grow: The 3 in 1 car seat built to grow for extended use through 3 stages: rear facing 5 40 pounds, forward facing 22 to 65 pounds, and belt positioning booster 40 to 100 pounds
  • SIDE IMPACT PROTECTION: The Grow and Go's side impact protection helps keep your child safe. 2 integrated cup holders. Grow with baby pillows for a comfortable ride
  • Easy In, Easy Out: Harness holders keep the harness in an open position so it’s easy to get your child in and out of the seat. Rear facing height is 19 to 40 inches. Forward facing height is 29 to...
  • Quickfit Harness: With the QuickFit Harness you can easily adjust both the harness and headrest in one simple step. Takes up less space in the back seat, for up to 7 inches of extra room in the front
  • Wash and Dry: Machine washable and dryer safe seat pad features snaps that make it simple to take off of the seat; No fuss for truly easy cleaning

Yet, it is a bit heavier, so if you're looking for a convertible car seat with a rear facing and front facing mode only, Graco Sequence 65 Convertible is worth every penny.

Graco Sequence 65 Convertible Car Seat, Anabele*
  • One of the best convertible car seats helps protect rear-facing infants from 4-40 lb., and forward-facing toddlers from 22-65 lb.; 6-position recline helps keep your growing child comfy
  • Simply Safe Adjust Harness System adjusts the height of your harness and headrest in one motion; one-hand, 10-position adjustable headrest easily adapts for your growing child
  • LATCH equipped for hassle-free installation; easy-to-read level indicator helps eliminate installation guesswork
  • Washable seat cover is easy to access without removing the harness ; integrated, dual cup holders help keep your child's drinks close
  • Safe Seat Engineering- Engineered & crash tested to meet US standard FMVSS 213

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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