The 7 Best Forward-Facing Car Seats of 2021

Ride in safety

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Car Seat at buybuybaby.com

"As your kiddo grows, this pick easily transitions from a forward-facing harness seat to a belt-positioned booster mode."

Best Splurge: Nuna Exec Car Seat at bloomingdales.com

"Though a splurge, this pick features three modes, from rear-facing to forward-facing to a booster seat."

Best Budget and Travel: Evenflo Tribute Convertible Seat at Amazon

"Ideal for traveling families, it's lightweight enough that it can be moved from car to car or through airports."

Best Convertible: Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Car Seat at Amazon

"The eight-position head rest is easy to adjust with one hand while kids will love the two cup holders to keep snacks nearby."

Best for Tall Kids and Slim Fit in a Car: Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat at Amazon

"Parents that prioritize comfort will appreciate the nine headrest positions, four recline positions, and two cup holders."

Best for Sleeping and High Back Booster: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat at Amazon

"Narrow on the outside while roomy in the seat, it makes an ideal fit for crowded back seats or long road trips."

Best Backless Booster: Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer at Walmart

"Perfect for playdates or travel, once your child is big enough, the seat works for older kids or crowded back seats."

Whether you drive all the time or only occasionally in an Uber or taxi, car seats are baby gear essentials. For all kids, there are three stages of safe seating until they are able to ride with only a seat belt: a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, and then a booster seat. While any car seat on the market meets the same U.S. safety standards, it is important that you shop for one that fits your car, your child, your budget, and most importantly, one that you will use properly every time.

Here are the best forward-facing car seats for your child.

Best Overall: Britax Grow With You ClickTight Car Seat

Britax Grow With You ClickTight Car Seat

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Easy Installation

  • High-Quality Fabric

What We Don't Like
  • No Backless Booster Conversion

A top-rated and best-selling car seat, this pick easily transitions from a standard forward-facing harness seat to a belt-positioned booster mode as your kiddo grows. Use it in forward-facing harness mode for kids between 25 and 65 pounds. When they meet safety requirements, your kiddo can transition to a belt-position booster that safely seats children from 40 to 120 pounds.

Color-coded belt guides make it easy for adults and kids to route the seat belt to the right path while the four cup and snack holders let them ride in style. Parent reviewers praise the easy installation, sturdy seat, and high-quality fabric.

Product Weight: 25 pounds | Dimensions: 21 x 19 x 25 inches | Age Recommendation: Not Listed | Weight Limit: 25 to 65 pounds (Forward-Facing) and 40 to 120 pounds (Booster)

Best Splurge: Nuna Exec Car Seat

Nuna Exec Car Seat

 Courtesy of Pottery Barn Kids

What We Like
  • Dual Flip-Open Cupholders

  • Washable Covers

  • Longevity

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Heavy

While this seat is on the pricier side, it’s an all-in-one feature that easily converts from a rear-facing to a forward-facing seat and then to a booster seat makes the price tag worth it. Constructed of steel, the seat weighs almost 27 pounds, so it’s best for installing in a car and leaving it.

Parent reviewers praise the well thought out design and high-quality materials. Recommended for kids from 6 months through 4 years old, your investment can be justified with how long this one seat is useful for.

Product Weight: 26.6 pounds | Dimensions: 22.5 x 18.5 x 26-33 inches | Age Recommendation: 6 months to 4+ years | Weight Limit: 25 to 65 pounds (Forward-Facing) and 40 to 120 pounds (Booster)

Best Budget and Travel: Evenflo Tribute Convertible Seat

What We Like
  • Budget-Friendly

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • No Booster Conversion

Whether you’re using this as an everyday car seat or an extra seat for traveling, grandma’s car, or anything else, it’s a budget-friendly option that can work well for many families.

Parents love that this seat weighs just 9 pounds, so it’s a breeze to carry through airports or move from car to car. Safe for babies from 5 to 40 pounds, it won’t convert into a booster but is at an ideal price point for a multi-car family.

Product Weight: 9.29 pounds | Dimensions: 18.5 x 22 x 25.5 inches | Age Recommendation: Not Listed | Weight Limit: 22 to 40 pounds (Forward-Facing)

Best Convertible: Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 Car Seat

What We Like
  • Eight-Position Adjustable Headrest

  • Budget-Friendly

What We Don't Like
  • Reports of Difficult Installation

If you’re done with rear-facing seats, but not sure what’s next, look no further than this easily convertible seat. The Graco favorite goes from a forward-facing harness seat to a highback booster and then transitions to a backless booster.

Lightweight and portable, parents find it’s just as comfortable and safe as much higher-priced competitors. The eight-position headrest is easy to adjust with one hand and kids will appreciate the two (easy-to-clean) cup holders that keep snacks and drinks nearby.

Product Weight: 14.97 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 17.4 x 26.5 inches | Age Recommendation: Not Listed | Weight Limit: 22 to 65 pounds (Harness) and 40 to 100 pounds (Highback and Backless)

Best for Tall Kids and Slim Fit in a Car: Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Car Seat

What We Like
  • Armrests

  • Accommodates Tall Children

  • Narrow Fit for Multiple Seats

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

If you're struggling to solve the "three across" conundrum in your car's backseat, this narrower option is for you. It’s one of the few harness-to-boosters that work in many three-across situations. Often praised for its high capacity 5-point harness, the seat accommodates even the tallest kids until age 6.

A built-in locking device for the seatbelt makes installation easier and more secure. The focus on comfort is not lacking — there are nine headrest positions, four recline positions that are adjustable only before installation, and two collapsible cup holders to keep your kid comfy.

Product Weight: 25 pounds | Dimensions: 24.5 x 20.5 x 26.25 inches | Age Recommendation: Not Listed | Weight Limit: 25 to 100 pounds

Best for Sleeping and High Back Booster: Maxi-Cosi Rodifix Booster Car Seat

What We Like
  • Narrow Design

  • Removable Pad is Machine Washable/Dryer Safe

What We Don't Like
  • No Armrests

This booster seat has a lot to love. It’s narrow on the outside but still incredibly roomy in the seat, so it’s a good choice for either bigger kids or a crowded back seat. The lack of armrests saves room and also makes it safer since it eliminates the common risk of routing the lap belt over the armrests.

Parents appreciate that the seat can be secured in the back of the seat via rigid LATCH, keeping it stationary even when there’s no kiddo sitting in it. With an exceptionally well-designed headrest, it’s great for dozing off during a ride.

Product Weight: 17.25 pounds | Dimensions: 28.5 x 17.75 x 15.2 inches | Age Recommendation: Not Listed | Weight Limit: 40 to 120 pounds

Best Backless Booster: Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer

Graco RightGuide Portable Seat Belt Trainer

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Open-Loop Belt Guide

What We Don't Like
  • No Armrests

  • Only for Big Kids

The final step in car seat use is a backless booster which is used to help introduce your kiddo to using only a seatbelt in the backseat of your car. This seat is designed to accommodate a child weighing between 50 and 100 pounds and between 43 and 60 inches in height. Weighing just 1.8 pounds, this seat is easy to move from car to car, so it’s perfect for playdates or travel.

Narrow on the outside, roomy on the inside, the seat works for bigger kids or crowded back seats. The open-loop belt guides help kids know where to thread the seat belt, and these guides fold flat onto the seat when not in use.

Product Weight: 1.8 pounds | Dimensions: 11.75 x 12.34 x 2.5 inches | Age Recommendation: 5 to 12 years old | Weight Limit: 50 to 100 pounds

Final Verdict

The Britax Grow With You Harness-2-Booster Car Seat (view on Walmart) allows your child to ride safely in a forward-facing seat up to 65 pounds and in a booster seat up to 120 pounds which means you can use this seat as your child grows without needing to replace it. The safety features will give parents peace of mind knowing that, as the child grows, they will still ride safely every single time.

What to Look for When Buying a Forward-Facing Car Seat

Size

When you're searching for the right forward-facing car seat for your child, you want to be mindful of its size in relation to the size of your backseat. If you already have a car seat or two installed, trying to fit in an additional seat might be tricky. Opting for a slim-fit seat like the Chicco MyFit Harness + Booster Seat is best.

Longevity

If you are ready to invest in a car seat that is going to last through your little one's milestones, it is important that you stay mindful of the seat's longevity. Car seats that can accommodate your child as they grow from a toddler to a big kid can ensure that you don't have to repeatedly replace the car seat. The Graco Tranzitions 3-in-1 can be converted from a forward-facing seat for your toddler to a backless booster for your kindergartner.

Portability

For multi-car families or kids that like to rack up the stamps in their passport, a car seat that can be easily removed and re-installed is essential. Lightweight options are most suitable for families that are always on the move, live in a walking city that relies on taxis and Ubers for further destinations or simply use multiple cars regularly. Weighing just 9 pounds, the Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat is super lightweight and perfect for moving from car to car.

FAQs

How old must a child be for a forward-facing seat?

The age for forward-facing your child in their car seat can depend on your state's law as some states require a child remain rear-facing until 2 years old. For states that don't have a clear-cut rule, many convertible car seat brands advise that your child can be turned around at one-year-old. However, most experts agree that it is best and most safe to keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, keeping in mind the height and weight limits of your car seat brand.

How do I install a forward-facing seat?

When it comes to the installation of a forward-facing car seat or booster seat, you want to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Just like infant seats or rear-facing car seats, every brand is different and has specific guidelines on how to install your car seat correctly for optimal safety of your precious cargo.

When do I switch my child to a forward-facing seat?

You may feel ready to replace your infant or rear-facing car seat with a forward-facing option. While the guidelines may differ from state to state, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), purchasing a forward-facing seat should be considered when your child has reached the height and weight limits for their rear-facing seat.

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year old daughter. With three kids, she feels like her car seat days will never end, so the “mama-mobile” minivan comes in handy. 

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