The best car seat for a 5-year-old

Stephanie Jarrett

If you're unsure how to properly install a car seat, contact your local fire station and someone onsite should be able to help.

Which car seat is best for a 5-year-old?

Kids’ car seats can be confusing. There are infant carriers and convertible car seats. There are forward-facing seats and rear-facing car seats. There are different laws in different states about when a child can legally go without any kind of car seat when riding in a car.

While it can be time-consuming and tricky to find the right car seat for your child, it’s an important task. According to the CDC, car accidents are still the leading cause of death in kids ages 5-19.

So which car seat is right for your child? It may be easy to figure out the right infant carrier for a baby, and an 11-year-old can safely be in a booster (although they should not ride in the front seat yet), but what about a 5-year-old?

Car seat recommendations by age

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), children should be in car seats from birth through age 12.

  • Birth through 12 months: baby can ride in an infant carrier
  • Birth through age 4: baby and toddler can sit in a convertible car seat if it’s rear-facing
  • Age 2 through age 4: toddler can ride in a forward-facing car seat
  • Age 4 through age 8: child can ride in a booster seat
  • Age 8 and up: child can ride without a car seat but should remain in the back seat of a vehicle
  • Age 13 and up: child can ride in the front seat of a car

Important factors to consider when selecting a car seat for a 5-year-old

When selecting a car seat for your 5-year-old, there are multiple factors to consider, such as age, height, and weight and whether it’s easy to install and use.

No matter which car seat you select, be sure to read the manufacturer’s weight limits so your child is always as safe as possible.

Types of car seats for a 5-year-old

According to car seat manufacturers, 5-year-olds can ride in a few styles of car seats:

  • Forward-facing convertible seat: A seat that can be rear-facing when your child is younger than four and can then be turned around and tethered as a forward-facing seat. This seat has a five-point harness to secure the child.
  • High-back booster seat: This seat offers armrest and head support for a child. It uses the car’s seat belt to secure the child in the vehicle.
  • Backless booster seat: This seat is small and lightweight but offers no back or neck support. It uses the car’s seat belt to secure the child.

The best car seats for a 5-year-old

Convertible car seats

Evenflo Sonus Convertible Car Seat: available at Amazon
This car seat boasts not only a great price but a compact size. You can fit three of them across the back seat of a vehicle if you need to transport three tots at once.

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat: available at Kohl’s
There’s a reason this car seat is a best-seller at multiple retailers. Not only does it come in at less than $200, but it also features a 6-position recline feature and a 10-position headrest so your kid can ride in comfort.

Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat: available at BuyBuyBaby
This car seat is known to be as lightweight as it is versatile, making it slightly easier to move between vehicles. It comes in a variety of colors to suit your taste, and machine-washable covers mean cleaning up after the baby is a breeze.

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat: available BuyBuyBaby
Britax is a respected name in the baby category, and its car seats are popular with parents for good reason. The ClickTight feature makes installation easy, and the 14-position, 5-point harness comfortably accommodates most kids.

Diono Radian 3QXT: available at Diono
This convertible car seat is versatile and long-lasting. It comes with a steep price tag, but it can take your newborn home from the hospital, take your toddler to preschool and then take your 5-year-old to dance class. Think of it as a long-term investment.

High-back booster seats

EvenFlo Spectrum Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat: available at Kohl’s
This booster seat comes in pink to appease your girly girl and costs less than $60, which should appease your wallet. It also comes highly recommended and features both snack trays and cup holders for kid comfort on the go.

Britax Skyline 2-Stage Belt-Positioning Booster Car Seat: available at BuyBuyBaby
This budget-friendly booster from Britax comes highly rated by parents across the country. It also features two layers of side-impact protection to shield your child in the event of an accident.

Graco Tranzitions Snuglock 3-in-1 Harness Booster: available at Macy’s
This booster is a great piece to transition from a convertible car seat to a booster seat. You can use it with a 5-point harness and then with the car’s seat belt as your child grows.

UPPABaby Ulta Belt-Positioning Highback Booster Car Seat: available at BuyBuyBaby
Featuring a 7-position support headrest and side impact security, this high-back booster is made to give parents peace of mind. Plus, it comes in several colors to suit your taste.

Diono Moterey 4DXT: available at Diono
This booster accommodates kids of all sizes with adjustable height and width paneling. Four-layer side impact protection means kids are protected from the hazards of the road.

Backless booster seats

Graco TurboBooster Backless Booster Seat: available at Kohl’s
With a fun print and cup holders, this booster allows your child to be positioned properly in the car so a seat belt can restrain them.

Diono Solana 2: available at Diono
This booster seat features a wide contour to accommodate kids of all sizes. Retractable cup holders, washable seat covers and a lightweight design make it an easy choice.

Chicco GoFit Plus Backless Booster Car Seat: available at Bed Bath & Beyond
This booster is top-rated and features a latch system to keep it in place when not in use, and built-in carry handles make moving it from vehicle to vehicle a breeze.

Peg Perego Viaggio Shuttle Backless Booster Seat: available at BuyBuyBaby
Soft foam cushioning ensures a comfortable ride for your child. This booster is moved easily from car to car and can be safely used in a car without anchors with its secure latch system.

Stephanie Jarrett is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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