Best Lightest Car Seat For Toddler | Top Lightweight Of 2018
If you’ve got a toddler, chances are you’ve already done a bit of work looking for car seats. Maybe you’ve already bought one but you’re realizing that you didn’t make the best decision for your lifestyle. If you move a lot, use separate vehicles, or do a lot of travel with your child, a regular car seat can be a hassle.
Fortunately, a lot of brands make car seats that are lightweight and compact. This makes them ideal for switching from car to car, transporting to and from airports and bus terminals, and bringing on to vehicles.
Baby Trend Yumi Folding
Safety 1st Guide 65
What makes a lightweight seat a good buy?
Lightweight car seats are a great innovation, and if you look hard enough, you’ll realize that being lightweight doesn’t mean you have to compromise any quality. Unfortunately, some brands will cut quality – that’s just the way they are. That’s why we’ve done this research for you!
A lightweight seat should comply with all federal safety regulations and be crash-tested. This goes without saying for all seats. Most car seats will have a sticker that allows you to see what regulations they’ve passed. Aside from that, any good lightweight toddler seat will adhere to the following.
A lightweight car seat shouldn’t sacrifice any of the mandatory safety features that are included in a regular car seat. They may have to forego some extra safety features, but this doesn’t mean they won’t pass federal safety regulations.
- A good 5-point harness is one of the basic safety features that’s mandatory for pretty much all car seats. They come with different degrees of adjustability for both comfort and safety. Even low-end car seats will have a fairly adjustable 5-point harness.
- All toddler car seats need to be tested for side-impact protection. A lot of them do this by providing extra foam or using a special material around your kid’s head. A lightweight car seat doesn’t necessarily sacrifice side-impact protection.
- All car seats should be made of durable material. This can be determined by reading the tag or the product page for whatever model you’re thinking of buying.
- The LATCH system is used in some seats that don’t attach directly to the car’s seatbelts. LATCH uses extra straps for attaching the bottom and top of the seat, providing an extra layer of security. It can be difficult to find LATCH systems on some lightweight seats.
What kind of seat are you looking for?
Safety features should be applied to all models of car seats, but things begin to change when you start looking at different types of kid’s seats.
- Single-facing seats
Single facing seats can only accommodate a child at one stage of their growth. Typically they will begin riding in a rear-facing seat, then change into a front-facing seat and eventually a booster seat.
Single facing seats are often lightweight when compared to boosters and convertible seats because they don’t need to have as many parts jammed in for conversions.
- Convertible seats
Convertible seats are often heavier than single-facing seats, but the extra weight often pays off. Convertible seats eliminate the need to buy a new seat every time your child outgrows their single-facing seat. Instead, convertible seats can be continually adjusted into different types of seat as your kid grows up.
Naturally, being convertible means that a lot of these seats have additional parts. More parts means more weight, and it can be hard to find quality convertible seats that are super lightweight.
- Booster seats
Like single-facing seats, booster seats aren’t inherently convertible. They’re intended for kids who have outgrown their first front facing seat. Booster seats aren’t always heavy since they’re not made to be convertible.
Are you planning on doing long-distance travel?
Weight is a hugely important factor when parents who travel often are considering what kind of car seat to buy.
- If you’re going to be doing long-distance traveling on a plane then you need to first make sure that your seat’s been approved for aviation by the FAA. A lot of FAA approved seats are quite heavy, but if you look hard enough you can find brands that make lightweight travel seats.
- Some lightweight seats are easily foldable which is an extra bonus for those who travel. Foldability means that you can store the seat without much hassle and take up a lot less space than you would otherwise.
How much can you spend on comfort?
A lot of lightweight seats sacrifice some comfort in order to be lightweight, but this isn’t always the case.
- If you’re only doing short-term commutes with your child, consider getting a seat without arm rests. These aren’t mandatory, though they can enhance the comfort for children during long rides.
- Check the materials used. Seats with solid steel bases will obviously be heavier than those without, but steel bases and inner components ensure that your seat will be more durable. Some come with longer expiry dates, making them ideal for parents who intend to re-use the seat or who don’t want to buy new seats as their kids grow up.
How many kids do you have?
If you have more than one child, lightweight car seats can be a lifesaver.
- Some companies make seats for twins – two identical seats sold at a reduced price. If you can find a lightweight seat for both of your kids then you’re going to be feeling great – carrying around two normal baby seats can be a hassle and is just unrealistic for smaller parents.
- Some car seats can be converted into a wearable baby-carrier. If you have more than one kid, you’re going to want lightweight carriers because you’ll be including the weight of your child on top of the seat.
Before you buy…
If you’re going to be buying your seat in person, lift it up first. The company’s page or the tag might tell you its weight, but nothing can really prepare you for how heavy your seat is except for carrying it.
Pick it up, feel the weight, then imagine it with the weight of your baby on top. If it’s too heavy, choose a lighter seat.
Weigh the number of features you want or need against the weight. Sometimes it’s worth it to get a seat that’s a bit heavier if it contains more safety features, and sometimes it’s worth it to sacrifice some comfort to save a few bucks.
So which lightweight seats are the best?
Now that you’re comfortable enough in knowing what constitutes a good seat, we’ll let you know what we think the five best ones on the market are. These are all great options and you should choose one based on the specific needs of you and your kid.
1.MiFold Grab & Go Car Booster Seat
This is an impressive contender – it folds up a lot smaller than any other car seat made at the time of its release. It folds up so small that you can fit it into your glove compartment! Because of this, and a few other features, this car seat is one of the most innovative and exciting ones that you can buy.
This seat is made more for toddlers and kids to use, and isn’t so great for infants.Still, the impressive age range suggests that any kid between 4 and 12 can use this without problem. There’s also an impressive range for size and height; it fits kids that are both too big and too small with only a small need for adjustments.
If you have more than one kid, this is also another great option. It’s small enough that you can fit three in the back of a standard car. It’s FAA certified for aviation so you can even bring it on a plane.
- Brings a lot of innovation to the market
- You can fit multiple seats in your car
- Great for big or small kids, for a very wide range of ages
- Has a long expiry date so you can use it for years
- Multi-use – can be used on various forms of vehicle
2. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
This option is a heck of a lot cheaper than the prior entry but doesn’t sacrifice much of its great versatility! This seat (as implied by the name) focuses on safety and keeping your child comfortable.
It uses a typical five point harness but the material used to protect the baby is very comfortable and absorbs a lot of impact. It’s comparably small – you can also fit three of these in the back seat of an average car or truck – but it maxes out at 65 pounds.
It’s also usable on airplanes, trains, and buses, so you can bring your child anywhere in this seat. It uses a less complex system of straps to cut back on weight, without compromising quality.
- FAA certified for different types of travel
- Good material for comfort and shock absorption
- Lightweight, easy to carry
- Some of it can be machine washed
- A bit difficult to install
- Headset is hard to adjust
3. Baby Trend Yumi Folding Booster Car Seat
This seat is one of the defining models for folk looking for a lightweight model that’s comfortable and safe.
The headset alone comes with eight different positions so you can adjust it for your toddler as they continue to grow, knowing that there will (almost) always be a perfect spot for them to rest. They also patented their own side-impact protection system, which lets you rest easy knowing that your child is well-protected in the chance of an accident.
The seat is easily foldable and easy to carry from place to place, and easy to store without taking up a huge amount of room. It comes with adjustable shoulder straps to match your kid’s growing physique, coming with a measurement guide to ensure that you match the adjustments to the safest possible level.
The seat has flip-up armrests and two cup holders while still managing to be lightweight. This allows you to keep your toddler comfortable and hydrated! It’s certified by federal safety regulations in regards to safety and side impact protection.
- Quite cheap
- Folds into a very reasonable size for easy storage
- Has many adjustable parts for comfort and safety
- Cup holders keep your kid in arm’s reach of their drinks
- Uses their own patented side impact protection
- Not so good for bigger children
4. Cosco Scenera NEXT Car Seat
This is another highly affordable model that doesn’t sacrifice much of its comfort or safety to provide an awesome seat.
This seat is certified for use on all sorts of transportation vehicles – including airplanes. You can take it on taxis or buses as well. This makes it ideal for parents who travel a lot and need to bring their child with them.
The fabric on this seat is removable and machine-washable; the cup holder and plastic parts are dishwasher safe. You won’t spend much time cleaning this seat at all!
This is another small contender, and you can fit three of them in the back seat of your car. They use a special material to ensure high-quality side impact protection.
- FAA certified for use on flights
- Great side impact protection
- A very lightweight model that can be moved easily
- Easily cleaned through either washing machine or dishwasher
- Not known for its durability
So which is the best?
If you have an average child, an average life and an average budget, we recommend the Baby Trend Yumi seat. It strikes the perfect balance of features, price and safety while maintaining a light weight and supreme convenience.
Most of the parts of this seat can be adjusted in some way or another, making it ideal for parents who are going to be using it with different children. It can also be adjusted as your child grows.
It does all this while offering a low price. The only problem is it’s not so great for children who are bigger than average. Other than that – this seat’s the king for lightweight models.