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You want the best for your baby—whether they are newborn or 18 years old. If you have a very independent 4-year-old on your hand, you might even see them as much older than they are. However, your child still needs a car seat at that age. Not only is it much safer, but it also helps you be able to control your child and be less distracted when you’re driving.
In this article, we’re going to break down the main features and reasons that you should be on the market—if you’re not, already—for the best car seat for your 4-year-old. We’ve taken the time to check out each important feature, from the maximum dimensions and weight capacity to the item’s weight and its warranty.
Through hours of our tireless research to find you the best for your child (and your car), we’ve looked through various sources and heard back from parents themselves and then have constructed this guide to help you choose the best for your kid. Through this article, you’ll be guided from our product comparison table, laying out a quick review of the best car seats on the market, to our in-detail reviews of each product, where you can compare for yourself. Finally, you can then check out our buying guide to help you come to your final decision on which car seat is best for your kiddo.
More features: 9 positions, 2 layers of side impact protection, tight buckle
The Britax Grow with You car seat is one of the best all-around car seats for your little one. Not only is it highly comfortable, but it is also extremely safe. Designed with an impact-stabilizing steel frame that not only offers superior strength on the outside, it is highly secure at the connection point of the vehicle—where you need it the most.
This car seat also is highly capable of shielding your child for protection, with two layers of side impact protection, which comes into play in the case of a collision. It has an energy-absorbing shell and a foam-lined head rest.
Your child can also ride in comfort with the Britax Grow with You since it has multiple recline positions that are highly adjustable. Not only is this great for comfort reasons, but it is also perfect for choosing the best installation angle for your vehicle, with 9 positions available.
The quick-adjust harness is also a highly sought-out feature so that you can easily adapt the seat to your growing child, from 40 – 120 lbs.
You can also have your Britax Grow with You grow as your child grows, with its BIG KID Easy Transition. You can go from Harness to Booster simply by tucking away buckles and straps away, right into the seat.
Your child can also ride in style and no longer complain about hunger or thirst again with snacks at hand in the Britax Grow with You integrated cup holders.
What makes it stand out?
Secured by the latch and tethered in booster mode so extremely safe.
Has a click-tight feature for the harness to booster modes.
Comes with unique features like the latches having hidden storage, etc.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
The straps on this one end up twist occasionally.
Strap covers are not attached to the back cushion which means they will slide around.
More features: flip away buckle, removable and machine washable seat pad, auto-magnetic chest clip
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 is not only safe, but also extremely comfortable. As one of the best booster seats for a 4-year-old, this convertible car seat has CosiCushion fabrics and padding and offers a first-class ride until your child weighs 85 lbs.
You can also rest assured with superior side impact protection, which is something that most parents worry about when first purchasing a car seat. It is also safe because it offers Air Protect® side impact technology, which protects your child around the head, as well.
Not only does it fit 14-40 lbs rear facing, it also grows with your child, available to turn the seat around and hold a child up to 85 pounds.
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 comes with convenient harness holders, which helps you as you are getting your child in and out of the vehicle. Not only does it keep the straps out of the way, it also holds onto the flip-away buckle. This buckle is highly useful when you are trying to get your baby in and out without getting the buckle stuck in clothing.
You can also stick the seat pad into the washing machine when needing to be cleaned. It removes easily and can go into the washer and the dryer.
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 also is designed to fit into your car optimally, which allows you and your family to have more room around it.
What are our favorite features?
It's so easy to install and get your kid out of the car seat
Machine-washable so simple to maintain and keep clean
Works up until 85 pounds
What could be better?
The auto-magnetic chest clip is annoying for child
The seat belt is very difficult to press open while child is moving about
More features: 9-position extended headrest, one-pull harness tightener, two layers of side-impact protection for the head and torso
The Chicco MyFit is designed to keep kids safe in the car—up until they are 100 lbs! Not only is it highly weight-withstanding, they also have a 9-position extended headrest, so your kid can ride in comfort and safety.
The Chicco MyFit is for the little big kids you have and it grows with your child as they grow. From toddlers of 25-65 lbs to big kids from 40-100 lbs, the Chicco MyFit is the only car seat you’ll ever need.
It helps keep them secure while riding in the back with a five-point harness. It also has an easy transition to a belt-positioning booster while your kid gets bigger and older. The Chicco MyFit comes with a traditional 5-point harness, which also accommodates growing toddlers.
The Chicco MyFit is also highly comfortable, with a padded, no-rethread harness system and can be easily adjusted through a one-pull harness tightener.
As your child grows, the MyFit™ converts to a belt-positioning booster for older children. You also can benefit from the shoulder and lap belt guides, which might be a bit confusing as your child get bigger.
The MyFit™ is also highly safe, with two layers of side-impact protection for the head and for the torso. You can also choose from a variety of different styles for not only color or comfort preference, but also convenience add-ons.
What stands out?
Comes with side-impact protection for head and torso
Five-point harness for security
Great transition as your child grows
What cons did we manage to find?
The child may need help every time in getting in and out
More features: 4-position extension panel, 6-position recline, 10-position headrest, removable and machine washable pad
The Graco Extend2Fit is a great choice if you’re looking for the best protection for rear-facing infants or forward-facing toddlers.
The Graco Extend2Fit boasts a 4-position extension panel, which can be adjusted to provide 5″ additional leg room so your child will be able to ride in a safer, rear-facing position for much longer. The child is able to reach up to 50 lbs before having to turn the seat around.
The child can also ride in comfort, with a 6-position recline and a 10-position headrest, which is one of the most positioned headrests on the market. This seat also highly adjusts for your growing child.
It is safe, too. The Graco Extend2Fit has a Simply Safe Adjust Harness System, which can be adjusted in one simple motion. It’s also easy to connect and secure, which can be difficult when dealing with a fidgeting child. With the InRight LATCH system, you can secure and protect with a one-second LATCH attachment.
It is safely inspected and tested to meet and exceed US Standards as a convertible car seat. Not only is it front-crash inspected, it is also side-impacted and tested
The Graco Extend2Fit is also easy to maintain, with the plush, machine washable seat pad that can be just thrown in the wash when need to be cleaned.
You can also get the most out of the ride with a harness compartment, which holds the buckle out of the way, which makes it easy for you to move your child in and out of the seat.
What are our favorite features?
Ultra-Strong with steel-reinforced frame for strength and durability.
Installation Made Easy with one-second in right Latch system.
Store-It-All Dual Cup Holders for your child's drink, snacks, and trinkets close for convenience.
What could be better?
Putting the cover back on after washing is difficult.
More features: 2-position crotch belt and 3-position adjustable-height headrest, integrated cup holders
The KidsEmbrace Marvel Spider-Man will help them ride in style, all while they are stopping evil and fighting for justice—with their favorite characters.
Not only is it a kid’s favorite because of the superhero figure on the car seat, you can also choose from Captain America, Black Panther, Iron Man or the Incredible Hulk.
The contoured seat of the KidsEmbrace Marvel Spider-Man makes for a highly comfortable ride, with a high back and a two-position crotch belt that allows for your kid to grow since it adjusts with them.
This is a great seat for tall kids, not only because it is adjustable, but also because it is approved for forward-facing use for children between 22-65 lbs & 29″-49″ in height. It is easy-to-install and uses latch connectors along with a top tether for simple installment.
It is machine washable with a gentle cycle seat pad, so it is easy to maintain when the time comes to clean it. Your child can also benefit from the 2 cup holders for drinks or snacks while en route.
The KidsEmbrace Marvel Spider-Man also comes with a 3-position adjustable-height headrest with energy-absorbing EPS foam, a 5-point harness straps that can be easily adjusted with one hand, and comes backed with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Best Bet” rating for booster car seats.
Why did it make our list?
Weight capacity up to 100 lbs
Comes highly adjustable
Super hero characters for child’s enjoyment
2 cup holders for drinks and snacks while driving
What is not ideal about it?
Arms can’t be moved thus making it uncomfortable to place a child in a seat
More features: 5-point safety harness, removable and dishwasher- cup holder, removable and machine washable pad
Being on a budget shouldn’t meant that you have to bypass safety regulations. The Cosco Finale DX is the perfect solution if you and your family need a booster car seat (especially as a 2-in-1).
With its five-point safety harness, you can convert the belt-positioning booster seat as your child grows. It can be extended through its dual modes, from the car seat to the belt-positioning booster, this is the perfect investment for a family with a growing child.
It is also extremely lightweight, which sets the Cosco Finale DX apart from most other models on the market. This makes it easy to move from car to car for carpools or multiple drivers. You can even fit three of the Cosco Finale DX side-by-side in the back for multiple kids.
When it comes to cleaning, the cup holders are removable and dishwasher safe. You can also benefit from the easy-to-clean and remove booster car seat pad, tossing it into the washing machine and then your dryer for the easiest cleaning methods.
You also don’t have to worry about the safety standards of the Cosco Finale DX, which is usually the case when you’re on a budget. The Cosco Finale DX meets federal, ASTM, and JPMA safety standards.
Why is it special?
Comes with five-point safety harness and conversion for belt-positioning booster
Dual cup holders for child’s drink and snack
Machine-washable seat pad
What are the flaws?
Might not fit three of these in a smaller vehicle
Latch installation is pretty standard but seat belt installation is tricky
Things to Consider
Before you go out and buy just any car seat for your kid, this buying guide should help you sort out through individual features of the product and understand why each and every one is important.
Tight hug – why to invest in a car seat for 4-year-olds
Sometimes you may feel as if you want to hug your kid forever—a car seat is a way to show them that you care. Not only is comforting for them while you drive, but it is also extremely safe, making it a great choice for your young child.
Convertible seat or booster seat
You know that you should get the infant seat for your child when he or she is a baby. However, once they outgrow it (normally around their first birthday), you’ll want to get a convertible seat.
The convertible seat has a higher rear-facing weight limit in its harness, making it possible that they ride backward, or rear facing – which is the safest option. In some states, it is even the law that children younger than 2 years have to ride this way.
After your child has outgrown the weight or height limit, you’ll need to move on to the booster seat that uses the car seatbelt. The booster should be placed and correctly sized so that the seat belt is directly over the sternum and the center of the collarbone of your child. The lower part should lie across the upper thighs.
The high-back models of the booster seat are the best because not only are they more comfortable, they are also better for the shoulder part of the belt. It’s even the law in some states that kids are required to use a booster seat up until they are 9 years or weight 80 lbs.
How to install a child’s car seat
Each car seat and car will be different, therefore it is extremely important for you to check with your car’s guidelines or secure car seat installation instructions.
To install it properly and correctly, it is recommended that you read the owners manual of the car or booster seat. These will come directly from the manufacturer and will be equipped with particular instructions that can help with the process of installing the seat in the car. The manufacturer knows best since they are the ones that created the booster or car seat, so try and follow them as best as you can.
You can also check your car’s manual. Each car will be different, meaning they also have a variety of unique safety features, which will help securely install your own car seat. This may mean that your car even has anchors designed directly in or on the seats that can help with securing a car seat. Your specific vehicle’s manual can help with the installment.
Once you’ve found out how to do it, you want to make sure that you are using these tips:
Place the booster or car seat in the right place. It is recommended (and enforced by law), that the back seat is the safest place for your kids. The center of the back seat is the safest spot in the vehicle since it’s not on the sides and doesn’t have air bags, which can be dangerous to a small child.
Make sure you are locking the seat belts. Just in case your car doesn’t have those anchors available for the booster seat, you should lock the seat belt once the car seat is installed.
Use all safety parts of the car seat. To ensure safety, some car seats, like the Chicco MyFit, come with a tether strap that enforces an additional safety measure. From the top of the seat, grab it and attach to the vehicle. This will help keep your child’s head safe.
Tighten the straps up and adjust the angles. There is no use in going through all those safety precautions if you’re not going to use the seat properly. Make sure that everything is tightly secured and in the right angles.
Features to consider while buying the safest car seat for 4-year-old
Before you choose the safest car seat for your child, you should consider these features, which may be different for every product.
The size of the car seat will be defined by the height and the weight of your child. Some car seat manufacturers also suggest an age limit, as well.
Not only is the size of your child important, but the size of the car seat is also notable. You’ll want to make sure that the car seat actually fits in your car.
If you want a car seat to last as long as possible (within reason), aim for a car seat that has a bit of a larger weight limit capacity, like the Chicco MyFit, which has 100 lbs weight limit, or the Britax Frontier, which can hold 120 lbs.
The belt is also an important feature to check out. The KidsEmbrace Marvel Spider-Man, for example, has a 2-position crotch belt, which really makes your child feel safe and secure in the seat, as well as the car seatbelt that you place over.
Talk to your pediatrician or check out what other parents are saying about the latch connection. These car seats will either be equipped with a push-on, hook-style, or rigid lower anchor.
If you’re going to be getting a forward-facing harness seat, you’ll need to see if the seat also includes a top tether strap. This feature will anchor the seat (and your child) to the vehicle seat, which will secure the seat optimally. It will also protect your child against head injuries, which is important in the case of an accident.
The harness system can also be tricky. All of the booster seats on the market will have an adjustable harness system.
What’s important to note here, is that as your child grows, the straps on the harness will need to be adjusted continuously.
The material of the car seat is also important, since this not only makes it more comfortable for your child to sit in, it also will help keep car damage to a minimum and perhaps even make the car seat machine-washable.
The side protection is another feature that might be overlooked at first. However, making sure that the car seat has it is important not only in the case of an accident but also when the car is moving about
Not only will you want something safe and durable for your child, but you’ll also want your investment to last you a few years. The durability of the car seat is also an extremely important feature to consider.
It won’t do you any good if you have a durable car seat if you don’t have a warranty to back it up. Unfortunately, when the car seat warranty is specified, most of the ones on the market will only be around 1-year, like the Graco Extend2Fit.
You can easily head to this website
Trusted SourceCheck for Recalls: Vehicle, Car Seat, Tire, Equipment | NHTSAUse our VIN lookup tool to check for recalls on your car, or search by make and model. Also, get recall information on car seats, tires and equipment.
and not only register your child’s car seat but also report a safety problem, receive the latest information on recalls, and also read more tips for maintaining and driving a safe car.
The major question here is if your child is outgrowing his or her harnessed car seat. Every car seat will come with not only a weight limit but also the size and age limit from the manufacturer. There are also various types of car seats or harnessed seats that can be your best selection when your child is growing.
If the seat is coming from someone you know and you are knowledgeable about the history of it (for example, if it has been in a crash), you’ll find it best to purchase a new one. However, if you have gotten a used one, make sure to register the seat, and check the original manufacturer’s warranty on it.
If you have decided to skip out on the guide, here is a summary of our top three choices:
The Britax Frontier is our Editor’s Choice for the best car seat for your 4-year-old. Weighing only 25 lbs, with a weight capacity of 120 lbs, this seat grows as your child grows. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty and is possible of being adjusted from 9 different positions, with 2 layers of side impact protection, and comes with an easy-to-use tight buckle.
The Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 is our take on the Best Booster Car Seat for your 4-year-old. With a weight of also only 24 lbs, it is extremely lightweight to move from car to car. It can hold up to 85 lbs of pure kid and comes with a number of great features, like its flip away buckle, removable and machine washable seat pad, and auto-magnetic chest clip.
The Cosco Finale DX is our choice for your best Budget Pick. Just because you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to get a low-quality car seat for your kid. Weighing just 17 lbs, you can benefit from its lightweight build. You can also enjoy the numerous features of not only being able to hold up to 100 lbs, but also its 2-position crotch belt and 3-position adjustable-height headrest, as well as its integrated cup holders.
We hope that our guide has helped you choose the best car seat for your 4-year-old.
Check for Recalls: Vehicle, Car Seat, Tire, Equipment | NHTSA
Use our VIN lookup tool to check for recalls on your car, or search by make and model. Also, get recall information on car seats, tires and equipment.