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What’s the best travel car seat for a 2 year old? (2024 reviews)

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This article about the best travel car seat for a 2 year old is written by certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Melissa Conn and may contain affiliate links.

If you’re looking for the best travel car seat for a 2 year old, you’ve come to the right place! If you’re shopping for a child of a different age, check out the best travel car seats for all ages to get to the right list.

These days most kids ride around at home in huge convertible car seats at that age (we’ve owned three of them!), and they’re great for safety and comfort.

But for travel? Many families don’t want to lug a 25 pound car seat through the airport, hoist it over an entire row to get it installed in a tiny airplane window seat, navigate back through another airport and then lift it into a taxi or rental car. A better choice if you can swing it is to pick up one of the many travel car seats for 2 year olds on the market today.

Quick Picks: Best Travel Car Seat For A 2 Year Old

If you want to skip the details, here are my top picks for the best travel car seat for a 2 year old:

Check out these full-featured, comfortable convertible car seats to use for long drives and at home

How to Choose the Best Travel Car Seat for a 2 Year Old

What do we look for in the best portable car seat for a 2 year old? In my experience, there are a few important priorities:

-It has to be light, ideally not more than ~10lbs

-It has to be easy to use

-Ideally it should last at least 3-4 years

Of course every family has unique needs. If your child is extremely tall for her age, you might want to choose taller car seat even at the expense of a few extra pounds. If your travels involve a long flight and a long drive, look for comfort features like padding and cup holders to keep your youngest passengers happy.

Portable Car Seat For A 2 Year Old Comparison

Travel car seatSize
Cosco SceneraNext DLX
compact,
7 lbs
Cosco Onlook
compact,
8 lbs
Baby Trend
Trooper
medium size,
10 lbs
Cosco Mighty
Fit 65
medium size,
11 lbs
Evenflo
Sonus 65
medium size,
11 lbs
Graco Contender Slim/
Graco Contender GO
medium size,
14 lbs
Wayb Pico
(also available here)
Wayb Pico Car Seat - Jetforward-facing, foldable;
8 lbs

Remember, the best travel car seat for toddler explorers will depend on their heights and weights – there’s no “one size fits all” solution.

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Collage of 5 best travel car seat for 2 year old: blue Evenflo Sonus, gray Wayb Pico, gray Cosco Mighty Fit 65, red Cosco Scenera Next DLX. Text in center: "5 fantastic travel car seats for your 2 year old"

Want to know all my best secrets? Click here to learn how to travel with your car seat like a pro!

Best travel car seats for 2 year olds

The NHTSA recommends that children remain rear-facing until around 3, and many safety advocates urge parents to keep their kids rear-facing until closer to 4. Some of the travel convertible car seats on this list will keep every kid rear-facing until at least 4 years old, but if you have a very tall kid you may want to skip over the first few options as they’re better suited to small or average 2 year olds.

What to look for in your travel car seat

In the summaries below you’ll see that I’ve listed “shell height” and “max harness height”. What do these mean and why are they important when you’re looking at a portable car seat for a 2 year old globetrotter?

Shell height is the distance from the bottom of the seat to the top above the child’s head and it’s important for rear-facing. Most car seats require that kids have at least 1″ of shell height above the top of their heads to rear face. Harness height isn’t as much of an issue for rear-facing because the straps should always come from below your kid’s shoulders.

Max harness height comes into play for forward-facing. It’s the distance from the bottom of the seat to the highest setting for the harness. Since your child’s shoulders should always be below the harness when forward-facing, the max harness height is often the limiting factor for outgrowing a seat forward-facing. Shell height also matters in that usually the tops of the ears should be contained within the shell (it’s ok if the top of the head pokes out a bit), but that isn’t usually the limiting factor.

The other weight, height and age limits are pretty self-explanatory. Manufacturers (rightly?) assume that your kid is wearing clothes and even shoes in their car seat, so you can factor those in for weight.


Cosco Scenera Next DLX review

Key stats:
-Weight 7lbs
-Shell height 23”
-Max harness height 13.5”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-40lbs, 29-43″

Pros:
✔ Compact
✔ Lightest convertible car seat
✔ Low price

Cons:
✘ Low size limits
✘ Hard to install in some cars
✘ Limited padding for patterned covers
✘ No extra protection in headwings
Requires top tether for forward-facing

The most popular convertible car seat for travel is the Cosco Scenera Next DLX. What makes it so insanely popular? It’s as easy on the scale as it is on the wallet! The Cosco Scenera Next is the lightest convertible car seat and the cheapest convertible car seat as well, making it an ideal toddler travel car seat.

Just how light is it? It would be no problem to carry on your back in a car seat backpack like this one, and some parents even use these hooks to hang it from the back of the stroller as they walk through the airport. 

It’s good to know that the top harness slots are just 13.5” high, so some kids will outgrow the Scenera Next forward-facing even while they still have another year or two rear-facing. Remember, when your kid is forward-facing the straps need to come from above their shoulders. For rear facing, short shell means that very few kids will get to 40″ with the required 1″ above their heads. This isn’t an issue when choosing a car seat for a 1 year old, but just something to keep in mind as you consider the seat’s longevity. It’s a fine travel car seat for a toddler who’s on the short side.

I do hesitate to recommend the Scenera Next as a car seat for 2.5 year old kids who are average or taller, as they will probably get just 6 months of use from it… or may have already outgrown it completely!

Our extremely petite kids were able to rear-face in the Scenera Next until almost 4yo (which is very unusual). However, it wasn’t necessarily a comfortable seat at that age. The crotch strap that comes with the seat is extremely short – like, newborn short. They will send you a longer one for free if you provide the serial number, so make sure you reach out to them the minute your seat arrives if you have a trip coming up. 

Cosco Scenera Next basically outgrown by a short 4 year old

It’s an excellent portable car seat for city trips because many parents are able to attach it to various lightweight travel strollers thanks to its compact shell and light weight. The Mountain Buggy Nano has a car seat strap built in, making the Scenera + Nano a very popular combination. Be sure to get 20% off with the monthly rotating coupon code (for example, APR20 in April).

The Cosco Scenera Next fills an important niche as an affordable seat that travels fairly well and keeps kids rear-facing until at least 2yo. Why don’t I love it? We found it very challenging to get a truly tight installation (especially on leather seats) and the patterned version of the seat that we got has absolutely no padding. Babies may not notice or complain but our preschooler was clear that it wasn’t the seat for him!

There’s now a DLX version that comes in solid colors but has more padding, so if you opt for the Cosco Scenera Next be sure to pick up that one even though it costs a few dollars more. Even better, Cosco now offers the Cosco Scenera Deluxe convertible car seat. They’ve basically taken the Cosco Scenera DLX and added a head pillow, lower back pad and strap covers. These are good changes that will appeal to many parents who don’t like the idea of their precious cargo riding in such an unpadded seat. I’m sure that my kid who complained about his original (non-DLX) Cosco Scenera Next would have been pleased!

Another version available for 2023 is the Maxi-Cosi Romi. It uses the Cosco Scenera Next shell but adds Maxi-Cosi’s flame retardant free PureCosi cover in addition to a head pillow and harness covers. Be sure to grab the monthly coupon (three letter month and 20, like APR20 for April) to save 20%. That puts the price tag around $100 for this version, plus you’ll accumulate valuable rewards towards future purchases.

Despite its short shell, the Scenera may still need to be installed more upright than technically allowed on many planes. That’s ok with older infants and toddlers, but not for very young babies without head and neck control. We always found it easier to travel with an infant car seat as long as the kids fit.

If you’re traveling internationally, make sure you bring a locking clip. Cars in many other countries may not have locking seatbelts like the ones in the US; they lock in an emergency, but you can’t manually lock them by pulling all the way out. You should be able to use LATCH in cars where available, but if the seating position you want to use doesn’t have LATCH or it’s an older car without LATCH then you will need a locking clip. Grab a locking clip here – it’s cheap and doesn’t take up any space!

As with all of Cosco’s seats, they now require use of the top tether when forward facing in the car. It’s great for safety, but you may not find one when you’re traveling outside of the US, Canada, EU, Australia and New Zealand (or if you’re in an older car in one of those places). If you come across that situation, you’ll have to make a judgement call on whether or not to install your car seat against the manufacturer’s directions.


Cosco Onlook review/Safety 1st Getaway review

Key stats:
-Weight 8lbs
-Shell height 24”
-Max harness height 16”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-40lbs, 29-43” (the 43” limit may not be realistic depending on how long your child’s torso is)

Pros:
✔ Low price
✔ Compact front-to-back when installed more upright

Cons:
✘ Same size limits as Scenera but more expensive
✘ Extremely wide near the head
✘ Hard to install in some cars
✘ Limited padding for patterned covers
✘ No extra protection in headwings
Requires top tether for forward-facing

Around the same time that Cosco ditched the old Scenera model in favor of the Cosco Scenera Next and Cosco Scenera Next DLX, they also refreshed the slightly larger Cosco Apt in favor of the Cosco Apt 50 convertible car seat. In mid-2022, they dropped the Apt 50’s weight limit back down to 40lbs and slapped two new names on it: the Cosco Onlook and the Safety 1st Getaway.

I’ll be totally honest: I don’t quite understand why Dorel is making both of those seats and the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 (which has been around for years as the Safety 1st Guide 65 – more info below) especially with the lower weight limit of the new Onlook. There’s a lot of overlap between the three Cosco convertible car seat options, so if you’re considering one of them it’s worth considering the others as well to make sure you’re choosing the one that best suits your needs.

The Cosco Onlook is much the same as its younger sibling, the Cosco Scenera Next. It’s one of the lightest weight convertible car seat options, well-priced and gets the job done with minimal frills. The shell height is similar to the Scenera Next so it won’t buy you any extra time rear-facing, but thanks to the higher harness height, skinny kids kids can comfortably forward face in the Cosco Onlook until at least 4 years old. It’s a solid choice if you want a convertible car seat for a 2 year old for travel that allows for extended rear facing but you don’t have a big budget.

One of the biggest drawbacks of the Onlook over the Scenera Next is that it’s extremely wide near the top – several inches wider! It’s not your best choice if you’re trying to fit three-across in a tiny European rental car. It also needs to be very reclined for kids under 22lbs, so might be a tight squeeze if you’re trying to rear-face on a plane with a baby. And if you’re flying overseas, be sure to bring a locking clip just in case.

As with all Cosco carseat options, they now require use of the top tether. It’s great for safety, but you may not find one when you’re traveling outside of the US, Canada, EU, Australia and New Zealand (or if you’re in an older car in one of those places). If you come across that situation, you’ll have to make a judgement call on whether or not to install your car seat against the manufacturer’s directions.

Get a closer look at the differences between the Cosco travel car seats here.


Baby Trend Trooper review

Key stats:
-Weight 10lbs
-Shell height 24”
-Max harness height 16.5”
-Rear-facing size limits 4-40lbs
-Forward-facing size limits 23-65lbs, up to 50”

Pros:
✔ First from preemie to elementary school
✔ Extremely narrow convertible car seat
✔ Built in cup holder
✔ Very clear labeling on car seat and inserts

Cons:
✘ Very steep recline under 22lbs
✘ Doesn’t last as long as the Evenflo Sureride
Requires top tether for forward-facing

Baby Trend has a newer offering in the compact car seat space and she’s got a lot to offer for traveling parents! The Baby Trend Trooper convertible car seat (be sure to check prices here too) ticks many boxes for traveling families.

What’s so great? For starters, it’s very lightweight at just 10 lbs and extremely narrow. It’s even a hair narrower than the Cosco Scenera Next. But unlike the Scenera, the Baby Trend Trooper will fit most kids until until around age 6. The price tag is higher, but you’ll get about double the use from it! The Trooper also has a few different padding configurations available (some with weight limits, some totally optional) including a body pillow, a head pillow and harness pads.

I don’t really recommend the Baby Trend Trooper for families traveling with a child under 23lbs. The car seat will fit your baby well, but the steep recline required will take up a ton of space. It’s much more compact once your child reaches 23 lbs (around 18 months on average).

The Trooper won’t last quite as long as the Evenflo Sonus 65 (below) for forward-facing, but the more compact shape could make that trade off worth it for many families. This is the best travel carseat for families who need to fit 3-across on a budget, with the added benefit that they’ll only have to learn the rules for a single seat.

It may seem like a small detail, but I appreciate Baby Trend’s attention to labeling and instructions on this seat. In a world where the vast majority of car seats are misused, clear labels make such a difference. Baby Trend tells you the weight limit for the insert right there on it. The special harness routing for newborns is labeled on the seat. The harness has stripes to let you know it’s laying flat with no twists. There’s a big picture of an airplane on the side of the seat to show flight attendants, rather than searching for obscure red lettering.

The manual itself is useful. Truly! There’s a page with clear cleaning instructions for each part. There’s another page that lays out the rules for various padding that comes with the seat. There’s a quick safety checklist for parents to review. The manual is full of easy-to-digest information to help parents use their car seat correctly. Be sure to read it for the seat’s many adjustments. There’s even a QR code to scan that gives direct access to installation videos.


Safety 1st Guide 65/Cosco Mighty Fit 65 review

Key stats:
-Weight 11lbs
-Shell height 24”
-Max harness height 17”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 29-49”

Pros:
✔ First from infancy to elementary school
✔ Somewhat narrow convertible car seat

Cons:
✘ Tall shell won’t fit well rear-facing in compact cars and economy airplane seats
✘ Doesn’t last as long as the Evenflo Sureride
✘ Won’t fit newborns well
Requires top tether for forward-facing

This portable car seat has been around for a long time but has gained in popularity thanks to fresh branding. Dorel has now added its well-respected Safety 1st Guide 65 to the popular Cosco toddler car seat lineup as a longer-lasting convertible carseat option, renaming it the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DLX. As with other Cosco car seats, you may find the best price at Walmart. I’ve had an opportunity to work with the DLX version specifically, and it offers nice padding for kid comfort.

The Guide 65 has proven its worth as a travel carseat for many years and continues to work well for many families. It’ll last rear-facing kids until a safe age for forward-facing, and then for a few years beyond until they’re ready for our favorite travel booster seats. It’s tall enough, but not the tallest seat around. But since you’re shopping for a portable car seat for a 2 year old, this one should have plenty of longevity for your family.

One of the biggest downsides of the Cosco Mighty Fit 65 is that the steep recline needed for kids under 22lbs is tough to achieve without using a pool noodle or rolled towel – which is not the kind of gear we prefer to travel with. It sort of defeats the simplicity of bringing a compact, lightweight car seat! At age 2, this generally won’t be a concern but keep it in mind if you plan to pass it down to a younger sibling.

The other issue worth considering for international travel is that the Mighty Fit 65 requires you to use the top tether when installing forward-facing. The top tether’s job is to decrease head movement – and that’s a good thing with any travel toddler car seat. But in some countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America and even Eastern Europe you won’t find a top tether is many cars. At that point you’d have to make a judgement call about how to install the seat when you can’t follow the manufacturer’s rules.

It’s also worth knowing that you can only use LATCH to install the Mighty Fit 65 until 40 pounds. After that, you’ll have to install with a seatbelt – both options are just as safe, but for travel overseas I recommend bringing a locking clip and knowing how to use it in case you encounter a car with seatbelts that don’t lock.


Evenflo Sonus 65 review

Key stats:
-Weight 11lbs
-Shell height 25”
-Max harness height 18”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs, 19-40”
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, 28-50”

Pros:
✔ Generous size limits
✔ More comfort features than other travel car seats
✔ Nice enough to use as an everyday car seat
✔ Somewhat narrow convertible car seat

Cons:
Requires top tether, which may not be available in all countries
✘ Heavier than Cosco Scenera Next and Cosco Apt 50
✘ More expensive than Cosco car seats
✘ Can be a tight squeeze front-to-back when rear-facing on some airlines with limited seat pitch
✘ 6 year expiration

The Evenflo Sonus 65 is a replacement for Evenflo’s older introductory-level lightweight car seat, the Evenflo Tribute LX (which won’t seem to die). We’ve had several well-loved Evenflo car seats over the years so we’re glad to see they’re offering a great option for younger travelers now!

The Evenflo Sonus 65 is a great choice for a lightweight car seat for travel thanks to its more generous size limits combined with light weight. Most kids will make it to their fourth birthday rear-facing in this traveling car seat. This is one of the best travel convertible car seat options to come on the market in the last few years.

It offers reasonable padding for kid comfort (unlike some other bargain models) and gives kids built-in cup holders to boot so many families use this as an everyday lightweight toddler car seat. The Sonus 65 not only has a higher forward-facing weight limit (65 pounds vs 50 pounds) than the regular Sonus, but it also adds a recline wedge to get the correct angle without needing a pool noodle or rolled towel.

The Evenflo Sonus has 18″ top harness slots, so it will last kids for many years. If you buy it as a 2 years old car seat, it represents great value for years of use!

The Evenflo Sonus 65 is an FAA-approved car seat (just like pretty much every American car seat out there) and can be installed either rear-facing or forward-facing on a plane. It even has a two-position recline wedge to help you get the correct angle in both planes and cars. This is one of the best travel car seats for toddlers in 2023.

Thanks to fellow CPST Rebekka for this photo of the Evenflo Sonus on a plane

If you mostly fly on airlines with limited seat pitch (the space between the seats) it may be a tight fit to install the Sonus 65 rear facing. If your child is old enough and big enough, you can consider forward facing for your flight and then rear facing again in the car. Even better, it’s low-profile enough that your child will be able to use the tray table on many airlines!

Those beefy, extra-protective headwings make the top of the seat somewhat wide, so it may be tough to position the Sonus 3-across next to another car seat facing the same direction.

PSA: I’ve read that the seat comes with the LATCH strap set up to install forward-facing. If you want to install rear-facing, be sure to switch it. Read the manual and do it before your trip because it can be tricky!


Graco Contender Slim/Graco Contender GO review

Key stats:
-Weight 15lbs
-Shell height 27”
-Max harness height 18”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, under 49″

Pros:
✔ Fits from newborn to elementary school
✔ “Closed” belt path means no buckle in the back when forward facing on a plane
✔ Easy to install with either LATCH or seatbelt
✔ Allows rear facing past 40″ (as long as there’s 1″ of head room)
✔ Newer version is narrower near the legs so it fits better on airplanes

Cons:
✘ Tall shell won’t fit well rear-facing in compact cars and economy airplane seats

What’s a 15 pound monster doing in the middle of a list of featherweights? If you want to keep rear facing a tall child or have a child who will be forward-facing on a plane now or in the near future, the Graco Contender Slim (or its twin, the Graco Contender GO) deserves at least a moment of consideration. These are the same seat except that the GO comes with two removable cup holders to lose instead of one. I recommend buying whichever is cheaper!

Unlike nearly every lightweight car seat, the Graco Contender does not have a 40″ standing height limit for rear facing. That means you can keep your tall, lanky kid rear facing longer in the car (even if they forward face on the plane – it may be a little big to rear face on the plane due to its recline). It’s a really long-lasting option for a 2 year old car seat.

The 40lbs rear facing weight limit makes this one of the best car seats for toddlers age 2 and up, as kids will be able to rear face until age 4 on average (or longer if they’re skinny). Once forward facing it should last kids until around 6 years old.

The Contender has a really neat trick up its sleeve for flights. Unlike most other lightweight car seats, it has a “closed belt path” for forward facing. What is a closed belt path? It means there’s a panel separating your child’s back from the airplane seat belt buckle. Having flown long-haul with kids forward-facing in other car seat, I can tell you that’s a big deal for their comfort.

The other nice feature for forward facing on planes is that there’s plenty of natural recline to the seat while many others are extremely upright. Double-win for in-flight comfort! Unfortunately that reclined position means your child wouldn’t be able to use the tray table so you’ll need to evaluate how important that is for you. Like some other tall, reclined seats it’s also not ideal for flying with an infant as you may not be able to recline it as much as you need to.

It also has all the other great features of a full-sized car seat: ample padding, a cup holder, easy installation. You could certainly use this as your everyday seat for many years.

The major downside compared to other options on this list is just the size. Getting it through the airport won’t be as easy as with a lighter car seat. One of these would definitely come in handy!


Century Drive On review

Key stats:
-Weight 14lbs
-Max harness height 16”
-Rear-facing size limits 5-40lbs
-Forward-facing size limits 22-65lbs, under 49″
-High back booster size limits 40-100lbs, 43-57″, age 4+

Pros:
✔ Fits from newborn to early booster years
✔ Good fit in all modes
✔ Light enough for travel
✔ Simple to install
✔ Works with inflatable seatbelts
✔ Fun colors

Cons:
✘ Recline line must be parallel to the ground, requiring a rolled towel in some cars
✘ 40lb rear facing limit won’t get big kids to 4 years old
✘ Low top harness slots so not ideal for tall/long torso kids

If you have an average to petite child and only want to buy one travel car seat ever, it’s time to read up on the new Century Drive On. It’s the lightest all-in-one car seat (more accurately called a “multi-mode car seat”) and offers a simple solution for both home and away. You may never have heard of the Century brand, but the name has been around for decades and was recently revived by Graco’s parent company to product a line of budget-friendly seats.

The Drive On gives plenty to love with just a few downsides. There will always be trade offs, but for some families it’ll be a wonderful choice. The first reason why I recommend the Century Drive On is that the fit has been great on every kiddo I’ve seen in it, from newborn to late preschool/early elementary school.

Second, the installation is very straight-forward with no major quirks to report. It’s simple and it works. If you’re short on storage space, it’s nice to just have one travel seat kicking around your house (or even installed in a secondary car) rather than keeping a parade of shorter-lived seats around.

Speaking of short-lived, there’s the rub with the Century Drive On… while average/petite kiddos or those with short torsos will be able to use this seat until as old as 8 years old (once in booster mode), tall kids need not apply. The rear facing mode is nice because it doesn’t have a standing height limit vs the 40″ rear facing limit for many travel car seats for 2 year olds, but the tallest harness slot for forward facing just isn’t that tall.

The earliest kids have the maturity to use a booster seat is typically 5, but some kids do best in a harness until 6 or even 7. If they happen to be tall and need more time harnessed, the Drive On may fall short.

The other annoyance with the Drive On in some vehicles is that the recline line is supposed to be parallel to the ground at all times when rear facing, no matter how old your kiddo is. This is probably a rule to save money on testing by just allowing a single recline, but the included adjustable recline foot might not be enough in cars with extremely sloped seats. Some people overcome this with an 11″ piece of pool noodle while others use a rolled towel to prop it up. This method can also be very effective.

It’s also worth noting that the Century Drive On comes in a neutral gray, a beautiful blue and a cheerful pink. Not that color should be a determining factor in a car seat it’s nice to see a little variety now and then! The covers are all made from recycled plastic but feel nice and soft.


Wayb Pico review

Key stats:
-Weight 8lbs
-Max harness height 16.5″
-Forward-facing size limits: 22-50lbs, 30-45″, recommended 2+ years old minimum

Pros:
✔ Compact
✔ Easy to install
✔ Keeps kids harnessed
✔ FAA-approved to use on flights
✔ Can install without top tether
✔ Narrowest car seat on the market

Cons:
✘ High price
✘ Low height limit
✘ Crotch strap too short for some kids
✘ Top tether strap too short for some cars (can request an extension)

One of the coolest kid travel products we’ve seen in a loooong time is the new Wayb Pico and might be the ultimate portable toddler car seat. It was hard to miss as they plastered their Indiegogo campaign all over Facebook in 2018! The promise? An ultra-light, ultra-compact folding car seat with 5-point harness. Families would be able to travel with world without compromising safety.

In many ways their promise has panned out. For certain families the Pico is the perfect solution to a really tough question, while for others it isn’t the right fit. Read our in-depth expert Wayb Pico review here.

I’ll start with the advantages: the Wayb Pico is small and easy to use. The weight is about the same as the Cosco Scenera Next, but the genius is in how small it folds up (and even packs into its own backpack!) so that you can lug it around and have it when you need it for spur-of-the-moment taxi rides. It’s the only foldable car seat for 2 year old travelers today.

The concept of a folding forward-facing harnessed car seat isn’t new. They’ve actually been made for years, including the current car seat used by Uber Family. The downside of prior seats is that they required use of a top tether. Without it, the seats don’t stay upright! If you’re traveling within the US, Canada or Western Europe that’s no problem.

But if you plan to venture outside those areas you may have an extremely hard time using those car seats. We’ve encountered so many cars in South America, Morocco, Thailand and more that don’t have top tethers – rendering seats like the IMMI Go completely useless. While you’d ideally use the top tether all the time with the Wayb Pico, at least you have the option to use it without the top tether if absolutely necessary.

Travel Car Seat Mom - A little girl sitting in a car seat holding a toy, using the best travel car seat for a 2 year old.
Travel Car Seat Mom - In need of the best travel car seat for a 4 year old? Look no further than this description of a young boy comfortably seated in a car seat. Rest assured that there are over 202

The major disadvantage of the Wayb Pico is that the 45″ upper height limit and 16.5″ harness slots aren’t high enough for some families. You can see that my petite 2 year old model has lots of growing room, but her 5.5 year old brother has basically outgrown it. If you’re buying it at 2 years old that’s a few years of good usage (and more if you can pass it down to a younger sibling), especially for frequent travelers.

If you’re a family that prioritizes extended rear-facing and then you want an extended forward-facing harness, this isn’t the car seat for you! But if you’ll be doing a ton of traveling with a 2 or 3 year old (like our family gap year) then the Wayb Pico is the best lightweight car seat for a 2 year old to keep your kid safe without lugging a full-size car seat. On the small end, the Pico is approved for kids at least 1 year old – but that’s not recommended, and in some places (like California and New York) it’s not even legal.

I’d be more likely to make the shift to a product like the Pico at that young age if you’re going to be traveling long-term or doing tons of moving around with trains, taxis etc. For “normal” vacations once or twice per year, keeping your 2 year old rear-facing and then moving to the Wayb Pico at age 3 is a great choice.

Finally, the price tag of the Pico may be tough for some families to swallow.

Is the Wayb Pico right for everyone? No. But if your family is going on an extended trip or relying on lots of taxis in your daily life and a folding travel car seat is on your must-have list, you need to give the Wayb Pico a serious look!


Car seat for two year old toddlers FAQs

What kind of car seat should a 2 year old be in?

The right car seat for 2 years old is typically a rear-facing convertible car seat. While it’s legal in many states for kids to forward face after their first or second birthdays, kids are much safer from serious neck and spine injuries if they stay rear facing longer. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping your child rear facing until he or she reaches the limits of the seat, and today many kids ride rear facing until 4 or 5 years old!

What is the best car seat for 2 year old children?

The best car seat is the one that fits your child, fits your car, fits your family’s budget and that you can use correctly 100% of the time. Choosing a convertible car seat can get tricky if you need to fit kids 3-across, have limited front-to-back space, or have very tall kids – it’s important to do your research. The best car seats for two year old toddlers will be different for every situation.

What is the safest car seat for a 2 year old?

There’s no way for anyone other than manufacturers to say what is the safest car seat for a 2 year old. All car seats in the US pass the same Federal testing, but nearly all manufacturers keep the quantitative results private. There’s no Federal standard for roll over or side impact testing, so any of those claims aren’t especially meaningful.

So we can’t say for sure that one seat is safer than another. When used properly to their maximum rear-facing limits, they’ll all keep your child safe in the vast majority of accidents. However, some seats offer additional safety features that probably do help including anti-rebound bars, load legs, extra side impact protection and more. If you’re interested in car seats for toddlers with those extra features, consider:
Clek Foonf
Britax One4Life
Nuna Rava
Diono Radian 3QXT

What age do you switch to a toddler car seat?

“Toddler car seat” isn’t a technical term. Car seats for toddlers can include convertible car seats and combination car seats (forward facing car seats that transition to booster). Since it’s safest to keep your child rear-facing until as close to 4 as possible or even older, you’ll want to make sure to buy a convertible car seat for a 2 year old.

Most babies outgrow their infant car seats between 12 and 18 months and then transition to a convertible car seat. There are some convertible car seats that are outgrown by 3-4 years old, but most on the market today will accommodate kids until 6 years old (or even longer).

Is a booster seat safe for a 2 year old?

No way. A 2 year old’s body, no matter how big, has 2 year old bones inside. Those bones aren’t strong enough to withstand crash forces in a booster seat. And since a seatbelt only works (for older passengers) when it’s positioned correctly, a booster seat isn’t a safe choice until a child is mature enough to sit correctly 100% of the time. The minimum safe age for a booster seat is 5, but many kids aren’t mature enough for a booster seat until 6 or even 7 years old.

(A note on terminology: some parents may search for a “booster seat for 2 year old children” when what they’re really looking for is a combination car seat – sometimes called a harnessed booster. While it’s ideal for kids to stay rear facing beyond 2, if you decide to switch at that age this harnessed booster seat is a solid choice that will see you through the years.)

What’s your favorite travel car seat for a 2 year old? Tell us in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “What’s the best travel car seat for a 2 year old? (2024 reviews)”

  1. First off, thank you for the detailed post! I am a bit confused by one thing. Seats that require a top tether for forward facing, are those allowed/safe for airplanes? I assume there is not a tether on airplanes. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Cassie,

      US seats can be installed on a plane regardless of whether or not the top tether is required in a car 🙂

      Safe travels,

      Melissa

      Reply

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