Choosing The Right Child Car Seat for Small Cars
Picking out a car seat is fairly simple and straightforward if you have a mid-sized or large car. It is a whole different story when you are looking to buy a car seat that will be installed into a small car with a small back seat.
It is an even bigger challenge when you have to fit more than one car seat into the small back seat.
When you have a smaller-than-average back seat, you must watch the width of the products you consider. Here are some options for you to consider before you make a purchase.
Best Childrens Car Seat For A Small Back Seat
Diono Radian 3R Convertible Car Seat
This car seat can be used in both rear-facing and forward-facing modes and as a belt-positioning booster. For this reason, it gives you an extended life cycle of up to 10 years.
It is more expensive than similar products, but considering you will not need to buy another car seat even when the child gets older, it becomes cheaper.
With this seat, you can safely travel with children weighing between 5 and 45 pounds in rear-facing mode and between 20 and 80 pounds in forward-facing mode. It can accommodate a child weighing up to 120 pounds as a booster.
The frame is made of steel, making it a strong, durable product and the sidewalls are reinforced to protect the child from side impact in the event of a collision.
Memory foam padding cradles the child’s body and helps to relieve pressure on muscles during long trips.
Unlike many other car seats you will come across, this one is FAA certified. This means you can use it on the airplane when you fly. It comes with a cup holder; you can add two more holders if you like.
- Steel frame
- Reinforced side walls
- Memory foam padding
- Wide weight and age range
- FAA certified
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Infant Car Seat
This one is ideal for small cars because it measures 17 inches wide at the widest point. This is where the handles meet the sides of the seat. The base is about 14.5 inches wide, making it narrow enough to fit in two other car seats.
A dual-stage cushion system allows for use with a newborn baby onwards, starting from 4 pounds. In the second stage, the cushion correctly supports the growing baby’s head, allowing for up to 35 pounds and 32 inches in height in a rear-facing position.
The main safety feature is an anti-rebound bar which reduces rotational force in the event of a collision. Other features are a 5-point harness and side impact protection. A patent seat and handle design come with color-coded belt paths, which helps in belt routing when the base is unused.
The seat has soft padding and high-quality stitching on soft jersey cotton fabric. This makes it very breathable, keeping your infant cool even during warm summer afternoons.
- Anti-rebound bar
- 5-point harness
- Dual-stage cushion system
- Narrow enough for two other car seats
- Highly breathable fabric
- Wide weight range
- Color-coded belt path
Clek Fllo Convertible Car Seat
This seat is slim enough to fit two other car seats into a standard family-friendly car. Its dimensions are 17 inches wide, 26 inches high, and 24 inches deep.
It can accommodate a child who weighs up to 50 pounds and is up to 43 inches tall in a rear-facing position. This makes it one of the few seats which allow children to remain in a rear-facing position for longer.
It is a fairly light seat (25 pounds) which helps when carrying it to and from the car. All Clek Fllo convertible car seats come with a steel, anti-rebound, enhancing rear-facing safety.
A steel-reinforced substructure makes it strong and durable. The aluminum honeycomb deformable core in the seat base absorbs energy in the event of a crash. Over this is a thick, energy-absorbing foam layer designed to reduce impact effects.
Foam layers are covered with GreenGuard Golden Certified Crypton fabric which is stain resistant and protects against moisture. It also protects against odor-causing bacteria.
- Steel-reinforced substructure
- Deep adjustable headrest
- Aluminum honeycomb deformable core in the seat base
- 9-year expiration
- Slim enough to fit three car seats
- Energy-absorbing foam layers (inner and outer)
Britax USA Boulevard Convertible Car Seat
Britax is a reputable manufacturer of car seats in the US. The Boulevard is a good choice for small cars because it is 18.5 inches wide, 23 inches long, and 23.5 inches high. It is possible to use it in both rear and front sitting modes.
It accommodates children as light as 5 pounds to those weighing about 40 pounds in rear-facing mode. In front-facing mode, it can take children weighing anywhere between 20 pounds and 65 pounds.
This product is equipped with SafeCell Impact protection. This technology includes a steel frame which provides additional rigidness to prevent injuries in the event of an accident. The ClickTight System allows for easy seat installation, making it as quick and easy as fastening a seat belt.
A harness indicator is included to help you adjust belts. It produces an audible ‘clicking’ sound when it is tightly adjusted.
The seat’s headrest has layers of energy-absorbing foam, increasing protection of the child’s head. Also included is a removable pillow that comes in handy when he wants to nap as you drive.
- SafeCell Impact protection ( steel frame)
- ClickTight system( easy installation)
- Harness indicator (accurate adjustment)
- Dual mode (rear and front-facing)
- Removable pillow
- Steel frame for extra rigidness
Clek Foonf Convertible Car Seat
Some have compared the construction of the Clek Foonf convertible car seat to that of a tank. It fits into our list of car seats for small back seats because it is relatively slim. Its dimensions are 17 inches wide, 17.5 inches deep, and 28 inches high.
This means you can comfortably fit more than one car seat into your small car. A key feature of this product is the extended rear facing because it can accommodate a child weighing up to 50 pounds and up to 43 inches tall in the rear-facing position.
After that, you can use the seat in a forward-facing position until he is in pre-school or beyond. A steel anti-rebound helps to enhance rear-facing safety.
The seat is built on a solid metal substructure making it strong and durable. Also included are inner and outer foam layers that absorb energy. The headrest is adjustable to ensure maximum protection from side impacts.
Aluminum honeycomb crumple technology absorbs energy and reduces the force exerted on the child in the event of a collision.
The Rigid-LATCH system makes installing the seat in a forward-facing position easy so you can do it quickly and easily.
- Steel anti-rebound
- Aluminum honeycomb crumple technology
- Rigid-LATCH system
- Tailored in GREENGUARD Gold Certified fluorine-free fabric
- Rear-facing for longer
- Stain resistant fabric
- 9-year expiration
Graco SlimFit Convertible Car Seat
The Graco SlimFit car seat is slightly wider than the previous product. It is 18 inches wide, 25.5 inches high, and 16.25 inches deep. With these dimensions, you can fit three car seats in an SUV or minivan but not in a small or normal-sized car.
The All in One seat grows with your little one. It has an infant insert to support young babies as light as 5 pounds. It serves until they are about 40 pounds. The convertible car seat position serves from when they are about 20 pounds to when they weigh about 65 pounds. After that (30 to 100 pounds), the seat can serve as a belt-positioning booster.
Other features of this seat include double-layered sides for impact protection and EPS energy-absorbing foam to reduce impact in a collision. This product is crash tested and has met US standard FMVSS 213.
The headrest adjusts across a variety of positions. If you are concerned about keeping the seat clean, you will be glad that the soft-touch fabric is easy to spot wipe. When a proper wash is necessary, it is easy to remove and can be machine washed.
- EPS energy-absorbing foam
- InRight LATCH system
- Rear and forward-facing modes
- Easily accessed, washable seat cover
- Rotating cup holders
- Highly versatile (infant, toddler, preschooler)
Factors to Consider When Buying a Car Seat for a Small Back Seat
Whether you are a first-time parent or are looking for a car seat for a second or third child, the most important element any parent has in mind is safety. It always comes first.
Fortunately, this is not something you will have to worry about too much if the seat you settle on is from a reputable manufacturer. These seats undergo rigorous safety tests before being allowed into the market.
There are many other considerations to remember, but they all depend on your individual needs as a parent or the child. These are some details to keep in mind before you buy.
All the car seats we have mentioned are small enough to fit in a car with a small back seat. If you are a parent with a small or medium-sized car and two or three children who must be strapped into a car seat, size is a very important detail.
A few car seats and two other seats are small enough to fit in a small back seat.
Most sellers allow you to try fitting the seat into your car before buying, so avoid buying a seat that cannot be used in your car.
A quick look through users’ complaints about various brands of car seats will reveal that ease of installation is a big problem. Some car seats are great in every other sense but are so complicated to install that users say they dread having to remove them because putting them back in again is exhausting.
Smaller cars typically fulfill multiple roles, so you must remove the seat frequently to make room for other uses. If this is true for you, you will do your best with a car seat that can be installed and removed quickly and easily.
Apart from installation, also look out for a seat that is generally easy to use. Check how the belts and closures function to ensure nothing is particularly difficult or complicated.
Personal needs and preferences
Is your child a bit taller than the average child? Perhaps he is smaller than most children his age and needs a smaller car seat he can fit into nicely and snuggly.
Every child is different. You will want to go with a car seat that accommodates these individual differences and ensures your child is safe and comfortable.
Sometimes there are certain features you must have in a car seat. It could be a cup holder, specific belt paths… or just about anything. Knowing exactly what you will not compromise on is useful when shopping. You know which seats you need not take a second look at when you are shopping.
Ease of maintenance
This is especially so if you buy a car seat that will be used for many years. It will inevitably get dirty. You need a seat which can be cleaned easily. Some seats have removable, machine-washable covers, making it clean and fresh quite easy.
Reputable names and Safety approvals
There are lots of car seats available in the market. Only some of them are from reputable manufacturers and are approved by trusted names in the industry. Take time to research to find out who the reputable manufacturers are.
Some seats can only be used until the child is a toddler. Others can be converted from one form to another until he is about nine years old. Although the convertible seats, which can be used for many years, are more expensive, you save money because you will not need to buy another one.
You can find a car seat in just about any price range. Decide on how much you are willing to spend before you start shopping. This helps to speed up the search because you know which seats are not an option.
Car seats specifically made for small cars are not as easy to find as regular ones and are often sold at a premium. Keep this in mind when setting a price ceiling for a car seat.
Dimensions of your car’s back seat
You will only have yourself to blame when you go out and buy what seems like the most fabulous car seat for your little one, only to find out it can’t fit in your car.
For parents with more than one child who needs to be in a car seat, remember that some seats are too wide to be used along with others.
Always have the dimensions of your car’s back seat so you can measure the seat before you buy it. If you are buying online, you can always give the seller these dimensions beforehand so they can advise on which products are out of the question for you.
What are booster seats?
Booster seats are designed for children who have outgrown forward-facing seats. This seat can accommodate a child up to about 11 years old. You can drop it or lift is to the height of your child’s comfort.
How do I know which type of car seat to use at different stages?
In the United States, there are laws that govern the type of seat you should use for your child, depending on their age and weight. You could be fined for using the wrong type.
Rear-facing seats are for children under 15 months. After that, they should graduate to forward-facing seats until about 4.
Are car seats with latches safer than those with seatbelts?
Neither is better or safer, provided they are used correctly. However, the latch system has an age and weight limit. It should not be used on car seats for children over 40 pounds.
What is FAA approval about?
An FAA-approved car seat is certified by the Federal Aviation Authority for use in aircraft. Most car seats in the market are not FAA-approved. If you frequently fly with a young child, remember this when buying a car seat.
Are wider car seats safer than narrow ones?
No, all seats sold in legitimate markets in the United States are completely safe. Larger car seats offer more features like the torso and head impact protection, anti-rebound bars, and advanced installation systems. That said, those without these features are still perfectly safe.
Every car seat in the market has been taken through rigorous government safety tests. Anything substandard doesn’t make it into the market. Everything you find is safe for your child, whether wide or narrow.
What should I do if I can’t install my new car seat?
Installation can be a real headache for some car seats. If you have tried every way you can think of and still can’t install it, pay a visit to your local fire department or police station.
They should be able to help you. Alternatively, do an online search for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find the nearest inspection spot.
The Diono Radian 3R Car Seat takes the top spot in this review because it is highly versatile. It can be used for infants and then converted to a forward-facing seat for older children.
It is also slim enough for a small back seat. You can comfortably fit three car seats in a mid-sized or large car.
This is one of few FAA-certified car seats, so it will be useful when flying with your little one. It can be installed and removed easily, making a clicking sound to confirm the latch is properly secured.