- 1. Graco Tranzitions Booster Seat
- 2. Evenflo Big Kid High-Back Booster Seat
- 3. Britax One4life All-In-One Car Seat
- 4. Chicco Kidfit Two-In-One Booster Car Seat
- 5. Graco Affix Highback Booster Seat
- 6. Cosco Finale Booster Car Seat
- 7. Safety 1st Jive Convertible Car Seat
- 8. Evenflo Spectrum Two-In-One Booster Seat
- Best Car Seats for a 4-Year-Old Buying Guide & FAQ
Having a 4-year-old child means that you have to make room for his or her emotional and physical progress. It’s the critical age where your child starts to make new friends, play make-believe games, and most importantly, develop his or her language. You can expect him or her to talk a lot and ask many questions, and this can quickly turn into complaining, especially if the child is not comfortable.
Riding with a preschooler who is not comfortable in the car can make for a long and frustrating ride. Therefore, it’s easier to get him or her a comfortable car seat so the child can concentrate on games or even get a some sleep before you get to your destination. We guide you through getting the best car seat for your 4-year-old in the buying guide below.
The Best Car Seats for 4-Year-Olds
Keep your 4-year-old safe and secure in the vehicle with the Graco Tranzitions Booster Seat. It’s a three-in-one booster seat that can be used as a forward-facing seat, a high-back booster, and lastly, a backless booster seat. It can accommodate children weighing between 22 to 100 pounds. This is because it is designed with an eight-position adjustable headrest that can accommodate the height of a growing child.
Graco’s No-Rethread Simply Safe Adjust Harness System lets you adjust both the harness and headrest in one swift motion. It may be difficult to install in some vehicles, but you will get the hang of it after a few tries. Also, you can easily position your vehicle seat belt with the help of the open-loop belt guides on the booster seat. For optimal comfort, this car seat is designed with armrests and two cup holders on either side for storing your child’s drink or snacks.
- Three-in-one booster seat
- Eight adjustable height positions
- Two cup holders
- 22- to 100-pound carrying capacity
- Brand Graco
- Model 1947464
- Weight 22 pounds
Ideal for kids between the ages of 3 to 12 years
Light enough for travel
Washable seat pad, body pillow, and harness covers
Back and base may separate when being transported
May be tough to install in some vehicles
Limited colors to choose from
Evenflo offers an affordable solution to driving around with a growing child. It’s a high-back booster seat that accommodates children weighing between 40 to 110 pounds or children who are at least four years of age and are less than 57 inches tall. The headrest can be adjusted by up to six different height positions as your child grows. Also, the unit features sufficient padding around the head and body to keep your child comfortable.
If your child grows taller and only needs a little boost to use the vehicle’s seat belt, it can be transformed into a backless booster by removing the back support. An integrated belt guide on the car seat will help you properly position the vehicle’s seat belt. In addition, the car seat is made of polyester, which is easy to clean. It’s also integrated with two cup holders, and though fragile they can be used for storing drinks or snacks.
- Two-in-one booster seat
- 6 adjustable height positions
- 40 to 110 pounds carrying capacity
- Two cup holders
- Brand Evenflo
- Model 31911432
- Weight 40 pounds
Provides head and side impact protection
Attaches easily to the vehicle’s seat
Meets federal safety standards
Limited colors to choose from
Fragile cup holder
Packs quite some weight
Designed for children weighing between 50 to 120 pounds or children who are at least 63 inches tall, the Britax One4life All-In-One Car Seat is a great booster seat for 4-year-olds and will serve as a decent hand-me-down for an infant. It’s pricey but worth it since it offers 10 years of use. You first use it as a rear-facing seat and then convert it to a forward-facing seat and later a high-back booster seat.
The seat is designed with a high-strength steel frame, two layers of cushioning on the sides for enhanced comfort, and a breathable mesh fabric for a cooling effect. It’s also built for safety with a crumple zone featuring SafeCell Technology that helps to absorb crash energy and a V-shaped tether at the back that helps to reduce movement during a crash. You can recline the seat to nine different positions and lift the headrest and harness to 15 different positions for a comfortable and secure fit as your child grows.
- Four-in-one car seat
- Nine position recline
- SafeCell technology
- 5 to 120 pounds carrying capacity
- Brand Britax
- Model E1A385R
- Weight 27 Pounds
Easy to install
Machine washable cover
Can last for up to 10 years
Features double protection against side impact
Only available in dull colors
Offering the function of a high-back booster seat and a backless booster seat, the Chicco Kidfit is an ErgoBoost contoured car seat that offers support at the right places. The seat is designed to accommodate children weighing around 30 to 100 pounds as a high-back booster and 40 to 110 pounds as a backless booster. It also features Chicco’s DuoZone protection, which is a combination of a rigid shell and EPS energy-absorbing foam at the head and shoulder for optimal side-impact protection.
The backrest can recline to two positions, and the headrest is adjustable by up to 10 positions. Chicco’s SuperCinch Latch Attachment and one-pull tightener help to secure the child in the car seat in one swift motion, and it’s just as easy to take them out. Extra features on the car seat include armrests, two cup holders, and a machine-washable seat pad and cover. Ensure that it’s compatible with your vehicle to avoid installation issues.
- ErgoBoost contoured seat
- DuoZone protection
- 10 adjustable headrest positions
- Two adjustable backrest positions
- Brand Chicco
- Model 05079014570070
- Weight 10.2 pounds
Easy to set up and remove
Available in many colors
Includes foam padding to keep your child comfortable
Latch attachments may not be compatible with some vehicles
Back portion is flimsy when the seat is empty
Not the most appealing design
Graco is a popular name in the car seat industry and this is why we also included the Affix Highback Booster Seat. It’s designed to accommodate children weighing around 40 to 100 pounds or are at least 57 inches tall. You can set it up with just one hand even when you’re sitting at the driver’s seat thanks to the front-adjust latch system that secures to the vehicle’s car seat.
For enhanced comfort and impact protection, the seat is designed with EPS energy-absorbing foam with multiple layers at the headrest. The headrest is fully adjustable to offer a comfortable fit, and you can remove the back support to use it as a booster seat when your child grows. It also has a cup holder and a built-in tray, which can be used to store small objects.
- EPS energy-absorbing foam
- Removable backrest
- Fully adjustable headrest
- Front-adjust latch system
- Brand Graco
- Model 1852665
- Weight 9.8 pounds
Includes a hideaway storage compartment
Offers optimal back support
Can be converted to a backless booster seat
The headrest might slip when at the highest position
Latch straps may loosen after some time
Cup holder not large enough for big cups
If you’re looking for a lightweight booster seat for frequent travels with your 4-year-old, consider using the Cosco Finale Booster Car Seat. It’s so compact that you can fit three of these in the rear seat of your vehicle. It can be used as either a forward-facing booster seat with a 32- to 65-pound carrying capacity, or a car seat belt positioning booster seat that can secure older kids weighing about 40 to 100 pounds.
Though it only comes with one cup holder, it’s detachable and you can attach it on either side of the car seat depending on which side is more convenient for the child. Also, the unit is designed with deluxe fabric that’s soft to the touch and keeps your child comfortable during the ride.
- Two-in-one booster seat
- Deluxe fabric cover
- Detachable cup holder
- Brand Cosco
- Model BC121EJG
- Weight 11.5 pounds
Can last for up to 10 years
Doesn't take up much space on the car seat
Dishwasher safe cup holder
Only comes with the single cup holder
Non-reclining back support
Limited padding on the seat
The Safety 1st Jive Convertible Car Seat is an airplane-ready car seat that can be used either as a rear-facing seat (5- to 40-pound carrying capacity) or as a forward-facing seat (22- to 65-pound carrying capacity). It’s fitted with a head and body pillow to support an infant’s body, and the body pillows can be removed when your child is ready to use the forward-facing seat. The cover only comes in one color, but it’s machine washable so you can keep it clean.
Even after the pillows are removed, it will still feel comfortable since it’s designed with plush padding. Safety features include a five-point harness and three buckle locations to help secure the growing child. Also, the sides are extended for optimal side-impact protection.
- Removable head and body pillow
- Plush padding
- Two cup holders
- Machine washable cover
- Brand Safety 1st
- Model CC267DWV
- Weight 14.25 pounds
Provides side-impact protection
Compact and lightweight
Strong, durable build
Limited colors to choose from
Non-removable back support
Replace your child’s rear-facing seat with the Evenflo Spectrum Two-In-One Booster Seat, which can accommodate children weighing around 40 to 110 pounds. You can remove the back support to convert it into a backless booster seat when your child grows older. The seat is built for safety and features Evenflo’s LYF + Guard Advanced Compression Technology, which includes multiple layers of impact-absorbing material that help reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash.
The seat is designed to remain comfortable even as your child grows thanks to the adjustable headrest, which can be adjusted to nine different positions, and a wide seat base that provides a comfortable sitting experience. Two built-in snack trays on either side allow your child to enjoy a few snacks on the road so they don’t get fussy. It doesn’t have a latch system that connects to the vehicle’s seat so you have to use the seat belt-guide provided to secure the car seat.
- LYF + Guard Advanced Compression Technology
- Nine adjustable headrest positions
- Wide seat base
- Built-in snack tray
- Brand Evenflo
- Model 34211922
- Weight 11.2 to pounds
Reduces impact during a crash
Smooth and cool cover
Ergonomically shaped armrests
Nicely padded bottom
Machine washable cover
The snack trays might jam
Narrow seat belt slot
Doesn’t have a latch system that secures to the vehicle’s seat
Best Car Seats for a 4-Year-Old Buying Guide & FAQ
On average, a 4-year-old is about 40 pounds and can grow up to 50 inches tall. To safely use your vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt, your child needs to be at least 60 inches tall. That typically falls within the 9 to 10 years age bracket. Therefore, it becomes important to use a forward-facing car seat to secure your child.
But how can you be sure that the car seat you choose is safe and perfect for your child? We have made this easy for you by coming up with a buying guide that will help you navigate through the sea of car seats on the market to find the best one for your baby.
Why Do You Need a Car Seat for a 4-Year-Old?
If you only have a rear-facing seat, you may notice that your child’s height and weight doesn’t allow them to sit comfortably, and you have to turn it around. You need to buy a new car seat if the rear-facing seat feels flimsy or doesn’t have enough safety mechanisms to secure your child in a forward-facing direction.
As we mentioned earlier, 4-year-olds are expected to be playful and it will be hard to keep them from fidgeting around. They may also fall asleep in uncomfortable positions. It’s better to use a harnessed booster to secure your child in a comfortable position. Most of these units have cup holders or trays that can be used to store snacks so your child doesn’t move around looking for their favorite car seat toy or snack.
- It helps to prevent injuries during a crash.
- Give your child a smooth transition from an infant’s seat.
- It gives you peace of mind knowing that your child is safe and comfortable as you drive.
- Most state laws require children under the age of 7 years to use a car seat.
The Most Common Types of Car Seats for 4-Year-Olds
Four-year-olds can fit into two types of car seats. You can either buy a convertible seat or a combination seat. We will discuss both types below so you can know which one is better for you.
A convertible seat typically has a two-in-one design where you first use it as a rear-facing seat when your child is still an infant. After some time, you will notice that your child doesn’t have enough legroom in the rear-facing seat. This is when you convert it to a forward-facing seat. The benefit of this model is that it comes with its own safety harness, and you can remove the seat from the vehicle without having to unstrap and wake the baby.
Also, most convertible car seats can be incorporated into a stroller so you can have a short walk with your child before you get back to the car. The main drawback of a convertible seat is that your child can only use it for a short time before you have to buy another high-back booster seat.
A combination seat is a high-back booster seat with a five-point harness that is used to secure children weighing more than 40 pounds. The seat may also have removable head and body pillows that are contoured to fit the smaller body of a child for enhanced comfort.
As the child grows, you can remove the five-point harness and use the car seat as a belt-positioning booster — it has belt guides that you can use to position the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt around the child.
How We Tested The Best Car Seats for 4-Year-Olds
Most importantly, we gave priority on our list to car seats that have been crash-tested and meet the federal safety standards. These car seats are typically designed with energy-absorbing foam, and have extra padding around the headrest, shoulders, and torso to reduce the risk of injury during impact. The car seat should also be user-friendly so the parent can safely secure the child in the vehicle’s rear seat.
Also, we checked the descriptions to ensure that the booster seat is appropriate for the age. Most 4-year-olds and not tall enough to use the vehicle’s shoulder belt properly so we ensured to pick booster seats with an adjustable five-point harness with a smooth buckling system.
We went further to look for a car seat that installs easily. Also, since messes are bound to happen in your vehicle, we prioritized car seats with removable and machine washable covers.
The Most Important Features of Car Seats for 4-Year-Olds
As a parent, keeping your child safe in your vehicle is your first priority. Therefore, you shouldn’t just go for any car seat out there that’s not tailored to your child’s needs. This is why we have come up with a list of features that you should prioritize in a car seat for safer riding experience.
Be sure to check the dimensions of the car seat to ensure that it’s not too large for your vehicle’s rear seat. You don’t want to always have to move the front seat to create more legroom for your child. Also, ensure that the seat isn’t so wide that it inconveniences other passengers on the rear seat. It should leave enough room for installing at least two more car seats. This can come in handy when you are driving with two or more children.
Also, ensure that the car seat has the appropriate height to give optimal head support, but it shouldn’t block your rearview mirror.
Your kid should enjoy sitting in the car seat. Therefore, you should get a seat that is designed with high-quality foam padding at the sitting area and on the back support. It should also have extra padding at the head and shoulder area so they can get a comfortable resting position when they decide to sleep.
Prioritize car seats with an adjustable headrest to accommodate the height of a growing child, and breathable fabric so your child doesn’t sweat excessively during long rides. Also, look for extra convenience features such as cup holders, armrests, and hidden storage units.
Choose a lightweight car seat if you are going to be moving it from one vehicle to another. You can expect most car seats on the market to weigh about 15 to 40 pounds. This may not be an issue if you intend to keep the seat in your vehicle for an extended period.
Also, mind the weight limit of the car seat. The manufacturer will indicate the minimum and maximum weight the car seat can handle. For a forward-facing seat, the weight range is typically about 22 to 65 pounds. A harnessed highback booster seat typically has a 40- to 120-pound carrying capacity.
Car seats come with three types of harness systems: T-shield, three-point, and a five-point harness. A T-shield features two shoulder straps that connect to a flat, t-shaped shield that secures at the crotch. It’s recommended for newborns in rear-facing car seats. A three-point harness has a pair of shoulder straps and one strap that goes between the legs.
A five-point harness features a pair of shoulder straps, a pair of hip straps, and a crotch strap. This is the best design for securing a 4-year-old because it ensures that the neck, shoulders, hips, and crotch are protected. It’s also more efficient at absorbing the forces of extreme impacts, and keeps the baby from being ejected from the car seat.
Best Car Seats for 4-Year-Olds FAQ:
So far, you have gained enough information to get your child one of the safest car seats on the market. If you still need more information, you can rely on some of the answers we have provided to frequently asked questions by parents.
Q: What car seat should a 4-year-old be in?
A: You should secure your 4-year-old in a harnessed front-facing car seat until they are big enough to sit in a high-back booster seat. You can buy a four-in-one seat that transitions from a forward-facing seat to a backless booster seat as your child grows.
Q: Can a 4-year-old use a booster seat?
A: A booster seat is designed to give the child a boost so they can use the vehicle seat belt properly. At the age of 4 years, your child may not be tall enough to use the vehicle seat belt, and it may lay across the face and or neck uncomfortably even when using a booster seat. It’s better to secure them with the safety harness provided by a front-facing seat.
Q: Are backless booster seats safe?
A: If your child meets the height and weight requirements for using a backless booster seat, and can properly adjust the seat belt, then it’s safe for him or her. It’s ideal for children aged between 8 to 13 years.
Our Top Pick
The Graco Tranzitions Booster Seat is our top pick because it will help ease your child’s transition from the rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat. It’s also narrow, which is great if you want to fit two or more in the rear seat. Besides that, it’s quite lightweight and can be easily transferred from one vehicle to the next.
If the Graco Tranzitions Booster Seat is a bit over your budget, you can opt for the Evenflo Big Kid High-Back Booster Seat, which will help you save a few bucks. Your child can use it for several years since it can be adjusted to grow with your child.