In this post, I have reviewed the top travel car seats for 2-year-olds and toddlers available in the market that you can pick today. Traveling with a 2-year-old in 2021 requires extra caution to meet different State and Federal safety requirements, similar to infants of 12-months or lower. For toddlers of 2-years, the ideal travel car seat should be super lightweight (no exceeding 10 pounds), portable, and should last for at least 3 years.
After reviewing various features and comparing all the NTSA and FAA-approved car seats, Cosco Apt 50 emerged as the overall best travel car seat for 2-year-olds and toddlers.
What kind of travel car seat is ideal for a 2-year-old to use?
Aside from the compactness, lightweight and portability features, the most suitable travel car seat for kids at age 2 is convertible car seats because they allow kids to ride in the rear-facing and forward-facing mode and with more years of use.
However, we find that while the convertible car seats are great for safety and comfort, they are also often bulky and heavy. As a result, they do not make a convenient option for travel. Imagine lugging a 25-pound car seat through an airport, lifting it over an entire row to get it installed in an airplane window, and then having to carry it through another airport and into a taxi or rental car and at the same time also trying to lug other luggage and baby gear. Hectic, right? That’s why you need a portable travel car seat.
So, what should you look for when considering the best portable car seat for your 2-year-old?
- It should be lightweight– ideally not more than 10 pounds. Remember, there is a lot of lifting and carrying to do.
- It should be easy to use- you want a car seat that you can install without much of a hassle. Many seats are compatible with the LATCH system, and you can also use a vehicle seat belt. Next, check how easy it is to adjust the harness, recline positions, etc.
- It should be durable, at least 4 years- this way; you get value for your money.
- It should be comfortable for your little passenger- look for features such as an infant insert, generous padding, and cup holders to keep snacks and drinks close.
- It should meet your family’s unique needs. For example, if your toddler is on the taller or chubbier end, you may want a taller or wider seat even if it has a few extra pounds.
Comparison Table of Travel Car Seats for 2-year-old
|Travel Car Seat Name||Weight||Why Best for 2-Year-Old|
|Cosco Scenera Next DLX||7 pounds||Best value|
|Cosco APT 50||8 pounds||Best budget-friendly|
|Baby Trend Trooper||10 pounds||Best extended rear-facing|
|Evenflo Tribute||9 pounds||Best safety|
|Combi Coccoro||11 pounds||Best for small cars|
|Evenflo Sonus 65||11 pounds||Best long-lasting|
|WAYB Pico||8 pounds||Best foldable, forward-facing|
|Evenflo SureRide DLX||10 pounds||Best for tall kids|
Reviews of the Best Travel Car Seats for 2-year-olds
Cosco Apt 50 is the overall best travel car seat for 2-year-olds and is a great option for families on a budget. But besides the low price of less than $70, the convertible car seat has many impressive features.
For starters, it is light and easy to lug around or lift. In addition, it is FAA approved to be used on airplanes.
You can install the Cosco Apt 50 in the rear-facing mode with a 5 to 40 pounds weight limit and forward-facing for toddlers from 22 to 50 pounds. Also, the Cosco Apt 50 is designed with a higher harness height and weight limit, allowing kids to ride in the safer rear-facing mode longer than in many other convertible car seats.
The Cosco Apt 50 is also equipped with a 5 point harness and meets and exceeds all federal and ASTM standards, so you can be sure it will keep your child safe and secure.
We also find that although it doesn’t have as much padding, it has three adjustable buckle positions and six harness heights that provide a comfortable fit as your child grows. There are also two cup holders for some drinks or snacks during rides.
- Side impact protection
- Great pricing
- Allows extended rear-facing use up to four years
- Removable, machine-washable pad
- Too wide at the top, may not fit three in the back of some cars
The Baby Trend Trooper is a new travel car seat for 2-year-olds having just been released in 2020, and it has a lot to offer traveling parents, so you definitely need to check it out.
First, this is a 3-in-1 convertible car seat that your child can use from infancy through toddlerhood until they can use a car seat, so it is a valuable purchase.
Second, it weighs just 10 pounds which is pretty light for you to carry around. It is also very narrow, making it a great travel choice for parents with multiple kids because it fits three in the back.
It also has a larger forward-facing size limit than most of its peers so that kids can use it until 6 years of age. Its weight and size limits are 4 to 40 pounds rear-facing and 23 to 65 pounds forward-facing or up to 50 inches tall.
However, it’s important to note that when using rear-facing with an infant, it takes a lot of room from the back seat, so it’s only compact with a child who is 22 pounds and above.
This car seat also has nice padding, a body pillow for your infant, a head pillow, and harness pads to ensure your infant or toddler is as comfy as possible. There is also a cup holder.
Another thing to be admired is how well Baby Trend has done its labeling and instructions on this seat. From the FAA approval sticker to instruction on the weight limit, harness routing, the manual, installation, and cleaning instructions-everything is well laid out for you and clear.
- Can be used from birth to 65 pounds
- Easy to install using Latch system or top tether
- Narrow design can fit three in the back seat
- Has a built-in cup holder
- Very clear labeling on the car seat and insert
- Customers wish it had more recline angles
- Some found it hard to tighten the straps
Evenflo Tribute: Lightest Convertible Car Seat for Travel with 2-year-olds
Evenflo Tribute is also one of the best deals when it comes to convertible travel car seats for 2-year-olds. Besides a great price point, the Tribute weighs only 9 pounds, making it one of the lightest convertible car seats in the market and a perfect choice for travel. The pricing point is very good as well.
That is not all. Safety is another area it shines above its peers, and the company claims that the car seat has passed its side-impact tests and also the Federal crash test. This is not just boasting because some parents have gladly reported that their kids remained safe in this seat during a car crash. So if safety is your greatest concern, we can say that you have no worries with this seat.
Even when it comes to comfort, this car seat has your kid’s back because it is equipped with a comfy head support pillow and is also adequately padded so your kids can’t complain of discomfort even on long trips. In addition, shoulder straps are adjustable, providing your child with a comfortable fit as they grow.
We also love that it comes with a cup holder that can be attached on any side and that the cover can be removed and machine washed.
- Easy to install
- Great safety features
- Comfortable with adequate padding
- FAA approved
- Machine washable cover
- Great pricing
- Harness straps have no padding
Combi Coccoro:Best for small cars
Despite its high price tag, its low weight, compactness, and quality of construction make Combi Coccoro a favorite of many traveling parents with babies of 2 years using small cars.
The narrow design makes it easy to fit three across, and it doesn’t take much space in the back seat when installed rear-facing; this makes the Combi Coccoro the ideal convertible car seat for small cars.
As you would expect with a pricey car seat, comfort is guaranteed, and Coccoro has breathable fabrics, generous padding, including on the harness, and comes with an infant insert. In addition, we also find it pretty impressive that even though it has a maximum size limit of 40 inches when forward-facing, the top harness strap is at 15 inches. So yes, your child is not squished in this small seat.
That said, Coccoro is also compact enough to click into your stroller seat, allowing you to wheel it easily instead of carrying it around.
The Combi Coccoro is also designed to offer maximum protection for your child when traveling with its deep side walls and energy-absorbing foam layers that reduce impact force. It also has built-in lock-offs, which is also a nice safety feature.
The only downside to this compact convertible car seat besides the price is the size. It seats children rear-facing from 3 to 33 pounds and forward-facing from 20 to 40 pounds or 40 inches tall-This is pretty low, but if your child is petite or average, this is a great seat for them.
- Easy to install with Latch or seatbelt
- Side impact protection
- Buckle indicator to ensure the harness is secure
- Very comfortable
- Removable and machine washable pad
- Kids outgrow it fast
- Only approved for use in the US
- It is tricky to install rear-facing, but they have helpful videos online
This is yet another great convertible travel car seat from Evenflo ideal for a toddler of 24 months in age. The Sonus 65 comes at great pricing and will give you many years of use because of its large weight and size limits.
It seats kids weighing from 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing and 20 to 65 pounds forward-facing with a limit up to 50 inches in height. Plus, the top harness height is 18 inches giving your growing child a comfortable fit. But on the flip side, being tall also means that it takes a lot of space in the back seat when installed rear-facing.
Sonus 65 has enough padding, an infant insert, and two cup holders, ensuring kids’ comfort when traveling. Fabrics are also removable and machine washable.
Although the base is slim, the extra protective head wings make the top a bit too wide that it may be tricky to fit three across next to each other. Hence we do not think Sonus 65 to be a suitable option for families with compact cars such as Toyota Corolla.
- Comes with infant body support
- High weight and size limits
- Adequate cushion for kids comfort
- FAA approved for use in airplanes
- Two recline positions for correct installation angle
- Easy to clean fabrics
- Great pricing
- Slightly heavier compared to its peers
- Not suitable for small cars
Ultra-light and ultra-compact folding-WAYP Pico is a dream for traveling parents. It has also met all safety regulations.
If you are looking for the smallest, most compact, and light seat that will take little to no space in your luggage, you need to try the WAYB Pico. It is the new coolest kid car seat in the market that is revolutionizing travel because of its ease of folding it.
This car seat is quite small and easy to use. At 8 pounds, it makes it possible to travel light and avoid being weary from lugging heavy luggage. Plus, it folds incredibly small and even packs into its own backpack, making it so much easier to carry.
WAYB Pico meets all safety requirements and regulations and is also FAA approved for use in an airplane.
The only thing to note is that WAYB Pico is a forward-facing only car seat with a minimum weight limit of 22 pounds, so you might want to limit it to travels and not everyday use because it doesn’t provide rear-facing safety. Also, you can’t use it with a child less than 2 years old. But the good thing is that it has a maximum weight capacity of 50 pounds, so even if you introduce it at 2 years, your child can use it for about three more years and even more if you hand it down to a younger sibling.
WAYB has many installation options as you can use a seat belt, a top tether, or a Latch system. This is great because, in some places like outside the US, Canada, or Europe, cars do not have top tethers, so at least you have other ways to install without the top tether.
- Compact folding
- Includes carry bag
- Can install with a top tether, seat belt, or Latch
- Great for air travel
- Only forward-facing
- Crotch straps are too short for some children
This next one is also another convertible car seat from Evenflo, but this time it’s a solution for parents with tall kids.
With a backrest of 26.5 inches tall and a harness height of 19 inches, Evenflo SureRide DLX provides tall kids with the right fit where they are not squished and enough room to grow into. It accommodates kids from 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing and from 22 to 65 pounds forward-facing.
The Evenflo SureRide DLX is built with three layers of safety, and it meets all federal safety standards. It also has a five-point harness with 6 adjustable positions.
Although the seat is bulky, it is also lightweight so that you can easily swap it between cars. It is also approved for use in an airplane, and it comes with machine washable covers for easy clean-ups.
The only thing to note is that this car seat is pretty tall, so it might be tricky to install in tight spaces.
- Tall backrest, which is great for tall kids
- Decent padding
- FAA approved for airplane use
- Plenty of room to grow
- Easy to clean
- Difficult to install
- Shoulder straps have no pads
Cosco Scenera Next DLX is one of the most popular convertible car seats for travel. And the reasons are obvious; it is the lightest convertible car seat and is also inexpensive.
At a mere 7 pounds, anyone can carry the car seat on their back with no problems, and some parents even hang it on the back of the stroller as they walk through the airport.
This car seat is compact enough to fit three in your back seat, yet it has spacious seating, soft covers, and padding to ensure your child is comfortable to ride even during long trips.
Also, with Next DLX, you should never have to worry about messes. The seat pad easily comes off and is both machine-washable and dryer safe. Plus, the cup holder can be thrown in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Cosco Scenera Next DLX seats children weighing from 5 to 40pounds rear-facing and 22 to 40 pounds forward-facing. We must mention at this point that the top harness slot for this seat is 13.5 inches high, so some children outgrow this car seat much earlier in the forward-facing even while they still have almost two years left to stay rear-facing(remember, straps need to come from above the shoulders when in forward-facing mode). Because of this reason, we feel that Cosco Scenera Next DLX would provide a better fit for small and average kids.
- Lightest convertible car seat
- FAA approved for use in an airplane
- Comfortable with padding
- Can be installed with top tether or Latch
- Compact, fits three in the back
- Budget-friendly pricing
- Low size limits
- It may be hard to install in some cars
Which car seat is the safest for a 2-year-old?
The safest car seat for a two-year-old is the one that meets all necessary safety requirements. In line with AAP recommendations, it should also allow two-year-old children to ride rear-facing for as long as possible because this position provides superior protection against head and neck injuries in case of an accident. And for air travel, the car seat should also be FAA approved.
Other features that make a car seat safe are side-impact protection, adjustable and padded headrest, and 5 point harness. And of course, you should also adhere to the manufacturer’s weight limit.
At what age do you switch to a toddler car seat?
This depends on the child’s size, but most parents transition their kids from an infant car seat to a convertible seat between 9 months and 2 years. However, you can switch your child even earlier if the convertible is rated safe for their weight and age. Small babies ride rear-facing in a convertible car seat until they are at least 2 years of age.
Are booster car seats safe for kids 2-years in age?
No! 2 years olds are still too small, and a booster seat will not provide the right fit for them nor keep them safe in case of an accident.
Two-year-olds should be secured, preferably in a rear-facing convertible seat using a 5 point harness.
The right time to transition your child to a booster seat is when they reach the manufacturer’s forward-facing maximum weight or size limit, usually from around age five.
I am Ashley Davis, a mom of three kids and the editor here at MotherhoodHQ (formerly 10BabyGear). I have been a parent since 2011 and have been doing full-time consulting as a baby sleep expert since 2019. When I am not researching or testing the next baby gear hitting the market, you’ll find me teaching my toddlers a trick or two – especially over the last few months with the lockdown. I hope you’ll find my guides and reviews helpful as you make your next purchase decision. If you have any questions, you can reach me at email@example.com.