The Smallest Car Seats for Compact Cars | Big Quality, Small Footprint

Are you eyeing your compact car and wondering how you will fit in a car seat that is safe and cozy for your growing baby? Perhaps your challenge is fitting two or three car seats in a row.

From bloggers to parenting professionals, you may have heard that the first step is selecting the right car. Unfortunately, we don’t all have that luxury. You may have to work with your compact car even if someone else thinks it’s not ideal.

You may imagine a never-ending game of Tetris in your backseat that ends with a sigh of defeat, but it doesn’t have to go that way.

By researching small car seats in advance, you can select the right car seat for your vehicle. If you have multiple cars, you may even need different seats for each vehicle. This guide is dedicated to helping you pick the right seats the first time around.

From the smallest rear-facing car seat for a newborn baby to the smallest convertible car seat, we’re about to fill you in on all the secrets. Keep reading to discover our top recommendations.




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The Smallest Car Seats — Top Recommendations

To help you find some of the smallest car seats available today, we rounded up the best options in various categories. Let’s jump in and start the shopping process.

What is the Most Compact Baby Car Seat?

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The most compact baby car seat is the Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc. This is an infant car seat that measures 14.7 inches in width and 16.25 inches in length, measuring at the base. It is 16.5 inches at the widest point of the seat, which makes it one of the narrowest infant car seats available today.

The seat is made with EPS energy-absorbing foam that enhances head protection for side-impact accidents. You may just need to roll up a receiving blanket to add firmness to the infant head support, which admittedly isn’t the best.

This car seat has a couple features that may make it easier to install next to another car seat. You can adjust the height of the base with the push of a button. The latch straps on the base are also flexible, so they move much easier than many other car seat latches.

This isn’t a fancy car seat, but it is the most compact if you have a small backseat or need to fit multiple seats in a row.

Pros

  • Base width under 15 inches
  • 16.5” seat width
  • Length just over 16 inches
  • Flexible latch straps on base
  • Height adjustable base
  • 5-point safety harness
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Padding is thinner than many other car seats
  • Seat doesn’t recline as far as some other infant car seats
  • Infant head support isn’t very firm

What is the Narrowest Car Seat You Can Buy?

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The narrowest car seat you can buy is the Graco SlimFit 3 in 1 car seat. At the widest point, the headrest, it’s 16.7 inches wide. Your child will be able to use this car seat rear-facing from 5-40 pounds,, forward facing up to 60 pounds, and as a high-back booster up to 120 pounds!

Despite the slim profile, it has high quality features, like excellent, comfortable padding, and 2 cupholders. Plus, it’s easy to clean and has lots of leg room for your little one!

Pros

  • Can fit 3 across in most vehicles, rear facing or forward facing
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to adjust
  • Lasts for up to 10 years
  • Steel reinforced frame

Cons

  • Does not come with a seatbelt locking clip for forward-facing installation. This isn’t an issue if you plan to install your car seat with the LATCH system.

Combi Coccoro

The Combi Coccoro used to be the narrowest car seat that you could buy, but isn’t easily available anymore.

The narrowest car seat you can buy is the Combi Coccoro convertible car seat. The width is just 15.5 inches, making it an excellent option for compact cars or placing multiple car seats in a row. It was designed with tight spaces and the three in a row placement in mind. It also has a unique indicator light that tells you when the seat buckle is secured properly.

The downside is that this car seat was designed to stay in the car. It doesn’t have a base, so you need to remove the full seat if you want to take it out. It also doesn’t have a handle, so think of it as a stationary seat that remains in the car.

Pros

  • 15.5” width
  • Rear and forward facing
  • Removable energy-absorbing foam insert
  • 5-point harness system
  • Buckle safety indicator
  • Weighs less than 16 pounds
  • Machine washable cover

Cons

  • No handle
  • No seat base to stay in car

Which Infant Car Seat has the Smallest Base?

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The infant car seat with the smallest base is the Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat. You can buy the base alone if you want to keep bases in multiple cars. The base has a width of 15.3 inches and length of 23.5. That length is more substantial than some other compact car seats listed here, so make sure it will work with the seat size in your vehicle.

The full car seat is 17.5 inches at its widest point, which is important to consider if you need to place multiple car seats in a row. The small base is great for compact car seats, but that doesn’t mean the full seat is equally compact.

Pros

  • Base width just over 15 inches
  • Cooling mesh fabric for comfort
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Accommodates infants from 4-35 pounds
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Upper seat is 2 inches wider than the base

What is the Smallest Rear-Facing Car Seat?

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The smallest rear-facing car seat is the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat. It’s 17 inches wide and accommodates babies from 4 to 30 pounds. This is the top-rated infant car seat in America, and it just happens to also be quite compact. When you do see a negative review, the complaint is typically the placement of the handle that releases the seat from the base.

The popularity of this seat is explained in the safety and comfort features. For instance, the base is equipped with a leveling foot and easy pull LATCH tightener, making it easier to install this seat than many others. The harness system is also designed to secure with a single hand.

Pros

  • 17” width
  • Easy installation
  • Removable infant head and body support
  • Easy pull LATCH tightener on base
  • Leveling foot on base to ensure proper angle
  • One-hand 5-point harness system

Cons

  • Release handle not conveniently positioned

What is the Smallest Convertible Car Seat?

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The smallest convertible car seat is the Diono 2019 Radian 3RXT. It’s well under 17 inches in width and depth, so you can easily fit three of them across one backseat. That compact size is also perfect for smaller car and truck seats. Since it will accommodate children from birth up to 120 pounds, this is easily the only car seat you will need to buy for your child.

This car seat is also designed to keep babies in rear-facing position longer. That position is suitable for kids up to 45 pounds. The seat then becomes a forward-facing seat suitable for children up to 65 pounds. Finally, it transforms into a booster seat that will safely hold children up to 120 pounds.

Pros

  • Less than 17” in width and depth
  • Rear facing up to 45 pounds
  • Accommodates kids up to 100 pounds
  • Easily fits three across one seat

Cons

  • European design may not appeal to everyone
  • Seat weighs just over 28 pounds
  • Higher in price than many other compact car seats

What is the Narrowest Budget-Friendly Car Seat?

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The narrowest budget-friendly car seat is the Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc Infant Car Seat. We also ranked it as the most compact baby car seat, so it helps that it’s also one of the most affordable options. It’s a basic car seat with rather thin cushions and limited comfort features, but it is easy to fit into small spaces and is designed with safety and easy installation in mind.

Pros

  • Base width under 15 inches
  • 16.5” seat width
  • Length just over 16 inches
  • Flexible latch straps on base
  • Height adjustable base
  • 5-point safety harness
  • Budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Padding is thinner than many other car seats
  • Seat doesn’t recline as far as some other infant car seats
  • Infant head support isn’t very firm

Other Budget-Friendly Small Car Seats

If you want some alternatives to the Baby Trend EZ Flex Loc, the following car seats are high in quality, sized for small spaces, and within the same low price range:

Small Car Seat Selection Tips

Some of the most popular car seats on the market are quite bulky. They may offer everything from extra padding and dangling toys to multiple cup and snack holders, but they’re useless if they won’t fit safely in your compact car or sit securely alongside two or three other seats.

The first step to selecting the smallest rear-facing car seat or the smallest convertible car seat is to measure the space you have available. Measure the full width and length of the seat. Some seats are narrower in the center, so make sure to note the width of every seat you may use.

The following tips are essential to safely fitting your car seat:

  • Measurements for the seat’s base are important, but don’t forget to consider the full width and depth of the seat. Many car seats are small at the base but have armrests that make the full seat wider.
  • Base measurements ensure a car seat fits safely on your car seat.
  • Full car seat measurements ensure a car seat fits comfortably across the backseat. This measurement is more important if you will place multiple car seats in your car at once or want to leave room for a backseat rider.
  • When selecting two or three car seats that will ride together, don’t select seats that use the full width of the backseat when combined. Leaving a bit of space will make the installation process easier while ensuring a safe fit for all seats.
  • If you have a child still able to use the LATCH system, note which seats in your vehicle will accommodate the LATCH.

Are you thinking that measuring your backseat and checking the dimensions of every car seat you consider is too tedious? We assure you it’s far easier and less time-consuming than trying to install a car seat that simply won’t fit. If you take the time to check the measurements now, you won’t have to waste time going back to the store and starting all over.

Related post: Which cars have integrated car seats?

Can You Put Car Seats Next to Each Other?

You can put car seats next to each other as long as you buy the right car seats for your vehicle. Use the guidelines we listed above to measure the seats, and then check the base and full seat dimensions during the shopping process.

It may feel like working a puzzle, especially if you need a combination of booster seats, convertible seats, and rear-facing seats. It’s always better to work that puzzle before you spend money on seats that won’t fit comfortably together.

You never want to force car seats to fit by overlapping the arms or skipping some of the buckles and tethering points. You must fully install each seat properly to ensure the safety of every child on every ride.

The Alternate Direction Strategy

If you’re placing three seats in a row, try to turn the seats in opposite directions when side by side. This works if you have children at different ages using different types of car seats. It doesn’t work if you have twins or triplets sitting in identical seats.

For example, imagine you have two babies in rear-facing car seats and an older child in a booster seat. Placing the booster in the center will work better than placing the rear-facing car seats next to one another. If you have one forward-facing car seat and two rear-facing seats, placing the forward-facing seat in the middle will work best.

This strategy limits touching between the seats, giving you more room to safely install each seat.

What is the Smallest Car Seat Width?

The smallest car seat width is under 17 inches. You can find infant car seats and booster seats around 16 inches wide and convertible car seats around 15 inches wide. These seats are less likely to have extra padding, cup holders, and other added comfort features.

Making Your Final Selection on the Smallest Car Seats

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You should have a good idea of what to look for when shopping for a small car seat at this point. If you noticed that cup holders, built-in toys, and other accessories are missing from the options presented, keep in mind that those features take up space and can extend the width of a car seat. You can consider slightly larger car seats with those features if you have the room in your vehicle.

Short of upgrading to a car better designed for car seats, selecting a small car seat is the best way to accommodate your family without sacrificing safety. Select the seat that will keep your little one safe for as many years as possible.

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