Gear

Best Infant Car Seats

by Melissa Willets


Best Infant Car Seats
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It goes without saying that when it comes to selecting your baby’s first car seat, safety is the top consideration. The most important thing you need to know is this: From the time your baby makes their grand entrance into the world until the age of 2, or until they reach the maximum weight and height for their infant car seat, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that a child ride rear-facing. Taking some of the potential confusion out of selecting a car seat is the fact that all infant car seats are rear-facing. Phew!

 

 

 

What About Convertible Car Seats?

 

Some infant car seats, all of which feature a 5-point harness to keep your kiddo super-secure, transition with your child as they grow and are known as convertible car seats. But not all infant seats are convertible. Even if you purchase a convertible seat, your baby should still ride rear-facing until they meet the seat’s specific weight and height requirements for riding forward-facing.

 

Why You Need an Infant Car Seat

Plan to purchase an infant seat before your baby arrives, because the hospital where you give birth will require you to take baby home in one. Many infant seats are sold as part of a “travel system” with a stroller and a car seat base. You can also purchase an infant car seat with just the base. The base is needed to properly secure the infant seat in the car. A base is specific to the car seat you buy and will be secured via a LATCH system or seat belt (depending on the year your car was made). A baby (and any kiddo under the age of 12, for that matter) should always, always ride in the back seat of the car, so that’s where you’ll install the base. It’s recommended that you go to a local inspection station to make sure your car seat base is properly installed before baby’s arrival. Now if only having the baby was that easy…

 

What to Consider When Buying an Infant Car Seat

 

So you’re ready to buy an infant car seat! You head to the baby store, or perhaps start browsing online. Then, you have a panic attack. Because there are so many choices! It’s OK; all new parents have been there. Take a deep breath, and let us help walk you through what’s on the market, and what to look for in an infant car seat. You’ll want to consider:

 

        • Your lifestyle

You already know you need to buy a car seat specifically for an infant. You’ll want to consider whether you want to purchase an infant car seat and stroller combo, or get a coordinating or compatible stroller separately. Think about which one works best for your lifestyle.

 

        • How long will you keep the seat

Next, decide whether you want to buy a convertible seat or not. Some parents don’t want to think that far ahead (raises hand) and choose to purchase a seat that serves their needs for the first year. Or, maybe you already own another car seat that your child can transition into (just check the expiration date and make sure it’s in top condition!). As you consider your options, make sure to check each seat’s specifications for height and weight, which will inform your decision.

 

        • Weight of the seat

Look to see how much the seat itself weighs, as you may be carrying baby in the seat in and out of the house and throughout your day, and don’t have time to throw your back out.

 

        • Your budget

Finally, think about how much you want to spend, as infant car seats run the gamut from super-pricey to very budget-friendly. Here are top-rated seats parents are loving now.

 

Image Credits: Amazon

Best Infant Car Seat Overall

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat

Price:$200.00

This infant car seat is the best on the market, according to reviews. Why? Because it’s highly rated for safety, affordably priced, easy to install (as in, you won’t break into tears trying to do it) and includes several innovative features to keep your new baby safe and comfy. Here are just a few: removable newborn padding and sun shade, easy base leveling guidelines and EPS energy-absorbing foam for impact protection. The only possible downside is that the seat is kinda heavy before you even place baby inside at 17.15 pounds.

Specifications:
From 4 to 30 lbs. Up to 30” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“We have loved this car seat because of it's easy installation. We always felt comfortable putting our baby in it.”

“Best infant car seat we've ever owned.”

“Loved our first Chicco Keyfit so much, when I found out we were having twins the second time around, I purchased another one! Easy to install, simple to put a tiny newborn in, and easy to adjust when that baby starts growing. Most importantly, it's SAFE!”

Image Credits: Walmart

Best Affordable Infant Car Seat

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30

Price:$89.00

You don’t have to compromise on safety just because you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money. The SnugRide is still highly rated for safety, having met or exceeded all US safety regulations. Parents love the Graco infant seat not only because it’s budget friendly but also for its lightweight design:It's only 7 pounds. Hallelujah! Dear Graco, our backs, necks and shoulders thank you!

Specifications:
From 4 to 30 lbs. Up to 30” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“I really like this car seat!! I love how light it is. It is much lighter weight than any of the previous car seats I have used for my grandkids.”

“I have had my share of car seats over the years. By far, this is the lightest seat I've ever owned! When the box was delivered, I actually thought it was empty. It only weighs 7 lbs! This is a huge factor for me. I'm pretty small and dreaded toting around my son's car seat.”

“This infant car seat is a quality product. It is heavy duty construction and durable, yet lightweight and easy to carry infant from car to carriage or back in the house.”

Image Credits: Buy Buy Baby

Infant Car Seat That Exceeds Safety Ratings

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat

Price:$200.00

A Britax infant car seat is synonymous with safety for parents. The B-Safe 35 boasts features like SafeCell Impact protection, side-impact protection, an impact-absorbing car seat base, an impact-stabilizing steel frame... the list goes on! Parents say installation is easy and also appreciate that the safest infant car seat is still lightweight at 10 pounds.

Specifications:
From 4 to 35 lbs. Up to 32” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“This is was our second Britax car seat, and we will never use another brand! We were in a recent car accident with our 7 week old with this carseat and it did not move! We were told by the EMT's that she was extremely safe.”

“Love this car seat! Has great features and lots of padding. I like how the baby sits deep and snug in the seat. The strap is easy to adjust and the padding around the neck area is great.”

“Happy to provide my son with the safety features of this product. I also purchased the newborn insert to use until he's a little bigger.”

Image Credits: Buy Buy Baby

Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat

Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 Infant Car Seat

Price:$200.00

The Maxi Cosi infant car seat is one of the lightest on the market. This seat is considered more upscale than its more budget-friendly lightweight competitor, the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 30, with thoughtful details, such as an ergonomic carrying handle, self-wicking fabric and an easy-to-remove seat pad (because accidents). Given how lightweight it is, this seat is a great choice for frequent travelers and city dwellers.

Specifications:
From 5 to 30 lbs. Up to 32” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“This seat is padded well and fits snug. It is lightweight and super easy to clean as advertised.”

“I chose the maxi cosi car seat because it’s very light to carry, even with my 10lb baby sitting in it.”

Image Credits: Walmart

Best Infant Car Seat for Twins

Evenflo Embrace

Price:$79.00

Having twins requires special considerations for buying infant car seats. Since multiples are often born early, you’ll need a seat that can accomodate their small size. Rest assured, the Evenflo infant car seat can safely transport a baby starting at 4 pounds (use the removable infant headrest). The seat itself is lightweight (8 pounds), and since mom will be lugging not one, but two seats, yeah, that’s important, as is the ergonomic handle for more ease in carrying. Plus, the price. When you have to buy two of everything, that matters! At $79, the Embrace is a win. The seats are also compatible with a Snap and Go double stroller.

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“We've been very happy with how light weight this car seat is and how well it comes in and out of its base.”

“My baby girl was just under 6 pounds when we left the hospital and I felt like the carseat gave adequate support for her head with the insert. The car seat is very light which makes it easy to carry especially with me having a 1 year old in my other hand.”

“I bought two of these for my twins who were 31 weeks and I absolutely love them.”

Image Credits: Amazon

Best Infant Car Seat for Small Cars

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat

Price:$75.00

If you have a smaller vehicle or a large family, this is the car seat for you. Three of them fit in the back row of most cars, thanks to a more narrow design. Even with a slimmer frame, the seat still incorporates safety features parents look for, like side-impact protection. Bonus: You’ll be able to use the Safety 1st for years, since it’s a convertible seat that can be switched to forward-facing when your tot reaches 40 pounds.

Specifications:
5 to 40 lbs. rear-facing 22 to 65 lbs. forward-facing

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“With a 3 year old and 12 month old twins, our family had to choose between a minivan and our first home. We chose the house, but were left wondering how much longer we'd be able to cram everyone into our 2007 Honda Accord, as it was pretty stuffed already and the twins would outgrow their baby cars eats quickly. Safety 1st to the rescue! They fit!”

“I drive an older Honda Odyssey and was so impressed that I was able to fit these car seats side by side for my twins!”

Image Credits: Amazon

Best Infant Car Seat for Travel

UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat

Price:$300.00

When you’re on the go, you need a seat that is easy to snap in and out of the base. Check! This seat even features a visual indicator that turns from red to green when the base is properly installed. While traveling, you need to be able to effortlessly remove the seat’s harness in the case of an accident. Check! The UPPAbaby has a no-rethread seat belt. The seat is also relatively lightweight, at under 10 pounds, making it easy to transport. Parents love that this seat is made from non-toxic materials that are actually moisture-wicking to keep baby cool and dry in transit. And the UPPA is certified for aircraft use and highly rated for safety. What more could you ask for? (Honorable mentions for this category go to the Safety 1st convertible seat, the Stokke PIPA by Nuna Infant Car Seat and the Doona Infant Car Seat; more about the last two below.)

Specifications:
4 to 35 lbs. Up to 32” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“In addition to being non-toxic, this seat is well designed and well made.”

“After spending countless hours reviewing car seats, I decided on the Uppa Baby Mesa and I definitely made the right decision. The base was remarkably easy to install and the car seat snaps in and out of the base effortlessly. I also LOVE that you can adjust the straps without having to take apart the car seat - that is an invaluable feature!!”

“Worth every penny. Light. Durable. High quality.”

Image Credits: Buy Buy Baby

Best Infant Car Seat for Taxis

Stokke PIPA by Nuna Infant Car Seat

Price:$350.00

Since this infant car seat can be installed quickly in a car without the use of the base, the Nuna seat is a top pick for parents whose lives include jumping in and out of taxis. It’s also relatively lightweight, at 10.5 pounds. Parents will be impressed by the many luxury features this seat offers, including an SPF 50 sun canopy, plush padding, and a soft grip handle. Safety features abound as well, like the steel stability leg that minimizes impact, which um, just sayin’, might be good for taxi rides!

Specifications:
4 to 30 lbs. Up to 30” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“Easy to get carrier in and out of car.”

“I will totally recommend this car seat, it is very safe, and my baby fits in it very well.”

Image Credits: Amazon

Best High-Tech Infant Car Seat

Doona Infant Car Seat

Price:$500.00

OK, this infant car seat turns into a stroller. For real. In one motion, you can unlatch wheels and just go. The Doona is being praised by parents because of its innovative construction and high safety rating. The one con is that the seat is a bit heavy since it’s also a stroller, weighing in at 16 pounds. Note that the base, for use in the car, is a separate product, but it is sold with the seat.

Specifications:
From 4 to 35 lbs. Up to 32” tall

What Reviewers Are Saying:
“This thing is AWESOME! Whenever I see parents struggling to get their car seat out and attach it to their stroller base OR heaven forbid get their baby out of a car seat and into a stroller, I feel sorry for them (and mentally gloat, tbh).”

“This seat is a little heavy but besides putting it into the car and taking it out of the car you don’t need to carry it. I got the hang of changing between stroller and car seat pretty quickly. Baby isn’t disturbed when I change between modes.”

“This is one item I’m glad I spent my money on. It’s so convenient and easy to use. I am a mom of three and it makes maneuvering my life and outings easier.”