The best infant car seat reviews take a look at all facets of car seats – not just what other people say. In order to get a thorough review of which rear-facing seat provides:
- The safest ride
- Is the most comfortable (for both baby and parents)
- Is most user friendly
You have to do some digging and investigation on your own – that’s exactly what we have done.
Our reviews look at all facets of the seat and breaks them down so that you can make an informed, intelligent decision. After all, this is one of the most important purchases you will make in your baby’s young life.
Height and Weight Restrictions for Infant Car Seats
For most infant car seats, the restrictions on height and weight tend to be up to 40 pounds in weight and up to 35 inches in height/length. This is generally what your child will be at around a year old, though some smaller children can stay within these requirements for longer.
For an infant car seat and stroller combo, the seat can be removed from the stroller without disturbing the child – perfect for those long walks. The seat detaches from the base of the car seat as well, allowing for smooth transfer between all of your systems. This process is one of the biggest determinations in our ratings below – make sure to pay attention and click on the links to see the systems for yourself.
What other Car Seat Types Work with Newborns?
If you want to save money, your first option should be to purchase a convertible car seat as soon as possible. These seats will grow with your child and meets all of the safety requirements – you only have to do research once and you will get a seat that you will know how to work at every stage.
However, most convertible seats aren’t recommended for newborns. Before your child turns a year old, an infant car seat is recommended. This type of seat is specifically make to keep your child safe as he or she grows.
In the first few months, babies are extremely sensitive while bones and muscles develop – you need the utmost protection.
Even more, you need a seat that you can “grab and go” – something that isn’t typically possible with a convertible car seat.
Our 2018 Ratings & Reviews on Car Seats for Infants
|Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat||Evenflo SafeMax||Peg Perego Primo Viaggio||Graco SnugRide 35||Maxi-Cosi Mico AP||Britax B Safe 35 Infant Safety Seat||UPPAbaby MESA||CYBEX Aton 2 Infant Car Seat||Safety 1st OnBoard Plus|
Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat
Out of all the car seats on the market today, the Chicco KeyFit is one of the most recommended car seats by neonatal nurses for its safety standards, personalization, and comfort. If you have a child that has special physical needs, consider giving this seat a try.
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is one of the only car seats on the market recommended for premature infants. This is because it adjusts to an extremely small size without cutting back on protection or comfort.
Parents love this seat is because it’s easy to install, and the instruction manual provides a lot of support and guidance. Another thing to note (for better or worse is that many of the features are smaller, making this a more compact and easy to use seat, especially for people of smaller statures.
Another important note? It is compatible for use on an airplane.
One of the biggest disadvantages of this car seat is that the fabric, though easy to clean, does not breathe. If you live in a warmer climate and/or you don’t have a strong air conditioning system in your car, you may want to monitor your child for overheating. However, this is a very rare problem.
By far, customers love the easy installation and say it’s easier to use than other car seats they’ve tried. They report that it’s comfortable and appreciate the varied fabric color and pattern options. If you are stuck on your search, this is certainly one to consider.
Not Quite Enough? Take a Look At These Extended Specialized Editions:
Chicco KeyFit Magic
The Chicco KeyFit Magic is indeed magic: this edition offers a better headrest, a bigger canopy, and a few higher quality amenities.
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
The Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System is a travel system that includes an improved stroller with a very large sun canopy.
Evenflo is well known for innovation and thorough testing when it comes to safety and security for your baby. The Evenflo SafeMax is the product of years of research.
One of the biggest advantages is the anti-rebound bar that offers more support and safety for your child. The lowest harness settings fit smaller babies, but the model also fits babies that tend to be longer and taller (up to 35 pounds) so you can keep them in a rear-facing seat longer. The different settings for height and width make this a perfect fit for almost everyone.
This stylish seat also feels expensive even though it’s not. The canopy is generous for those sunny days. As far as safety, EPS foam lines the entire inside of the carrier, protecting against impact but also against bumps in the road.
One of the biggest problems with this seat is that the harnesses can be difficult to adjust so you should closely follow the user manual. The handle may also be stiff and difficult to move. For larger parents, the seat needs a bit more room, so you may have to move your front seat forward.
Overall, customers rate the Evenflo SafeMax as a safe, reliable option for preemies and beyond.. They like that it’s comfortable and holds the baby at a natural angle.
Extended & Specialized Editions:
This rollover tested car seat has 4 different recline modes and improves upon the older model by offering even more harness adjustment choices, but it does not have an anti-rebound bar.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio
All Peg Perego seats are known to combine safety, luxury, and beautiful features that you just cannot find in any other car seat. The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is no exception - this is a superb seat you will love to use.
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio fits babies from 4 - 35 pounds and is one of the most popular options among families for quite a few reasons. It is certainly worth considering, especially if you are going to be in your car quite a bit.
The anti-rebound bar on the base is a unique feature that will provide extra protection if there is a front or a rear collision. If you drive in traffic that is stop and go, this can help stabilize the baby during sudden stops and starts.
Parents also appreciate that the seat is attractive and has some of the highest rated safety options. Color coded belt paths help ensure proper strap adjustment, and the side impact protection has 6 adjustment levels to protect baby’s head and shoulders, no matter their size.
Some parents have complained that the seat is uncomfortable to carry when the canopy is fully extended, though most other parents haven’t noted this problem. Several noted that the material is a bit more difficult to clean, so if you plan on feeding your child in the car, this might not be a great option. (But feeding them in the car isn’t recommended anyway!)
For parents who can afford to spend a little bit more for peace of mind, this car seat has almost always left them satisfied. If you do plan on frequent car trips, the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is an option you will certainly want to think about.
Extended & Specialized Editions:
Peg Perego Booklet Travel System
The Peg Perego Booklet Travel System comes with a stroller and a few other options that make it different, including upgraded materials, even better protection, and can be used with a jogging stroller.
Graco SnugRide 35
Graco is one of the best known names in the infant car seat industry, but that doesn’t mean their seats are always the best option. In fact, over the last few years, the brand has fallen out of favor with some parents. Graco has gone back to the drawing board and kept some of what people love, while implementing newer technology in seats like the SnugRide. With a 4-35 pound weight limit, this seat is extremely long lasting for most infants.
This is, by far, one of the most lightweight systems on the market today. You will be able to carry the car seat and not feel like your arm is about to fall off.
That doesn’t mean that the construction is cheap, however. The seat is made with quality materials, and you can hear it “click” into place in both the stroller and the car seat base so you know it’s securely installed. A machine washable seat cushion and canopy makes cleaning easier too.
Because this does have a lower price point, the seat tends to have fewer luxury finishings and smaller amenities - like the canopy, which is quite tiny in comparison to other seats. The fabric doesn’t breathe quite as much, so there is a risk of overheating, and some parents noted the straps don’t come with covers, so they could irritate your child’s neck.
Overall, this isn’t the type of car seat people get too emotional or excited about - it simply does its job and doesn’t do much more. However, for most parents, that’s all you need.
Extended & Specialized Editions:
Graco SnugRide 35 LX
With the Graco SnugRide 35 LX, the height of the harness can be changed more easily because you do not need to rethread the harness - it also has added pillows and comfort.
Graco SnugRide 40
The biggest difference with the Graco SnugRide 40 is that the seat weighs even less, making it more comfortable to carry around while still allowing up to 40 pounds in the seat.
Graco Aire3 Travel System
The Graco Aire3 Travel System has been designed specifically for on the go parents who frequently use a stroller. The combination itself also goes up to a higher weight - 50 pounds.
Get Out and About With These Travel Essentials
Car Seat and Stroller Combos
If you’re always on the go, do it in style with these travel systems. Explore the world together while keeping your hands free and your necessities close. From newborn to toddler, your child will enjoy a safe, comfortable ride.
Infant Car Seat Covers
Protect your baby from the elements all year long with top-rated infant car seat covers. Sun, rain, mosquitoes and germs don’t stand a chance with the quality fabrics and designs in this collection.
Maxi-Cosi Mico AP
Fashionable and functional, the Maxi-Cosi Mico AP is a great starter seat for those who are looking for style and comfort. However, with the 5 - 22 pound weight limit, you’ll have to buy an upgrade sooner than you would with other seats.
One of the biggest benefits of any Maxi-Cosi car seat is their compatibility with a few different strollers. This means that parents can customize the option which works the best for their families.
You can even get a few different bases if you plan to use the car seat often. The lightweight model allows you to quickly transfer the carrier from the car to the base, from the base to the stroller, and anywhere else you need to take the seat.
One of the biggest problems with this seat is that it only sits up to 22 pounds, so you’ll have to buy a new seat sooner rather than later. It’s also pretty heavy considering the low size capacity.
Customers overall like this seat, especially parents who are active and need to use different kinds of strollers.
Extended & Specialized Editions:
Maxi-Cosi Mico Max
The Maxi-Cosi Mico Max goes up to 30 pounds instead of 22 and offers advanced protection on the side, rebound protection in the back, and a head pillow and insert for added comfort.
Maxi-Cosi Kaia Mico Travel System
The biggest difference here is that along with added protection, this seat and stroller combination will last for a long time because it goes all the way up to 50 pounds and is convertible.
Britax B Safe 35 Infant Safety Seat
Britax is one of the most well known and respected names in baby travel gear, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have one of the best seats you can purchase in this price range. Do some research to see if it is really what you want - but for most parents, this will be a slam-dunk.
The Britax B Safe 35 Infant Safety Seat has a comfortable, easy-to-use four harness setting and a SafeCenter Latch to make installing the seat base easier. The carrier itself has a deep cradle, which also adds to its comfort. The seat comes standard with a large sun canopy and side protection with impact-resistant foam.
For parents, the one-year-warranty is great if you have any issues, and the lightweight carrier makes it easier for you to come and go as you please. Plus, it’s made in the USA, which many parents appreciate.
As your child gets bigger, he or she may have some problems getting comfortable in the deeper cradle, forcing you to switch carriers early. Another problem that some dislike is that there aren’t any cup holders or extra little features. Some parents had issues with the chest clip breaking and had difficulty getting it replaced.
Due to a few recent product recalls, double check to make sure there are no current ones before buying.
Some customers have reported problems with chest clip breakage, but most parents who reached out to the customer service team reported having a great experience. A few parents have complained about the need for an adaptor when using the travel system.
Extended & Specialized Editions:
Britax B-Agile/B-Safe Travel System
The biggest difference with this seat is that it easily attaches to the included stroller, and just as easily detaches for use as a traditional car seat as well.
The UPPAbaby MESA infant car seat comes in three colors – red, black, and gray. It's innovative red to green tension indicator is a first in the car seat market. Designed for babies 4 – 35 pounds, it can be paired with the UPPAbaby Vista or Cruz stroller for a convenient travel system.
The MESA is designed with preemies in mind. The harness and crotch straps adjust easily, providing a secure fit for babies as small as 4 pounds. An infant insert for babies 4-8 pounds includes a pillow that gives extra support for the head and neck, while a built-in wedge positions the body for a safer riding angle.
Parents love how easy it is to install with or without a base, and also appreciated the easy strap adjustments with the no-rethread harness as their child grew. They also loved how well it fit onto UPPAbaby strollers and how easy the seat cover was to remove and wash.
While some parents thought the MESA was lightweight, many felt it was too heavy and bulky. Some had difficulty fitting it into the back seat and had to push the front passenger seat too far forward to be comfortable.
Some parents reported quality control issues such as broken parts, torn fabric, and a flimsy canopy. A few noted that their babies got too hot in it. However, recent updates to a moisture-wicking fabric may have fixed that issue.
For what it is, this seat is pricey, and several parents thought it wasn't worth the money. If you're on a tight budget, you may want to look at cheaper, comparable options.
For the most part, the MESA does its job well. It's sleek, modern-looking, and stroller-friendly. While most parents are happy with the seat, it's a considerable investment that may not have the quality of other premium priced seats. Keep an eye out for free shipping and other deals.
CYBEX Aton 2 Infant Car Seat
The CYBEX Aton 2 Infant Car Seat is one of the most highly rated car seats that we reviewed. It simply has almost everything that you could want in a car seat. Parents have praised it, as have safety agencies.There are a few different things that you must consider when purchasing it - namely whether the safety features, bright colors and the sleek design outweigh the somewhat steep price tag.
LATCH installation is quite easy with this seat, and explained well in the manual and with online instructional videos. Some customers have even commented that it is easier to put the child into this seat than in other seats. It can also safely be used with or without the base.
As for safety, all of the impact protection keeps your child comfortable while keeping him or her safe in many situations. In fact, it is one of the best seats to protect the spine when in an accident. The side impact device, situated on the handle, adds extra protection as well.
Parents have noted the chest clip is overly wide, which can be uncomfortable for some babies, while the canopy is too small to offer much sun/weather protection. While the size range is 4-35 pounds, it may be too roomy to comfortably support a preemie.
Most customers found that the seat offers more protection compared to other seats, especially those in the same price range. They love the colors and that it’s easy to use.
Safety 1st OnBoard Plus
A well known name in infant car seats, Safety 1st OnBoard Plus is a fantastic seat with some great options. However, it does take some time to get used to, but may be worth it due to the safety features alone.
The Safety 1st onBoard 35 is one of the most stocked seats when it comes to safety features, especially if you are often on the go. The energy absorbing foam is not only a safety feature, but provides comfort, making the seat perfect for long distance rides. It’s the first infant car seat to use an air protect cushion system to better protect your child’s head in side impact crashes.
It’s also compatible with a few different stroller systems, so you have a wider range of travel options. The 4 position harness and 3 buckle locations accommodate your growing baby from 4 - 35 pounds.
The biggest disadvantage to this seat is that you cannot use the carrier without the base, which may not be a problem for most people, but those who have used other types of seats may have a problem making the switch. Another issue that some parents had was that the seat cushions were not washable. You can spot wash them, but for deeper messes, it’s more difficult to get a full cleaning.
Reviews on this seat are mostly positive, especially from first time parents who haven’t used other systems. If you are a seasoned parent and have only used one type of seat, it may take some time to get used to it. However, for the safety features, it is almost completely worth the learning curve.
What You NEED To Know About The Best Infant Car Seats
Buying an infant car seat is stressful because the market is completely oversaturated with a large number of options. You can be overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time, which is a dilemma no one wants, especially if you are in a time crunch.
Whether you have a few months to purchase an infant car seat, or you only have a few hours to decide, you want the very best for your baby.
While your child won’t be in the car seat 24/7, road travel is never without risk. The choices you make in travel gear for your baby can impact his or her future permanently. Choose wisely!
Types of Infant Car Seats
There are many types of infant car seats. You will have to analyze your own personal preferences, your finances, and your child’s needs to find what works for your family. In some cases, people who have smaller or larger infants won’t be able to use every infant car seat because of the varying weight limits.
Rear-facing car seats support your child’s body much better than any other type of seat. If you are in a car accident, it will distribute the crash forces over the entire body and reduce the risk of serious injuries. There are many different models of rear-facing seats, but you do have to start with a rear-facing seat – no matter which brand you choose.
Children absolutely must ride in a rear-facing position until they reach the appropriate weight and height requirements. Some people go even further than that – most experts recommend keeping your child in a rear-facing seat until he or she is at least two years old.
Rear Facing Only
Rear-facing only seats (or infant car seats) are usually designed for infants weighing as little as 4 pounds up to 30-40 pounds, depending on the model. These seats are smaller, typically attach to a base and have handles for carrying. This base can be moved from car to car, but the carrier is the selling point – it allows you to carry your child around without disrupting him or her or causing discomfort.
Most often, infants sit in the “crib” of the seat and are secured using a five-point harness. Sometimes, the models will come with a head support pillow or system so that his or her head doesn’t move from side to side. Typically, the seats are semi-reclined and can be adjusted for comfort.
One important thing to note is that you should never use the carrier as a substitute for a traditional crib, seat, or high chair.
Convertible in a Rear-Facing position
Convertible seats are just what they sound like – seats that can be converted. In most instances, they go from rear facing to forward facing and sometimes even convert into a booster seat.
They tend to be bigger and cost more than rear-facing only seats and also don’t have the detachable base or carrying handle. Many people decide to use this type of seat after an infant rear-facing seat until their child weighs as much as 50 pounds.
It is important to note that using a convertible seat means you have to pay particular attention to the details. Things like the recline and the harnesses will need to be adjusted in each different mode. You’ll have to check the settings regularly and consult your user manual to get the best results.
All-in-One in a Rear-Facing position
All in one seats can be used as a rear facing seat, a forward facing seat, and as a booster with the harness removed. Sometimes, you will be able to find an all in one with a backed booster mode that uses a harness, but they are pretty rare.
Lifestyle Infant Car Seats
Lifestyle seats are a part of a bigger system – namely a stroller or set of strollers that the car seat can attach to. This is most common with infant car seats because you already have the carrier, and the seat just goes into the base of the stroller.
There are different models for this, including active strollers, hiking strollers, and traditional storage strollers.
What To Look For In The Best Infant Car Seat
Remember that infants can go into two different types of seats, an infant car seat or a convertible car seat, so what you buy depends on your preferences. Buying a convertible seat will save you money in the long run, and there generally aren’t any drawbacks in terms of safety – they have all passed the exact same tests. Where you do have a disadvantage is in the accessories and “add-ons” that you might get with a separate infant car seat.
Another drawback is that you don’t have the carrier. So you may want to think about what you really need.For many parents, the carrier is the most critical part of the seat. If you work the night shift or have to transport your child at bedtime, the carrier may prove to be vital to you as well. Another thing to think about is if you want a stroller – those typically come with infant car seats as a combination pack.
Of course, parents want to get seats that are safe, but as mentioned, most car seats all rank similarly in safety tests. Everyone that you buy from a reputable source will have passed current safety standards – just make sure to look at the manufacture date and review all current product recalls. Safety technology does improve, so you should try to buy one of the latest models.
Safety isn’t defined by the price of the seat either, though most cheaper seats may not have as many straps in the harness, which could impact safety. Overall, the comfort of the seat is one of the most significant price factors – more expensive seats tend to have more padding and support. Another thing to think about is the anti-rebound back that might limit movement during a crash – these aren’t yet found in every seat.
Accessories, like trays, toy bars, softer fabric, blankets, head pillows, canopies, covers, and removable fabric might also impact the price of the seat – so consider what you need and what you don’t. Remember that you can probably purchase all of these extras on the side so that you can pick and choose what you want. However, included accessories are more common in brand name car seats that you find in big box stores.
Another thing you want to consider, that is a problem in many infant car seats, is how easy the straps are to adjust as your child ages. Babies, especially infants, grow like weeds and will need to have their straps adjusted regularly. Some seats adjust with handles or pull cords, so you may have to do some testing to see which ones work for you and which ones don’t.
One final thing to take into consideration? You want to look online to see what people are saying about the car seats – read reviews, watch YouTube videos, and talk to other parents who may have used certain seats to get a real insider’s perspective. Even the most expensive seats may seem great at first, but they may not meet your expectations after a while.
What To Avoid In An Infant Car Seat
There are a few different things you don’t want to see in a car seat. Namely, you want to avoid seats that have too many little parts that you will have to worry about checking, cleaning, and keeping out of your child’s hands. You should also avoid seats that have parts that you can’t really remove – like the padding, the tray, or the fabric. Babies can be messy, and you will want to wash that seat every so often, so washable parts are a must.
Something else you want to avoid is a seat that is too heavy, especially a carrier. You will be taking this seat into stores, your home, friend’s houses, restaurants, and anywhere else that you go, and if you have to carry them for any distance, they will get heavy. When you are trying out seats in the store, remember that you will have to add the weight of your baby to the seat’s weight – so your carry load will be much heavier.
How to Install An Infant Car Seat
There is no one set way to install a car seat. You absolutely have to sit down, read the manual and figure it out from there. Most good manuals will have directions in many different languages as well as models and diagrams that you can use. If you are still confused, you can look online at some of the resources that are available (check the manufacturer’s website first).
If you still have trouble, you can try the local police station, a pediatrician, a hospital, or even a baby store – often, they will have staff who specialize in installation.If you have a very specific question, you can always call the manufacturer’s customer service line.
The best place for a child’s car seat is actually in the middle of the seat. This will prevent many injuries if your car is hit on the side. It also means that your child won’t be next to the window, which will help in a few years when he or she learns that the buttons on the door console actually do something.
If you cannot put your child in the middle, it is better to put him or her behind the passenger’s seat if you drive the car alone.
If there are always two people in the car, then you can put them behind the driver. However, the passenger’s seat side allows the driver to check back occasionally without taking his or her eyes off the road for too long. In an emergency, it also allows the driver to check on the baby as soon as he or she can.
Try to install your infant car seat before your child is born. Of course, you will have to use it to take your baby home from the hospital, but you want to install it before then. Driving around with the car seat installed will let you see if you have the base or the seat attached securely. Go around a few corners to see how the seat moves. If it tips or makes too much noise, you may have to make some adjustments. Of course, your baby will add weight, but this is a good test.
Attaching early also allows you to go to your local pediatrician or police station to have the seat checked by someone who knows what they are looking for and what people often get wrong.
More Than One Car Seat
If you need to install more than one car seat, try to install the youngest child’s seat in the center. It can be difficult to install more than one seat in the same car, especially side by side, but the youngest child is at the most risk.
Avoid secondhand seats at all costs. Your new infant car seat is going to be one of the pricier items that you buy for your baby, but it is an extremely important investment, so find a way to make it happen.
Secondhand seats, even if you know the person they belonged to, are not safe for your baby. Over time, small tears and breaks happen that render the seat less safe than it was before. If the car seat has been in an accident, it should absolutely not be used again.
If you have trouble paying for a seat, remember that there are seats at all different price levels. You can always ask family and friends to pool their money to buy a seat as a group gift for your baby shower.