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The nursery is decorated, the crib has been constructed, and the cupboards are jam-packed with diapers, but as the big day looms, you realize you still need a car seat for your baby. The options are endless but don’t panic. We have researched a wide range of brands, so you’re not driving blind when navigating the world of infant car seats. We’ve pondered the practicalities such as safety, ease of installation, cost, and much more so you can make an informed choice for you and your (growing) family.
- Safety First
- What Type Of Car Seat Do I Need?
- Top 5 Infant Car Seats
- A Quick Guide To Fitting An Infant/Rear-Facing Car Seat
- In Safe Hands
Before we delve into our top-rated infant car seats, it’s important to know that not only are car seats paramount to your child’s safety in the event of a crash, but it is also mandatory by law to have your child in a car seat suited to his or her age, weight, and height. These laws differ slightly by state, so you must check the requirements before purchasing your car seat.
Visit The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website for information on car seat requirements for your state.
In addition, child car seats have to pass federal safety standards before being sold in the USA. However, be cautious when buying through third-party retailers or buying secondhand as these seats may be noncompliant with safety standards. It is advisable to check the seat’s history – how old is it (check manufacture date), has it been in a previous crash (some components might be missing or broken), and does it meet USA safety standards (look for federal standards label).
What Type Of Car Seat Do I Need?
There are four types of car seats created to support your child as they grow, ensuring every car journey is safe, whether you’re going out to the shops or traveling across the country. Here is a rundown of the types of car seats available.
- Infant/Rear-Facing Car Seat – The infant car seat is designed specifically for newborns to help support their developing neck and spine. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children use rear-facing car seats for as long as possible or until they grow out of it (typically around 18 months old). More often than not, Infant car seats are portable and can click in and out of your car and attach to a stroller without waking your sleeping baby. See below for our top 5 infant car seats!
- Forward-Facing Car Seat – When your baby outgrows his or her rear-facing car seat, it’s time to switch to a forward-facing seat. A much-preferred option for most children! These seats are a little sturdier and usually remain in the back seat of your car. A 5-point harness is used in forward-facing car seats to keep your toddler safe when traveling.
- Booster Seat – A booster seat is aimed at children aged 8-12 or those who exceed the forward-facing seat’s weight and height limit. They are used in the back seat and lift your child to the correct height to use the car’s seatbelt. Booster seats do not require complicated installations and can be easily moved to other cars when your child travels with friends or grandparents.
- Convertible Car Seats – A convertible car seat does all the above. If you’d rather buy just one seat for your child’s car seat requirements, then a convertible all-in-one is the way to go. However, bear in mind that these are bulkier, do not fit onto your stroller, and have not been designed explicitly for newborn comfort. Like all car seats, they meet federal safety standards and are entirely safe for your child if you choose this option.
Top 5 Infant Car Seats
The following car seats are for newborns and infants (rear-facing) and can be used until your baby reaches the seat’s weight or height limit. These limits vary by product, but the average is 30 pounds or 30 inches.
Best Overall: Chicco KeyFit 35
The Chicco KeyFit 35 is an upgrade to the hugely popular Chicco KeyFit 30 and is a well-trusted and popular car seat brand. The KeyFit range has consistently been applauded for its ease of installation and safety features, and with the new addition of accommodating your baby for longer (up to 35 pounds), the KeyFit 35 suits most infants.
The KeyFit 35 boasts many much-loved features among parents and experts, including an upgraded anti-rebound bar (for less movement in the event of a crash), adjustable headrest height, washable covers, and a large canopy with UPF 50+ sun protection. It can also clip into any Chicco stroller or other brands with adaptors.
|The car seat base is easy to install||Installing the seat without the base (using a seat belt router) can be tricky|
|Compatible with most strollers||At 10 pounds, this seat is heavier than other brands|
|Accommodates newborns from 4-11 pounds with removable head/body positioner|
Best Infant Car Seat And Stroller: Dooner Infant Car Seat And Stroller – Greyhound
Introducing the car seat/stroller hybrid! The Dooner infant car seat and stroller combo is an excellent choice for city dwellers and frequent travelers. This all-in-one system transforms from a car seat to a stroller at the click of a button with ease, and when used as a car seat, the stroller legs and wheels tuck neatly under the frame.
The Dooner will suit busy parents getting in and out of cars, taxis, and public transport, tackling the school run, or walking between an apartment block and a car park. Despite its convenience, it is worth considering the weight as it is inevitably heavier than a typical infant seat, weighing in at around 16 pounds.
|Convenient for city living and traveling||Slightly heavier than average infant car seats|
|Doesn’t require additional stroller frame or attachments||The stroller handlebar might be too low for tall users|
|Suitable from 4-35 pounds|
|Functional and safe|
Best Lightweight: Nuna Pipa RX Infant Car Seat And Base
Nuna is renowned for well-made and reliable infant car seats. This model has made it into our top five infant car seats as it is one of the lightest car seats on the market, weighing just 7.6 pounds. It is also easy to install using color-coded indicators to see if the seat is clipped in correctly (green) or incorrectly (red), and it can be used with or without the base.
Other handy features include a magnetic removable drape, infant inserts to suit your baby’s shape, and a foldable stability leg to help absorb bumps in the road. The Nuna car seat can be attached directly to Nuna strollers and is compatible with many other brands.
|Lightweight at 7.6 pounds||Non-removable covers, so harder to keep clean|
|Easy installation with or without the base||Some reviews state poor quality fabric compared to other seats|
|Compatible with other stroller brands|
|Stability leg reduces crash impact|
Best Slim Fit: Britax B-Safe Gen 2 Infant Car Seat
If you have other infant car seats in the back seat or are looking for a three-across option, then the Britax B-Safe is the seat for you. It is narrow but deep and does not compromise on safety features. With foam side panels, a reinforced steel base, and an all-around sturdy build, the Britax B-Safe is a solid choice for space-saving and safety features.
The robust design, however, does mean that the Britax is heavier than some other brands at 10.9 pounds. But at least you know it’s safe with all that steel to protect your baby!
|Slim fit design||Heavier than other brands|
|Robust safety features||Installation without a base is tricky|
|Easy to install|
Best Budget: Evenflo Lite Max 35
The Evenflo Light Max is a steal at just over the $100 mark. It ticks all the boxes parents are looking for in an infant car seat, such as tried and tested safety features, a lightweight frame, and comfort for your baby. Like other brands, it has an easy-install base that stays in your car. It can also be used without a base using the European/American standard belt routing system to secure the car seat when traveling in another car.
This budget-friendly infant car seat meets all safety requirements and is a more affordable option for new parents. It has had excellent reviews, but it is worth noting that some said that their baby outgrew the seat before reaching the 35-pound limit due to the narrow design.
|Budget-friendly||Baby might outgrow the seat sooner than expected|
|Lightweight frame||Fabric not as luxurious as on other brands|
|Easy to install base|
Check out the video below from The United States Department of Transportation on safely installing a rear-facing car seat.
Before choosing your car seat, check out our article on car seat safety, where you can find all the relevant information on keeping your child safe when traveling in the car. You’ll find top installation tips, winter car seat safety, transitioning to a new seat, and more. When it comes to your child’s safety, it’s best to cover all the bases!
Are you considering investing in one of the above car seats for your newborn? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.Tagged With: Babies, Comparison