Personal Safety

7 Best Infant Car Seats (2024): Dooner vs Nuna vs Britax vs Chicco vs Graco vs Safety 1st vs Evenflo

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Baby asleep in an infant car seat

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was overwhelmed with the number of options I had for each baby gadget I now needed. Safety was always my top priority, but I also wanted something price-friendly to fit my lifestyle. My husband and I did massive amounts of research to choose the best infant car seat for us. I’ll help you find the best for your family and ensure the nurses are happy with it as you leave the hospital with your new bundle of joy.

I’ve researched a wide range of brands and considered safety, installation, cost, functionality, and more to bring you the best infant car seat options for your growing family.

Safety First

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 they’re 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.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has information on car seat requirements for your state.

In addition, child car seats have to pass federal safety standards before being sold in the U.S. However, be cautious when buying through third-party retailers and avoid 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 the 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 the federal standards label).

safety standards label jpg 2
Look for this label showing the car seat complies with federal safety standards.

What Type Of Car Seat Do I Need?

Three types of car seats.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Forward-Facing Car Seat – When your toddler 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 and parents! These seats are a little sturdier and should 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.
  3. Booster Seat – A booster seat is aimed at children aged 4-12 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. Booster seats can have backs or be backless.
  4. 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 7 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 around 30 pounds or 30 inches. However, some car seats can accommodate up to 100 pounds.

Best Overall: Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX Review

Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX.

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When I had my babies, this was the style of car seat we used. The Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX can clip into any Graco stroller, the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go, and many Joovy strollers without an extra adapter. This was a big perk for our family as it made transitioning from the Graco stroller back inside seamless after our walks. I never had to unbuckle my baby. I simply unclipped the car seat from the stroller to bring the carrier inside.

We also found that this was one of the most affordable car seats with the level of safety features, including an upgraded anti-rebound bar (for less movement in the event of a crash). We upgraded from the base Graco infant carrier to this because of the increased head support. My son was borderline premature, so having the extra head support allowed him to be more comfortable in the seat.

Additionally, as someone who had two C-sections with carrying restrictions, I was worried about extra strain while transporting my babies in and out of the car. Fortunately, I had no issues with this 9.8-pound infant carrier.

The biggest downside of this Graco car seat is that you can’t remove the headrest. So if your baby is in the higher percentile for head circumference, it could be too snug as they grow.

A newborn baby and at 8 months in Graco Snugride car seat.
ProsCons
Easy to installHeadrest is not removable
Removable/washable covers
Suitable from 4-35 pounds
Compatible with all Graco strollers
Good value
Anti-rebound bar

Price

Author’s Tip

I purchased a JJ Cole Winter Baby Car Seat Cover to help keep my babies warm during the colder months. It was well worth the money, especially on those days when the wind is brutal and can take your breath away. The one I purchased is discontinued, but this Yoofoss Winter Cover is similar in style and price. I think having the flap to cover the baby’s face fully when you’re outside is a helpful feature to keep them comfortable. You can also check out the updated JJ Cole cover, which doesn’t fully cover the baby’s face.
A baby in car seat with cover on top to stay warm next two two car seats with covers.

Runner-Up: Chicco KeyFit 35 Review

Chicco KeyFit 35.

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The Chicco KeyFit 35 is an upgrade to the hugely popular Chicco KeyFit 30 and is a well-trusted and popular car seat brand. This car seat is a great option if you already have compatible Chicco products.

The KeyFit 35 boasts many much-loved features among parents and experts, including an upgraded anti-rebound bar, adjustable headrest height, washable covers, and a large canopy with UPF 50+ sun protection.

This car seat can clip into most (but not all) Chicco strollers or other brands with adaptors. The car seat weighs 10 pounds, which is about average for an infant carrier.

ProsCons
Easy to install baseInstalling the seat without the base (using a seat belt router) can be tricky
Anti-rebound barNot compatible with all Chicco strollers
Removable/washable covers
Accommodates newborns from 4-35 pounds with removable head/body positioner

Price

Best Rotating Infant Car Seat: Safety 1st Turn and Go 360 DLX Rotating All-in-One Review

Safety 1st Turn and Go 360 DLX Rotating All in One car seat.

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I remember the moment I saw a swivel car seat, I was instantly jealous. I didn’t know these were even a thing when I was pregnant. It would’ve been so helpful to have for my kiddos. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to contort my body to buckle my child into their car seat.

I like this rotating Safety 1st car seat because it grows with the child from 5 to 100 pounds. This car seat makes it easy to buckle your baby in without cranking your back. (I’ve seriously tweaked my back standing in a strange position while trying to put my baby in the car.) And once your baby enters the toddler years, it’s like they turn into an alligator and fight diaper changes, getting in the car, and everything in between. Using one of these wouldn’t have stopped the alligator behavior, but it would’ve saved my back from getting tweaked.

I also like that this car seat is budget-friendly. Compared to other rotating car seats, this one is a steal (some rotating car seats cost more than $600!). The only downside to rotating car seats is that you don’t remove them from their base to carry them like a typical infant car seat. So, this is something to consider before purchasing.

ProsCons
Rotates 360, making buckling your child in a breezeDoesn’t remove from base to carry
Easy to installHeavy at 30 pounds, but it’s sturdy and stays in the vehicle
Suitable from 5-100 pounds
Red to green indicators show when the seat belt has tension
Machine washable and dryer-safe covers
More affordable than other rotating car seats

Price

Best Infant Car Seat And Stroller: Dooner Infant Car Seat And Stroller – Greyhound Review

Dooner Infant Car Seat And Stroller Greyhound.

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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. When used as a car seat, the stroller legs and wheels tuck neatly under the frame.

The Dooner suits 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. It’s inevitably heavier than a typical infant seat, weighing in at around 16 pounds.

This is a really nifty combo, and I can easily see the benefit of it. A friend of mine has this Dooner car seat/stroller combo for her infant and said the nurses were hesitant to let them leave the hospital with this as their carrier because they had never seen one before. However, after some label reading, the nurses saw the Dooner hybrid has met all of the safety requirements.

ProsCons
Convenient for city living and travelingSlightly heavier than average infant car seats (16 pounds)
Doesn’t require additional stroller frame or attachmentsThe stroller handlebar might be too low for tall users
Suitable from 4-35 poundsMore expensive than other car seats
Washable covers
Functional and safe

Price

Best Lightweight: Nuna Pipa RX Infant Car Seat And Base Review

Nuna Pipa RX Infant Car Seat And Base.

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Nuna is renowned for well-made and reliable infant car seats. This model has made it into our top infant car seats as it is one of the lightest 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). You can use it 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. You can attach the Nuna car seat directly to Nuna strollers and is compatible with many other brands.

ProsCons
Lightweight at 7.6 poundsNon-removable covers, so harder to keep clean
Easy installation with or without the baseSome reviews state poor quality fabric compared to other seats
Compatible with other stroller brandsOnly suitable up to 32 pounds
Stability leg reduces crash impact
Red to green indicators show when the seat is clipped correctly

Price

Best Slim Fit: Britax B-Safe Gen 2 Infant Car Seat Review

Britax B Safe Gen 2 Infant Car Seat.

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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 weighs 10.9 pounds. It’s an excellent option for larger families, allowing for more space in the back seat for others to fit in more comfortably.

ProsCons
Slim fit design Installation without a base is tricky
Robust safety features
Easy to install
Suitable from 4-35 pounds

Price

Best Budget: Evenflo Lite Max 35 Review

Evenflo Lite Max 35.

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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. You can use it 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 excellent reviews, but it is worth noting that some said their baby outgrew the seat before reaching the 35-pound limit due to the narrow design.

ProsCons
Budget-friendly Baby might outgrow the seat sooner than expected
Lightweight frameFabric not as luxurious as on other brands
Easy to install base
Suitable from 4-35 pounds

Price

A Quick Guide To Fitting An Infant/Rear-Facing Car Seat

Check out the video below from The United States Department of Transportation on safely installing a rear-facing car seat. If you need help installing your car seat, you can search for a local CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) for assistance.

Are You In Safe Hands?

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.

Kimberly Alt

Kimberly is our home security expert and has been writing about security and safety since 2013, covering everything from security systems and home automation to identity theft protection, home warranties, medical alert systems, and more. She has personally tested hundreds of system components and interfaced with dozens of home security companies to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post. In 2018, she had her first child, which opened up a whole new avenue of security experience with baby gear. She wanted to purchase the safest items for her family. Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing, and personally testing products and services.
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