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Are you searching for the best infant car seat before your bundle of joy arrives? Or has time flown by and you’re ready for a toddler car seat? With seemingly endless car seat options on the market, how do you know you’re making the safest and smartest choice? Safety, ease of use, budget — there’s a lot to consider. We’ve done the legwork for you to give you our car seat reviews, which feature some of the best car seats on the market. Read on to see our top picks, pros and cons, and more! We’ve even broken it down by type of car seat so you get just what you need most.
What Type of Car Seat Do You Need?
Infant Car Seats are for newborns up until your baby reaches the seat’s weight or height limit. These limits vary by product — the average is 30 pounds or 30 inches. All infants must be in a rear-facing car seat. Once your baby outgrows her infant car seat, it’s time to purchase a convertible car seat. While many convertible seats can accommodate infants, infant car seats give you the ability to detach the seat with carrying handle from the base of the car without waking your baby. We can’t stress the importance of this feature enough!
Convertible Car Seats are popular because they adapt as your child grows. A convertible car seat transforms from a rear-facing seat to a front-facing seat once your child is big enough. Tip: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing seats until the age of two.
Booster Car Seats are for older toddlers and young children who’ve outgrown a convertible seat but still need help sitting up higher, so your car’s shoulder and lap belts protect her at the most effective position. Boosters are meant for kids at least four years of age and at a minimum of 40 pounds until they’re large enough to use your car’s seatbelts normally.
Best Car Seats
How did we choose the winners of our best car seat reviews from hundreds of different manufacturers and models? Safety is always our top priority, but there are also many other factors we considered, including ease of installation, ease of use, comfort, cost, expert and consumer reviews and more. Click a link below to jump to the type of car seat you need.
All of the following rear-facing car seats were rigorously crash tested and adhere to current Federal Safety regulations. Many experts also include these infant car seats in their lists of top rated car seats.
Chicco Keyfit 30 Review
The hugely popular Chicco Keyfit 30 comes in first place as our best infant car seat choice. The Chicco Keyfit is consistently among the top rated car seats year after year for its high quality and safety features. A great value compared to similar premium infant car seats, Keyfit is one of the easiest infant seats to install and even accommodates preemies, making it the best infant car seat for newborns as small as four pounds. No Latch in your car? No problem with the Chicco Keyfit, which has a built-in, belt routing, lock-off system.
- 1-year warranty
- Car seat weight: 9 lbs
- 5 colors
- Additional car seat base: $84.99
- Chicco Caddy Stroller Frame: $99.99
- Chicco Cortina CX Travel System (includes Keyfit car seat and deluxe stroller): $299.99
Britax B-Safe 35 Elite Review
The Britax B-Safe 35 Elite wins our number two pick as the best car seat for infants for its excellent safety features. Britax is known for manufacturing the safest car seats on the market. Like the Chicco Keyfit, this car seat is easier to install than most. And it’s compatible with more strollers than our top pick. With the B-Safe 35 Elite, however, you may run into some potential drawbacks in exchange for top-of-the-line safety features. Many parents of larger infants complain that this car seat is way too narrow and their child quickly outgrows this car seat, which could end up costing you in the long run by having to purchase another rear-facing infant car seat. But it’s hard to beat Britax’s safety features.
- 1-year warranty
- Car seat weight: 11.5 lbs
- 7 colors
- Car seat adapter for strollers: Out of stock
- Additional base: $80.00
Evenflo Embrace LX Review
The Evenflo Embrace LX rounds out our top three best infant car seats. What stands out with this model? The price is nearly impossible to beat for the quality and safety features you get with the Embrace. Unlike the Britax B-Safe, this infant seat fits larger babies well (and even preemies at four pounds), customers report. Another standout is the car seat’s weight, which is among the lowest we’ve seen. Score for parents having to carry around a sleeping baby!
- 90-day warranty
- Car seat weight: 7.5 lbs
- 12 colors
- Additional base: $30.59
- Evenflo Vive Travel System (includes Embrace LX car seat and deluxe stroller): $126.90
Honorable Mention: Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Review
Graco is one of the most popular best sellers of car seats for all ages, and the infant SnugRide line has been a parent favorite for years. Graco is known for their mix of affordable pricing and high quality, and the Snugride Click Connect 35 fits that bill. While the Graco Snugride isn’t rated as highly as our top three picks by experts, it’s certainly worth consideration for its ease of use, lighter weight and value.
All of the following convertible car seats endured rigorous crash testing and adhere to Federal Safety regulations. They also get top marks from parents and experts alike.
Britax Boulevard ClickTight Review
Our top winner, the Britax Boulevard ClickTight, is nearly impossible to beat thanks to it world-class safety features, easy installation, comfort and more. We love that you can use it as a rear-facing seat for babies as little as five pounds. And its 14-point harness allows for taller kids to stay in the seat longer (up to 65 pounds). The Boulevard even has a harness indicator that clicks to let you know your child is within the tightness safety range.
- 1-year warranty
- Sold in 5 colors
- Britax Child Cup Holder (fits on the side of the seat): Check on Amazon
Chicco Nextfit Zip Review
The Chicco Nextfit Zip is our number two pick for the best convertible car seat for its high safety ratings, ease of use and parent-friendly features. The Nextfit is one of the easiest convertible car seats to install and switch from rear facing to front facing (without having to re-thread the Latch straps). Another nice feature is the 5-point harness system, which includes flex-out technology to hold both sides of the belt up and out of the way during loading/unloading. We also love the new zip off-on, machine-washable seat pad — although the zip model is pricey.
Diono Radian RXT Review
The Diono Radian RXT wins our second spot as the best toddler car seat for its excellent safety features, car seat design and versatility. A huge selling point? You can use this car seat from the time your baby is five pounds (as rear facing) all the way to 120 pounds as a booster! In addition to its many safety features, the Diono Radian has a narrow, space-saver design that’s expandable as your child grows, and it’s well-cushioned for comfort and support. You can even fold it flat for storage and travel.
- 1-year warranty
- 10 colors available
- Diono Radian Angle Adjuster (improves padding and angle under car seat): $9.35
- Diono Carrying Straps: $7.99
Honorable Mention: Evenflo Tribute LX Review
We have to give a shout out to the Evenflo Tribute LX convertible car seat as one of the best values on the market. At only $55, the Evenflo Tribute makes an excellent backup car seat for any family. While the Tribute doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of premium car seats, it meets all federal safety standards and it’s fairly easy to install considering the lower price point. Another plus? The Tribute only weighs nine pounds, making it perfect for a grandparent or babysitter spare seat — and a good airplane seat choice for those parents that love to travel with their toddlers.
- 90-day warranty
- Available in 4 different colors
Booster seats are pretty simple and don’t involve all the safety measures, expense and potential portability problems involved with infant and toddler car seats. Why? These front facing car seats use the car’s existing shoulder and lap belt system — the booster’s main function is to raise your child high enough, so the belts fit properly and safely. Here are our recommendations.
Do Car Seat State Laws Differ?
Yes! All 50 states and the District of Columbia strictly uphold mandatory car seat laws, but they differ by state based on what age and size children need to be in different types of car seats (rear or forward facing and booster). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a comprehensive list of each state’s laws.
How Can You Ensure a Safe Fit?
Check out the video below to get some wise advice on basic best car seat practices.
And be sure to read our accompanying article highlighting car seat safety tips with our expert guest. Of course, the type of car seat you purchase is of utmost importance for safety. That’s why we’ve done our research on the best car seats on the market. But as a parent, you need to be equally aware of how to adjust your car seat and its harness and belt system to achieve the highest level of safety possible. Your child’s life could depend on it!
What infant or toddler car seats or brands would you recommend and why?