The 5 Best Infant Car Seats According to Real Parents
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As you prepare for your new baby to join your family, there are many things to consider. Safety is top of mind for all new parents, and choosing the best and safest infant car seat possible is of great importance. Most parents will never forget driving their brand new little one home in the car for the very first time as they transport the most precious cargo possible.
What to Consider When Purchasing an Infant Car Seat
When purchasing a baby car seat, parents should consider the following:
- Safety Features: Shock absorption, extra padding, and leveling features to make sure the car seat is inserted correctly are common extra safety features that you will find on some infant car seats. Infant car seats typically receive safety ratings that can be very helpful as you make your rear-facing car seat choice.
- Space Available in Your Vehicle: If you only have one child and rarely use the back seat, you don’t have to consider space and size as a top priority. If you plan to grow your family, have multiple children, or have a small car, thinking about the width and overall size of the rear-facing infant car seat is important. It can impact how easily you can reach the seat belts in the back seat, affecting other riders as well.
- Budget: If you don’t have a large budget for an infant car seat, you can still feel assured by the fact that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration puts forth safety standards that every car seat sold in the United State must meet. What you get by spending more money on an infant car seat are generally extra safety features, better quality material, and more ease when it comes to installation, seat belts, and maneuvering the car seat.
- Stroller Compatibility: This is a consideration that is of high importance to many parents using a car seat in the rear-facing position. Removing the infant car seat from the vehicle without waking or disturbing a sleeping baby is a big benefit. Inserting that car seat right into a stroller that opens easily makes life even easier for new parents. Investing in an all-in-one travel system that incorporates all of this into a single package provides parents with convenience. There are adaptors that can make infant car seats and strollers work together for many brands if you choose not to invest in an all-in-one system. The strollers in the all-in-one systems accommodate older babies and toddlers when it’s time to move your little one into a forward-facing convertible car seat.
- Ease of Installation: It is always recommended to have the initial car seat installation checked at an official inspection site, a service which is offered by many fire departments and local police departments. Although that provides peace of mind and a free and important educational experience for parents, you will also want to feel confident that you can easily install the infant car seat on your own for the purposes of changing vehicles, travel, and cleaning the car. There can be a big range in the ease of installation as you consider various kinds of infant car seats and forward-facing convertible car seats.
How We Chose Our Favorites
We have chosen our favorite infant car seats in 2020 using various trusted resources. We’ve based these choices in the personal experience of real parents and kids, the voices of experts, and through scouring many reviews on top websites. We’ve included some of the most helpful reviews of each infant car seat below.
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat
The Chicco Keyfit 30 is a great choice for parents who want the most bang for their buck when it comes to safety, ease, and budget.
This is the #1-rated infant car seat in America. You can purchase it as a travel system or fit it into another Chicco stroller for maximum ease. Parents love that the infant insert is included and that it is so easy to install accurately every single time. The fact that it has premium LATCH connectors and a SuperCinch tightener for a secure fit every time is incredibly helpful.
Reviews to Consider:
- Wirecutter: “The Chicco KeyFit 30 has better overall safety scores and is easier to install, adjust, carry, and click in and out than seats that cost much more.”
- Amazon reviewer: “I bought the key fit stroller frame along with the car seat. There's so many things that I'm happy about with both products. The handle for the carrier comes up and down quietly so that it does not wake the baby. The click in feature to the base and the stroller is also quiet which makes it ideal if the baby is sleeping. The safety features impressed my husband and it was convenient to see the level markers on the seat so we knew we were putting it in right. It is very easy to use the lever in the back to remove the car seat from the base and stroller.”
Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat
The Britax B-Safe 35 is a great choice for parents who want a car seat that is most comfortable for taller babies.
In addition to being the go-to infant car seat for taller babies, parents also love this car seat for the convenience it provides. The car seat cover is removable for easy cleaning, and anyone who has been around a baby knows just how essential this feature is. The ergonomic handle provides comfort which is so important for all of the toting that parents do. The extra padding and extensive canopy keep your little one comfortable and undisturbed.
Reviews to Consider:
- Wirecutter: “This infant car seat is easy to install properly and has a more generous height and weight limit than other seats we considered, but it may be too narrow for some kids.”
- Lucie’s List: “The canopy is awesome, IMO, and the seat is easy to install, complete with built-in lock-offs. The LATCH connectors are awesome, especially when you compare them to nail-breakers, like Graco’s. It’s little things like this I like about Britax.”
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat
The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is a great option for parents who are looking for the most reliable and economical choice.
You can’t beat the price of this car seat. Although it doesn’t come with some of the bells and whistles that more expensive seats frequently offer, it’s easy to use, and that goes a long way. Parents also love that the seat is lightweight, which makes it easy to transport as well. Evenflo is another brand that is well-known as an option for budget-conscious parents, but in our experience, Graco takes the cake for this category.
Reviews to Consider:
- BabyGearLab: “The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 is a budget-friendly car seat with slightly better than average scores in several metrics, making it a contender for families with less money to spend. This Graco is nicer than previous models with soft fabric and thicker padding than many Gracos. It has a better than the average crash-test score, and it is easy to install using the vehicle belt.”
- Car Seats for the Littles: “The carrier is light, easy to install, and easy to tighten…no complaints! I even took the SnugLock on an airplane flight and had no trouble installing the carrier.”
Doona Infant Car Seat
The Doona Infant Car Seat is a great option for parents who are city dwellers or who travel frequently.
This all-in-one car seat is extremely unique as it transforms directly into a stroller without the need for any other equipment. No need for an infant car seat base! This is a life saver for parents who are constantly on the go. If you regularly take public transportation or take the stairs, this is the perfect infant car seat for you. One thing to keep in mind is that after your little one outgrows this all-in-one system, you will have to invest in a new stroller when you switch to a convertible car seat.
Reviews to Consider:
- Babylist: “Since we don’t own a car and live in a city this stroller is perfect as it allows us to easily take Uber/Lyft or use friends/family cars without having to take both a carseat and stroller. Perfect for navigating small restaurants and stores as well as travel.” -Francesca
- Amazon Reviewer: “This stroller/car seat combo is AMAZING!!!! If you’re looking for a quality item that’s convenient, this is a must have. Carrying around a car seat with an infant is the worst. This makes life so much easier. It not only saves space but the option to be able to travel with it and also so use it without a base is a plus.”
Clek 2020 Liing Infant Car Seat
The Clek 2020 Liing is a great option for parents who want to invest in the most long-lasting car seat possible.
Although this is certainly an expensive infant car seat choice, there is also so much to love about it. If you plan on having more than one child in the coming years, this car seat will be there for you throughout, since it lasts an unprecedented nine years. Also, if you appreciate natural options, the merino wool material is flame retardant free. Parents also love that the car seat is easy to carry and that the canopy is made of SPF 100+ material.
Reviews to Consider:
- Carseatblog: “The Liing is exactly what you hoped it would be and then some. The design is thoughtful from top to bottom, integrating safety with everyday usefulness and it’s gorgeous too!”
- Car Seats for the Littles: “The Liing definitely offers some nice installation and ease of use features — beautiful baseless belt guides, Euro routing, rigid lower anchors, and a belt tensioning plate. It’s also pretty narrow so families who are working with tight spaces could find a great option in the Liing.”