Being a new mom and dad involves so many decisions. You’ve got to put together a nursery, add the must-haves to your baby registry list, and stay up to date on hospital bag must-haves all while preparing to become a parent! The lists can feel endless. BUT when it comes to picking out the best infant car seat, we are here to help.
Below, we will go over everything you need to know about infant car seats and help you narrow down exactly what you need to look for.
Best Infant Car Seats
|Best Overall||Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat|
|Best Lightweight Option||Nuna Pipa Lite RX|
|Best Infant Car Seat on a Budget||Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat|
|Best Travel System||Safety 1st Smooth Ride Travel System|
|Best Option with Extra Safety Features||Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Nido Car Seat with Load Leg Base|
|Best for a Crowded Back Seat||Uppababy Mesa Car Seat|
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INFANT CAR SEATS
Infants must start in a rear-facing car seat. Most hospitals will require seeing you put the baby into the car seat and installing it into your car before taking your bundle of joy home.
Infant car seats are rear-facing car seats designed to support babies properly and protect them in the event of a crash. Plus, since infants don’t have the muscle tone or skeletal structure to support themselves, a rear-facing car seat cradles them and provides the necessary support and angle for safe riding.
Your baby will remain in a rear-facing car seat until they reach the maximum limit in weight or height per the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific car seat model. With this guideline, a child should remain in a rear-facing car seat from newborn to about 2 years old.
TYPES OF CAR SEATS
In this article, we are going to be going over the best infant car seat options. A infant car seat is rear-facing and can easily be taken in and out of the car. You can carry your baby inside the car seat or clip it into a compatible stroller.
It is important to note that there are a few other types of car seats you may want to consider.
- Convertible: This is a rear-facing car seat that can convert to a forward-facing car seat with some adjustments. This can help parents save money, time, and the hassle of having to buy multiple car seats for one child. Check out all of our favorite convertible car seats here!
- 3-in-1: This type of car seat starts out rear-facing, converts to forward-facing, and with some adjustments can become a booster seat for older kiddos.
CAR SEAT INSTALLATION
There is one thing most parents can agree on when it comes to car seats; how difficult it is to install them! The best way to ensure your car seat is installed properly is to research the closest Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) in your area.
Sometimes local police or fire departments will have car seat check events to answer questions and help with installs. Your local hospital may also have a CPST, but you should do your research and call ahead, ideally before the baby is born.
There are two main ways a car seat can be installed, with the traditional lap belt or with an advanced LATCH system. Understanding both methods will help you choose the right car seat for your vehicle and will save you time when it comes to installing the seat. Both methods are equally safe. Some car seat models will allow either installation method, others may have specifications for one or the other. Never use both methods unless the manufacturer’s directions confirm it’s acceptable.
Pro tip– You can stop by your local fire station and have the firemen properly install your car seat. They are happy to do it.
8 BEST INFANT CAR SEATS
1. CHICCO KEYFIT 30 INFANT CAR SEAT – TOP PICK OVERALL
Let’s kick things off with the Chicco Keyfit 30! It performs very well in crash tests, giving parents peace of mind about safety. This is also one of the easier car seats to install with Chicco’s LATCH system. The bubble indicator makes it clear when you have got the car seat placed correctly, which is a great anxiety-reliever.
Aside from the amazing safety features, this car seat is very comfortable and made of durable, easy to clean fabric. It is compatible with many different strollers also, which makes it a great choice if you aren’t sure on a stroller yet!
2. NUNA PIPA LITE RX – BEST LIGHTWEIGHT INFANT CAR SEAT
At 7 pounds, the Nuna Pipa Lite RX is definitely one of the lightest weight infant car seats you will find. Choosing this lightweight car seat doesn’t mean you will be sacrificing the important stuff, though. From safety to style the Nuna Pipa Lite RX has it all.
As for my favorite features, the True lock installation makes it easy and quick to install this car seat safely. The headrest is height-adjustable so that you can create the perfect fit for your baby. The car seat also has a magnetic UPF 50+ canopy for sun protection.
3. PEG PEREGO PRIMO VIAGGIO NIDO CAR SEAT WITH LOAD LEG BASE – EXTRA SAFETY FEATURES
Peg Perego is a brand I have loved for quite a while. Their quality is hard to replicate. With Peg Perego, you will not only get a car seat you love but one that will truly last. The load leg, which sets this car seat apart when it comes to safety, absorbs energy by crumpling upon impact. The base also has extra protection with the built-in anti-rebound bar attached.
This car seat has some fantastic features for your baby, including over 6 different headrest positions. There are two different stages of cushions so you can be sure your baby is getting the perfect fit. One is for when your infant is a newborn and needs the extra neck and head cushion and the other is for a growing baby.
The hood is SPF 50 and the car seat is also pretty easy to clean (a HUGE perk)!
4. GRACO SNUGRIDE 35 INFANT CAR SEAT – BEST INFANT CAR SEAT ON A BUDGET
As a rear-facing only infant car seat, the Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat is one of the most popular car seats on the market. It is affordable but has all the bells and whistles including a built-in sun visor, built-in head support, and a 4-position recline.
It operates with a Click Connect base system which provides a secure fit and the click confirms the placement. The Click Connect system is compatible with so many strollers and even other car seat bases, which makes it easy to pair it with your other baby gear.
5. SAFETY 1ST SMOOTH RIDE TRAVEL SYSTEM
If you are looking for a great stroller car seat duo, you have to check out the Safety 1st Smooth Ride Travel System. The stroller functions beyond use with the car seat to save you the hassle of upgrading later.
The car seat uses QuickClick for security and confirmation that the seat is situated in the base correctly. The harness is adjustable for comfort as the child grows.
6. MAXI-COSI MICO MAX 30 INFANT CAR SEAT
This car seat is one of the lightest in its class and transferring the car seat from the base to a stroller is simple, quick, and easy. There is an infant support system included and it is stroller compatible with most premium strollers. It has a contoured carrying handle, and an expandable canopy.
For when there are spills and spit-ups, which we know are inevitable; the fabric deodorizes and draws liquid away from the skin and making it super easy to clean.
7. DOONA INFANT CAR SEAT AND STROLLER
The Doona Car Seat is taking the world by storm and it’s no surprise because it is SO convenient. It is the only car seat in the world with integrated wheels, so it easily unfolds and converts into a stroller.
As for the car seat itself, it has a safe, ergonomic design with three-layer side impact protection. Plus, the infant insert provides a near-flat ergonomic position making it ideal for newborns.
8. UPPABABY MESA INFANT CAR SEAT
The UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat has a 5-star ease of use rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the SMART Secure System makes it easy to safely install it in seconds.
When I was testing out car seats, the Uppababy Mesa really stood out to me for being so slender. It would be a great option if you have a smaller or crowded backseat. I would highly recommend pairing it with the Uppababy Cruz stroller, as the duo has worked out great for us!
CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT OPTIONS
If you come to the decision that an infant car seat isn’t for you, here is a round up of some of our favorite convertible and 3-in-1 car seats.
BRITAX BOULEVARD CLICKTIGHT CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
Britax has been known for quite some time to have some of the safest car seats around, that is why it is consistently our number 1 choice for best infant car seats. The frame is made of steel to provide strong protection and the side impact has two layers of protection in addition to the steel base. Britax also has a super nice and airy mesh seat to allow for better airflow in the car seat. This car seat is truly one of the best of the best.
EVENFLO TRIBUTE LX CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT – BEST INFANT CAR SEAT – BUDGET FRIENDLY
For a convertible car seat that’s light enough for travel, the Evenflo Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat is a solid choice. This seat goes from rear-facing to forward-facing and has head support for the infant that can be removed as the child grows. With multiple shoulder harness heights and a body cushion that’s both comfortable and easy to clean, this is a great convertible car seat. Added features include a removable cup holder and a quick harness release for easy in and out.
SAFETY 1ST GUIDE 65 CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT
The Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat is another great option for travel as well as a smaller option for cars. This seat fits in one backseat spot exactly, which means you can get three of these seats across the backbench, depending on your vehicle. It’s also a very lightweight and compact model with five harness heights, three buckle locations, and a removable cup holder.
SAFETY 1ST GROW AND GO 3-IN-1 CAR SEAT
The Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat is rear-facing, forward-facing, and a belted booster depending on the configuration you choose. Harness holders help keep the straps open for easy in and out, and both the harness and the headrest are adjustable. With removable padding for easy washing and the added cup holders, this 3-in-1 car seat is a great option all around.
GRACO 3-IN-1 NAUTILUS 65 LX HARNESS BOOSTER CAR SEAT
The last 3-in-1 option is the Graco 3-in-1 Nautilus 65 LX Harness Booster Car Seat. This model features the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System which allows you to adjust the harness and headrest in one motion to ensure a proper fit as they grow. The forward-facing configuration is a high back style and the booster is a backless booster. Features also include a cupholder and 3 recline settings.