An extra-large canopy for a better sleeping environment. Nanotex Technology resists stains, moisture and odors. Easy to carry.
It’s on the heavier side. The accompanying Click & Go stroller isn’t included.
Compact and lightweight compared to many other options. Budget-friendly price. Easy click-in, click-out design.
Users may find the position of the release button uncomfortable. The cheaper price may become apparent in the aesthetic and materials.
Can be installed with either a seat belt or latch system. It’s easy to purchase extra bases for multi-car transportation. Easy to clean.
All color options are a little drab. Seat makes loud clicking noise when removed from base, which can wake baby.
With this seat in the car, it’s impossible to forget your stroller. Both TUV and FAA Aircraft Approved. Two-year manufacturer’s warranty. Multiple color options.
Everpresent, built-in wheels can feel a little awkward when not in use.
Great all-in-one kit for transporting a baby. Once the car seat is outgrown, you’ll still have a functioning stroller.
The stroller leaves something to be desired, as it's heavier and prone to wobbling over time. So-so storage space.
After the arrival of your newborn child, you’re going to be responsible for getting your precious cargo from place to place in the safest way possible. And that’s likely the first challenge you’ll face is the journey home from the hospital. If you intend to travel by car, you’re going to need one of the best infant car seats installed in your vehicle, not just because it’s the safest way to travel by car with a newborn, but also because it’s required by law.
What is an Infant Car Seat?
Infant car seats, which are sometimes known as bucket seats, are specifically designed with newborn car travel in mind. Not only do these backward-facing seats prioritize your little one’s safety during transit, but they also act as a handy place for your baby to nap, which, as many new parents will know, may become an incredibly precious activity during the early months.
The construction of infant car seats is tailored to provide your baby’s head, neck and spinal cord with the support they need. The restraining seats also include a number of features to best protect your baby from danger should it ever be needed. Unsurprisingly, given these features and the value of the cargo inside, these car additions have become an essential buy for any new parents.
Physically, infant car seats are (usually) made up of two parts, namely the rear-facing seat and the accompanying base. The base is made to remain in your vehicle, allowing you to quickly click in the rear-facing seat when it’s time to travel. Otherwise, when not clicked in place in your car, the seat acts as a handy way to carry your child. Many models also feature the ability to attach the seat to a compatible stroller so that you can easily get on with your errands.
Finally, it’s important to note that these car seats do have limitations. Most infant car seats are made to accommodate babies until they reach a certain weight or height limit. This is generally right around the 30-pound mark or when your child reaches 30 inches tall.
Are More Expensive Infant Car Seats Safer?
One of the obvious questions to ask yourself is, does paying more for your infant car seat offer greater safety? However, it’s perhaps most comforting to know that even budget-friendly infant car seats have to meet a number of federal standards set out by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. So, while your natural inclination may be to spend more, you can rest assured that every car seat meets a basal level of required safety. It’s more likely that your extra bucks get you added extras, like more luxurious materials, fancier features and in some cases, additional safety elements that aren’t required under the above-mentioned federal laws.
Infant Car Seats vs. Convertible Car Seats
When doing your infant car research, it’s likely you also came across convertible car seats.
Convertible car seats are able to accommodate a newborn baby (in a rear-facing seat) and effectively grow with them (to a front-facing seat) when they reach toddler size (approx. 65 pounds). That’s why these seats are called convertible car seats (rear-facing to front-facing change). While a convertible car seat may seem like the no-brainer choice on first discovery, there are actually a number of reasons you may want to choose an infant car seat over the convertible option. These include:
- Click-In/Click-Out Technology – The major benefit of a built-for-purpose infant car seat is the convenience. The click-in/out tech allows you to pop your child in or out without disturbing them nearly as much as removing them from a convertible car seat. While this may not seem like a big deal to future parents, anyone who has seen an infant suddenly woken up from a nap knows how beneficial this really is.
- Portability – A hidden benefit of infant car seats is that the popped out seat can act as a convenient vessel for transporting your baby from place to place on foot. Whether a party, dinner date or just running your errands, this portability can be a hidden godsend, especially when your baby is catching some Zs.
- Vehicle Switching – If you intend to transport your baby using different vehicles, switching out a chunky convertible car seat every time is a real pain in the butt. And while infant car seats don’t completely eliminate this problem alone, it is possible to purchase extra bases for most models, allowing you to keep one in each vehicle and effortlessly switch between them when required.
Below, you’ll find five of our favorite infant car seats. Each is impressively well reviewed, meaning there’s not really a wrong choice. The best infant car seat for you really depends on the model-specific extras each one offers, rather than price or style.
1. Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat
The Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat comes with over 2,000 five-star reviews from parents who love this convenient way of getting a baby from point A to B. For your convenience, the design includes an ergonomic, comfortable handle, is covered in a Special Nanotex Technology to fight odors, stains and moisture and comes in more than 16 color combinations, so your car seat matches your style. The Safe Center latch also makes securing and tightening the seat simple. For your baby’s comfort, there’s a removable pillow, multiple layers of impact protection and an adjustable headrest and harness. Furthermore, the extra-large canopy will help prevent exposure to the elements and create an environment more conducive for the baby to get those all-important Zs.
Pros: An extra-large canopy for a better sleeping environment. Nanotex Technology resists stains, moisture and odors.
Cons: It’s on the heavier side. The accompanying Click & Go stroller isn’t included.
Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat
2. Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat
At under $200 and with five-star reviews from over 90% of Amazon users, the Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat is a solid and budget-friendly choice. Boasting the title of the “Number One Rated Infant Car Seat in America,” it’s easy to see why. The seat is filled with handy features, including a five-point harness which can be tightened with a single pull; a “SuperCinch Tightener” which makes securing the seat in place quick; and simple and removable head and body supports for when your baby starts growing. The seat is also compatible with Chicco strollers and comes in a range of different color combinations.
Pros: Compact and lightweight compared to many other options. Budget-friendly price. Easy click-in, click-out design.
Cons: Users may find the position of the release button uncomfortable. The cheaper price may become apparent in the aesthetic materials.
Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat
3. Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat
BEST FOR MULTI-CAR HOUSEHOLDS
One major benefit of the Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat is how easy it is to purchase an additional base for a second car, meaning it’s quick and easy to switch between vehicles without compromising on safety. The car seat itself features a smart handle for one-handed adjustments. There’s also a “Silent Shade” which can be adjusted without any fear of waking your baby inside and sports an adjustable mesh panel for weather-tailored airflow. Furthermore, the well-loved car seat accommodates babies between four and 35 pounds and is compatible with the Click Connect stroller, allowing for seamless transitions from the car.
Pros: Can be installed with either a seat belt or latch system. It’s easy to purchase extra bases for multi-car transportation.
Cons: All color options are a little drab.
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat
4. Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base
The Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base offers hard-to-beat levels of quality and convenience. Its all-in-one design means it’s impossible to forget to pack the stroller, as through a few pulls, twists and turns, this handy car seat converts into a stroller. This combo car seat includes a five-point harness for a secure ride as well as an adjustable handlebar to ensure you’re equally as comfortable when pushing and carrying. For cleaning convenience, you’ll find a removable and washable cover, while the triple layer of side-impact protection adds a little bit of extra reassurance which is always welcome.
Pros: With this seat in the car, it’s impossible to forget your stroller. Both TUV and FAA Aircraft Approved. Two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Cons: Everpresent, built-in wheels can feel a little awkward when not in use.
Doona Car Seat + Stroller
5. Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
BEST TRAVEL SYSTEM
The Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System is an outstanding option for parents who want a compatible infant car seat and stroller combo that costs under $400. There’s even a basic version of the Bravo Trio, the Bravo Lillo, sold via Amazon Prime for just $270. The system is made up of the Bravo Stroller, the KeyFit 30 infant seat and the accompanying car base. The infant car seat is capable of accommodating children between four and 30 pounds and up to 30 inches in height. When separated from the base, it’s comparatively lightweight at 9.6 pounds. The stroller, which includes a detachable seat and canopy, sports a smart, one-hand fold design as well as auto-positioning wheels, a handy parent tray with built-in cup holders and storage space. Its aluminum frame further adds to the overall durable yet lightweight build of the system.
Pros: Great all-in-one kit for transporting a baby. Once the car seat is outgrown, you’ll still have a functioning stroller.
Cons: Limited color choices. The detachable seat and canopy could be misplaced when not in use.
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System
Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System, Lilla
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