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Best Infant Car Seats, According to Child Safety Experts | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey | #hacking | #aihp


Everything about having a new baby is nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first, but there’s something about the thought of that tiny one riding in the back of the car that’s especially unsettling. Whether you’re worried about other drivers, bad weather, or just the prospect of scrubbing baby puke off your upholstery, you can give yourself peace of mind by picking something from our list of the best infant car seats available.

What to consider before buying an infant car seat

Get ready, because whether you’re looking at Graco, UPPAbaby, or any other brand, there’s a lot to think about before buying an infant car seat.

Crash testing

It’s important to buy a seat that you know has been exhaustively tested to withstand various types of accidents, but fortunately, that’s not as tough as it sounds. “Consumers can take comfort in knowing that all car seats sold through authorized US retailers comply with the latest safety standards,” says Alli Cavasino, co-founder and CEO of JoyLet, and certified child passenger safety technician. “If you’re buying your car seat new from a reputable retailer, your car seat will have gone through safety and crash testing.”

“As a self-confessed car seat geek, independent crash testing would always be my first port of call,” agrees Jeff Mills, director at Baby & Co. “You must check that the infant carrier conforms to the latest federal safety standards (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213).”

Mills adds, though, that meeting that standard and exceeding it are two very different things. “What truly distinguishes budget infant carriers from premium brands is the extensive in-house testing conducted as an integral part of their design process,” he says. “It goes beyond designing a seat capable of performing at 30 mph; instead, these manufacturers strive to create seats that excel at highway speeds. This additional testing incurs costs for car seat brands, and it’s undeniably reflected in the prices of the top-performing baby car seats.”

Safety features

Some car seats offer safety enhancements that can help improve their performance in a crash. Joe Colella, JPMA director of child passenger safety and 2020 child passenger safety Hall of Fame inductee, recommends looking for the following:

  • Load legs or stability legs, which have been shown to reduce the amount of crash energy transferred to the child.
  • Enhanced side-impact protection features to improve child safety in crashes from more directions. “While all car seats made after June 30, 2025 will be required to meet side impact performance regulations, some models already have features built in that have been crash tested for improved outcomes,” says Colella.
  • Alert systems designed to warn a driver if a child is inadvertently left in the car, to prevent hot car tragedies. “Some of these alert systems can also communicate with the driver if the child is not fully buckled in or if other issues are present,” Colella adds.

Size

A car seat has to fit your child perfectly, but also your car. “The right car seat is one designed for your child’s height, weight, age, and developmental needs,” says Colella. The instructions included with the seat will tell you the height and weight ranges it’s appropriate for. In terms of how it fits in the car, Colella says that, “The car seat must be correctly attached to the vehicle to perform its functions. Following car seat installation instructions and vehicle owner’s manual guidance is crucial.”

Ease of Installation

This point isn’t just about making your life easier, it’s about ensuring anyone using your car seat (say, if you left the baby with Grandpa for the day) can easily figure out how it works. “Proper installation is paramount for safety–the safest car seat is one that is installed correctly,” says Cavasino. “Choose an infant car seat that is user-friendly and comes with clear installation instructions. Some models may include features like color-coded indicators or built-in leveling systems to assist with correct installation.”

Adjustability

“Consider car seats that offer adjustable features to ensure a secure and comfortable fit for your child,” advises Cavasino. “Adjustable harness heights, recline positions, and headrests contribute to the adaptability of the seat as your child grows.”

Ease of cleaning

From overflowing diapers to car sickness incidents to spilled snacks and drinks, every parent knows that car seats can very quickly become disgusting. It’s definitely worth considering a seat with machine-washable covers.

Longevity

“Consider the car seat’s suitability for long-term use, and expiration date, especially if you plan to use it for the infant stage for multiple children,” says Cavasino. “One advantage of a convertible car seat is that accommodating different stages of growth might be a cost-effective and practical choice.”

While that might all seem like a lot, it’s well worth taking the time to absorb. And if you’re also shopping for other baby essentials in anticipation of a new arrival, be sure to check out our guides to the best baby bibs, high chairs, and travel strollers.

Our picks for the best infant car seats

Best lightweight infant car seat: Nuna PIPA RX Infant Car Seat

Considering parents of newborns have so much stuff to carry already, a lightweight car seat is always appreciated. Mills recommends the Nuna PIPA RX, saying that, “Weighing only 7.6 lbs, the PIPA RX is great for parents always on the go.” He especially notes the fact it uses chemical free fabrics, its four recline positions, and the optional RELX base, which makes installing the seat in most vehicles a straightforward process.

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 32 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 7.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 25.2 inches long x 17.5 inches wide x 23 inches high
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Price on publish: $400

What we like:

  • Lightweight
  • 10 color options
  • Stability legs with crumple zone

What we don’t like:

  • Some reviews say the carrying handle is a little uncomfortable

The bottom line:

A lightweight, easy to use and, above all, super safe car seat.

Best lightweight infant car seat

Nuna PIPA RX Infant Car Seat

Best infant car seat and stroller combo: UPPAbaby Vista V2 and Mesa Max Travel System

Combine a universally-loved stroller with a matching car seat for the best car-to-sidewalk transition. Mills praises the fact that you can attach this car seat without the use of car seat adaptors, as well as the one-handed release button on the carry handle. And if you like the look of the car seat, but already have a different UPPAbaby stroller, don’t worry–it fits with other models, too, like the Cruz.

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 9.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 25.8 inches long x 17 inches wide x 23 inches high
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Price on publish: $1,329.98

What we like:

  • Five car seat colors, nine stroller colors
  • Steel-reinforced legs
  • Greenguard Gold certified

What we don’t like:

  • Nothing–reviews are unanimously good for this pairing

The bottom line:

A super convenient and reliable pairing, with a stroller that’ll keep growing with your little one.

Best infant car seat and stroller combo

UPPAbaby Vista V2 and Mesa Max Travel System

Best affordable infant car seat: Baby Trend Lightweight EZ Lift 35 Plus

Nothing makes you feel like you’re hemorrhaging money quite like having a new baby. To take at least some of the sting out of it, try this more affordable car seat from Baby Trend. “This is a great value baby car seat that can be picked up for well under $100, including the base,” says Mills. “It’s also lightweight, with a handy ergonomic side grip for easy lifting.

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 30 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26.5 inches long x 16.5 inches wide x 24 inches high
  • Height limit: 29.5 inches
  • Price on publish: $89.99

What we like:

  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • FAA approved for airplane use

What we don’t like:

  • Several customer reviews complain about the difficulty in using the straps and especially the buckle

The bottom line:

An inexpensive infant car seat that nevertheless meets full federal safety standards.

Best affordable infant car seat

Baby Trend EZ-Lift 35 PLUS Infant Car Seat, Ultra Grey

Easiest-to-clean infant car seat: Cybex Aton G Swivel

As someone whose kid once threw up about a gallon of semi-digested fruit salad 45 minutes into a two-hour car ride, I can attest to how important ease of cleaning is. Thankfully most infant car seats have removable, machine washable covers, but Mills suggests checking out the Cybex Aton G Swivel in particular, noting its no-rethread harness and elasticated seam for easier cover removal.

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: Birth – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26.1 inches long x 17.5 inches wide x 14.7 inches high
  • Height limit: Not listed
  • Price on publish: $399

What we like:

  • Can rotate 180 degrees
  • 11 different headrest positions
  • Easy-glide recline
  • Side impact protection

What we don’t like:

  • Some customer reviews complain that the carrying handle is uncomfortable to hold

The bottom line:

A high-tech infant car seat with easily removable, washable covers.

Easiest-to-clean infant car seat

Easiest-to-install infant car seat: Chicco Fit2

As mentioned earlier, ease of installation not only makes your life easier, it helps ensure that others don’t struggle with the seat when babysitting. Mills suggests trying the Chicco Fit2, saying that, “It’s not only great value, but its RideRight bubbles [easy-to-read, built-in spirit levels] ensure the seat is correctly leveled in your vehicle. The SuperCinch LATCH tightener makes it super easy to ensure the latch system is tight and secure, too.”

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 11 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28 inches long x 17 inches wide x 24 inches high
  • Height limit: 35 inches
  • Price on publish: $329.99

What we like:

  • Easy to use
  • Carrier shell lined with EPS energy-absorbing foam
  • RideRight bubbles let you know when it’s exactly in position

What we don’t like:

  • A small number of customer reviews complain that it’s on the heavy side

The bottom line:

A safe, stylish car seat designed to be easy to use, day in, day out.

Easiest-to-install infant car seat

Chicco Fit2 35 lbs Infant & Toddler Car Seat

Best infant car seat for small cars: Clek Liing

Those looking for a seat that’ll fit in a smaller car (if you’re traveling to Britain, say, where, as a Brit originally, I can confirm that the average car would fit comfortably inside the average American car), this is the one for you. “Most infant car seats have a similar footprint in the vehicle, but if you’re struggling for space, I suggest the Clek Liing,” says Mills. “It’s built with advanced materials and a rigid LATCH system similar to some of the best seats in Europe.”

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 27.7 inches long x 16.9 inches wide x 26.8 inches high
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Price on publish: $499.99

What we like:

  • Small enough to fit three across in the back seat
  • Energy-absorbing metal load leg
  • Side impact protection
  • Suitable for preemies

The bottom line:

A super compact model for those with less room in the back seat.

Best infant car seat for small cars

Clek Liing Infant Car Seat & Base

Best infant car seat for airplane travel: Doona Infant Car Seat

Flying with babies, who’s excited?! Alongside the crying, the my-ears-are-popping shrieks, and the dirty looks from other passengers, the sheer amount of stuff you need to take with you is exhausting. This seat, though, can make things a little easier. “This is a great travel solution,” says Mills. “Not only is it FAA approved, but with a push of a button the Doona car seat converts into a stroller, meaning you don’t have to bring a separate stroller with you on your vacation.”

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 17 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26 inches long x 17.4 inches wide x 22.4 inches high
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Price on publish: $550

What we like:

  • Extremely convenient
  • FAA approved
  • Comes fully assembled

What we don’t like:

  • Much heavier than a regular infant car seat, due to it also being a stroller

The bottom line:

An incredibly convenient, compact car seat/stroller twofer, ideal for long trips.

Best infant car seat for airplane travel

Doona All-in-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

Best crash test analysis infant car seat: Clek Liing

“This is the second recommendation for this infant car seat, but its independent crash scores are so good that the Liing deserves to be recognised,” says Mills of this compact Canadian car seat. “The rigid LATCH system and load leg help ensure minimal movement during testing, and the installation is clear and simple, reducing chances of an incorrect fit.”

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 27.7 inches long x 16.9 inches wide x 26.8 inches high
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Price on publish: $499.99

What we like:

  • Extremely safe
  • Energy-absorbing metal load leg
  • Side impact protection
  • Suitable for preemies

The bottom line:

As well as being compact, this is an extremely safe model, making it a no-brainer for those worried that a smaller car might be less safe for their child.

Best crash test analysis infant car seat

Clek Liing Infant Car Seat, Pitch Black

Best infant car seat for quality and comfort: Cybex Cloud Q

Anyone seeking a truly high end option will find the Cloud Q worth their time. “The Cloud Q from Cybex, part of their Platinum collection, offers premium fabrics and materials in conjunction with class leading safety performance,” says Mills. In particular, he praises the full lie-flat function for use on selected strollers, and the SensorSafe chest clip, which alerts you about your child’s safety via an app.

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 4 – 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 13.9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 26.4 inches long x 17.3 inches wide x 15.6 inches high
  • Height limit: 30 inches
  • Price on publish: $499.95

What we like:

  • Full recline position
  • Sensors send information about your child directly to your phone
  • Load leg base
  • Side impact protection

The bottom line:

A high-end and admittedly expensive infant car seat, that nevertheless justifies its price with a ton of safety features.

Best infant car seat for quality and comfort

CYBEX Cloud Q SensorSafe Infant Car Seat & Base in Autumn Gold at Nordstrom

Longest lasting infant car seat: Nuna EXEC All-in-One Car Seat

Most infant car seats only last until the kid is around 32 inches tall, or weighs around 35 pounds, so if you want something that’ll last a little longer, try an all-in-one car seat instead. “To ensure the seat is long-lasting, it’s worth investing in a seat with better quality fabrics and materials,” says Mills, who recommends the Nuna EXEC All-in-One. “This car seat is suitable from birth all the way through to 120 pounds—with its all-steel frame and bamboo blended fabrics, this seat is built to last.”

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 5 – 120 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 26.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 22.5 inches long x 18.5 inches wide x 33 inches high
  • Height limit: 57 inches
  • Price on publish: $750

What we like:

  • Built to last
  • Eight recline positions
  • Side impact protection

What we don’t like:

  • Considerably heavier than regular infant car seats, but lasts much longer
  • Expensive, but again, its longevity offsets this

The bottom line:

A convenient, long-lasting car seat that’ll work for infants up to kids four years and older.

Longest lasting infant car seat

Nuna EXEC All-in-One Car Seat

Best value infant car seat: Graco SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX

For the most possible bang for your buck, Graco’s SnugRide SnugFit 35 DLX strikes the perfect balance of safety, comfort, user-friendliness, and price. A relatively lightweight seat compared to some on our list, it features an anti-rebound base for additional rear-facing safety, an easy-to-remove seat cover for quicker clean-ups, and has been rigorously crash tested to ensure extra protection for your child in the event of frontal, rear, side, and even rollover crashes.

Specifications:

  • Passenger Weight: 35 pounds
  • Carrier Weight: 9.8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 27.5 inches long x 17.5 inches wide x 25.5 inches high
  • Height limit: 32 inches
  • Price on publish: $229.97

What we like:

  • Designed to protect your child in every major type of crash
  • Easy to remove seat cover for easy cleaning
  • Super simple to install and adjust with the base

What we don’t like:

  • Some users report difficulty installing the seat without the base

The bottom line:

An infant car seat that ticks all the boxes while still costing less than almost everything else on our list.

Best value infant car seat

Graco® SnugRide® SnugFit 35 DLX Infant Car Seat, Maison

How we selected the best infant car seats

Our selections were made by listening to the advice of our three incredibly knowledgeable experts, as well as conducting thorough research and ensuring that every one of our picks has positive customer reviews, especially in terms of ease of use, longevity, and most of all, that parents were satisfied their babies were safe in the seat.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How long are infant car seats good for?

“Infant car seats are specifically crafted for use from birth up to a maximum height of 32 inches,” says Mills. “Although the maximum weight limit may vary among different models, it usually ranges between 30-35 pounds. This weight limit aligns with the average age of an infant, typically reaching 12-15 months.”

If you’re unsure about whether it’s time to replace your seat, Cavasino advises considering the following:

● Expiration date: Infant car seats have an expiration date, usually around six to ten years after the manufacturing date. It’s crucial to replace the car seat before it expires to ensure continued safety.

Technological advancements: Consider replacing the infant car seat if there have been significant technological advancements in car seat safety since your original purchase.

● Wear and tear: Regularly inspect the car seat for any signs of wear and tear. If you notice any damage or if the seat has been involved in a moderate to severe crash, it’s time to replace it.

What’s the difference between an infant car seat and a convertible car seat?

“Infant car seats are typically designed for our youngest and smallest children, with minimum weights of three or four pounds and upper limits ranging from 20 to 35 pounds, and may only be installed and used facing the rear of the vehicle,” says Colella. “Convertible models can be used facing the rear of the vehicle for specified child height and weight ranges, and then can be converted for forward-facing use with separate height and weight ranges.”

How long do babies stay in infant car seats?

Babies should remain in rear-facing car seats until they reach the maximum weight or height limit specified by the car seat manufacturer, according to Cavasino. She adds that, “This is typically around 22-35 pounds or when the top of the child’s head is within an inch of the top of the seat. Considering the rapid growth during the early stages of a child’s life, infants often outgrow their infant car seats within the first year. As a general guideline, many babies transition to convertible car seats after the age of two, or when they exceed the rear-facing limits.”

Can I use a second-hand car seat?

“Generally, experts recommend against using second-hand car seats for safety assurance reasons,” warns Colella. “Car seats are safety devices, so their ability to function as designed is critical.”

“The most important thing you can do is to make sure you know the origin,” says Cavasino. “I recommend always buying your car seat new, but if you do acquire a secondhand car seat, make sure that you trust the source. You want to make sure that it has not been involved in an accident, expired, or been recalled. In certain cases, if a car seat is involved in even a minor collision, it may need to be replaced. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued guidelines that outline when parents should replace a car seat after an accident.”

“Additionally, car seats expire and may have been subject to a recall,” she continues. “You can check the expiration date on the unit itself along with the make, model, and model year. Use this information to look up whether the car seat has been subject to a recall on nhtsa.gov/recalls.”

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