Being a new mom and dad involves so many decisions. You’ve got to find everything for the nursery, put together your baby registry list, know what to bring to the hospital, the list is endless. Thus, we are here to help with your decision-making and in this case, choosing the best infant car seats. We will go over everything you need to know about what is the best infant car seat for your new bundle of joy and what to look for.
What you need to know about Infant Car Seats
Infants must start in a rear-facing car seat from the time they leave the hospital. Rear-facing car seats keep them safe because they are designed to support the child properly and protect their tiny bodies appropriately in the event of a crash. Infants don’t have the muscle tone or skeletal structure to support themselves and a rear-facing car seat cradles them and provides the necessary support and angle for safe riding.
As the child grows they must 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 infant to around 2 years old.
Types of Infant Car Seats
Given that children can require a rear-facing car seat from newborn age all the way to toddlerhood, there are options on the current market that take this into consideration and help parents save money, time, and the hassle of having to buy multiple car seats for one child.
- Rear-facing only: this is the traditional infant car seat that typically features handles to carry the child to and from the car. This style car seat uses a base to cradle the car seat and often is compatible with a stroller.
- Convertible: this is a rear-facing car seat that can “convert” to a forward-facing car seat with some adjustments.
- 3-in-1: this is a car seat that can start as rear-facing, “convert” to forward-facing, and with some adjustments can become a booster seat for support once the child grows beyond the requirements.
Car Seat Installation
One of the classic flaws to car seats for any age is the difficulty many have in installing them correctly. The best way to ensure your car seat is installed properly is to research the closest Child Passenger Safety Technician, or CPST, in your area. Often 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.
Top 10 Best Infant Car Seats
These top 7 car seats cover all three infant car seat types; rear-facing only, convertible, and 3-in-1. Each type has its own benefits from easy carry handles in a rear-only to legroom and cup holders with a forward-facing, and a grow with me style with the 3-in-1.
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!
Peg Perego has been a brand I have loved for quite a while. Their quality is hard to replicate. You will find with a Peg Perego that you will not only get a car seat you love but one that will truly last. This car seat has some fantastic features for your baby. This includes over 10 different positions for your baby to sit in.
The hood is SPF 50. There are two different stages of cushions. 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 car seat is also pretty easy to clean which, mom you will love.
As a rear-facing only infant car seat, the Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat is one of the lightest on the market. It operates with a Click Connect base system which provides a secure fit and the click confirms the placement. This model works with all other Graco products that use the Click Connect system, which makes it easy to use with a stroller or other car seat bases. There’s a built-in sun visor, handles, and built-in head support.
Another rear-only infant car seat that integrates with a stroller is the Safety 1st Smooth Ride Travel System. This car seat comes with a stroller which makes shopping a little easier. 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.
5. 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Have any questions about Infant Car Seats, feel free to leave a question in the comments
or ask questions in our Rookie Moms Facebook Group. It’s a great way to connect with other moms, share tips and get advice.
You Might Also Enjoy: