12 Best Infant Car Seats in 2017
If you’ve got a little one on the way, the chances are that a top-notch baby car seat is high on your list of priority purchases. However, with so much to consider with regards to safety features and styles, car seat buying can be a surprisingly complex (if not downright frustrating) process.
It’s not just a matter of making sure your precious cargo is comfortable and well-protected; you’ll also need to figure out which type of seat is best for your short and long-term needs, as well as get a handle on details like safety features, materials, seat fit and installation.
A car seat might just be the number one item you’ll want to research thoroughly before you buy—but as a new parent, you’re probably already thoroughly overwhelmed.
We’ve put together this handy guide which breaks down the ins and outs of car seat design and installation to help you find the best infant car seat for your needs and lifestyle.
Top 12 Infant Car Seats Comparison Chart
|Design||Name||Type||Impact Protection Features||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat and Base||Infant||Removable newborn insert, energy-absorbing foam||4.7|
|2. Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat||Convertible||EPS, energy absorbing foam and steel frame||4.7|
|3. Britax Marathon G4.1 Convertible Car Seat||Convertible||Steel frame, energy-absorbing base and impact-absorbing tether||4.6|
|4. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Infant Car Seat||Infant||Side impact protection adjusts to six different positions||4.5|
|5. Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat||Convertible||Steel frame||4.5|
|6. Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 Car Seat||Convertible||Side impact protection||4.5|
|7. Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat||Infant||EPS, energy absorbing foam||4.5|
|8. Evenflo Symphony DLX All-In-One Convertible Car Seat||Convertible||e3 Side Impact Protection||4.5|
|9. Disney APT Convertible Car Seat||Convertible||Safecell impact protection||4.4|
|10. Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat||Infant||Safecell impact protection, steel frame||4.4|
|11. Evenflo Tribute Sport Convertible Car Seat||convertible||Energy absorbing foam liner||4.4|
|12. Baby Trend Expedition LX Travel System||Infant (comes with jogging stroller)||EPS energy-absorbing foam for superior side impact head protection||4.4|
Car Seat Safety and Installation Tips
All new car seats are legally certified and tested at the highest levels of safety, generally, the newer the seat, the safer it will be. Always check local laws regarding car seat usage before you buy.
The car seat installation process can seem a little complicated; you’ll want to go through both the car seat manual you’re your vehicle manual thoroughly. If those are too confusing, don’t worry: most car seat manufacturers will also have instructional video (thank goodness for YouTube)!
Understanding the LATCH system
The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system refers to a way of securing a car seat without using a seatbelt. The top and bottom anchors from the security base on the vehicle seat, and each matches up with straps attached to the child car seat.
Here’s the lowdown on the LATCH system, which you need to know if you want to choose the best infant car seat for your little one:
- You can use a seatbelt instead of the LATCH system; both are equally as safe, so long as the seat is installed Just be sure to use either the lower anchors or a seat belt, not both.
- If you are using a convertible seat, switch to using a seatbelt rather than the lower anchor once the combined weight of the seat and the child reaches 65 pounds.
- All cars made after the year 2001 come equipped with the LATCH system. You can find details about LATCH, seat-belts and installing car seats in your car manual.
- Many cars do not have LATCH in the center seat. Do not place the seat in the center using side seat belts and anchors, or safety could be compromised.
Fitting and Installing the Car Seat
When it comes to installing the car seat, there are a few things you should remember.
- Location – The seat should be in a spot where you can get it secured most tightly, and you shouldn’t be able to move it more than one inch in any direction.
- Consult a Professional – Pre and post-installation, find a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technician to help with installation and ensure the seat is installed Check the national CPS certification website to find a professional in your area.
- Consider Additional Passengers – If you are planning on having several passengers in the back of a car, try to choose a narrower seat so that there will be plenty of room for them, too.
The Safety and Comfort of Your Baby
What about the little details that ensure your baby stays both safe and comfortable in the car seat?
- Direction – Infant seats are typically built for babies up to 30 or 40 pounds. They are rear-facing and portable. Convertible seats don’t tend to have the same portability factor, but they will adjust to fit the needs of your growing child.
It is recommended that children stay in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two years of age.
- Height and Weight – Height and weight limits vary by design, so always check before you buy. Your child’s head should never be more than an inch from the top of the seat.
- Harness Details – For rear-facing installation, shoulder harness straps should be snug and clips should be level with armpits. You should not be able to grab at extra fabric, and at or below shoulder height.
- Recline Angle – Always make sure that the seat reclines at the correct angle for proper head support and double-check to make sure the threading in the harness is correct.
Top 5 Best Infant Car Seat Reviews
If you’ve been shopping around for car seats, you’ve probably figured out by now that installation can be a little complicated—not so much with the Chicco Keyfit. Features such as the bubble lever indicator make this model very user-friendly: just like a traditional leveler, it’s used to indicate whether the seat is at the right angle for your baby.
As far as portability goes, this seat is a breeze to put in and take out of the car, no matter which angle you’re coming from, so you may want to consider it if you’ll be making lots of trips to visit friends and relatives in the early months.
The Chicco Keyfit also comes with thick inserts to help smaller newborns to stay snug and cozy. It holds a maximum of 30 pounds, so it works well for babies who are a little on the smaller side.
If you’re looking for a super safe, convertible-style seat that will stick with the family for years, to check out Graco’s All-in-One model which can be used for up to 10 years and works for kiddies four and 120 pounds. The rear-facing seat fits babies up to 40 pounds, so is perfect for those who are a little on the heavy side.
Graco has a special click-sound attachment setup which makes it easy to tell that the seat is secure. Plus, with the specialized built-in harness adjustment system, there’s no need to figure out complex re-threading as you change seat positioning. Plus, six different options for reclining means that your baby will stay comfy and safe at every age and weight.
Cup holders create a sweet spot for kids to hold drinks and snacks while driving, and keeping them busy may just help keep them quiet for long road trips, leaving more space for you concentrate on the road.
Here’s a high-quality convertible seat from Britax that is bound to take you through years of adventures with the family as the kids sit in complete comfort. The steel frame and specialized energy-absorbing materials cocoon your child safely through the unlikely event of an accident.
This seat comes with SafeCell Impact Protection, a specially designed set of features that work in tandem to ensure that each part of the seat is working to keep your child secure. The base, frame, tether and harness pads are each specially designed to absorb impact from all sides. Right down to the stitching, this seat is designed for maximum impact protection.
There are three options for reclining and adjustable harness height options, and the lower height makes this one a good choice for kids on the taller side. The harness adjusts to 10 different positions with an easy lock button.
The Peg Perego is a standout, super cozy infant seat. We love the sleek and stylish Italian design and the range of fun color combinations and patterns.
This car seat comes with two jersey soft cushions and side wings to ensure the complete comfort of your baby: one cushion for brand new babies and the other for older ones. Adjustable Side Impact Protection ensures that each position is designed for maximum safety.
An adjustable and removable canopy is especially useful in sunny climates and the shell fabric is also designed to ensure temperature control. We also really loved the color-coded paths to ensure correct security with belting in case you find yourself without the base.
This seat has travel system accessories (sold separately) and is compatible with most Peg Perego strollers, so this could be a good choice for parents who think no adventure is too big for their little ones.
The Diono Radian is a high-quality convertible car seat that really stands out in form and quality, especially if you are expecting your baby to be a little on the taller or heavier side since it accommodates kids up to 45 pounds.
While all child car seats are safe, there’s something about the Diono’s is full steel frame that offers extra reassurance, and for worry-prone parents, less stress can make for safer driving overall.
This super sturdy convertible car seat is completely set up to withstand heavy impact, but despite the solid frame, it’s still narrow enough to leave extra space in the back seat, leaving room for your relatives to jump in and join the fun!
The Diono features practical and cozy fabrics, including a washable seat cover and breathable memory foam. It’s airplane-approved and foldable, which makes it a good choice for jet-setting parents.