If you are welcoming a new member to family, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about shopping for baby gear, and an infant car seat should top your shopping list. You now have an extremely precious cargo to carry around in your car and you need to be more conscious about automobile safety for your little one. These innovative and beyond-safe products are part backseat bassinet, part carrier, and a majority of them snap into strollers for seamless transportation. Infant car seats are designed for babies who are less than 35 inches and up to 40 pounds. They will be part and parcel of your infant’s life until they’re big enough to ask for more legroom.
A good thing about infant car seats is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get a safe, easy to use and comfortable car seat. If you want to splurge, you can go for a real luxe model. The many options online can overwhelm you. Lucky for you, we have the details that will help make your decision easier. We did the hard work for you so you’ll have all the vital info to pick the best option for your budget and more importantly, your little bundle of joy.
We considered 10s of car seats before settling on 8. We evaluated each of the 8 infant car seats for installation methods, crash test performance, stroller compatibility and carrying weight so you can transport your baby with style and ease.
- NEW! 2018 MESA Infant Car Seat
- SMART Secure system installs in seconds
- Adjustable no-rethread headrest with integrated Side Impact Protection. Storage pockets for harness buckles
- Attaches to VISTA and CRUZ strollers without adapters
- SPF hideaway canopy; Carry handle with stroller release button
Topping our list is UPPAbaby Mesa infant car seat. This product is the most advanced of its kind: it checked all the boxes when it came to LATCH connection, price, comfortability and safety. It was awarded 5 stars by the NHTSA. Mesa is particularly popular among travelers and urbanites who want a car seat that can be installed securely without carrying the weight of the base. You will love the unique, self-retracting and easy to use LATCH straps that feature color-coded guides to make installation a breeze. An upgrade from the previous Mesa, this model has a fluffy flame retardant (and moisture wicking) wool fabric that is soft on the skin, infant insert, no-rethread harness and side-impact protection. It also works well with many strollers including the UPPAbaby Vista and the UPPAbaby Cruz.
Chicco KeyFit 30
- The #1-rated infant car seat in America!
- Easiest to install with Recline Sure levelling foot, Ride Right bubble levels, and Super Cinch LATCH tightened
- Designed for travel system use with compatible Chicco strollers (sold separately)
- Removable new-born head and body supports. For infants from 4 to 30 lbs and up to 30 inches in height
- 5-point harness with easy-pull tightened. 2-position carry-handle with comfortable grip
The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a regular in many top infant car seats lists and for a good reason. It has an impressive overall score and is competitively priced when compared to other top ranking options in the market. It features a removable head and body, and an easy to use SuperCinch LATCH system that makes installation a walk in the park. The bubble indicator guides you to ensure proper positioning. The car seat’s interior features EPS energy absorbing foam that gives your little one protection against sudden impacts. It also has aesthetic appeal that makes it a pleasure to carry around. It is compatible with a number of strollers for a complete travel system. All these features make it a parents’ favorite. If you plan to carry it around often, it worth mentioning that it is not the lightest infant car seat in this list. Some parents also find the fabric somewhat unfriendly.
Doona Infant Car
This innovative car seat doubles up as a stroller making it a favorite for parents that commute using Uber and Lyft frequently. With the Doona in play, you can easily install the car seat in a car and be ready to stroll soon as you reach your destination. Simply pop it out of the base, hit a button and watch it convert into a fully functional stroller in seconds. Its safety is also impressive. Popular among urban parents, this infant car seat features anti-rebound technology in the handlebar for additional safety, 3 layers of side impact protection and integrates a 1-touch brake. What’s more is that it is certified for air travel. The heaviness and high price of Doona however makes is a turn off to some parents- but then again, you won’t have to buy a separate car seat and stroller.
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 XT
- Measures 16L x 18W x 27H in.
- EPS, energy absorbing foam manages impact energy
- Rear-facing from 4-35 lbs. and up to 32 in.
- Ultra-lightweight design for easy carryingRigorously crash-tested
You can never go wrong with Graco when it comes to super-secure and affordable infant car seats. This incredibly lightweight infant car seat is popular for its SnugLock self-tightening mechanism that lets you install the base with a seatbelt without worrying about tightening it manually. You can get your baby in and out of the car with the one-handed adjustable handle. But this is not the only thing this car seat offers. You also get easy to install LATCH connectors and a 6-position base that allows you to customize installation according to your car model. The level indicator tells you when the fit is right. The rotating canopy provides shade and sun protection when necessary. The no re-thread harness means you will not have to remove your seats to manually re-thread the harness. This car seat is not for you if you own a compact car as it takes up a lot of space back seat. It works well with Graco Click Connect strollers as well as some popular names for easy travel.
Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360
- Providing five layers of safety, this LATCH-equipped Safety 1st car seat fits infants from four pounds to toddlers of 35 pounds in a rear-facing configuration
- Shielded in the deep seat structure, your little one is further protected by AirProtect advanced side-impact protection and GCell HX patented race car foam for crash energy absorption
- Crash tested from every angle for front, rear, side, and rollover impacts, this seat includes soft foam padding throughout the seat for safety as well as comfort. A reinforced handle adds stability
- The five-point harness adjusts easily from the front of the car and features four harness heights and three buckle locations
- A stay-in-car base adjusts for a customized fit to your car. When you need to remove the lightweight seat, the Carry Curve Handle with comfort grip makes it easy to transport
The name caught our attention. A product of Dorel Group (makers of Maxi Cosi), this standout budget friendly infant car seat impressed us in terms of safety and easy installation. The onBoard 35 features Air Protect for side impact protection, an adjustable base, a reinforced handle, and a soft foam throughout for extra comfort and security. Another plus is that the cover can be removed and is machine washable, not may infant car seats offer you that. One drawback of this infant car seat is that it is not compatible with many strollers, so that’s something to consider. However if you are no big strollers fan, this should not worry you.
Peg Perego Nido
- Made In Italy. SIP headrest easily adjusts to 6 different positions with no re-threading even with the infant in the seat, ensuring the best and safest fit. Energy absorbing EPS foam throughout shell and head panel protects the infant's head and torso from impact forces
- Load Leg can be adjusted 10 different positions and has an Energy Management Foot that absorbs energy by crumpling upon impact. Built-in anti-rebound bar attached to base provides superior protection in case of collision.
- Extendable Pagoda Hood has an easy to use zipper allows hood to extend forward, completely protecting baby from the elements. The hood is UPF 50+
- Dual Stage Cushions. Stage 1 for infants 4 lbs and up offers extra support on newborn's neck and bottom. Stage 2 correctly supports growing baby. Both help to keep baby's head properly positioned and are made of Fresco Jersey soft and breathable fabric
- A European belt path and innovative handlebar belt path allows for easy installation without the base, also allowing the handle to act as a anti rebound bar ; For babies 4 to 35 lbs. and up to 32" tall.
The Peg Perego Nido earns a place in our list do to its advanced safety features. A new addition to the Peg Perego family, the Nido is a high-quality infant car seat that features a sturdy load leg and an elongated anti-rebound bar. The soft fabric that covers the firm padding makes it comfortable. If you are worried about the sun and ventilation, this car seat features a giant canopy with ample ventilation. The easy installation translates to more safety, as statistically most injuries are a result of installation errors. One downside is its weight, meaning it will be heavy if you intend to carry it for long distances. It is also more expensive meaning it’s not ideal if you are working on a strict budget, but it is a small price to pay for the functionality and additional features.
Evenflo Nurture DLX Infant Car Seat
- 5-point harness for safety plus 3 shoulder harness positions and 2 crotch buckle positions for better fit and longer use
- Separate stay-in-car base allows for easy transfer from home to car; also available separately
- Auto belt guides for use without a base. Fit - Top of child's head is at least 1 Inch below the top of the child restraint seat back
- Energy absorbing foam liner provides added safety & comfort
- Easy-off, machine-washable car seat pad for quick cleanings
A consumer favorite, this simple, secure and affordable infant car seat features 3 layers of pressure-minimizing padding, a blanket boot and infant head support for the perfect combination of comfort and safety. It features a separate base that lets you travel conveniently from home to car and anywhere in between. At only 6.5 pounds, it is one of the lightest infant car seat in this list, which makes it a great option if you intend to switch cars or using it in an Uber. The ergonomically designed handle lets you modify the seat to your liking. For added comfort and safety, this car seat features energy-absorbing foam liner and a canopy that provides shade.
Britax B-Safe 35 Ultra
- Ride comfortably: Cool Flow ventilated mesh fabric improves air flow to ensure added comfort
- Rideshare ready: European Belt Guide allows for installation without the base as needed
- Surrounded in safety: 2 layers of side impact protection, quick-adjust head protection, steel frame, and impact absorbing base
- Travel system ready: Compatible with Britax B-Agile, B-Free, B-Mobile, B-Ready Strollers using the built-in adapters and with all BOB Single and Duallie strollers (Adapter sold separately)
- Fits: Rear-facing 4-35 pounds, seat area 13" D, 8.75" W; Dimensions: 17.75" W x 25" H x 30.62" D ; Buckle Strap Depths 4" / 6" in. , Shoulder Width 10" in.
A replacement of B-Safe 35 Elite, the Ultra model is an upgrade which many interesting features. Britax is a reputable baby gear brand with an extensive line of good quality a reliable products, and its newest addition is no exception. Recommended for babies weighing 4-35 lbs., it is convenient, comfortable, lightweight and super-secure. It offers 2 layers of side impact protection as well as Britax’s own SafeCell Impact Protection system that includes an energy-absorbing base, steel frame and a V-shaped tether to reduce seat rotation. The staged-release stitches are designed to minimize forward movement in a crash happens. If you are a city-dwelling parent who uses Ubers often, you can easily install this infant car seat without a base.
When on the lookout for a new infant car seat several factors should come into play, but safety and comfort should come first. Extra features like a handle will come in handy when you want to get your little one from the car without waking them. You should also consider your budget, stroller, sizes of your car’s seat, and lifestyle during the shopping process. Also, since you’ll be constantly moving around, the lighter the car seat, the better. Remember your little one adds some extra weight. Use our list as the blueprint for your next infant car seat purchase.