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Our 2021 Top Picks for the Best Infant Car Seats – Carrier Style

(Based on Consumer Ratings & Real-World Reviews)


By Melanie Pierce 
Last Updated: February 17, 2021

We strive to provide you with the most comprehensive and updated information possible to help you find the best infant car seat for your needs.

How do we do this? We not only compare and contrast the various features of popular seats, but we also study consumer feedback about their experiences.

We then purchase and install the car seats in our own vehicles, strap our children in, and report back to you our actual real-world experience with them!

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX Infant Car Seat | Baby Car Seat Featuring TrueShield Side Impact Technology

In this way, we are able to research what it is actually like to use them in everyday life and give you “parent-tested” reviews!

Are you curious which infant seats received the best reviews and ratings in our research? Read on to find out!

Our Pick

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat, Encore

This is our first choice because it is the Top-Rated car seat on the market right now.

Not only is it comfortable and beautifully designed, it also has a wonderful array of unique, top-of-the-line features that make it so simple to use, such as easy installation with SuperCinch LATCH and ReclineSure, plus an easy-to-remove cover for cleaning.

Runner-up

Graco SnugRide SnugLock Extend2Fit 35 Infant Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with Extend2Fit, Haven

As a close runner up, this gorgeous car seat is also a winner with a super-easy, locking installation feature, an anti-rebound bar, and easy-to-remove cover.

Plus, it is perfect for extended rear-facing with the leg extension feature and ability to hold your baby up to 35 pounds!

What is an Infant Car Seat?

These are used only for rear-facing newborns and infants.

They typically have a “bucket” type design with a carrying handle and generally come with a removable base which can be buckled into the vehicle and left in place.

The portable bucket seat can be clicked in and out of its base for easy transporting of your child in and out of the vehicle without the need to unstrap them first.

This is super handy for taking your baby in/out of the house or store while they are sleeping.

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat, Orion

What other Car Seat Types Work with Newborns?

Besides a portable infant car seat, another type of car seat you might want to consider is a convertible car seat.

These are not portable, in that they do not have a carrying handle and are intended to stay inside the vehicle.

They are designed for rear-facing infants and small-children, but also convert to a forward-facing seat for larger/older children.

Some convert even further to a booster seat for when your child has outgrown the 5-point harness!

These can be a great choice if you only want to invest in one seat and you will likely end up saving money in the long run if you only use a convertible seat.

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Convertible Car Seat | 2 Layer Impact Protection - Rear & Forward Facing - 5 to 65 Pounds, Circa

So why would you want to buy an infant carrier car seat?

In a word, the answer is convenience!

For many parents, the idea of clicking an infant car seat in and out of its base for moving baby between the house, the store, or a stroller is very appealing! 

If you live in a climate with extreme temperatures, you may find it so much easier to strap your baby into an infant car seat while still indoors and then simply click it into place once you get out to the vehicle.

Some infant carrier car seats are sold with travel systems or strollers that allow you to move baby’s seat from the car to a stroller frame.

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat, Encore

Best of all reason to buy an infant car seat?

You don’t need to wake a sleeping baby just to get them out of the vehicle!

Because infant car seats come with a removable base that can be left strapped into a vehicle, you also have the option of buying multiple bases so that you can leave one in each car you own, for the ultimate ‘click-in and go’ convenience factor!

Please note that most infant car seats can also be installed without their included base, though of course it is less convenient to do so.

Car Seats for Infants: Our 2020 Top Picks & Reviews

After careful research, we have compiled the following list of the best and safest infant car seats on the market. Please keep in mind that though these are our top picks, there may not be ultimately one “best option” for everyone, as every family has their own needs to consider.

Please take note of the descriptions plus the pros and cons of each seat when reading the specifics about each of the best infant car seats reviewed below.

Chicco KeyFit Infant Car Seat, Encore

Why it is our pick infant car seat?

our top pick

This is our first choice because it is the Top-Rated car seat on the market right now.

Not only is it comfortable and beautifully designed, it also has a wonderful array of unique, top-of-the-line features that make it so simple to use, such as easy installation with SuperCinch LATCH and ReclineSure, plus an easy-to-remove cover for cleaning.

Currently, this is the Top Rated infant car seat in the US! It has easy-to-install features, such as the Super Cinch LATCH center-pull tether tightener, and for seat-belt installation, integrated lock-offs, so either way you install, you will get a tight fit every time. Plus, it has ReclineSure leveling and Ride Right bubble levels to ensure a proper incline, no matter the contour of your vehicle seats. We love that you can get a proper install simply, accurately, and securely every time.

With the Keyfit 30 Zip, you get the amazing feature of the Easy-to-Remove seat pad that allows you to simply unhook and lift away the entire cover without needing to remove the shoulder straps. This is a life-saver for busy parents on the go, because who wants to dismantle a car seat every time baby makes a mess?

You also get the added benefit of both a shade canopy and a cozy “boot” overlay for keeping baby warm that merely “Zip” on and off the car seat. These zip features are what gives this seat its special name and are great bonuses to an already wonderful infant car seat. As you can see, everything about this seat is designed for ease of use and comfort. 

Rated for use for infants from 4-30 lbs, up to 30” length, this car seat is a great choice for tiny newborns who will benefit from the newborn insert support cushions. As your baby grows, simply remove the inserts to make room for your growing child. Plus, keep in mind that this car seat is compatible with the Chicco stroller travel system!

PROS:

We are absolutely in love with the ReclineSure Leveling System with bubble levels! In one quick motion, you can adjust the leveling foot to the perfect angle so that you get the correct incline for the base of the seat! Plus the actual installation is a breeze whether you use the one-pull LATCH tightening adjuster or the integrated lock-off for a seatbelt.

The other unique feature that really sets this seat above the rest is the lift-away seat cover that allows you to wash this seat without removing the shoulder straps. The quick-remove seat pad is also machine-washable, for the ultimate in convenience! Plus, with the Zip-on canopy and boot overlay for keeping baby warm in cold weather, you have the ultimate in convenience and comfort. 

CONS:

Besides being a bit pricey, there are a few possible drawbacks to this seat that we want to note.

Firstly, some consumers have reported frustration with the sunshade interfering with the handle, as it doesn’t slide easily under it.

Secondly, there have been reports of the zipper feature being less than ideal for the attached boot.

Plus, if you neither need or want the shade or boot, then these “extra” features may not feel like bonuses to you. In this case, I would recommend the base model of the Chicco Keyfit 30, but be aware that it does not have the easy-remove seat cover as this upgraded version does.

The Bottom Line

Overall, this seat is a favorite of consumers. It is well-made, comfortable, and full of great features that make it easy to use. With its plush easy-to-wash fabric, integrated zipper features, and quick install system, you and your baby will feel pampered and stylish. You will more than likely love this seat and I definitely recommend it, even more so if you decide to use the Chicco travel system for easy transition from car base to stroller frame.

Don’t need all the bells and whistles, but otherwise love the basic features of the Chicco Keyfit 30?

This base model is basically the same seat as the Zip version, except that it DOES NOT have the easy-to-remove seat cover, nor the zip on “boot” overlay for cold-winter conditions. 

If you live in a warm climate and don’t need the extra layer for baby, but still desire to have the “easy-remove” seat cover for a simple machine-wash, than you will need to weigh out whether the extra cost for this one feature is worthwhile for you.

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat, Nottingham

Similar to the Chicco Keyfit 30 reviewed above, this car seat also has the same great installation features, such as

  • the Super Cinch LATCH center-pull tether tightener,
  • integrated lock-offs for seat-belt installation,
  • plus the ReclineSure leveling and Ride Right bubble levels.
Chicco Fit2 Infant & Toddler Car Seat, Tempo

However, this 2-stage base has a unique feature that keeps keeps your child rear-facing in an infant bucket-style seat longer than most! This works by simply flipping a section of the base from the “Infant” setting to the “Toddler” setting. When you do this, the seat then sits a bit more upright and further away from the vehicle seat, allowing extra-leg room for your growing toddler (9-24 months). 

Plus, since this 2-in-1 seat is especially designed to accommodate rear-facing toddlers, too, it has higher height and weight limits! It will fit a newborn as tiny as 4 lbs., but can be used for extended rear-facing up to 35 lbs. or 2-years old when in toddler mode! It is recommended to switch from Stage 1 to Stage 2 when your baby is between 9-12 months old, depending on their weight.

Also, keep in mind that this Chicco car seat is also compatible with the various strollers in Chicco’s travel system, so it is convenient as well as long-lasting!

PROS:

We love Chicco’s easy-install system, with the ReclineSure leveling, Ride Right bubble levels, Super Cinch one-pull LATCH, and seatbelt lock-off, which this seat comes equipped with.

Plus, if you are looking for an extended-use “bucket-style” seat, you are going to love that you can keep your child in this seat up to 35 lbs. or 2 years old!

Even the head-rest moves up with a simple one-handed pull, for an amazing 35” height limit without having to re-thread the harness straps! That’s phenomenal!

CONS:

It is quite pricey for an infant car seat, although that price difference evens out because of it’s extended usability.

Otherwise, the main complaint about this seat is that it is a bit heavy, and even more so when lifting out an older child.

Plus, keep in mind that it does not come with the extra cool features of the Keyfit 30 Zip, namely the easy-remove seat cover or Zip-on canopy or boot. 

The Bottom Line

If you are looking for an extended-fit infant car seat, this is a fabulous option! We love Chicco’s install design and the unique ability to use this seat for so much longer than a traditional infant seat makes it extra-special!

If you are only planning to use an infant seat for a short time before transitioning to a convertible seat (especially one that will allow you to rear-face longer than 2 years) than the extra cost of this seat may not be justified for your needs. However, this is a great option for those who love the convenience of an infant seat, even for their toddler! 


Graco SnugRide SnugLock Extend2Fit 35 Infant Car Seat | Ride Rear Facing Longer with Extend2Fit, Haven

Why it is our second pick?

our 2nd pick

As a close runner up, this gorgeous car seat is also a winner with a super-easy, locking installation feature, an anti-rebound bar, and easy-to-remove cover.

Plus, it is perfect for extended rear-facing with the leg extension feature and ability to hold your baby up to 35 pounds!

One of our favorite car seats on the market, this Graco Snugride Snuglock seat has a wonderfully-designed, easy-installation feature that locks down and clicks into place, whether you are using the InRight LATCH system or a seatbelt. This gives you a secure, tight install every time! Plus it has an adjustable foot that allows you to get the perfect angle, a 4-position recline adjustment, and a bubble indicator to make sure that everything is positioned exactly right.

Specifically, we have chosen to feature the Extend2Fit model as one of our top picks because we love that not only is it designed to accommodate tiny babies as small as 4 lbs, but it also grows with your child and keeps your baby rear-facing in an infant seat up to 35 lbs and 35 inches! Plus, it has the unique feature of a 4-position pull-out extension that gives your child up to 3.5” of extra leg-room as they grow taller!

Other great features that we think is great about this model: It has an easy-remove cover that doesn’t require removal of the straps: Just unsnap, unhook, and lift! Plus, with a simple lever, you can adjust the headrest up or down, which also lets you position the straps perfectly at or just below baby’s shoulders.  Plus it comes with an anti-rebound bar, which reduces car seat rotation during a frontal impact.

All this, plus the Graco Snugride infant car seats also are compatible with Graco’s line of Click Connect strollers, so it’s easy to move baby from the vehicle to your stroller. 

PROS:

Extended rear-facing abilities really set this car seat apart, along with super easy installation with the adjustable foot & bubble indicator, Snuglock technology, and one-second InRight LATCH.

Plus, we love that the cover can be removed easily in just a few motions and the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System allows you to adjust the straps and headrest, all without removing any of the straps! Throw in the anti-rebound bar and you’ve got all the elements of a fantastic infant car seat!

CONS:

The only downside to this particular model is that a few consumers are reporting it is quite heavy for an infant seat.

Personally, the weight of the seat hasn’t overly bothered us during the testing because of the other awesome features, but it is definitely not a lightweight seat.

Just the seat alone, without the base is 10.5 lbs. With the base, it altogether weighs 19.5 pounds.

The Bottom Line

We love this seat and can’t say enough good things about it. It has all the features that we love, with extended height and weight limits, for extended rear-facing, easy-to-remove cover, and super simple installation. You cannot go wrong with this seat and we highly recommend it!

Do you like like basic style of the Snugride Snuglock series, but don’t need any of the extra features?

This is a more budget-friendly option that does not have the upgraded InRight LATCH, but rather the standard LATCH hook. It also does not have the easy-remove cover, the anti-rebound bar, or the pull-out extension for extra leg-room.

You will save a little money with this seat vs. the Extend2Fit version, but just know that without these extra features, this seat may seem rather plain. 

It does still give you the Snuglock feature that locks down the seatbelt for a tight install every time and will still safely restrain your child up to 35 lbs. and 35 inches.

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Infant Car Seat, Jodie

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat - Rear Facing | 4 to 35 Pounds - Reclinable Base, 1 Layer Impact Protection, Ashton (E1A183D)

The Britax B-Safe 35 infant car seat accommodates babies from 4-35 lbs., with an upper height limit of 32 inches.

It has a narrow, deep-shell bucket with SafeCell Impact Technology.

This is the basic model with 1-layer of impact protection and a removable head-pad.

Installation is easy with 3 options:

  • If using the base, simply adjust the leveling “foot” while checking either of the dual level indicators for the proper recline. Then pull out the tucked away InLine Latch hooks, click them into place, then pull the SafeCenter LATCH webbing routed to the middle of the base to snug it up tight. 
  • If you need to install with a seatbelt, the base has an integrated seatbelt lock-off.
  • And if you need to install without the base, it includes a European-style routing for the seatbelt to hold it snugly in place.

The B-Safe 35 infant car seats are designed with a Click-and-Go System so that you can easily attach them to any Britax or BOB stroller and create a travel system that fits your needs. (Some styles may need an additional adaptor.)

PROS:

We love the extra-safety features and simple installation of this car seat with the adjustable foot, InLine Latch hooks, and SafeCenter Latch system.

It is also great that it is adaptable with Britax’s line of Click-and-Go strollers.

Plus the narrower footprint makes it great for families that need to install more than one car seat side-by-side.

CONS:

This model requires you to manually re-thread the shoulder straps in order to adjust them to the correct height, as well as to remove the cover for washing.

It has a limited height range of only 32”, which means that your child will likely outgrow this seat in height before reaching the 35 lbs. weight limit. This model does not come with a removable newborn insert.

The Bottom Line

A nice solid choice if you love Britax and don’t want to spend extra for the upgraded features. Britax has a fabulous reputation for safety and design, but this seat is their basic model so it doesn’t have a bunch of extras. The seat itself is fairly heavy at 10 pounds. If easy-install is your jam, this seat definitely scores big though!

Are you interested in the B-Safe 35, but are looking for a more plush seat with some extra features for convenience and safety?

Here are our top picks for Britax upgraded infant car seats!

Very similar to the B-Safe 35, it has the same great installation design and weight/height limits.

However, it comes with upgraded padding, newborn insert, cool-mesh fabric, and flip-forward belly pad on the crotch buckle. 

The best part though? This seat is equipped with a No-Rethread Adjustable Harness, which allows you to adjust the shoulder straps to fit a sitting shoulder height of 6.5-11” with one quick motion, plus an easy-to-remove cover, as well. 

All these features definitely make this car seat feel more luxurious (and a little heavier), but there is a price increase from the basic model.

Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat - Rear Facing | 4 to 35 Pounds - Reclinable Base, 2 Layer Impact Protection | Cool Flow Ventilated Fabric, Cool Flow Grey (E1C009S)

Another upgraded version that is very similar to the B-Safe 35, this seat installs the same and accommodates the same weight/height limits. It also comes with upgraded padding and newborn insert, plus the bucket seat alone weighs in at 11.5 pounds.

Like the Ultra, referenced above, it also comes with a No-Rethread Adjustable Harness, so that with one easy movement, you can adjust the shoulder straps to right where they need to be (fits a child with sitting shoulder height from 6.5-11”). It also comes with an easy-to-remove seat cover that doesn’t require you to remove the straps. 

One of the pricier Britax infant seats, the Endeavors does come standard with an anti-rebound bar to reduce car seat rotation in the event of a front on collision.

BRITAX B-Safe Endeavours Infant Car Seat - Rear Facing | 4 to 35 Pounds - Reclinable Base, 3 Layer Impact Protection, Circa

Are you looking for a sleek, modern non-toxic car seat that passes the federal safety standards without the use of fire retardant chemicals?

That’s right! This seat is naturally fire retardant and made with merino wool! Plus, it is built with side-impact protection for extra safety.

UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat - Henry (Blue Marl) Wool Version

We love the no-rethread adjustable harness and headrest that allows you to get a perfect fit with a pull of a tab. Plus, the easy-to-remove machine-washable cover makes cleaning your car seat pads a breeze! And don’t forget that it has buckle slots for keeping the straps out of the way while getting baby in and out of the seat.

Also fantastic is the super easy installation method of this seat with the SMARTsecure system that has auto-retractable LATCH straps, InLine hooks, adjustable foot, and red/green indicators to tell you when everything is level and tight. If you need to install with a seatbelt, there is a seatbelt lockoff and you still watch for the indicator to turn green to know when you have it properly tightened.

Made with super soft and breathable fabric, this car seat can accommodate your baby from 4-35 pounds and 32 inches in height. Plus, it integrates with the VISTA or CRUZ stroller bases for a Performance Travel System.  

PROS:

Beautifully designed and non-toxic, this car seat has so many wonderful features, right down to the buckle-storage slots to keep the straps tucked out of the way so they don’t get caught under baby!

With the no-rethread harness and adjustable headrest, and Smartsecure installation system, it is super easy to get a perfect fit and install. Plus, the cover is easy to remove and clean, so you can always keep your car seat looking fresh!

CONS:

One of the more expensive infant car seats on the market, it isn’t exactly budget-friendly.

The other drawback is that even though it has a nice upper weight limit, chances are good that your child will max out the height limit of 32 inches before reaching 35 pounds. This simply translates to not being able to use the seat as long as you might expect to.

The Bottom Line

If you can afford this seat, you will not be disappointed! We love nearly everything about it! The LATCH installation is so unique that it’s practically fun! Using this car seat will make you and your baby feel pampered both because it is so convenient and so comfortable!


This beautiful and luxurious car seat is equipped with patented Air Protect Technology. It accommodates babies from 4-30 pounds and up to 32 inches in height.

The self-wicking fabric is plush and comfortable and designed to keep your baby cozy and dry.

This seat has so many great features!

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max Plus Infant Car Seat with Base, Nomad Black, One Size
  • First of all, it has an adjustable base, InLine LATCH hooks, plus an integrated lock-off for seat belt install.
  • It also has a unique feature that we’ve never seen on a car seat before...the anti-rotation stability leg, designed to limit back and forth movement of the car seat. This is an optional feature, but very cool.

One of our very favorite things about this car seat is the super easy-off cover! No need to remove the harness straps to remove and clean this cover! Plus it is both machine-washable and dryer safe.

All this, plus it has a flip-away buckle, for easily getting baby in and out of the seat and a fold-down canopy called MaxShade that really protects baby, plus unzips to reveal a side mesh for even greater coverage and comfort. Plus did I mention that this car seat is stroller compatible?

PROS:

This seat has so much to offer! Easy installation and the easy-to-remove cover are our favorite things about it!

But the extra features, such as the stability leg, extra-large sunshade, and flip-away buckle just enhance its already deluxe feel.

CONS:

The main drawback to this seat is that it is not only expensive, it only will hold a child up to 30 lbs. or 32 inches.

This means that it won’t last your child nearly as long as some of the other seats on the market.

If you were planning to only use this seat for a few months anyway, then that might not deter you, however.

The Bottom Line

Besides the lower-end height/weight specs, this seat is a great top-of-the-line choice. It is pricey, but it has lots of great features. If you can afford it and you like the features it offers, we definitely recommend this seat if you aren’t needing a seat with extended limits. 


This car seat is a fairly basic seat, but has a few features that make it stand out.

First of all, it comes with advanced side-impact protection called AirImpact + GCell HX foam for crash energy absorption.

The manufacturer points out that they have crash tested it from every angle (thus the 360 name).

Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360 Infant Car Seat (Raven HX)

Please be aware that ALL car seats on the market must pass federal safety standards and any extra testing or manufacturer claims cannot be proved or guaranteed to be safer than any other car seat available.

Beyond that, we like that the base of this car seat is adjustable and has a recline indicator to help you achieve the proper angle during install. Otherwise, the install on the base is more basic, with standard LATCH or seatbelt install.

The cover is machine-washable, but removing the harness straps is necessary for both cleaning and adjusting the straps. It does have comfortable, semi-plush fabric, however.

PROS:

We like the adjustable foot on the car seat base and the indicator makes it easy to get the correct incline. The extra care for safety features is also nice, plus the seat is fairly comfortable and comes with a removable insert. Plus this seat quite affordable.

CONS:

The installation is basic, but not particularly easy because the latch hooks are the standard type and it doesn’t have an integrated lock off for the seat belt. Also, the fact that you have to dismantle the harness straps to adjust them or remove the cover for cleaning is rather inconvenient.

The Bottom Line

This is nice budget-friendly that looks beautiful, is quite comfy, and has a decent install, though definitely not the easiest. If you are looking for a mid-grade seat at a mid-grade price point, then this seat is a solid option to consider. Not everyone wants to pay for all the bells and whistles and if this describes you, then this seat may be for you.

Guide to Buying the Best Infant Car Seat

Before you buy an infant car seat, it is important to understand all the things that you should look for, as well as all the things you need to avoid. For this reason, we are including this special guide. We want to make this process as easy and fun as possible!

As you look over this guide, you will become more familiar with infant car seats and what they can offer to your growing family. We wish you the best as you make this important decision!

What Should You Look for in an Infant Car Seat?

When choosing an infant car seat, there are multiple factors that might influence your decision. Here are the Top 7 most important things you will want to take into consideration.

  • Ease of use and installation
    The safest car seat is one that is properly installed. If your infant car seat is equipped with features that improve the ease of installation, including getting the proper incline and level indicators, this is a definite plus! Consider whether you will most likely want to install using a seat belt or the LATCH system when choosing a car seat. Ask yourself how those different choices affect how fast and easy it is to get it properly installed.

  • Ease of removing and washing cover
    Babies are messy. They spit up and have blowouts. We, as parents, know this all too well. Having a seat designed with an easy-to-remove cover is an important feature for many parents, so that these types of messes are not overwhelming. Also, double check your car seat options to see which ones have covers that are machine-washable. 

  • Extended weight and height limits
    We now know that extended rear-facing is a huge safety factor. Because of this, you will definitely need to transition your baby from an infant carrier seat into a rear-facing convertible car seat at some point. But, if you like the idea of using your infant car seat as long as possible, consider purchasing one that has extended limits for height and weight.

  • Comfort and fit of straps
    No two babies are built alike. Brands of car seats are also built differently. Keep in mind that you will want to look for a carseat that has easy-to-adjust straps, as well as a chest clip that is easy to use. Also look for placement of infant inserts and positions of straps. This becomes especially important if you have a very tiny newborn to secure in place.

  • Budget
    All car seats on the market must pass the same minimum federal safety standards. So whether you choose a budget seat or a top-of-the-line seat, properly installed, your baby will be safe either way. Some parents prefer to spend more for ease of installation or comfort features, while others prefer to go more simple with their infant seat, knowing that it is just a temporary seat while their baby is young.

  • Extra Safety Features
    Extra safety features that are advertised by the manufacturer are neither proven to work better, nor can these claims be tested or verified in relation to other car seats, nor compared to federal safety standards. Perhaps they are worth the extra money, but perhaps they are not. If a seat is marketed in this way, just remember that it is the opinion of the manufacturer and not provable fact.

  • Car compatibility
    Most infant car seats are fairly compact and will fit in most vehicles with no issues. If you are choosing a seat with extended height restrictions, you may want to measure the overall distance it will require from front to back, especially if you have a small car. If you need to install 2 or 3 car seats side-by-side, also measure to make sure that your choices will fit in this configuration, as car seats are not made to overlap each other.

What To Avoid In A Car Seat for Infants

Here are a few other things to know about when you are exploring your car seat options along with safety considerations. These may or may apply to your search, but just in case, read on!

  • Toxic flame retardants
    Some parents have expressed a concern about the off-gassing chemicals used in traditional manufacturing of car seats. If this is a concern to you, there are some brands of car seats are specifically addressing this issue by choosing to use less-toxic (or non-toxic) flame retardants on their products. These tend to be more expensive, but worth the peace of mind for some. Please note that the benefit of using any car seat far outweighs the possible health risk of using a car seat with flame retardant chemicals.

  • Used car seats
    If possible, never choose a used car seat. This is because you do not definitively know the history of the seat. You can not be certain that it has not already been in an accident (and thus compromised), nor can you be sure that it has been properly stored or cleaned according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. For these reasons, we only advise using a new seat.

  • Expired car seats
    Car seats are made of components that deteriorate over time. This is true whether they used heavily, used lightly, or even not used at all. Manufacturers calculate the period of time that they guarantee the seat to last for safe use, past which the seat may fail to provide adequate protection in the event of an accident. This is the reason that car seats have expiration dates and why you should always check your seat and discontinue use of a seat once that time has passed.

Tips to Install, Use, and Care For Your Infant Car Seat Properly

Are you aware that 9 out of 10 car seats are not properly installed? That is an alarming statistic! Always take time to carefully read through your car seat manual for proper use and installation instructions.

Most infant car seats can be installed with a base by using either the LATCH system or the vehicle’s seat belt, or for the bucket seat alone with just the vehicle seat belt.

Find your local CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) to guide you on properly installing your seat in your specific vehicle. Always remember that the very BEST car seat is a properly-installed car seat!

  1. Make sure that none of the straps or belts are twisted or bent during the install and are properly locked, either by using an integrated lock-off on the base of the car seat, the vehicle’s seat belt lock feature, or a separate locking device called a “latch plate” if those other options are not available.
  2. Make sure that once everything is latched, the seat is tight enough to not move more than one inch side-to-side or back-to-front at the seat belt pathway.
    Make sure that the seat has proper clearance and isn’t wedged against other car seats or the vehicle seat in front of it.
  3. Make sure the base of the seat is properly leveled so that the bucket seat is at the proper recline angle for your baby’s age and maturity.
  4. Make sure your baby fits the height and weight limits of the seat.
  5. Make sure that your baby has their harness straps at the level of their shoulders or slightly below, as that is the guideline for a rear-facing child.
  6. Make sure that the 5 pt. harness is fully buckled, including having the chest clip closed and at armpit level.

When caring for your infant seat, please read your car seat instruction manual to determine what their guidelines are.

Some manufacturers allow for machine-washing the cover, while others only allow handwashing. Some covers can be put in dryer for a small length of time, others must be air-dried.

Almost always the straps can only be spot-cleaned with mild-detergent or wipes, so consider all of these factors when washing your seat. Also, NEVER hose down your infant car seat. This can actually render it unsafe. Please only wash according to the directions given.

If storing your car seat, store in a cool, dry area. And always check the expiration date before use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best time to buy an infant car seat?

You should pick out and purchase your infant car seat by your 9th month of pregnancy. This is so that no matter when you go into labor, your seat will be ready to install after baby arrives! If you wait until you are in labor or after your birth, you will be too distracted or simply unable to come home from the hospital until someone goes out and buys a seat for you! This is certainly not ideal! Always be prepared in advance!

What is the best car seat for a newborn?

The best and safest car seat is the seat that is installed properly every single time and also fits your tiny baby properly. For this reason, we highly recommend a car seat that both has super-easy installation features that allow you to quickly get a tight fit and comes with nice newborn inserts! See our Top Pick here. Different families have different needs or priorities when it comes to features or car seat specifications, so the best seat for you will depend on those factors.

Is an infant car seat safer than a convertible?

No. All car seats on the market, as long as they are properly fit your child and are installed correctly, are equally safe. It is possible that an infant car seat *may* give your child a better fit, however, especially if your baby is very small. Otherwise, the main advantage to an infant car seat is convenience, not safety.

How long do babies use infant car seats?

They can use an infant car seat until they reach the upper limits of the weight or height restriction of the seat, whichever comes first. There is no particular age at which this may happen, as it depends entirely on the growth of any given child. Some children outgrow their seat within a few months, others may fit until they are a couple years old. The important thing to remember is that new safety guidelines dictate that children should stay rear-facing for a minimum of two years.

When should I change my baby’s car seat?

You will most likely need to plan to move your child from an infant car seat to a convertible car seat while still rear-facing, probably somewhere between 6 months and 2 years. Our recommendation is for extended rear-facing to the limits of your convertible car seat, not the rear-limits of your infant car seat.

Do all car seats fit in strollers?

No, but many infant car seats are designed to be compatible with stroller travel systems, so double check this before you buy if you are interested in this feature.


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