Before we begin this post about Safe in the Seat’s opinion on the best infant car seats, don’t forget this important reminder: all car seats are safe when they’re installed and used correctly. Yes, even the ones that are on the list of seats we do NOT recommend! Just because you don’t see a car seat below or it’s not one we recommend, it doesn’t mean that it’s not safe. It just means that we like other seats better. If you’re in the market for a new car seat for your little one, read on so you can make the best purchase for your family.
Heads up! This is not a comprehensive list of all of our recommended car seats. You can find a complete list with a full database in the Infant Buying Kit. This list contains some of our favorite options. You may find it helpful to use the Notes app on your phone, or you can have some paper and pencil nearby to prioritize what features are important for you to consider when choosing a car seat.
Car Seat Buying Process
Child fit is one of the most important factors when choosing a car seat. This is much easier in the infant car seat stage as most of them will work for your newborn as long as you are not expecting a premature or smaller-than-average baby. We have noted which of the ones below fit small babies well in our experience.
Children use infant car seats for 6-18 months depending on child size, car seat size, and parent preference! Once this type of seat is outgrown, you will need a convertible car seat so that you can rear face as long as possible.
A note of caution: Car seat manufacturers are also really good marketers, and often times the weight and height limits they post will not actually fit a child of that size. For example, some infant car seats state that they will fit a 35-pound baby, but that’s the size of the average 3-year-old.
Your child’s size is one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a car seat. But, vehicle fit is equally important. This is why we can’t just tell you a car seat that we recommend without a lot of information. There are a few things you should consider. For vehicles with a smaller back seat and/or tall front passengers, you will want an infant car seat that is compact. If you will need to fit 3 people with comfort in your back seat now or in the foreseeable future (like if you are planning on having more kids), you will want a narrow car seat, ideally 17.5″ or less. The good news is that almost every infant seat meets that criteria! See our YouTube video on 3-across car seats here.
If you have a Ford or Lincoln vehicle that has inflatable seat belts, you have to consider that not many car seats can be installed with those kinds of seat belts, but you are even more limited with infant car seats. Typically, if there is a center seat in the 2nd or 3rd row, it would have a normal seat belt, so you may be able to install the seat there instead. But you can install the car seat with the lower anchors instead of the belt path, which is your easiest option.
There are a lot of convenience features that are available on car seats now which are often a driver of the higher price points, especially with an infant seat with stroller compatibility.
If you move seats around to different vehicles often, you would want to buy an extra base for each vehicle if possible. But if you cannot do that, we recommend that you choose a car seat that has an ease of installation feature. Some car seats have easy seat belt installations, and some have been designed for easy lower anchor installation. In our list below, we have noted if the car seat has an ease of installation feature.
The weight of a car seat may be a factor you need to consider. For example, if you travel often via airplane, a lightweight seat may be your best option for ease of use. You can find our top picks for airplane travel here. But in general, for domestic travel, any of the infant car seats will work very well. If you travel internationally, vehicles often don’t have locking seatbelts, so a car seat with a built-in lock-off on the base is a must! You can check out our Wheels Up course and private Facebook group for more information about airplane traveling with kids and car seats. In the lists below, we have provided the weight of each seat.
There are other things to consider as well. If you are interested in a car seat that is free of flame-retardant chemicals, you will have fewer choices as not all car seat manufacturers have seats that meet this criteria.
There are some infant car seats that add extra safety features like anti-rebound bars, load legs, and rigid lower anchors.
If you are someone who plans to wash their car seats a lot, then you would probably want a seat that is machine washable instead of one that is hand wash only. See our YouTube video on cleaning car seats here.
Car seat manufacturers have different crash policies as well that vary from replacing the seat after any crash to contacting the manufacturer, and they will decide on a case-by-case basis. Read more about crash replacement policies here.
Time to shop!
Now that you know your child’s fit information and have taken into consideration your vehicle fit, convenience factors, and added safety features, it’s time to start narrowing down the overwhelming world of infant car seat choices. Below are our top five recommended car seats broken down by child fit information.
Top Infant Car Seat Recommendations
Clek Liing $499.99
Clek Liing has rigid lower anchors for an easy installation or you can use the seat belt lock-off if you prefer to install it in the middle seat or if you need to fit 3 across. It has a load leg, which is an added safety feature. It is a great fit for small babies. Some of the fabric options are flame-retardant-free.
Review Coming Soon
This infant seat currently only comes as part of a travel system, but there are 4 different stroller options depending on your budget and desires. This is the first infant seat to feature rigid lower anchors attached to the carrier itself. This is a great option for any parent, but especially for those who do not own a car or who travel often.
Shop the car seat sales like a pro!
When you know what you’re looking for, watching for car seat deals can be a low-stress process! We hope this post helps highlight that child fit is a critical component to consider when choosing an infant car seat where you will get the most bang for your buck. For a more detailed process of how to choose a car seat and all of our recommended car seats, head to the best-selling Car Seat Buying Kits that will lead you to the top recommended car seat for you in under 30 minutes! Once you know what car seats are best for you, shop the deals! You can find our car seat sales blog here which is updated daily.
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