This car seat is engineered for excellent infant protection and can accommodate growth spurts.
Fits babies as small as four pounds. Made of eight layers that provide outstanding side impact protection. Newborn harness pads keep little ones secure and comfortable. Adjustable headrest. Easy to install.
Price falls on the high end of the scale. Shipping delays have occurred. Snug fit in some automobiles.
This model has some nice features, and our baby expert notes that the brand is reputable, but its bulky design is more awkward to maneuver than similar products.
Accommodates rear-facing riders up to 40 pounds. Lined with energy-absorbing foam for maximum protection during crashes. Offers four recline positions. Harness is designed to be secure yet comfortable for babies.
Heavier and bulkier than some competitors due to higher weight limit.
Our baby expert appreciates that this infant car seat was designed and engineered with a focus on safety.
Superior safety ratings and ease of installation. Comes equipped with every safety feature imaginable, such as energy-absorbing foam and improved LATCH tightener. Accommodates infants up to 30 pounds.
Fabric can make babies sweat if they're heavily bundled.
Combines safety and comfort in a model that's versatile enough to use until baby is approaching the toddler years.
Accommodates babies from four to 35 pounds. Offers a seven-position headrest. Durable construction with outstanding safety features, like an anti-rebound bar. Can be adjusted with one hand thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism.
Price falls on the higher end. Padding could be more supportive.
An updated version of the ever popular B-Safe 35. All the safety and reliability of the original model, but with more space, improved comfort features and an easy to clean cover.
Safe and sturdy, with a high-strength steel frame and reliable full body protection. Roomy interior with soft, plush padding. Convenient one-hand buckle release. Supportive padding and cover are machine-washable. Accommodates babies up to 35 pounds. Spring-assisted recline. Reasonably priced.
Harness needs to be rethreaded for adjustments when little ones grow. Somewhat bulky, though certainly not over the top.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Car safety is hugely important for babies, and an infant car seat is one of the most important purchases you'll make for your new arrival.
As such, you shouldn't just leave it to chance, selecting the first one you like by appearance alone — this is an item you need to research and fully consider before you buy.
The good news: we at BestReviews have done exhaustive research for you, and our shopping guide includes everything you need to know on one page, so you'll be picking out your new infant car seat before you know it. We've tested products in our lab, analyzed data, talked with existing customers, and consulted our child development expert, so we can bring you a fair and thorough review to help you make an informed purchase.
What exactly is an infant car seat, and how does it differ from other types of car seat?
The main characteristic of an infant car seat is that it's rear-facing. In the event of a car accident, children under two are 75% less likely to be killed or injured in a rear-facing seat than in a forward-facing seat.
Most infant car seats have a base that's anchored into your car, and the main body of the car seat simply clips into the base. This means two-car families just need a second base, rather than a second car seat.
Infant car seats have a carry handle, so you can get your baby in and out of the car without disturbing her — a lifesaver if she's gone to sleep in her seat and you don't want to wake her.
Avoid getting a used car seat as it could be a recalled product, could be damaged so its safety features don’t work, and will certainly not have any company guarantee.
Be wary of toys. Toys can injure your child in a crash, so be extra careful to choose ones that are soft and will not hurt your child. Secure loose objects and toys to protect everyone in the car.
The lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) system is designed to help you fit your child's car seat safely. Most infant car seats only use the lower anchors, which are located in the crease where the seat cushions meet — these anchors should be found in almost all cars (and other passenger vehicles) made from September 1, 2002 onward. You'll find two lower anchors, and two lower anchor connectors on your infant car seat or base — one on each side — both of which must be clipped to the anchors.
While this is a basic explanation of how the LATCH system works, always consult the manual that comes with your infant car seat to learn exactly how to fit your chosen model.
If your car is compatible with the LATCH system, you don't need to use the seatbelt to secure your baby's car seat at all. However, it's still possible to use a seatbelt instead of the LATCH system if you have an older vehicle that doesn't have anchor points.
It's fairly standard for infant car seats to come with adjustable harnesses, so you can keep your baby safe and secure in her seat as she grows.
Most seats come with harnesses that can be placed in three different positions at the shoulders and between the legs, so your baby will fit from newborn right up to the maximum height limit.
A good amount of padding is ideal in a car seat, both for comfort and to provide cushioning in case of an accident.
We recommend a seat with breathable padding, so your baby doesn't get too hot and sweaty in warm weather or when wearing layers of winter clothes.
Most infant car seats have an extra padded insert for newborns and young babies that can be removed as your child grows.
Consider also whether the padding and covering are removable, for easy cleaning.
Infant car seats weigh anywhere between about 5 and 16 pounds. Choose one that you can comfortably carry — and don't forget to factor in the weight of your child. Our expert suggests looking for models that are compatible with a stroller to lighten the load on longer walks if your carrier is too heavy.
It's important to recline your infant car seat at the right angle, particularly for a newborn or young baby who can't yet support his own head. Sitting him in too upright a position could make his head flop forward, potentially obstructing his airway. Many infant car seats have recline indicators — a little like spirit levels — on the side to help you adjust them with the right degree of tilt.
Babies should wear thin layers of clothing in car seats so that straps fit snugly.
Babies should stay in rear-facing car seats as long as possible.
If you're using a convertible or all-in-one seat in the rear-facing position, make sure the seat belt or lower anchor webbing is routed through the correct belt path. Check the instructions that came with the car seat to be sure.
Make certain that the seat is at the correct angle so your baby's head does not flop forward. Check the instructions to find out the correct angle for your seat and how to adjust the angle if needed. Note that all rear-facing seats have built-in recline indicators. This is important to pay attention to.
Individual state laws may differ, but the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a child stay in infant car seat until at least two years of age, or until he outgrows the infant seats.
When adjusting the harness position, the shoulder straps should be level with or below your baby's shoulders, never above them, to keep her secure in case of a collision.
If your car seat gets damaged or your vehicle is in an accident, replace the seat right away, even if there's no obvious damage to it.
All infant car seats have an expiry date — usually about six years after manufacture— which should be on a label or molded into the plastic.
A properly-installed car seat shouldn't move more than an inch in any direction when secured.
While an infant car seat isn't something you should scrimp on, you can find great options to suit a range of budgets.
Basic infant car seats cost about $60 to $90. They won't have all the bells and whistles you expect from high-end models, plus they're unlikely to be as convenient and well designed — they may be harder to fit and less comfortable to carry. That said, you can find a few gems in this price range.
Mid-range infant car seats cost about $90 to $150. They tend to be more user-friendly than basic car seats and have a few added extras.
High-end infant car seats cost about $150 to $200. They tend to be extremely well-designed and easy to fit, with all the safety features you could desire.
A. Although the connotations of the word "infant" might lead you to believe this type of car seat is only for small babies, it's recommended that your child uses a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. Rear-facing car seats are much safer in the event of a collision, so it's best to keep your child in one until he outgrows it. Most infant car seats can accommodate children of up to 35 pounds, so ideally he'll use a rear-facing safety seat until he reaches this weight limit or grows too tall.
A. Your child can stay in an infant car seat until she's tall enough that the crown of her head sits one inch below the top of the seat's shell. Even before she reaches this height, she'll probably have to bend her knees or cross her legs to fit in the seat. Many parents worry that their child is uncomfortable or cramped in this posture, but the increased safety of a rear-facing car seat is worth the tradeoff.
A. When you buy your car seat, you'll find a card enclosed asking you to register your purchase with the manufacturer. It's important that you do this, as that's how the manufacturer will know to contact you in the event of a recall.
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