Best Infant Car Seats of 2019

An infant car seat is an easy and safe way to move your little one around the big world.

By now you probably know you’ll need a car seat before you can take your baby anywhere—including home from the hospital. But with so many infant car seat models, and so much pressure to pick the safest ride for your little one, figuring out which one to choose can be a big decision.

In this article:

  • What’s an Infant Car Seat?
  • What Should You Look for in an Infant Car Seat?
  • Why Purchase an Infant Car Seat Instead of a Convertible?
  • Best Infant Car Seat Picks

What’s an Infant Car Seat?

Infant car seats are made specifically for infants. These seats always face the rear of the car and are used from day one until your baby reaches the seat’s height or weight limit (usually 22 to 35 pounds).

Other types of car seats:

  • Convertible car seats: These grow-with-your-child seats transform from rear-facing seats for babies and toddlers to forward-facing seats for older children up to about 65 pounds.
  • Booster car seats: For kids at least four years old and at least 40 pounds, boosters help children sit higher up. That way the car’s regular lap and shoulder belts cross over your child’s body at the correct points to securely hold your child.

What Should You Look for in an Infant Car Seat?

First, let us reassure you. Every new car seat on the market right now must meet government safety regulations. So spending less money doesn’t mean your car seat will be less safe.

However, more expensive car seats will get you extras like bigger canopies, easier installation and potentially some additional safety features not currently required by law.

Here are some factors to take into consideration when choosing a seat:

  • Fits in your car: Car seats range in size and shape. Some are a better fit for larger or smaller cars.
  • Ease of installation: Many car seats can be installed using the regular seat belt or the LATCH system, which is an easier way to secure the car seat using built-in anchors and tethers (available in cars made after 2002).
  • Safety indicators: Some car seats come with built-in leveling systems and indicators to signal they’ve been correctly installed. (Most safety issues with car seats stem from them not be installing correctly. Here’s info on how to get a safe install.)
  • Fabric: Besides looking for a style of fabric that suits your taste, consider its durability and how easy it’ll be to wash if any oopsies happen.
  • Safety extras: Some car seats include additional shock absorption, padding and higher quality materials.
  • Stroller compatibility: You can snap infant car seats into many strollers or stroller frames. A stroller and car seat that come as a set is called a travel system. But if there’s a car seat you absolutely love that differs from your stroller, check if a separate adapter is available to fit the items together.
  • New vs used: Used car seats might be damaged and may not be up to snuff when it comes to current safety regulations. While we recommend new car seats, if you do end up selecting a used car seat, get it from someone you trust. Also be sure to look up the seat’s expiration date and research if that particular model has ever been recalled.

Why Purchase an Infant Car Seat Instead of a Convertible?

While it seems that purchasing a convertible car seat would be the most efficient, there are two distinct advantages to using an infant car seat instead.

First, babies can stay asleep during the transfer from car to stroller if you purchased a travel system.

Second, if your baby will be riding in multiple vehicles, transferring an infant car seat can be so much easier. Just be sure to purchase an additional car seat base. That way you can quickly click the infant car seat into the backseat base and go. Installing and reinstalling a car seat gets old, real fast.

How We Chose Our Best Infant Car Seats

We asked thousands of real families about the products they love the most now that their little one has arrived. We took the top products they shared with us and added our own research and insight. Here are the infant car seats we think you and your baby will love.

Best Overall Infant Car Seat

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat” target=”_blank”> $199
Why We Love It

From excellent safety features to ease of use, the KeyFit 30 is a fan favorite. The base is simple to install and has just one tightener in the middle that pulls it securely in place. A built-in, easy-to-read level indicates when it’s been correctly positioned—plus you’ll always hear the trusty “click” sound when the carrier is properly inserted into the base. The KeyFit adapter works on most strollers, so you can go from the car to running errands without disrupting your little one’s snooze.

It’s light, easy to snap in and out and a great price.”

Best Inexpensive Infant Car Seat

Why We Love It

Babies require a lot of stuff. And thanks to this reasonably priced car seat, at least one piece of gear is lightweight. At just seven and a half pounds, it’s easy on the arm muscles (and easy to move in and out of the car). It also has a higher weight limit (35 pounds), so the seat will last a bit longer.

“Easy to install, easy to carry.”

Keep in Mind

As the name implies, this seat is snug. Removable cushioning for newborns makes for a cozy ride. While this infant carrier is compatible with all Graco strollers, you’ll need an adaptor for other brands.

Best Easy-to-Install Infant Car Seat

Why We Love It

No need to stress about car seat installation when you have a Mesa. Just clip in the latch connectors and push the base down with your body weight—no tugging or pulling straps. The indicators will be green when it’s level and tight. In fact, it’s so easy and safe, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration awarded it a 5-star ease-of-use rating. Another awesome perk: you’ll never have to rethread the harness (which is a huge pain!) as your baby grows. The “Henry” version also passes federal safety standards without using fire retardant chemicals.

Keep in Mind

At almost 10 pounds, the Mesa is heavy. But many can easily overlook that thanks to all the other benefits like the ease of installation and being able to connect it into their Uppababy strollers without an adapter.

Best Compact Infant Car Seat

Why We Love It

The B-Safe offers standout safety features at a great price point. The deep, narrow seat has sidewalls with energy-absorbing foam for side-impact protection. If you have a small car, this is a great choice because it won’t take up too much space in the backseat. And, it’s really a cinch to install. (However, installation isn’t so simple without the base. So if you’ll need to use this seat in cabs and friends’ cars, the B-Safe may not be your best bet.)

Keep in Mind

Parents of big babies say their kiddos grew out of the narrow seat too quickly. And while the steel frame of this seat adds extra safety, it also adds extra weight, making it heavy to tote around.

Best All-in-One Infant Car Seat

Why We Love It

The Doona is the first of its kind: an infant car seat that instantly transforms into a stroller with the click of a button. When it’s time to get in the car, stroller legs and wheels pull up and fold under the car seat making this the ultimate, all-in-one system for frequent travelers. It’s also ideal for city dwellers who need to quickly get in and out of public transportation.

Keep in Mind

Once your child outgrows the infant car seat, you won’t be able to use the stroller anymore. Also, the sleek design doesn’t have any extra cargo space for a diaper or shopping bag.

Best Easy-to-Clean Infant Car Seat

Why We Love It

From spit-up situations to diaper explosions, whatever happens in the car seat doesn’t have to stay in the car seat, thanks to the Mico Max. The seat pad of this lightweight, stylish pick can be easily removed and machine washed. Plus, the fabric is self-wicking, which keeps babies dry and comfortable, especially in warmer temps. And when it comes to safety, its features include extra side-impact protection and an anti-rebound bar.

” It was light, easy to carry and super easy to clean. Loved it!”

Keep in Mind

The anti-rebound bar adds some length to the seat base, which makes it a tight fit in compact cars.

Choosing the Right Infant Car Seat For You

Once you get the car seat, be sure to test it out in your car(s) right away before removing the tags or throwing away the box. You’ll want to make sure it’s a good fit and that it lives up to your expectations.

Remember, any new seat you choose will be safe. What matters most is that the seat makes commuting around town and going on road trips to see grandma and grandpa easy for you and your family.

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