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The Best & Safest Baby Infant Car Seats

Joanne Stene
Last Updated on
by Joanne Stene

There’s nothing more precious than your new baby. That first trip home from the hospital can be both exciting and nerve-racking but you can quell some of those fears if you invest in the right car seat.

Not all car seats are created equal and, if there is one piece of baby equipment you should do the most research on, it’s the device that will need to keep your baby safe while you drive.

Below, you will find our reviews of the safest infant car seats you can find. While many of the best infant car seats offer standard safety features, you will want to keep in mind how they fit into your lifestyle. First, we’ll present a helpful best infant car seats buyer’s guide to educate you on what to look for regarding infant car seats to get you ready to make a great choice.

What is an Infant Car Seat?

Infant seats are those that are designed for the youngest children to ride safely in motor vehicles. They are meant for the first couple of years and are intended to be used as rear-facing only. You will find weight ranges for infant car seats, so do pay attention to make sure you’re using the right sight at the right time for your children.

Best Infant Car Seats
chicco-keyfit30-infant
Best Overall
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-30 lbs
  • Weight: 20
uppababy-mesa-infant
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 23.5
primo-viaggio-4-35
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 21
graco-snugride-35
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 20.2
britax-b-safe-35
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 12
maxi-cosi-mico-max-30
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-30 lbs
  • Weight: 19
safety-1st-onboard-35-air
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 18.48
cybex-aton-2
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 9
evenflo-litemax-dlx
  • LATCH compatible: Yes
  • Child Weight Range: 4-35 lbs
  • Weight: 19.2

Guide to Infant Car Seat Shopping

You know that you want the safest possible car seat for your infant. That is a given for any parent but for many new, or first-time parents, the knowledge around what to look for can be limited.

If you’ve never had a child or have not had a new baby in the house for quite some time, you may know you want the safest seat possible but may not know how to find it or what to look for to ensure the highest standard for your baby.  

Let’s start by defining what we mean by infant car seat since the term can sometimes be misunderstood. An infant car seat is one that has a base that stays in the car. The actual seat is detachable and can be used as a baby carrier. They can only be used in a rear-facing position and therefore, they are typically grown out of rather quickly.

Below, we’ve highlighted a few tips to keep in mind when you are doing your shopping.

1. Know Your Car

Make sure you know your car well before you purchase a seat. You need to make sure that the seat will fit comfortably in your back seat. Comfort can mean different things to different people, but most would agree that having your passenger’s legs in their chest isn’t comfortable.

The length and width of seats and their bases vary. Make sure that the ones you are considering purchasing will actually fit in your car.

The other consideration related to your car is how it will attach. You need to make sure you’ve reviewed your car’s owner’s manual before making any purchases. The car seat can attach using either the LATCH system or the seat belt. If you want to use the LATCH system, you need to make sure you know where the LATCH attachments are in your car or truck.

The safest place for the car seat is in the middle back position and there may not be any attachments in that spot.

2. Safety

There is no universal answer to the best or safest car seat for everyone. Each family and each child are different. What you should be looking for is the car seat that is safest for you and your family and the seat that will install and fit most securely in your vehicle.

You also want a seat that will suit your child’s weight, height, and age and that you feel confident using.

Having what others consider to be the world’s best car seat won’t do you any good if you don’t know how to properly use or install it or if you don’t feel confident carrying it because it is too heavy.

And to be truthful, all car seats are safe provided that you install and use it the way it is intended.

3. Travel System Compatibility

You are choosing an infant car seat, at least in part for the mobility aspect. You don’t have to take your child in and out of the car seat for every doctor’s appointment, of which there are so many in those early days and months.

These seats just make moving a baby around, who is likely sleeping, much easier. That said, you might want to consider purchasing one that works with a stroller. This builds a travel system. Some infant car seats can be purchased as a set with a stroller and some can even be used with other brands of stroller.

That part is a little less important. What is key is making sure that your infant car seat can work in tandem with a stroller. This will make moving your baby around even easier.

4. Child Size

The best infant car seats are expensive. In fact, they are so expensive they can ultimately be the biggest expense you have when you bring your little one home. For most parents that is totally acceptable given that it is the piece of equipment most likely to save your child in the event of a catastrophic event.

With that said, you want to buy a seat that has higher height and weight limits so that it will grow with your child. This is a bit more challenging when opting for an infant car seat that can only be used in rear-facing, which is the safest position for little ones.

In fact, it is five times safer than forward-facing and you want to keep your baby rear-facing as long as possible in infant car seats. You can still find an infant car seat that has weight and height limits that will grow with your child as much as possible. This can save you a bit of money in the long run.

5. Lifestyle

You want to choose one of the infant car seats that is best suited to your lifestyle. If you are always on the go or you plan to bring the baby with you traveling, you likely need a car seat that is very easy to install. You can even find one that can be installed when you take an Uber, Lyft or taxi.

This means finding a car seat that can be easily installed using the seat belt and does not mandate you use lower anchors.

If you do a lot of walking, or you plan on jogging postpartum, you want an infant car seat that either fits in your existing stroller or that can be purchased as part of a travel system. However, you also want to make sure you do not make any choices based on the stroller.

While having a nice stroller is convenient, it is not the piece of equipment that stands to save your child’s life. You want to base any of your purchasing decision on the car seat and then make your stroller choices second.

The second consideration related to your lifestyle is if you plan on having children back to back. If that is the case, you want to choose an infant car seat that is durable enough to withstand two children in quick succession. That also means making sure you purchase a car seat that can easily fit in different positions within your vehicle.

Having a second child may ultimately change the configuration of seating in your back seat. 

Best Infant Car Seats Reviews

1. Chicco KeyFit 30

chicco-keyfit30-infant
This car seat by Chicco is America’s top rated infant car seat. It is easy to install and can be used with any of Chicco’s strollers for their travel systems.

Specs:

  • Base dimensions: 20 x 15 x 8 inches
  • 5-point harness
  • For use from 4-30 pounds

Your child’s car seat is virtually useless if not installed properly. This car seat is very easy to install with leveling that is easy to read and manipulate. There is also a unique leveling foot attached to the bottom of the base that helps you properly angle the base during the installation process.

The level indicator of the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat will show you if the base angle is accurate. In addition, there is a LATCH tightener that helps you to make sure the seat is securely fitted in your vehicle.

For your first ride home from the hospital, you’ll likely enjoy the newborn positioner that has removable body and head support, ideal for the brand-new baby who can’t support themselves just yet. The base of this car seat conveniently stays right in the car.

You can easily click in the car seat when you are on your way out and easily remove it with the one-handed removal. This seat is compatible with all Chicco strollers for their travel systems so you can remove the car seat and pop it right into the stroller for easy on-the-go travel.

There are not a lot of negatives with this car seat, but one is that it seems the top of the car seat, usually used to shade the baby, does not always consistently stay up. This can be a negative if you have a child who has a sensitivity to sunlight or who you want to keep shaded most, if not all, of the time.

That said, the top does not interfere with the handle when you are carrying the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat. This is a huge plus for this seat since it can be inconvenient to try and carry the seat with the top in the way, which is the case with many other car seats.

The second negative is that the back latch is hard to squeeze to release the seat. You have to press down very hard to release the seat and this could be a challenge for anyone with limited grip strength. Overall, the Chicco KeyFit 30 infant car seat is a strong contender in our list of the best infant car seats.

Pros
  • One-handed removal
  • Extra body and head support for small infants and newborns
  • Easy to tighten base
  • Canopy does not interfere with carrying
Cons
  • Top falls down
  • Back latch makes it hard to release the seat

2. UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat

uppababy-mesa-infant
The UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat is the only one of its kind to pass federal safety standards without using fire retardant chemicals. It offers a no-rethread headrest and integrated protection against side impact.

It has many features that provide easy installation, especially for new parents overly concerned about ensuring proper installation and usage and it comes with one base.

Specs:

  • Base dimensions on lowest level: 21.3L x 14.5W x 10.3H (13H at highest level)
  • For use from 4-35 pounds
  • Includes one base

This car seat uses a SMARTSecure system that takes a lot of new parent guesswork out of using and installing the device. It has auto-retracting connectors and a visual indicator that turns from red to green so that you can easily verify the seat has been installed properly.  

The UPPAbaby Mesa infant car seat resists flames without having to use fire retardant chemicals. For comfort, the material is extra soft, ensuring a snug fit for baby. There are also storage pockets for the harness buckles.

It is incredibly easy to clean, which is a big advantage over other seats that are harder to disassemble and require hand washing only. With this car seat, almost all of the fabric comes out and is machine washable. It can be attached to VISTA and CRUZ strollers without having to use an adapter.

If you are using this with a child that weighs between 4 and 8 pounds, the manufacturer recommends using an infant insert.

There aren’t too many downsides to the UPPAbaby Mesa infant car set, but one is that it is a bit heavier than some other options. With that said, for a lot of new parents, the weight is not a critical factor given that the top priority is likely baby safety. The second downside is that it can cause the baby to get a bit hot.

Pros
  • Very easy to clean
  • Indicator to ensure proper installation
  • Passed federal safety standards without fire retardant chemicals
Cons
  • Heavier than some other car seats
  • Can get very warm

3. Peg Perego Primo Viaggio

primo-viaggio-4-35
This car seat is made in Italy and incorporates several safety capabilities along with simple installation and portability. It can be used for babies who weigh between 4 and 35 pounds and who are up to 32 inches tall.

Specs:

  • Car seat dimensions: 25.9 x 17 x 23.9 inches
  • Base dimensions: 21.6 x 14.6 x 11.5 inches
  • For use from 4 to 35 pounds
  • Includes a base and anti-rebound bar

These infant car seats offer several safety protections. The side protection from impact can be adjusted to suit a total of six various positions without any re-threading. This serves to protect the shoulders and head of the baby, at various heights and sizes.

The shell is lined to be energy absorbing for a layer of added protection and that same shell is perforated to help enhance air circulation. Babies overheat easily, which is a prime concern for new parents. That perforated design can help combat the potential for overheating.

There are two cushions so that you can position the baby’s head properly and safely and there are two side wings for both added protection and to help keep baby in place. This car seat is also easy to use on-the-go.

It has a handle that is shorter than many other car seats, which makes getting it in and out of the car seat easier and it can also make for easier mobility in general.

Installation of these infant car seats is quite easy with the “right tight system” which ensures the base is locked in place securely.

You can use either the vehicle seat belt or the latch system and the seat does come with a base. Belt paths that are coded are used in the base, so you don’t have to question how to use the seat belt properly. You can use this car seat without an adapter with any Peg Perego stroller except for the Skate and Pliko Mini.

In terms of design, the look of this seat is quite sleek and screams of Italian styling. The weight rating is about the same as the rest of the best infant car seats in this list. So, the transition to convertible car seats and finding a suitable convertible car seat is one that will come with some time as your child grows.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Perforated design to help prevent overheating
  • Includes anti-rebound bar
  • Coded belt baths
Cons
  • Difficult to carry with the canopy up
  • Seat does not easily click into the base

4. Graco SnugRide 35 Infant Car Seat

graco-snugride-35
This is a very lightweight, easy to handle car seat option. It has Click Connect technology that makes travel easy and it can be used with any Graco Click Connect Strollers.

Specs:

  • Weighs 7.5 without base
  • For use from 4 to 35 pounds
  • Meets or exceeds US standard FMVSS 213
  • Dimensions: 28L x 18.66W x 15.59H

This Graco car seat is particularly easy to transport to and from the car and in and out of appointments given its weight. This can make all the difference when you are back and forth to the pediatrician’s office in those first few weeks of your baby’s life.

If you have other Graco equipment, this makes a great addition given that it can be used with any Click Connect Strollers to make your own travel system.

In terms of safety, this car seat either meets or exceeds all US safety standards and it has an adjustable base that makes use of 6 different recline positions. So, no matter what you drive, you can get a near custom fit.

This is a re-thread harness, unlike some other models but that isn’t really a disadvantage given that it is an infant seat and not a convertible one. Still, this is a personal preference.

This is an easy-to-clean seat as both the seat cushion and the canopy are machine washable. The only real downsides to this seat are related to the handle and the canopy. The handle takes two hands to put down since there are two red buttons, one on each side, and the canopy can be challenging to get past the handle.

Pros
  • Very lightweight at 7.5 pounds
  • 6 recline positions
  • Machine-washable seat cushion and canopy
Cons
  • Canopy can be hard to move past the handle
  • Handle requires 2 hands to move

5. Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat

britax-b-safe-35
Britax is known for safety when it comes to car seats and this version is no different with its side impact protection, impact absorbing base, and steel frame.

It is easy to install and is compatible with all Britax single strollers using its built-in adapters. It can also be used with BOB strollers if you want to purchase the appropriate adapter.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 17.75W x 25H x26.5D inches
  • For use from 4-35 pounds
  • Comes with one base
  • Comes with removable newborn baby pad
  • Weighs 12 pounds

This Britax B Safe 35 car seat incorporates many safety features into its safecell impact protection. There is a steel frame to reinforce the seat’s strength as well as a base that compresses energy if there is ever a collision. In addition, the installation is easy and uses the SafeCenter Latch.

You can use the center-pull straps, lower Latch connectors, and push-button to ensure a property installation. The shell is also lined with energy-absorbing foam shields to help protect baby from side and front impacts.

Your first several rides in this seat will also have enhanced safety given the removable newborn body pad that is included with purchase.The shell of this seat is contoured and looks a bit different than some other car seats. The design means that it takes up less space in your vehicle while also minimizing any unwanted side-to-side movement.

Britax designs, test and builds this Britax B Safe 35 seat in the United States. There really are not many downsides to these infant car seats other than their weight. It is a bit heavier than many other of the other best infant car seats which can make portability more challenging.

For most new parents, the weight is worth the added safety and protection.

Pros
  • Compact design with special contour
  • Very easy installation
  • Safecell protection features
Cons
  • Heavy at 12 pounds
  • Canopy can get caught on handle when carrying

6. Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Infant Car Seat

maxi-cosi-mico-max-30
This car seat from Max-Cosi offers many comfort features and is the lightest premium car seat among the best infant car seats.

Specs:

  • For use from 4-30 pounds
  • 16 x 18 x 31 inches
  • Weighs 8.2 pounds

This safety features with this car seat include an anti-rebound bar and Air Protect Side Impact Protection. If your baby is a newborn or just on the smaller side, there is additional head and neck support as well.

This can be crucial for a more custom fit, especially for that first ride home from the hospital when your baby isn’t yet able to support themselves. There is also an extended canopy that has a flip-out visor so you can give baby protected from UV rays.

Installation is easy, even without the base. If you have to take an Uber or Lyft, you’ll still be able to easily travel with your baby. And this seat is fully compatible with Quinny, Maxi-Cosi, and other premium brand strollers. 

The name of the game with this car seat is comfort. It has a contoured handle you aren’t likely to find on many other seats. This handle curves right around your hip so you aren’t as uncomfortable when having to carry a baby in the seat.

Given that you can travel without the base pretty easily, it is a nice feature to be able to also comfortably carry the seat when needed.

There aren’t too many drawbacks to this seat but the primary one is that it is larger than some other seats and can take up quite a bit of room in your vehicle. Because of its length, you may have to move your front seat up further than you’d like in order to comfortably fit the seat’s base.

Pros
  • Very lightweight at 8 pounds
  • Easy to use without the base
  • Contoured handle for easy carrying
Cons
  • Big/Long
  • Limited padding once infant insert is removed

7. Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360

safety-1st-onboard-35-air
This car seat has been crash-tested from every angle and offers five layers of safety for babies that weigh anywhere from 4 to 35 pounds.

It has been crash-tested for front impact, rear impact, side impact, and rollover, which is the deadliest type of crash.

Specs:

  • For use from 4-35 pounds
  • Exceeds European Rollover Standard
  • Exceeds Federal Safety Standards
  • Comes with 1 base

This seat offers many safety features and exceeds both federal safety standards as well as the European rollover standard. For smaller babies, there are special insert pillows to provider a snug, safe fit. Once those pillows have been outgrown, they are easily removable for a more comfortable fit for larger, older babies.

There are five primary layers of safety with this car seat starting with the Air Protect cushioning system. This system provides immediate crash protection including side-impact energy management.

The GCell HX foam is based on the same foam used in race cars and serves to displace any crash energy around the baby’s torso. The handle is reinforced which adds some stability and the deep seat structure shields the baby, offering a sense of security as well as containment.

There is additional soft foam placed throughout the seat to help add another layer of security and comfort.

This car seat is very easy to clean, as it is machine washable. The seat pad is even dryer-safe, which is quite unheard of when it comes to car seats. Many are just hand washable which makes for more challenging clean up.

There are very few drawbacks to this car seat but the primary one is similar to others we’ve reviewed. The canopy seems to have issues staying up, which can get annoying if you’re trying to protect your baby from the sun. Otherwise, it’s a strong contender of this list of best infant car seats to seriously consider.

Pros
  • Passes/exceeds many safety standards
  • Machine washable with dryer-safe seat pad
  • GCell HX foam
  • Air Protect cushioning system
Cons
  • Canopy tends to fall down
  • Limited options for stroller compatibility

8. CYBEX Aton 2

cybex-aton-2
This CYBEX car seat offers many safety features, as well as those that add in a bit of comfort. It is lightweight, energy-absorbing, and offers an L.S.P System.

Specs:

  • Secure European Belt Routing
  • Weighs 9 pounds
  • For use from 4 – 35 pounds
  • Comes with the base and support leg

For safety features, this car seat offers an energy absorbing shell along with linear side-impact protection. There is also a height-adjustable load leg which absorbs and distributes energy to the vehicle floor. This means that the force is significantly reduced if you were ever in an accident.

This feature also keeps the baby positioned properly for extra protection since the seat cannot rotate forward. There is a newborn inlay with this seat which can help keep smaller, or newborn, babies properly positioned. It also keeps the torso at a proper angle to help facilitate proper breathing as well as digestion.

In terms of comfort, this seat is lightweight and quite easy to carry. The canopy can be positioned three different ways, extended incrementally and it folds away when not needed. It is extra-large in size for extra protection from the sun and offers an EVP50+ rating.

This car seat is compatible with any of the CYBEX strollers using an adapter and it can be used with several other popular strollers. It also is approved by the FAA for air travel. It is also ideal for smaller-sized vehicles that need a more compact car seat.

Similar to some of the other best infant car seats, the biggest drawback and really the only negative relates to the canopy which when extended, prevents you from putting the handle down.

Pros
  • Canopy has an EVP50+ rating
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Shock absorption given the extra leg
Cons
  • When canopy is extended, you can’t put the handle down
  • Can be hard to tighten straps

9. Evenflo LiteMax DLX Infant Car Seat

evenflo-litemax-dlx
This car seat has features that help sustain its comfort as your child grows. It is easy to carry and can be used for children up to 24 months, provided the baby falls within the appropriate weight range of 4 to 35 pounds.

There are many safety features incorporated while maintaining its easy maneuverability.

Specs:

  • For use from 4-35 pounds
  • 28 x 17.5 x 26.5 inches
  • Weighs 8.7 pounds
  • One base included

This seat is incredibly lightweight at a little over 8 pounds, making it easy to transport. This is quite light for a car seat and can make a big difference as the baby’s weight increases. The ergonomic handle allows for easy carrying. The installation is simple with the 2-step belt lock-off base.

In terms of safety, this seat has been rollover tested and offers a very secure fit with up-front harness adjustments and 4 shoulder harness positions to ensure a snug fit at any size. The head and body pillows make for a great fit for smaller infants or newborns just leaving the hospital.

Those pads can be removed when baby outgrows them and there are also harness covers which can also be removed when not needed. There is a full coverage canopy for protection from the sun.

For convenience, the fabrics are machine-washable instead of just being able to be spot-cleaned which can be a real time saver and much easier than washing by hand. There is also a no-rethread harness that can be easily adjusted for your baby’s growth without having to remove and re-thread the harness straps.

The canopy does not have the capacity to fully cover baby, but that is really one of the few downsides we could find with this seat. This is a very worthwhile contender in the list of best infant car seats available on the market.

Pros
  • Very lightweight at just 8 and a half pounds
  • Machine-washable fabrics
  • 4 shoulder harness positions
  • No-rethread harness
Cons
  • Canopy does not provide full coverage
  • 2 step process to attach seat to base

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I buy my infant car seat?

You want to make your purchase at least one month before your due date, if not sooner. This should give you enough time to install the seat and have it checked by a professional to ensure proper fit and installation.

You can do a quick search for an inspection site near you. So, we highly recommend making a suitable chase from this list of the best infant car seats early in the process.

When should I transition my child to a convertible seat?

You can, and should, leave your child in the infant seat until they surpass the height and weight guidelines. You should also keep your child rear-facing as long as possible, as it is the safest position by far.

A high quality convertible car seat will offer excellent protection for your child, but one of the best infant car seats will always be a better choice than a convertible car seat until such time that your child’s size and weight dictate transitioning to convertible car seats.

How many bases should I purchase?

This is a personal preference related to convenience. You likely want a base properly installed in every vehicle that will regularly be transporting your child. If that is you and your spouse, then consider purchasing two bases.

If you are going to be using nana, grandma, or a nanny as childcare, perhaps you need three. This is case-specific, but it is much easier to have the base already installed then to have to keep installing it every time baby moves from the care of one person to another.

Conclusion

Choosing one of the best infant car seats for your newborn can feel overwhelming and rightly so. There is perhaps no bigger purchase than the equipment that could potentially save your child’s life. Despite how most car seats come with fairly standard safety features, they are not all created perfectly equal. And you need to choose the seat that is right for you, your family and baby, and your lifestyle.

Here, we’ve highlighted nine of the best infant car seats on the market. Any of them would be a good investment. You will want to decide which features are most important to you when selecting the one you will purchase. 

Other Car Seats:

About Joanne Stene
Joanne Stene
Joanne is a mother of 2 young girls and a technical writer with over 20 years of professional experience. She originally got interested in the topic of car seats as her two daughters were born and during the course of research into which seats to buy for her family. That interest has turned into a passion of sharing information on the Elite Car Seats website.
Joanne Stene
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