Best Infant Car Seats of 2017

Best Infant Car Seats of 2017

Last Updated: January 2, 2017
Find the easiest way to transport your little one through a big world.Best Infant Car Seats of 2017

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 car seat models, and so much pressure to pick the safest ride for your little one, figuring out which one to choose can be overwhelming.

Types of car seats

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.

There are three types of car seats that offer varying benefits and are appropriate for different stages of your child’s life. Although the car seat laws vary by state, infants across the country are required to be in rear-facing seats, while toddlers can be in either rear or front-facing seats as long as they meet the height and weight requirements. And in most states, older children must ride in a booster seat. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Infant Car Seats

Used from newborn until your baby reaches the seat’s height or weight limit (usually 22 to 35 pounds), these seats always face the rear of the car. When your little one outgrows the infant car seat, you’ll have to purchase a convertible or other front-facing car seat designed to accommodate toddlers.

Convertible Car Seats

These seats transform from rear-facing seats for babies and toddlers to forward-facing seats for older children. Typically, the forward-facing position can hold children who are up to 65 pounds.

Booster Car Seats

These seats bridge the gap between the time your child needs a car seat to when he can start using the regular, adult-sized seat belt. They help children sit higher up so your car’s regular lap and shoulder belt cross your child’s body at the correct points and hold him securely. Boosters are geared for kids at least four years of age and at least 40 pounds.

How to choose a car seat

Here are some things to consider as you’re selecting a car seat model:

Buying Used?

Used car seats might be damaged and may not be up to snuff when it comes to current safety regulations. If you do end of 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.

Fitting With Your Car

Make sure the car seat fits well in your car, or in multiple cars if you’ll be switching the seat in and out of different vehicles. Every car seat is different- and some just fit better in larger or in smaller cars. For convenience’s sake, you might also consider purchasing additional car seats bases for other primary caregivers, such as your partner, nanny, or mother-in-law. Installing and reinstalling a car seat base gets old, real fast.

Convertible vs. Infant

While it seems that purchasing a convertible car seat would be the most efficient, there is a distinct advantage to also using an infant car seat. You let your sleeping baby - you know, the one that always dozes off in the car - stay asleep. Instead of having to unbuckle and lift her out of the seat to leave the car (and ruining that perfectly peaceful nap), you simply lift the infant car seat from its base and can either snap it onto a stroller or just use the car seat as cozy resting spot if you’re heading inside to visit friends or family.

If you do decide to purchase an infant car seat, then you’ll probably want to make sure your car seat and stroller are compatible. You might select your stroller model first and then choose a car seat made by the same brand. But if there’s a car seat you absolutely love that differs from your stroller, check if a separate adapter is available to still fit the items together. Take a look at our picks for the Best Strollers of 2016 for more details.

How we chose our best picks

We asked thousands of real BabyList families about the baby 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 top infant car seats we think you and your baby will love.

EASY AS 1, 2, 3

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat - $199.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

The KeyFit is a big favorite of BabyList users. If you plan to shuffle one seat between multiple cars, this is the car seat to get because of its easy installation. It even features a built-in level that indicates whether the base is correctly positioned. Plus, since this is such a popular pick, you won’t have any trouble finding and selecting a stroller that can adapt to the KeyFit.

“It’s awesome!”

KEEP IN MIND

Since it’s base is larger than other car seats, it may be harder to fit the KeyFit in smaller rides.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“It’s awesome! It’s easy to carry, easy to install, and easy to transport.” -Amy B.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 30 lbs. and up to 30 inches tall.

Car Seat Weight 9 lbs.

WALLET FRIENDLY

Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Infant Car Seat - $149.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

Besides a price that will make your Benjamins sing, the SnugRide is ultra lightweight. That means your arms will ache less when toting around the car seat with your baby inside. (Trust us, you’ll carry the car seat a lot more than you think!)

KEEP IN MIND

The SnugRide is, of course, compatible with Graco strollers but might not be with another stroller brand. Check your desired stroller brand to make sure they have a seat adapter that works with Graco car seats.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“It is great. Nothing fancy but gets the job done.” - Meg V.

“Winner! Easy to use [and I] understand how it works.” -E.H.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 35 lbs. and up to 32 inches tall

Car Seat Weight 7 lbs.

SAFETY STANDOUT

Britax B-Safe 35 Infant Car Seat - $157.00
WHY WE LOVE IT

The B-Safe has lots of solid safety extras including a deeper seat with higher side walls and energy-absorbing foam for side impact protection. And, the narrow base makes it easier to install in smaller cars.

“incredibly easy to use”

KEEP IN MIND

While the B-Safe does work with B-Agile and BOB strollers, you’ll need to check if other stroller brands you may be interested in have a seat adapter compatible with this car seat.

WHAT BABYLIST PARENTS SAY

“The reason I purchased the Britax car seat is because it had to pass both American and European safety regulations, is easy to clean, relatively light to carry, and easy to fix in the car.” -Aurelie M.

“The B-SAFE has been incredibly easy to use and we feel like our baby is protected while we are traveling.” - Chloe M.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 35 lbs. and up to 32 inches tall

Car Seat Weight 9.8 lbs.

PRIMO DESIGN

Nuna PIPA Infant Car Seat - $299.95
WHY WE LOVE IT

Okay, we admit that we love the Pipa’s sleek good looks and lower weight. But even more, we adore the easy, breezy installation. With a steel stability leg that extends to the car floor and a light that turns green when the seat is installed correctly, you can feel confident that your wee one is safe and sound. And, when your baby does nod off, or raindrops start falling, you can just pull on the large “dream drape” canopy to extend almost entirely over your baby.

KEEP IN MIND

This pick can be a budget buster. (Note: You can still get some of the same installation features for less with the Chicco KeyFit.) Also, the Pipa is compatible with Nuna, Maxi-Cosi, Bugaboo, and UPPAbaby strollers, but usually requires the use of an additional adapter.

Additional Specs

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 4 to 32 lbs. and up to 32 inches tall

Car Seat Weight 7.7 lbs.

HASSLE-FREE CLEANING

Maxi-Cosi Mico Max 30 Infant Car Seat - $249.99
WHY WE LOVE IT

Poopsplosions happen. So, at some point you may have to clean the car seat cushioning. And when you do, you’ll likely drop an F bomb, or two. That’s because weaving the harness in and out of the seat cover and shell is a big pain. But not with the Mico. You can remove the seat pad without having to remove the harness and straps, and the seat fabric is machine washable and dryer safe. The fabric is also self-wicking which means more comfort for your little one during sweaty weather.

KEEP IN MIND

Your baby may quickly outgrow the seat since the height and weight maximums are lower than other car seats. Also, the long design of the seat isn’t great for compact cars.

ADDITIONAL SPECS

Child Weight/Height Guidelines 5 to 22 lbs. and up to 29 inches tall

Car Seat Weight 8 lbs.

Choosing what’s right 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.

Once you’ve made your car seat decision, there’s a lot of other gear to pick out as well. Visit our Baby Essentials article to help you decide what is and isn’t necessary for your family.

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