A baby car seat is a critical item that optimizes your little one’s safety during each drive. From the minute you leave the hospital, you have to be able to transport your baby safely.
As overwhelming as it may seem, there’s no reason you should worry. We have collected the most significant aspects you should know to make an informed purchase.
Apart from that, we will present to you our top recommendations for items that qualify as the best baby car seat. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Why Do You Absolutely Need A Baby Car Seat
Everyone knows that the initial purpose of a car seat is to ensure a baby’s safety. Based on statistics, the leading cause of death in children in the United States is vehicle crashes.
What is more, according to studies done by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the safest way to diminish the risk of death and injury in children and babies is by correctly using and installing the car seat for your little one.
Official stats point that car seats decrease the likelihood of fatal injury by 71 percent in infants and by 54 percent in toddlers.
Not only that a car seat gives you peace of mind, but the law in 50 states requires the utilization of car seats.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Baby Car Seat
So, we’ve established one thing: getting the best baby car seat is a necessity. We all acknowledge that. Here’s when things get confusing: how do you choose the right one?
That’s why we created the following checklist for you. These are the key aspects that you shouldn’t miss when you’re on the lookout for the best baby car seat.
Your Car – Options For Installation
The best baby car seat for you will be the one that fits into your vehicle perfectly. We cannot make specific recommendations about the car seats that suit certain vehicles or not.
Evidently, you should do your research in this respect, first and foremost. To be sure, it is best to contact the vehicle manufacturer if you cannot find this information.
Secondly, you should read your car’s and the car seat’s manuals in detail. That will aid you to install the car seat correctly.
Car seats can be installed either rear-facing or front-facing.
Rear-facing car seats are acknowledged as being safer. Thus, experts advise parents to stick to rear-facing car seats until it is necessary to switch to front-facing.
The Size of The Baby Car Seat
Another significant consideration is the size of the car seat. Thus, make sure you check the manufacturer’s specifications on size and weight.
Ease of Installation
Each buyer has distinct needs. For example, if you travel a lot and you’ll have to install and uninstall the car seat frequently, you should get one that is effortless to install.
Three out of four car seats are inadequately installed, in the United States alone.
In response to this worrying statistic, the Lowering Anchors and Tethers for Children restraint system – LATCH – has been designed. This system aims at making the installation process efficient and effortless.
The majority of automobiles are equipped with a standard LATCH system in the backseat. That comprises of metal bars onto which one can attach the tethers to the car seat. That optimizes the child’s security.
We recommend you invest in a car seat with a LATCH system as long as your vehicle allows for it.
Age, Height, And Weight Of Your Baby
For a baby car seat to work as advertised, you have to assess the age, weight, and height of the child. As a result, you should always check the category of the car seat.
For instance, car seats from the category 0 are suitable for children who weigh up to 25 lbs. Children whose weight ranges from 20 lbs. to 40 lbs. should use a car seat from group 1.
As for group 2 car seats, they are created for children weighing 33 lbs. to 55 lbs. Finally, group 3 car seats consist primarily of booster cushion systems. These are targeted for children whose weight varies from 48 lbs. to 70 lbs.
As you can see, your child’s size is more important than his/her age. That’s because car seats aren’t grouped by age.
Ease Of Use
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a five-star rating system. This system enables parents to assess the ease-of-use of a baby car seat before purchasing it.
What does the NHTSA take into account? The clarity of the instructions manual, the ease of securing the child, and the user-friendliness of the installation process.
Thus, the NHTSA suggests caregivers and parents to analyze the ratings before choosing the best baby car seat.
It’s fundamental to ensure that the item you select meets your lifestyle. If you enjoy taking a lot of walks with your little one, you should look for the best baby strollers with car seat.
Still, remember that the stroller shouldn’t influence your decision. Your priority is to select a car seat that actually keeps your child safe, so that should be your priority.
Ease Of Adjustment/Adjustable Harness
Adjusting the harness correctly is, without a doubt, the fundamental element that ensures the safety of a car seat.
Most state-of-the-art car seats are equipped with five-point harnesses. While you may still find a range of products featuring a 3-point harness, these are rare.
Essentially, a 5-point harness system is comprised of two straps, a chest clip, and a crotch strap. This kind of system is acknowledged as the safest.
It offers enhanced control while keeping the child in place in the case of a crash.
Additionally, in comparison with other options, the 5-point harness system makes it difficult for the child to wiggle out of the car seat.
Without a doubt, you want your little one to feel comfortable in his/her car seat. After all, that is his/her safe spot.
If your little one doesn’t feel comfortable, he/she will be fussy, which will make the driving experience far from enjoyable.
As your little one grows, you can make adjustments on the car seat, such as altering the height of the straps. You could also change the crotch strap to ensure that your child stays put while being comfy.
Apart from that, you must take into account that there are plenty of accessories on the market that could maximize a car seat’s comfort. Newborn headrests, for instance, offer head support to infants.
Still, before getting additional accessories for the car seat, make sure they are approved by the car seat producer. Some accessories aren’t compatible with certain car seats, which could impair your little one’s safety and comfort.
Spillage and spots are unavoidable. That’s what children do best.
On that note, we suggest you choose a car seat whose surfaces and fabrics are easy to clean and maintain. For example, a detachable cover can be lifesaving and will make your life easier.
While it’s a good thing that parents can choose from a plethora of car seats, this makes it rather difficult to make a decision.
That’s why we would like to introduce to you five excellent products that you should take into consideration.
We’ll give you all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision about your baby’s first ride.
Best Baby Infant Car Seat: Baby Trend Infant Car Seat
Many parents consider this product to be the best baby infant car seat. It has a lot of features that make it one of the best buys on the market.
To start with, this item has a narrow design. That makes it very practical, especially if you have triplets or twins. Installing the car seat is also time-effective.
- You can install it without using a base
- Removing the seat from the base is effortless
- It is equipped with a cold weather boot
- Installing it is relatively easy
- Adjusting the harness height is time-effective
- Angle adjustment is challenging to use
- You cannot machine wash the car seat cover
The level indicator you need for a correct installation is found on one side only. Although it doesn’t have dual level indicators, this isn’t a major impediment to prevent you from installing the car seat right.
As for the seat angle indicator, it will help you to pinpoint the proper reclining angle. To make sure that you reach the perfect recline of the base, you should check the indicators.
Installing the base correctly is crucial. Strap the baby securely and triple check that everything is done correctly to hinder any life-threatening scenarios from happening. Remember that practicing is the key to success.
Now, moving on to a feature that all parents love: the carry handles. If your little one has fallen asleep in the car, you wouldn’t want to disturb him/her.
The shape of the handle is rather unusual, yet genuinely useful. Bear in mind that adjusting the handle could take a little extra time and effort at first.
All things considered, one of the best features about the Baby Trend infant car seat is the angled carry handle. That facilitates you to use several angles to move the car seat.
Plus, most mid-range priced car seats don’t offer the convenience of a non-rethread harness. Overall, it is a decent product that comes at an affordable rate.
Best Baby Convertible Car Seat: Graco Convertible Car Seat
The Graco convertible car seat is acknowledged as the best baby convertible car seat, and for a good reason. It is not a perfect product, but it gets close enough to being the best baby car seat.
Of course, safety is the main concern when you purchase a car seat. Happily, Graco prioritizes safety, which is why this particular item is one of the safest on the market.
- Versatile 4 in 1 design: you can use it for newborn and children up to 100 lbs.
- Washable padding, which is easy to position
- Ease of installation
- It passed all federal safety standards
- Energy absorbing foam and steel reinforced frame: optimal durability
- Without the infant insert, your little one will be uncomfortable
- Doesn’t fully recline in sedans
- Sweaty fabric
It has been tested against crashes and side impact, being engineered to supply optimal safety. Thanks to its practical 5-point harness system, it performed two times better than the standard peak crash force.
What is more, this car seat withstands extreme temperatures as well, according to tests. In other words, high temperatures won’t reduce the effectiveness of the car seat in any way. This is excellent news for parents from Arizona, right?
As for the construction of the car seat, the frame is steel-reinforced. Plus, it is also equipped with energy absorbing foam (EPS). That equals a strong, durable and efficient car seat.
Moving on to installation: is it easy to install? While we couldn’t say that the car seat ranks highest in this direction, it is still acceptable.
However, when it comes to installing it in a sedan, its bulky size could complicate the installation process.
As for comfort, we would have to say that one of the main pitfalls to using a convertible car seat is the lack of recline.
That’s why infants may not feel comfy in the Graco convertible car seat. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem in the case of short trips, but if you travel a lot, we suggest you consider another option.
As for this product, it could pass as the best car seat to grow with baby.
When it comes to features such as safety, ease of installation, extras, and price, we would have to say that Graco aims at supplying quality, first and foremost. The Graco baby extend2fit 65 convertible car seat is a product that is much appreciated by parents.
Best Baby Car Seat Booster: Britax Booster Seat
If you’re looking for stability, style, and quality, the Britax booster seat could be an excellent choice, if your budget allows it. Many parents attest that this is the best baby car seat booster.
- One of the most reliable booster seats featuring a rigid LATCH system
- The recline feature and the deep head wings offer optimal comfort
- Excellent, durable construction
- Aesthetic appeal
- Price: this is one of the most expensive models on the market
- The rigid LATCH system and the rough construction makes the car seat quite heavy
- Due to its large size, it doesn’t fit all vehicles
This car seat is designated for children who weigh from 33 to 100 lbs. It features a complete metal sub-structure, structural headrest with deep side wings, rigid LATCH-system, a unique recline feature and energy-absorbing foam layers.
The metal support structure is one of the characteristics we like most. That’s because it hinders twisting. Apart from that, the padding diminishes the risk for your child’s body or head to come in contact with destructive parts in the case of a collision.
What is more, you could also convert it into a backless booster seat. Plus, the Britax Booster Seat are listed by IHHS. It has received this award .
If you want to use the recline feature, there are two major safety considerations to keep in mind. For starters, you shouldn’t recline the seat at all if you install it without the LATCH system.
And secondly, the headrest should be in contact with the rear seat of the car. Adjusting the headrest is easy. You could easily position the belt so that it delivers optimal performance to your little one.
Best Baby Stroller With Car Seat – Winner: Chicco Bravo Travel System
Many parents prefer to choose a travel system, which comprises of the best baby car seat and the best stroller.
For example, the Chicco Bravo travel system is a high-quality product, which comes at an affordable rate for the features it provides.
- Spacious basket
- Quick one-hand fold system
- Easy to steer
- Assembling the baby stroller takes less than five minutes
- It doesn’t include a snack tray
- The canopy is a bit short, and there isn’t a flap over the mesh
- The stroller is on the heavy side
Evidently, the infant car seat represents one of the most important parts of a travel system. The Chicco car seat is easy to install, especially if you use the LATCH system.
The first time we installed the car seat, it took us less than five minutes.
That is certainly a notable advantage, especially if you travel a lot. Apart from that, the car seat provides a decent level of comfort, which is also a beneficial aspect.
What about the safety element? Does the Chicco car seat ensure your little one’s safety on the road? Yes. That is something you can depend on.
Due to its compact size, you could easily accommodate the car seat in any car. The car seat features extra head support and side impact cushioning that maximize your infant’s comfort and safety.
Also, the small infant insert does an amazing job at accommodating smaller babies. What is more, the cushions are washable, which makes each parent’s life easier.
The 5-point harness system is one of the safest on the market. And lastly, the Chicco car seat is one of the most lightweight and practical products we have tested, especially for the price.
Best Baby Stroller With Car Seat – Runner Up: Graco Travel System
The Graco travel system comprises of a 3-wheel stroller, an infant car seat and an infant carrier. It is an affordable and convenient option.
- It is easy to assemble: this applies both to the stroller and to the car seat
- The handle is perfectly placed, being comfortable for parents to use
- 4-35 pound limit
- The three-wheel stroller could be seen as a drawback
When the baby grows, the latch on the base doesn’t loosen easily
- Small canopy
- Overheating risk
One of the major advantages to choosing this car seat is that it is surprisingly lightweight. It weighs only 7.5 pounds, and you can maneuver it easily. You could also use it with all Graco strollers.
Another excellent option is that this car seat slides into the base, being positioned securely. You don’t have to worry about additional harnesses, buttons or straps.
All you have to do is fit your little one using the 5-point harness, tighten them, and afterward click them into the base.
As you already know, comfort is just as important as versatility. And this Graco car seat ranks high when it comes comfort, featuring smooth fabric and soft cushioning.
What is more, the car seat has a removable newborn insert. That means it can accommodate newborns as well. When your little one outgrows the insert, you can simply remove it.
And lastly, but certainly not least, this Graco car seat meets the required safety standards for infant car seats.
Safety remains a fundamental priority for all parents, which is why this particular travel system is a top seller.
As a drawback, though, we would have to mention the small black canopy. It runs on the small side as it only attaches to the back. What is more, it doesn’t move in order to cover the little one from all angles.
To conclude, we are confident that our buying guide has served as a good start for finding the best baby car seat.
Remember, what matters the most is assessing your baby’s needs. That is the starting point for purchasing the right product.
Next, you should ensure that it fits your car, the baby’s age, the security requirements, and so on. Of course, you should also have a look at each baby car seat review to find out more about a product.
If you have further questions on the topic feel free to address them in the comment section. We will gladly answer each! Stay safe!