No one ever said picking the perfect car seat for your kiddo was easy — and with so many different models and styles to choose from, it’s easy for parents-to-be to get overwhelmed. While there are convertible car seats that grow with your child, there are also reasons to buy the best infant car seat for your brand-new babe that you can find. Because they’re engineered specifically for infants and babies, all of the features you’re paying for are designed just for them.
But let’s be honest: One of the biggest draws of a infant car seat is the fact that it has a handle, and can be removed from the base for easy transport. Click in, click out. And while you should never leave a baby sleeping alone in a car seat, that transportability can also minimize transitions and allow you to carry your baby from the car to a bassinet or crib more easily. Another bonus: Many infant car seats can also be paired with a lightweight frame strollers you can push — rather than carry— your baby in the car seat.
Here are our picks for the best infant car seats…
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1. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat
Chicco’s KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat converts from carrier to stroller to car seat with the click of a button. The car base adjusts to your car seat’s angles, with a level on the side to ensure your baby is riding in the safest position. The car seat itself offers padding for baby’s comfort, as well as pads on the neck-straps to reduce chafing. The carrier’s five-point harness system secures your baby’s torso, and side and head padding add comfort. An included sunshade helps you adjust brightness and keep sun off of baby’s face. Good for rear-facing infants and babies up to 30 pounds, the fabric inserts can be wiped clean or machine-washed as needed. Chicco makes both stroller frames and front-facing strollers that can convert to accomdate the KeyFit.
2. Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX
The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX has a lower price point than our top-pick Chicco seat, but boasts many of the same features. A 3-step, hassle-free installation process helps you get the base in place, while an easy-read level indicator ensures it’s placed correctly and four recline positions keep your baby comfy. Padding on the neck-straps helps reduce chaffing, and a sunshade can be adjusted for comfort. The same 5-point harness system secures your baby, and the strong plastic frame as well as shock-absorbing foam in the body provides protection. Additional bases are also cheaper if you plan on needing a base in more than one vehicle, and frame strollers and convertible strollers can be purchased separately, as well. Designed for babies from 4- to 35-pounds and up to 32-inches, this seat can also accommodate a bigger babe than the Chicco seat, and help keep your little one rear-facing longer.
3. Evenflo LiteMax 35 Infant Car Seat
Evenflo’s more budget-minded rear-facing car seat offer plenty of advantages besides the price: The LiteMax is designed to be ultra lightweight (it weighs in at 16 pounds), making it especially good for traveling. A leave-in base with level indicator also ensures the best angle for baby, as well as secure placement of the carrier. And it still meets or exceeds all federal safety standards for front and side impact as well as rolling. As far as padding, the seat comes with a removable, machine-washable head and neck pad. However, no neck-strap pads or infant insert are included. Like the Graco car seat, the Evenflo LiteMax fits babies from 4- to 35 pounds. For the price, it’s a great value, and can make a good second carrier for families who need one.