Protect Your Most Precious Asset With The Best Infant Car Seat (2018 Guide)
Before becoming a mom, I always laughed at “those” parents who left the hospital with their new baby in tow, driving home super slow, while the new mom sat in the back with the baby.
Little did I know, I would become one of “those” parents.
While it brought me more peace and ease to sit next to my two little ones during their first car rides, what made me even more comfortable was knowing that I had one pretty awesome infant car seat installed in my car.
You see, I couldn’t trust my baby’s life to just any seat.
So, I did a lot of research and registered for one of the best on the market—because choosing the right car seat is one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your baby’s safety.
Important Features to Consider
New. Using a hand me down can be tempting, but it’s not recommended. Car seats are continuously being tested for safety. Some also get recalled. So, it’s wise in the long run to spend the extra bucks so you know the car seat is brand new, and ultra-safe.
5 Point harness. I recommend only putting your baby in a seat that has two shoulder straps, two waist straps, and one strap between your baby’s legs that meet in the middle. This is the safest way to secure them into their seat.
Side impact protection. You'll know that a good infant car seat has side impact protection by checking to ensure the seat has extra foam or air pads that sit at each side of your baby’s head.
Latch compatible. All car seats can be secured with a seat belt, but a great infant seat also allows you to utilize the latch system in your car (which helps fasten the base tightly without using seat belts).
Travel system compatible. In order to stretch your dollars, make sure the infant seat you select goes along with your stroller system. This way, you can use the carrier portion of your infant seat as you travel from your house to your car, but also on a stroller. It allows you to move your baby around without physically removing them from the carrier. A travel system snaps together and makes life a lot easier-especially during cold, winter months.
Comfortable. Your little one is going to be spending a lot of time in their infant seat, so be sure to check that it feels soft and comfortable.
Canopy. A canopy is great because it keeps the sun out of your little one’s eyes as you drive, but it also protects them from rain or snow when holding the carrier portion of the car seat.
Easy to clean. There are going to be a lot of infant accidents that involve bodily fluids, so be sure to get something that is easy to wipe down and sanitize!
Easy-to-adjust straps. Save yourself some time and hassle by looking into the straps on the car seat. They should be easy to adjust as your baby grows. It should be located in an area, like around your baby’s feet; that are easy for you to access as needed.
The Different Types of Car Seats
When I was registering for my shower, I got really confused when it came to car seats—I had no idea they were categorized in different ways.
Did I need an infant seat? A convertible seat?
I literally didn’t know how they differed, and I didn’t really put a lot of thought into which made the most sense economically.
So, the little researcher that I am got busy reading up on every aspect of car seats.
Let me break down how an infant seat is different from a convertible seat (and which I recommend more).
Infant Car Seats
An infant car seat is designed solely for that—an infant.
They are only to be put in a car rear facing, and they accommodate a baby fresh out of the oven, all the way up to approximately 30 pounds or so (each seat varies).
Most parents can use an infant car seat up until their child’s first birthday (but again, this depends on the weight and size of your child).
Infant seats commonly have a handle on them and can be used as a carrier to and from the car.
Many often work cohesively with a stroller travel system, in which the carrier snaps into a stroller frame.
Convertible Car Seats
A convertible car seat can also be used with an infant.
It can sit rear facing for as long as your baby needs (check its recommended weight restrictions), and can then be turned to sit front facing until your child is ready for a booster seat.
But, many convertible car seats are sold with a booster built into its base (this is called 3 in 1), so most often, a convertible car seat is the only seat you’ll ever need to buy.
However, convertible car seats are astronomically expensive, and they are huge!
My Personal Preference
I personally felt more comfortable putting my baby in an infant car seat first, and then I ventured out into the world of convertible seats closer to my son’s first birthday.
I also mainly liked that the infant seat could be used in conjunction with a travel system, unlike convertible seats.
So, I highly recommend going with an infant seat first.
Best Infant Car Seats
Claiming to be the “easiest” car seat to install, the Chicco Keyfit 30 is loaded with features to ensure your baby gets a safe ride each and every time!
The car seat and base are very reasonably priced (click here to check the price on Amazon), and is a part of a travel system, so you’ll have an easy time registering for your seat and stroller.
The Chicco Keyfit 30 is designed for infants only, so your child should never be placed in the seat if they are over 30 pounds, but, they can ride in it as small as 4 pounds.
It also comes with an infant insert, which is nice because it provides extra padding, in order for your baby to not only be more comfortable, but positioned correctly.
The Keyfit 30 has a one-hand design, so you can literally snap the carrier into the base and remove it with ease. Its base’s underside is also smooth, so you don’t have to worry about damage to your car, or buying any kind of extra protective seat padding.
There is also a sunshade to protect your baby’s eyes and face, and the seat fits nearly a dozen Chicco strollers (Brava, Cortina, etc.).
I also love how the seat has a cute design and lots of different prints and colors to choose from.
Finally, the feature that always gave me peace of mind was its audible snap. I knew that my son was firmly in place whenever I heard the seat and base snap together (this goes for the stroller as well).
What I love about the Keyfit 30 is that it's ideal for cars that are not latch compatible.
The base locks into place and has a spring loaded leveling system, so it can fit pretty much any kind of vehicle’s seats.
I also loved its bubble level-indicator (located on both sides of the base), because it helped me ensure my son was sitting safely on an angle. I also felt great about his safety because the seat boasts a one pull latch tightener that uses something called force-multiplying technology.
Trust me, that base didn’t budge!
When in the base, the seat used a 5 point harness, which was easy to tighten and loosen by using only one hand.
Ease of Cleaning
Both the base and infant seat are easy to spot clean and wipe down.
I only had to remove the cover of the seat once when my son got sick in the car, and I had no problems tossing it in the washer (I did let it air dry).
It slid snugly back on and it did not stain, which is always nice.
#2. Graco SnugRide Click Connect
Graco is another name you can trust in the baby product world, and the SnugRide Click Connect (click here to check the price on Amazon) is no different.
The SnugRide is an excellent car seat to consider that received high ratings from parent users.
This infant car seat is priced competitively with the Chicco Keyfit, and it's also able to be used as a travel system with Graco’s other products.
The Graco SnugRide is very lightweight, but don’t let it fool you—it’s very sturdy and safe.
It can accommodate a newborn (minimum 4 pounds), and will take you well into toddlerhood (maximum 35 pounds).
Most parents take advantage of its infant insert, to achieve the most secure and comfortable ride for their bundle of joy.
It should be used rear facing, and its click connect system helps you move about with your baby with ease.
Like the Chicco, this Graco will click loudly when the seat is put in place in its base or stroller.
It's easy to install, allowing you to view a level indicator to see if their baby is angled safely. The seat will also shift left and right if it’s not secured tight enough in the car, so it should be “wiggled” until it barely moves from side to side.
The SnugRide can be used with a seat belt, but is also Latch compatible.
I also like how its canopy is able to rotate to pretty much any position, so you never have to worry about sun or other weather elements and your baby’s face and eyes. Plus, its removable boot keeps your baby comfy and cozy, and is great for winter weather!
It comes in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can match it to your stroller if you plan to use is as a travel system, or even with your car’s colors.
All Graco infant car seats are put through crash tests to meet or even exceed the US safety standards, and the SnugRide is also SafeSeat-engineered to meet other US standards.
I personally like how this seat has EPS (Engergy Absorbing Foam) to manage any kind of impact your car takes on.
The SnugRide has a 5-point harness that can be adjusted in the front of the seat, and can be done with one hand.
There is also a lot of padding not only for comfort, but for ensuring that your baby is kept in place, and any kind of shock is absorbed in the case that an accident may occur.
Ease of Cleaning
The material on the SnugRide is easy to spot treat, but the cover can also be fully removed and tossed in the washer and hung out to dry.
Finally, we have the Britax B-Safe 35, which is priced in line with the Chicco and Graco seats (click here to check the price on Amazon), and is also able to be used in conjunction with a travel system to make life easier.
This rear facing infant seat is light weight and has an ergonomic design, which is important! Moms have to carry quite a load around, so the easier and safer, the better!
The base is easy to install and is compatible with the latch system. I personally love that its latch belt can be tightened with one hand and is positioned in the middle of the base, making it super easy to adjust and secure.
The B-Safe 35 can be used on infants as little as 4 pounds and as big as 35 pounds. It has an extra-large canopy, so your baby will be ultra-shielded and comfortable as they travel in the car, stroller, or any place in between.
Like the Chicco and Graco car seats, the Britax offers a removable infant positioner and pads to help your newborn ride safely and comfortably.
The Britax seat comes in a few colors and patterns, allowing you to select one that is gender neutral, or gender specific.
In my opinion, its best feature though, is its size.
This seat is super compact because of its “shell” design.
So, if you have a smaller car, don’t panic and think you have to trade it in just yet—give this model a try since it takes up much less room than most car seats.
Considered to be one of the safest car seats on the market, the B-Safe 35 has something called SafeCell impact protection.
It works as an integrated system, uniting all safety components together.
So, it protects your baby beyond the average safety standards.
It also ensures that the seat is able to take on side impacts because your baby is seated in a deep, protective shell, helping shield against crashes and collisions.
In addition to the seat itself being super safe, its base is also able to absorb shock by compressing itself. This helps protect your baby from potential injuries.
It also has a steel frame which is impact stabilizing, giving the seat lots of strength as it sits in the vehicle at its connection point.
Ease of Cleaning
The seat and base of the B-Safe 35 can be wiped down with soap and water as needed, or the fabric can be removed to be washed in a machine.
However, the company strongly recommends only doing spot treatments to maintain the color and quality of the cover.
Choosing the right car seat is important!
I think an infant seat is the way to go, mainly because you can use most seats in conjunction with a travel system, so it will be convenient and simple for you as you navigate around with an infant.
I also love how these three infant seats have been reviewed and regarded highly by parents.
All three have some differences, but overall are pretty similar.
One thing is for sure though—they are very safe and sturdy seats that will give you peace of mind as you hit the road with your baby in tow!