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Best Infant Car Seats

February 2015

If you can afford it, we highly recommend getting an infant car seat for the first 8-12 months of your baby's life, for convenience and portability reasons. It's just kind of priceless to be able to pop your baby in and out of the car without waking him or her. However, it's also an option to use a convertible car seat or all-in-one car seat from birth.

Here are our top picks for infant car seats by subcategory:

Note: Our editors developed this list by summarizing TotScoop parent favorites and adding a few hand-picked editor favorites and new releases. Our picks are 100% unbiased — we never accept compensation in exchange for coverage. That said, this page may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission on any purchases that you make (at no cost to you); see our full disclosure.

You may also be interested in this related content:

  • Buying Guide: Car Seats
  • Best Convertible & Multi-mode Car Seats (coming soon)
  • Best Car Booster Seats (coming soon)

Best overall infant car seats

WINNER: Chicco Keyfit 30

The Keyfit (MSRP $190) is one of the highest-rated car seats and a parent favorite, and with good reason. It's a high-quality, well-designed car seat that is easy to use and has great crash test ratings — all at a reasonable price. A spring-assisted level foot, bubble levels, a “Center-Pull” adjustment, and premium push-on LATCH connectors make installation easy. It also features energy-absorbing foam and a generous sunshade with a flip-out extender. Because it's so popular, many strollers and accessories are compatible with it, and it has high resale value. Comes with newborn insert and base. Weighs 9 lbs. Accommodates babies 4-30 lbs., and up to 30". NHTSA ease of use rating: 4/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Best.

Runner up: Britax B-Safe

The B-Safe (MSRP $180, Amazon $128) is another highly-rated seat that offers a nice set of features — including energy-absorbing foam, an adjustable base with five different positions, premium push-on LATCH connectors, and excellent crash test ratings — at a reasonable price. Comes with newborn insert and base, and can be used with Britax B-Series strollers without an adapter. Not well suited for compact cars when using the base. Weighs 10 lbs. Accommodates babies 4-30 lbs., and up to 32". NHTSA ease of use rating: 4/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Best.

Runner up: Graco SnugRide

The bestselling SnugRide line includes seven different models (MSRP $90-220, Amazon from $85): the number indicates the weight limit (e.g. SnugRide 30 has a weight limit of 30 lbs.), and "Click Connect" and "Classic Connect" indicate different mechanisms for connecting the seat to a stroller (they all click into the car seat base). The Click Connect system connects to strollers more conveniently and securely, but has more limited compatibility. For most families, we recommend any of the SnugRide 30 or 35 models: they are reasonably lightweight, and have EPS energy-absorbing foam, excellent canopies, level indicators, basic hook-style lower LATCH connectors, machine-washable seat covers, and removable infant head supports. Go with the 30 if you want a lighter, smaller-footprint seat. (The smallest seat, with a 22 lb. weight limit, is even smaller, but be sure you get straps that are front-adjusted rather than rear-adjusted.) The SnugRide 40 has a no-rethread harness and an eight-position adjustable base, but is bulky, heavier, and expensive ($220); our preference is to opt for something more portable, since your kid is likely to outgrow it before age 2 anyway. The seven SnugRide models range from 7.5 to 10 lbs. They are compatible with Graco strollers of the correct type (Classic Connect or Click Connect); adapters are available for most strollers (Classic Connect and/or Click Connect). Tend not to fit well in compact cars. The smallest Snugride accommodates babies from 5-22 lbs. and up to 29"; the largest from 4-40 lbs and up to 35". NHTSA ease of use ratings: 3/5 to 4/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Better to best.

Best luxury infant car seats

WINNER: Cybex Aton Q

The futuristic-looking Cybex Aton Q (MSRP $350) is pricey, but is a top performer when it comes to safety. The base features a load leg (common in Europe, but rare very in the US market), which reduces downward rotation and rebound in a crash and channels forces into the floor rather than your baby; and also features Telescopic Linear Side-Impact Protection (i.e. two telescoping arms that come out of the seat to channel crash force energy into the seat shell rather than your child — can be used in outboard position only). In addition to these cutting-edge safety features, it also boasts sleek European (German) design, energy-absorbing foam, a large sun canopy, two recline positions, a machine washable cover, a simple release mechanism, and a unique tensioning plate that makes base installation easier. Other drawbacks (besides the price) include its heavier weight (11 lbs.) and compatibility with a limited set of strollers (using Maxi Cosi adapters). Includes base, newborn insert, and infant insert. It accommodates babies 4 to 35 pounds, and up to 30". One step down is the also excellent Aton 2 (MSRP $300), which lacks the Q's larger sun canopy, no-rethread harness, more sophisticated Linear Side Impact protection system, and longer seat shell, but is cheaper, more compact, and more lightweight (9 lbs). NHTSA ease of use rating: 4/5 (for Aton 2; Aton Q not yet rated). Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Best (for Aton 2; Aton Q not yet rated).

Runner up: Nuna PIPA

The PIPA ($300), released in 2013, is a gorgeous newcomer to the car seat scene, and is a great option especially if you are planning on buying a higher-end stroller. It reeks of Dutch design, and boasts a number of unique safety and other features. It's easy to install, with a two-position adjustable base, rigid lower LATCH connectors with attachment indicators, and bubble-level recline angle indicators. It is lined with EPS foam, features anti-rebound bolsters at the base of the seat, and is one of only two seats on the US market with a stability leg to reduce rotational and rebound forces in a crash. The Pipa features a best-in-class canopy with rear mesh window, sun visor, and one-of-a-kind "dream drape" that extends to cover almost the entire car seat. It is one of only two infant car seats we are aware of with a cover made of Oeko-Tex-certified fabric; the cover is machine washable as well. Comes with base, infant insert, low birthweight pillow. Compatible (with Nuna or Maxi-Cosi adapters) with a number of premium strollers only. Weighs 9 lbs. Accommodates babies 4 to 32 pounds, and up to 32". NHTSA ease of use rating: 4/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: not tested.

Runner up: UPPAbaby MESA

The Mesa (MSRP $280, Amazon $274) is a worthy match to the popular Vista, especially worth considering if you have your heart set on an UPPAbaby stroller. It is sleek and attractive, and is very easy to use, with premium push-on, self-ratcheting LATCH connectors, a tightness indicator, and a level indicator wheel for easy installation. It also features a no-rethread harness, an height-adjustable headrest with thick headwings for side impact protection, and a generous canopy with 50 SPF protection that tucks away when not in use. Drawbacks include heavier weight, a narrower seat, and a canopy that tends to become detached and fade. Works with no adapter with UppaBaby strollers; adapters are also available for a select few other strollers (but no lightweight stroller frames of which we are aware). Comes with base and infant insert. Weighs 11 lbs. Accommodates babies 4 to 35 pounds, and up to 32". NHTSA ease of use rating: 5/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Better.

Runner up: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30

The Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30 (MSRP $250, Amazon $234) is a sleek, good-looking car seat that offers a premium seat of features. Installation features include premium push-on LATCH connectors, a tensioning knob, a tightness indicator, and a level indicator. Other features include EPS foam, adjustable side impact protection headwings, a no-rethread harness, and an ample canopy. Handle must be even with the top edge of the seat for in-car use. Includes base and newborn insert. Can be used without adapter with most Peg Perego strollers; adapters are also available for selected other strollers (but very few lightweight stroller frames). Weighs 11 lbs. Accommodates babies 5 to 30 pounds, and up to 30". NHTSA ease of use rating: 4/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Better.

Best infant car seats under $130

WINNER: Graco SnugRide Classic Connect 30

The very popular ClassicConnect 30 (MSRP $100-130, Amazon from $85) is one of the most reasonably priced members of the SnugRide family, yet retains all of its most important features. It is lightweight and features EPS foam, a six-position adjustable base and level indicator for installation, and a generous canopy. It is is designed to work with all Graco Classic Connect strollers as well as the excellent Graco SnugRider Elite stroller frame; adapters are also available for most strollers. Comes with base and infant support cushion. Not well suited to compact cars. Note that we recommend the ClassicConnect 30 over the regular ClassicConnect (with the 22 lb. weight limit), due to inferior crash test ratings (some models of the latter also have rear-adjust rather than front-adjust straps, which are much less convenient). Weighs 8 lbs. Accommodates babies 4 to 30 pounds, and up to 30". NHTSA ease of use rating: 3/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Best.

Runner up: Safety 1st onBoard 35

The onBoard 35 (MSRP $120, Amazon $89) is a nice value seat. It features EPP foam, an adjustable base with recline adjustment lever, recline angle indicators, and a decent canopy. It fits preemies and smaller babies well. The tall shell will also fit babies for longer, but is not ideal for compact cars. Limited stroller compatibility. Comes with base and infant insert. Weighs 8 lbs. Accommodates babies 4 to 35 lbs., and up to 32". NHTSA ease of use rating: 3/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Better.

Runner up: Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus

The Comfy Carry Elite Plus (MSRP $80-90, Amazon $81) is a basic seat, but offers a good set of features for the price. It's our lightest weight pick, has great crash test ratings, and features EPS foam lining the upper part of the shell, an adjustable base with two-position recline foot, removable head support, and a removable hand-washable cover. The harness also fits preemies and low birthweight babies well. Drawbacks include a thin shell, minimal padding, flimsy canopy, and limited stroller compatibility. Includes base and infant insert. Weighs 7 lbs. Accommodates babies 4 to 22 pounds, and up to 29 inches. NHTSA ease of use rating: 3/5. Consumer Reports crash protection rating: Best.

Best preemie/multiple car seats

Of course, most parents don't know ahead of time when their little bundles of joy will arrive or how much they will weigh, but if you are likely to have a low birthweight baby (e.g. multiples or history of small term babies), it's probably worth choosing a car seat that will be suitable if it does happen.

Most infant car seats are marketed as being suitable from four or five pounds, but in reality some seats and harnesses fit low birthweight babies better than others. Out of all of our picks above, the following infant car seats are recommended for preemies and low birthweight babies (listed from lowest to highest price):

  • Safety 1st Comfy Carry Elite Plus: $80-90. Adjustable infant insert. Crotch strap can be shortened for small newborns.
  • Safety 1st onBoard 35: $120. Infant head support. Harness can be adjusted well for very small babies, including a shortened crotch strap.
  • Graco SnugRide 30/35: $130-150. Look for newer models rated from 4 lbs. Infant insert with head support. Crotch strap length can be adjusted on some models for small newborns.
  • Britax B-Safe: $180. Removable infant comfort pillow. Fourth harness slot fits even 4-pound babies well.
  • Chicco KeyFit 30: $190. Comes with separate newborn body and head inserts (4-11 lbs.).
  • UPPAbaby MESA: $280. Comes with low birthweight insert for newborns 4-8 lbs.
  • Nuna PIPA: $300. Comes with newborn insert and low birthweight pillow.

Best infant car seats for tight spaces

If you have a small car or need to fit three car seats across, here are your best bets out of all of those listed above (listed from lowest to highest price):