Updated January 2018
Infant Car Seat Options
Let’s start with the hard stuff, dig?
Unless you never drive or take taxis, you’ll need a car seat for your baby. Some say it must be new because it’s the only way to ensure the seat hasn’t been in an accident. I mean, what kind of mean mother-effer would sell a wrecked car seat? Ha! JERKS.
Not to be totally morbid, but motor vehicle crashes are STILL the #1 cause of fatal injuries in children (AND adults) up to the age of 34. People get their panties in a knot about kidnapping and such, but the truth is that 9 kids were kidnapped and murdered by strangers last year, while 1,140 died in vehicles that same year.
Again, those numbers: 9 vs. 1,140
Needless to say, this is the important stuff.
Yet I will be the first to tell you that car seats are a HUGE pain in the ass. Yes, you will be cursing your child’s car seat for the next 6-7 years (until they get into a simple booster) — it’s true! Alas, we have no choice in the matter but to suck it up and do the right thing.
For your baby…
There are two options for transporting your new babe: an infant seat (a.k.a. “the bucket”) or a convertible seat, so called because it starts as a rear-facing seat and “converts” to a front-facing seat later on (around age 2+).
The majority of parents start with the infant seat (above, left) because of its portability.
However, you may (yes, you may) skip the infant seat altogether and go directly to the larger, heavier convertible seat. You can save some money this way, but keep in mind you won’t be able to use it in conjunction with a stroller, which is a major (major, major!) con.
** If you choose to go straight to the convertible seat for your newborn, be sure to choose a seat with low bottom harness slots, as this can be a problem area for newborns, especially preemies. See my recommendations for convertible car seats for newborns. [See also: car seats for twins and preemies]
Infant seats are smaller, lighter, and portable. They last until your babe is about a year old (give or take). They also come with a sunshade, which is extremely handy.
You see, most moms end up using the infant car seat for more than just riding in the car. There is a good reason for this: say, your newborn baby falls asleep in the car on the way to the grocery store. The last thing you want to do is unearth your peacefully slumbering baby from the bucket. What’s that saying about letting sleeping dogs lie? Yeah, well, the same goes for babies.
With an infant seat, you can simply remove the car seat from the car, snap it into your stroller base (right), and get on with it. Your baby finishes his nap in situ and everyone is happy. You can’t do this with a convertible seat.
With an infant car seat, you can also easily share the seat with partners, nannies, etc., by purchasing additional car seat bases (one seat, multiple bases). This prevents you from having to buy multiple seats (despite the fact that most car seat bases are grossly overpriced). Note that you can also install infant car seats without a base.
There is a new-ish (Jan 2017) infant to toddler seat by Chicco, the Chicco Fit2, that actually goes up to 2 years or so, which is great for city dwellers who Uber and taxi around. It allows you to use it with a stroller until age 2 (vs age 1 for most other seats).
Since 90% of moms start with an infant seat for the first year, that’s what we’ll discuss.
Next: Best Infant Car Seats →