by: Meg Collins, former CPST
Expecting multiples? Here are our Lucie’s List approved recommendations of the best car seats for twins and preemies. We highly recommend you pick from seats on this list in case you do have preemies.
If you are having triplets, please read here.
There are two main features we look for in car seats for preemies and/or underweight babies.
- Minimum weight rating. All the seats on this list start at 4 lbs. It’s highly unlikely you’ll be discharged with a baby weighing less than this. Tip: *If your babies spend time in the NICU, many times they will be required to pass the “car seat test” before they can be sent home. Not a bad idea to read up on that.
- Low harness slots. The rule for rear-facing seats is that your baby’s shoulders should be at — or slightly above — the nearest harness slot. Thus, it’s imperative that the car seat’s lowest harness slots are sufficiently low for a smaller baby. If the lowest harness slot is too tall, the seat will not work (in the beginning, at least).
Thus, all the seats on this list have a low or very low “preemie” position (that’s what I’m calling it, humor me).
All of that said, there are plenty of other infant seats out there that *can* work for smaller babies, but these are the ones that are tried and true.
If you’re planning on using your twins’ car seats in conjunction with a double stroller for twins, play special attention to stroller compatibility, otherwise you might be in for a nasty surprise, especially with the economy seats!
When installing two rear-facing seats in your vehicle, you’ll likely be installing them in the two side or “outboard” positions. The main reason for this is that it’s highly unlikely that your car is wide enough to fit a rear-facing seat in the middle — next to another rear-facing seat. You see, the seats tend to be widest at the handle area, and with two seats adjacent to each other, they will hit each other at their widest points.
It may be possible to achieve this [a side and middle installation] if you have an extremely wide car (a minivan, a large SUV or the like) and one of the narrower infant seats, like the Chicco KeyFit, but please check to confirm. If you can pull this off, you can – in theory – leave the other side seat open for another child or adult.
If you have an older child who is in a forward-facing seat or booster, put the forward-facing child in the middle, as these tend to “puzzle” nicely with rear-facing seats on either side. Like Tetris.
If your car has three rows, sometimes people ask if they can put one seat in the back row. Sure, you can do this, but it’s a HUGE pain to get them in and out. I think you will find it’s not worth the trouble.
Best Car Seats for Twins and Preemies
Here are our favorite picks for twins and preemies in each budget category, including our favorite Euro seats….
$ — Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT ~ $104 (Economy Pick) — Lightweight, easy to carry, and great for preemies. Babies can ride rear-facing from 4-35 lbs.
$$ — Chicco KeyFit 30 ~ $199 — Great mainstream value, compatible with most strollers. Solid pick.
$$ — Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite ~ $219 — Great value, easy to install with a seatbelt OR LATCH, and a “no re-thread harness”!!
$$ — Britax B-Safe 35 & Britax B-Safe Ultra ~ $229 & $249 MSRP — Very safe, but can only be used with BOB Duallie or another Britax or BOB stroller.
$$$ — UPPAbaby Mesa ~ $299 — Top notch “American” luxury seat, pairs beautifully with UPPAbaby Vista double stroller; very easy to install; premium wool version has no flame retardants.
$$$ — Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30 ~ $249 (“Euro” Favorite #1) — Low birth weight wedge insert required for babies 4-5 lbs. Has anti-rebound bar, which prevents it from flipping up in a crash. Downside: Complaints about canopy.
$$$ — Nuna Pipa ~ $299 (“Euro” Favorite #2) — Lightweight luxury seat, great safety features, pairs with Nuna strollers; uses rigid LATCH connectors, so, it’s best for installing in a window seat.
$$$ — Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 ~ $299 — Luxury seat, a “no re-thread harness”, an anti-rebound bar (built into the base) and a two-stage newborn insert, which is great for preemies.
Safety 1st onBoard 35 LT ~$104, 7.9lbs — Economy Pick
Safety 1st is made by the Dorel Group, who also makes Maxi Cosi (both tried and true). In the economy category, this seat offers decent protection and allows babies to ride rear-facing from 4-35 lbs. The onBoard 35 LT is super lightweight (about 7.9lbs!), which parents of multiples (or anyone who has to lug more than one car seat around) will certainly appreciate it. In fact, according to Safety 1st, the onBoard 35 LT is the “lightest infant car seat that can accommodate a baby up to 35 pounds.”
The seat comes with head and body inserts for smaller babies (good for preemies) and has four harness heights for easy adjustments as your babies grow.
This car seat is FAA-approved for use on airplane (for those brave enough to travel with twins!), and is also compatible with any Safety 1st strollers that have the QuickClick attachment.
Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360 ~ $169 (on sale for $129 at Amazon)
We also love the the Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air 360 for preemies/twins. This car seat features 360 Protect™, which includes Air Protect® (a cushioning system that provides side impact protection) plus a deep-seat structure to further protect babies from impact, GCell® HX (a high-tech foam), a reinforced handle, and soft foam throughout for extra security and comfort. The cover can be removed and is machine washable – woot!
What strikes us about this seat is the incredibly high ratings from users. We like it for multiples because it comes with special insert pillows, so babies as small as 4 lbs can ride comfortably and safely. Bonus: kiddos can ride rear-facing up to 35 lbs! Also helpful for parents of twins is Safety 1st’s ergonomic Carry Curve™ comfort grip handle, which makes the seat easier to carry (helpful when you’re lugging around two…).
Chicco KeyFit 30 ~ $199, 9 lbs — Editor’s Choice
Ok, now we’re talking. The Chicco KeyFit 30 is a best bet infant seat for twins. Several reasons: it fits preemies very well (a hospital favorite, in fact), it’s fairly affordable (cuz you’re buying two!), it’s narrow, it’s super easy to install and best of all — because of its wide appeal in the US and in Europe, it’s compatible with nearly every stroller on the market. It was also voted Consumer Reports top infant seat for 2014. You could pay the extra $100 [each] and get one of the Euro seats, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary.
If you live in a city and are looking for a car seat to use in a taxi or Uber, or to easily click into a Chicco stroller, check out the Chicco Fit2 (~ $299). The key here is that you can use this car seat WITH a twin stroller, like the Joovy TwinRoo+, for up to 24 months (2 years, hence the “fit2”), whereas with other infant car seats, the babies will outgrow with infant seat around 12 months. Then you’ll have to switch up to a convertible seat that cannot be used with a stroller.
Think about the situation where you are out and about in Manhattan with twin one-year-olds taking taxis and such. You’ll need car seats… then you’ll need somewhere to put them/transport the car seats when you arrive at your destination. You feel me?
If you don’t need this capability (you drive your own car everywhere), then this seat is overkill, IMO.
Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite ~ $219 MSRP (on sale for ~ $179), 8.4 lbs
The Graco SnugRide is one of the all-time most popular infant car seats — and one of our favorites as well. For multiples, we are loving the “SnugLock” version of the tried-and-true SnugRide 35 Elite.
“SnugLock” is a self-tightening mechanism — an easy way for you to install the base with a seatbelt without having to wrestle it in place to tighten it. It’s basically a giant clasp for the seatbelt. It’s user-friendly — especially if you don’t want to mess with LATCH. Check out our video review here (and see below).
Please note that there are still a zillion different Graco SnugRide models (just kidding, there are only 11) — I picked the “SnugRide SnugLock 35 Elite” (above) for a few different reasons: this model is actually a really great value — you get the SnugLock feature, the higher-end LATCH connectors that won’t break your nails (they’re called “InRight Connectors”). Basically, no matter how you install it, it will be easy. You also get a no re-thread harness, which is a HUGE perk for parents of multiples. Why? Because you don’t have to remove your seats and re-thread the harness manually (x2) as your kiddos grow (I’ve got your back MoMs and DoMs! ;-)). It’s easy(ish) for grandparents too!
This car seat takes up a lot of space in the back seat, so I don’t recommend it for compact cars.
Bottom line: Even though it takes up back seat space and it’s a bit heavier than some other car seats/bases, it’s nice to have the SnugLock installation option and the easier adjusting harnesses (what we call a “no re-thread harness” in the CPST world), especially when dealing with two!
Britax B-Safe 35 ~ $229 (on sale for ~$199), 10 lbs;
Britax B-Safe Ultra ~ $249, 10 lbs
If you’re not familiar with Britax, they are one of our favorite car seat brands. Their bread and butter infant seat is the B-Safe 35. While this seat works well for preemies, it’s not compatible with many of our favorite twin strollers, so I would personally look elsewhere unless you plan on using it with a BOB Duallie or another Britax or BOB stroller (only the Britax B-Ready takes 2 infant seats). Generally speaking, other stroller manufacturers do not make adapters for Britax seats for some reason.
Also important to know is that, while I trust the engineering of the seats from a safety perspective, they are missing the mark with comfort and fit for babies. You’ll read a lot of people complaining that the seat is too narrow and is outgrown rather quickly. I actually think it’s the depth that babies don’t like because they can’t see out very well.
Note: Britax recently released their latest seat, the fancy-pants Britax Endeavours, pictured below.
For $299, they are competing with the Nunas and Cybexes of the world (in the luxury space). The Endeavours is basically the B-Safe 35 Elite, plus an anti-rebound bar and a European belt path. I’ll note it’s way heavier than its European counterparts, at over 11 lbs. And again, you still have the stroller compatibility issue. However, it can accommodate babies as small as 4 lbs (and it does so quite well).
UPPAbaby Mesa ~ $299, 9.9 lbs
The UPPAbaby Mesa is not to be overlooked. I recommend this seat especially for people who plan on using it with the UPPAbaby Vista, one of our favorite strollers for twins. In the $300 range, you’ll also get the nicer “no re-thread harness” with five harness height positions and two buckle positions. The Mesa goes one step further and gives you an adjustable base with tension indicator and self-ratcheting lower LATCH connectors (which are AWESOMMMME). You will really appreciate the ease of installation, the awesome canopy, high-end fabrics, etc. It also has a low birth weight insert for babies 4-8 lbs.
The newer version of this seat has a traditional American belt path, whereas previous versions had the Euro belt path. If you are looking for a seat with a European belt path, this one no longer has it — sorry!
We would be remiss if we didn’t discuss the fact that the wool versions of these seats, which come in smokey blue and grey only (“Henry” and “Jordan”), are made with no added flame retardants. Yes, you’ll pay a $50 premium for this, but we love it!! Again, if money were no object…
Maxi Cosi Mico Max 30 ~ $249 MSRP — “Euro” Favorite #1
Four sets of harness slots; three buckle positions, including one for newborns; easy to use “push-on” LATCH connectors; AirProtect cushions for enhanced side-impact protection; *low birth weight wedge insert required for babies 4-5 lbs. Like most Euro seats, it has an anti-rebound bar, which prevents it from flipping up in a crash.
Maxi-Cosi car seats are widely compatible with lottttts of strollers out there — second only behind the KeyFit — and usually for the more upscale (European) strollers. This seat will go nicely with nearly all of our favorite twin strollers, including the Bumbleride Indie Twin, the Baby Jogger City Select, the Bugaboo Donkey and the UPPAbaby Vista. Though it’s not my favorite car seat, the Maxi-Cosi/Bumbleride combo is super sweet for twins, not gonna lie.
One common complaint reviewers mention is that the canopy on the Mico Max 30 is too flimsy and begins to sag after a while — for the hefty price tag, one would (and should) expect more. Just sayin’.
Nuna PIPA ~ $299, 8 lbs — “Euro” Favorite #2
Our Dutch friends at Nuna bring you modern, well-designed baby gear for the high-end market. The Pipa is another favorite seat for twins/preemies. What sets it apart from the others is the rigid LATCH connectors (not so much for the middle seat), which makes for a SUPER easy installation. If you are installing the seats in the outboard positions, the rigid LATCH connectors are ideal. Like the Maxi-Cosi, it too has an anti-rebound feature called the “load leg”.
This seat is lightweight at 8 lbs, which your arms will appreciate. It’s also one of the few seats with a “European belt path,” which means it’s super easy to install without a base into taxis and such, or while traveling via airplane. The Pipa has the “dream drape,” which is great for napping on the go. With a “Maxi-Cosi style” design, it too is compatible with the higher-end strollers, such as the Bugaboo Donkey, the UPPAbaby Vista and the Baby Jogger City Select. It’s also compatible with compact strollers, like the Babyzen.
Bottom line: If this is compatible with the stroller of your choice, get it!
Nuna Pipa Lite ~ $419
ALSO: You may want to check out the Nuna Pipa Lite. Parents of multiples might like it because it’s SUPER lightweight — under 6 lbs!! — which makes holding two of these bad boys at once much more manageable. One caveat, however: unlike the Nuna Pipa, you MUST install it with a base. If you’re a city dweller who takes taxis and Ubers, this is not a good option for you. But if you’re a suburban mom who only uses her car seats in the car, the Pipa Lite may be worth looking into.
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 ~ $299, 9.5 lbs
The Peg Perego Primo Viaggio is another favorite upscale/European style infant seat. It too has a no re-thread harness, an anti-rebound bar (built into the base) and a two-stage newborn insert, which is great for preemies. Although, I prefer the installation on the Mesa (self-ratcheting) or Pipa (rigid LATCH) over this one (for money, I’m saying). As a practical matter, the big downside to the Peg is that it’s not widely compatible with most of our favorite twin strollers (in America, at least), so please keep that in mind.
Ok wow; that was a lot. But we hope you found a seat that will work for your budget — and your babies.
Cheers! Meg and Marissa