Updated October 2018

Because motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of fatal injuries in children (AND adults) up to the age of 34, a car seat is the most important item you can buy for your new baby.

Yes, it can be totally overwhelming: there are many VaRiAbLeS to consider. Take a deep breath.

Types of Car Seats for Your Infant

Generally speaking, pictured below are the two types of car seats that you can use for a newborn. The vast majority of parents go with the infant seat because of its portability.

car seats and strollers

Infant “bucket” car seat

car seats and strollers

Convertible car seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, you may skip the infant seat altogether and go directly to the larger, heavier convertible seat. The convertible seat starts off rear-facing, and “converts” to a front-facing seat later. Yes, 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 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 newborn convertible seats here. [See also: Best Car Seats for Twins and Preemies]

Infant seats are smaller, lighter, and portable and they last until your babe is about a year old (give or take). They also come with an adjustable sun shade, 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: 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. With an infant seat, you can simply remove the car seat from the car, snap it into your stroller base, and get on with it (see below). Your baby finishes his nap in situ and everyone’s happy. You can’t do this with a convertible seat.

Stroller Carseat

Baby Alice falling asleep while running errands

Since 90% of moms start with an infant seat in the first year, that’s what we’ll discuss here. For convertible car seat reviews, please see Best Convertible Car Seats.

—> Keep reading: Car Seat and Stroller Intro

Best Infant Car Seats

There is no one “best seat” out there (but we do have our favorites). Why? Mainly because everyone drives a different car, and what fits properly and safely in a Honda Accord may not do the trick in an Audi A3, for example. And sometimes, to complicate matters, what fits in your sedan may not fit in your partner’s pick-up truck. Ack! So, everyone’s situation is uniquely different.

The only way to know is to try it out right after you buy it (keep the tags on!!). If installing the car seat requires you to push the passenger seat all the way forward (rendering the passenger seat useless), take the damn thing back and get a smaller one. This is a very common problem. Don’t get stuck in this situation, otherwise the only thing calling shotgun will be your diaper bag…

—> Keep reading: All About Infant Car Seats

Our Favorite Infant Car Seats

There are loads of infant seats to choose from, but here are the ones we like the best [depending on your budget, of course]:

$ — Graco SnugRide SnugLock 30
$$ — Chicco KeyFit 30 or Maxi-Cosi Mico 30 or Britax B-Safe 35
$$$ — Chicco Fit2 or Cybex Aton 2 or Nuna PIPA or UPPAbaby Mesa

It will help you IMMENSELY to select an infant seat that’s compatible with your stroller of choice. It will save you $40+ for a special “car seat adapter” alone.

Yes, this is tricky because it’s a chicken and egg problem [the seat you choose kinda depends on your stroller; the stroller you get kinda depends on your seat]. I recommend you read the Stroller Intro to get a basic idea of what to look for.


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